Many of the WordPress contribution teams have been working hard on the new WordPress editor, and the tools, services, and documentation surrounding it. Read on to find out more about this ongoing project, as well as everything else that has been happening around the WordPress community in August.


WordPress 4.9.8 is Released

WordPress 4.9.8 was released at the beginning of the month. While this was a maintenance release fixing 46 bugs, it was significant for Core development because it made a point of highlighting Gutenberg — the new WordPress editor that is currently in development (more on that below).

This release also included some important updates to the privacy tools that were added to Core earlier this year.

Want to get involved in building WordPress Core? Follow the Core team blog and join the #core channel in the Making WordPress Slack group.

New WordPress Editor Development Continues

Active development continues on Gutenberg, the new editing experience for WordPress Core. The latest version features a number of important user experience improvements, including a new unified toolbar and support for a more focussed writing mode.

Users can test Gutenberg right now by installing the plugin, which currently has nearly 300,000 active installs. Along with that, the Gutenberg Handbook has some very useful information about how to use and develop for the new editor.

Want to get involved in building Gutenberg? Follow the #gutenberg tag on the Core team blog and join the #core-editor channel in the Making WordPress Slack group.

Planning Begins for the Next Global WordPress Translation Day

The Global WordPress Translation Day is a 24-hour event held online and all across the world. It is designed to bring communities together to translate WordPress into their local languages, and to help them connect with other communities doing the same thing.

There have been three Translation Days since April 2016, and the fourth edition is in the planning stages now. The Polyglots team, who organizes these events, is currently looking for input on the date, format, and content for the event and would love some feedback from the community.

Want to get involved in translating WordPress into your own language? Follow the Polyglots team blog and join the #polyglots channel in the Making WordPress Slack group.


Further Reading:

  • The Update PHP page on WordPress.org has been revised and improved to make the reasons for upgrading more clear.
  • The Mobile team is looking for people to help test the latest versions of the Android and iOS apps for WordPress.
  • WordBits is a innovative new platform for publishing WordPress-based code snippets with the ability to download each snippet as a working plugin.
  • The Community Team has some updates about how things are going with this year’s WordCamp Incubator program.
  • The WordPress Support Forums now include a feature allowing forum volunteers to easily report a post to the moderators for a follow-up.
  • WordCamp Kochi, India has unfortunately had to postpone their event due to floods in the region.
  • WP Glossary is a new site that offers helpful definitions of words that you could encounter when using WordPress.
  • A few WordPress community members have started a working group to tackle the idea of building diverse WordPress  communities all across the world.
  • A new Gutenberg Block Library is available, listing the details of the many blocks available for the new editor.

If you have a story we should consider including in the next “Month in WordPress” post, please submit it here.

It’s a phenomenon that’s probably a bit surprising when you first hear about it: when paying for Google Ads (previously known as Google AdWords), you may just notice your organic rankings going up as well. This may not immediately make sense to you. After all, why would Google give you a ‘free boost’ or something like that?

Truth is, investing in Google Ads won’t directly affect your organic rankings. But that doesn’t mean it’s just a coincidence if you notice your organic rankings and/or traffic improve afterwards. So, what’s going on then? What’s the correlation here?

Mathias was wondering the same thing, and sent us this question:

Since we started paying Google Ads [AdWords] for main keywords, we’ve also doubled organic traffic, mostly with related other keywords (and sites). Does advertising with Google Ads [AdWords] affect organic SERPs? Or do you see any indication for a correlation between paid and organic traffic?

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

Google Ads and organic rankings

“This is a much-debated topic in the SEO world. The thing is, that as your overall site engagement increases, your site usually does better in search as well. It doesn’t matter whether that increase in site engagement comes from Ads [AdWords] traffic, Facebook traffic, or anywhere else. If you get more traffic to your site, more people search for your brand, and are talking about you online, you will do better in the search. It’s that simple.

Want to learn practical SEO skills to rank higher in Google? Our Basic SEO training is just what you need! »

Basic SEO training Info

So, it doesn’t relate directly to you paying for Ads [AdWords], it relates to you having more website traffic overall, and to people talking more about your brand. It works like that. And yes, that makes it worth even more, I guess. Good luck.”

Ask Yoast

In the series Ask Yoast, we answer SEO questions from our readers. Do you have an SEO-related question? A pressing SEO dilemma to which you can’t find the answer? Send an email to ask@yoast.com, and your question may be featured in one of our weekly Ask Yoast vlogs.

Note: you may want to check our blog and knowledge base first, the answer to your question could already be out there! For urgent questions, for example about the Yoast SEO plugin not working properly, please contact us through our support page.

Read more: SEO basics: What does Google do? »

The post Ask Yoast: Google Ads and organic rankings appeared first on Yoast.

Facebook is becoming less important as a source of traffic to your site. We wrote about it before, but mid August a lot of internet-sources reported that Facebook “did not care about publishers”. Joshua Benton wrote a nice and nuanced article about the matter, in which he also shared some interesting statistics. Facebook is indeed referring less and less to publishers. In this post, I’ll share what Yoast has noticed in decreasing traffic from Facebook, I’ll share my personal view on the matter and I’ll discuss our current strategy in dealing with it.

What have we noticed at Yoast

At Yoast, we’ve noticed our traffic from Facebook is going down. We share blogposts on our timeline and the number of visitors we attract to our website has halved in the past year-and-a-half. Overall, our traffic is going up though. We still notice a nice growth in organic search (which is a good thing, considering we’re selling SEO).

Optimize for synonyms and related keywords and prevent broken pages on your site with Yoast SEO Premium! »

Yoast SEO: the #1 WordPress SEO plugin Info

Yoast, of course, isn’t a classic publisher, like an online newspaper or a online magazine. However, we use Facebook primarily to share our blogposts. So, I think Facebook pretty much treats us as a publisher. And indeed, we’ve seen our traffic going down.

My personal experience as a Facebook-addict

I am a Facebook user. I use it professionally, for my work at Yoast. Besides that, I am also in a few Facebook groups that give me information on WordPress and SEO. But most of all, I love catching up with friends and family through Facebook. I post pictures of my children and write little anecdotes about my life.

In the last few months, I’ve noticed a lot of people leaving Facebook, or spending far less time there. Some friends left a while ago because of the privacy issues. But others are leaving too. I notice lots of people are sharing less on their timelines. And I am also posting far less on my timeline myself. Some Facebook groups remain very active though. And lots of people aren’t really disappearing; many of them are joining Instagram.

If people are really leaving Facebook and turning to other social media platforms, traffic from Facebook will decrease even more. And if that happens, I’ll need to find another platform to share those amusing anecdotes about my life ;-).

What to do?

A while ago, I wrote a post on what to do if your traffic from Facebook is decreasing. Engaging content, personal accounts, working with influencers and advertising are all possibilities to increase your visibility on Facebook. These are valid options, which we’re working on as well. For Yoast, investing in other social media platforms is now also becoming a new very important strategy.

This week, I decided to put some genuine effort into the Yoast Instagram account. If Facebook indeed turns out to be on its way down, now is the time to dive into ‘new’ social media platforms. I’ve challenged myself to double the current amount of followers on Instagram before Christmas. I’m now experimenting with writing SEO tips in an Instagram Stories format. I really enjoy exploring new possibilities, but I am not a professional yet. If you would like to witness (and help with) my enthusiastic (and somewhat sad) attempts to double our followers, please follow the Yoast Instagram account.

What about you?

I am curious if you noticed anything different on your Facebook timeline (personal or professional) in the past six months? Are you a publisher of some sort? And I would also like to know what your tactic is. Are you focusing on different social media platforms? And which one? Or is Facebook still the most important one?

Read more: As Facebook’s algorithm changes, SEO becomes crucial »

The post Facebook traffic: What’s the current status? appeared first on Yoast.

Two weeks ago, we launched Yoast SEO 8.0. In it, we shipped the first part of our integration with Gutenberg: the sidebar. That release was the foundation on which we are building the next parts of our integration with the new WordPress editor. In Yoast SEO 8.1, we introduce part 2: a Gutenberg-proof snippet preview. Also, a much better experience in the content analysis thanks to webworkers!

Optimize for synonyms and related keywords and prevent broken pages on your site with Yoast SEO Premium! »

Yoast SEO: the #1 WordPress SEO plugin Info

Gutenberg, meet the Yoast SEO snippet preview

Yoast SEO 8.0, unfortunately, had to make do without a snippet preview inside Gutenberg. There were still some kinks to iron out before we could add that snippet preview to our WordPress plugin. The code for that new modal — the pop-up screen — had to be written from the ground up, exclusively for Gutenberg. That code has now been added to Gutenberg’s core so every WordPress developer can make use of the modal inside the new editor. How awesome is that!

Here’s what snippet preview pop-up inside Gutenberg looks like:

You see that it looks just like the regular Yoast SEO snippet preview. It has all the features you know and love, like the true-to-life rendering of your snippet on both mobile as well as desktop screens, SEO title field editor with snippet variables, slug editor and meta descriptions, also with snippet variables. To open the snippet preview, you simply click on the Snippet Preview button in the Yoast SEO Gutenberg sidebar.

snippet preview button yoast seo 8.1Another cool thing now available in Gutenberg is the Primary Category picker. This has been a staple for many years in Yoast SEO. It lets you make and set the primary category for a post. This will be automatically selected whenever you make a new post. We will port more features over to Gutenberg shortly.

What’s next

We, of course, have big plans for Gutenberg. There’s still a lot to be done and not everything we’re dreaming up is possible right now. Step by step, we’re turning Yoast SEO and Gutenberg into a dream combination. We’re not just porting over existing features to the new Gutenberg, but actively exploring what we can do and what we need to do that. In some cases that means we have to develop the support inside Gutenberg’s core ourselves, this way loads of developers can benefit from the results as well.

Speeding up the content analysis with webworkers

Speed = user experience. To keep Yoast SEO performing great, we added a dedicated webworker to our content analysis. Webworkers let you run a script in the background without affecting the performance of the page. Because it runs independently of the user interface, it can focus on one task and does that brilliantly. Webworkers are very powerful and help us to keep Yoast SEO stable, responsive and fast even when analyzing pages with thousands of words of content. Try it!

The update is available now

Yoast SEO 8.1 has a lot of improvements behind the scenes that should drastically improve how the plugin functions. We are dedicated to giving you the best possible user experience, while also improving our current features and laying the groundwork for new ones. And not to forget that new WordPress editor, right? Update and let us know what you think!

Read more: Why you should buy Yoast SEO Premium »

The post Yoast SEO 8.1: Gutenberg part 2, introducing the snippet preview appeared first on Yoast.

I’ve always felt lucky blogging for Yoast.com. As I wrote before, I have an entire blog team that makes sure my post gets scheduled, is free of grammar or spelling errors and they publish it on social media. So I ‘only’ had to come up with an idea, which the team often helped me with, and type the post. I decided that if I ever were to outsource things on my own blog, it would be things like promotion and social media.

My struggle with social media

And then the inevitable happened. After I finished my previous post, I got a message: “Caroline, from now on, please write your own introduction for Facebook, Twitter, and the newsletter. Here’s some information for you. If you have any questions, let us know!” Hold on! Yes, I have questions! Starting with: “How do I do this?” and: “Do you have any idea how difficult it is to write short messages? There’s a reason I’m not active on Twitter!” And, so began my struggle, and search, for the ultimate social media messages.

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

Yoast SEO: the #1 WordPress SEO plugin Info

Because truthfully, I’d rather type a 2000 word essay than one sentence for Facebook. When you’re reading this, I’ve already grabbed your attention. You’ve already made it down to this point in my post, which means that you want to read my message. On social media, I can’t spend over a hundred words to make my point. If I do, you might not click, you might scroll past my message and you’ll never see my post at all.

And that’s how I started my two-day research. Two days? Yes. I, of course, started rather late with this blog post and had almost no time to conduct proper research. So, all the information in this post is based on my common sense – and I’ll teach you how to use your common sense too! Oh, how amazing my job is. Truly. Well, apart from having to write my own social media messages now.

To click or not to click

When do you click on a Facebook message? When do you hit the like button? When do you leave a reply? And when do you take the effort to go to someone’s profile and visit their domain through Instagram if there’s a ‘link in bio’ message underneath a photo? Those questions were the most important for me the last few days, to figure out what the perfect message entails. To find the answer to these questions, you need to know who your audience is.

For my blog, that’s a rather easy answer: the goal audience for my blog is me! And people like me, of course. But, I started my blog because I love writing. I’m right in the middle of my audience: young mothers (and fathers, of course) who are struggling with parenthood and want reassurance that others are struggling too. I want people to laugh at my stories, but also to take their struggles and life a little less serious, in order to enjoy life more.

Experimenting on different platforms

While people who visit my blog always tell me I have a great sense of humor – except for my husband, he still claims I have no humor at all – my Facebook page didn’t reflect my blog at all and come to think of it, I didn’t even like Facebook.

I started experimenting on Instagram: my photos were more blunt, I used a lot of hashtags (thirty hashtags seems to be the maximum) and I treated Instagram as if I was talking to my best friend. Immediately, my engagement went up. People responded to my photos with more than just a heart, they actually left messages! I started to get to know my audience more and more, and then a few days ago I decided I’d use the same strategy on Facebook.

I took a notebook and wrote down when I was interested in a Facebook post from another company, and when I scrolled past. And, although this is personal (and not perfect) research, this works for me, since I am a reflection of my own audience. I made notes on the posts I clicked on: what was the message they wrote? What was the title of the post? Did the image appeal to me? And when did I decide not to click on a post?

I found out that I click the link if these three aspects: text, title, and photo of the post, appeal to me. There are messages I saw multiple times but I didn’t click them, because the Facebook image wasn’t appealing enough, or the leading text was too vague or didn’t catch my attention.

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

SEO copywriting training Info

How to find your voice on social media

It’s important your social media reflects your website. If you write for solo travelers who are 20 years old, it’d be strange if your social media posts are more appealing to people who’d rather stay in and haven’t taken a vacation in the last 20 years. Just like you once found your voice for your blog, you need to find your voice on social media too. And you’ll have to experiment before you find it. Here’s how to experiment:

Realize that your social media are part of your brand

Facebook, Instagram, and other social media are extensions of your blog. Try to find the reason why you follow someone on Instagram, hit the like button on Facebook or retweet a message on Twitter. It’s probably because you feel connected to someone or to the brand. Those social media accounts should reflect the blog, in this case.

Write different introductions

By writing and rewriting your Facebook messages a few times, you will eventually find the voice that fits your brand. You can’t be as elaborate on Facebook or Instagram as you are on your blog. You need to catch people’s attention and get them to click that link to your website.

With Facebook, you can easily re-post a post that’s a couple of months old. Check which posts performed less: you can look that up on your Facebook page under ‘Statistics’. Check the accompanying message you wrote, try to rewrite them and see if you can gain more clicks.

It’s all about strategy

As much as you need a blog planning, you also need a social media planning and a strategy. If you post on Facebook only once a week, you probably won’t reach a lot of people. However, if you post once or twice a day, you’ll see your reach going up. Those posts don’t always have to be a link to your blog, especially not when you only blog every other day or once a week. Share images, ask questions, share links to other blogs in your niche or share quotes. Look at your competition and try to find a new angle to implement on your social media profiles.

Read more: How to use social media »

And now it’s time for me to write a nice introduction for social media so you’ll actually end up clicking and reading this message. Wish me luck. Oh and please drop your tips on me as well! You have no idea how much I learn from the comments you leave on my blog posts!

Keep reading: Social media strategy: where to begin? »

 

The post Writing great social media content for your blog appeared first on Yoast.

We’ve said it time and again: site speed is a crucial aspect of your SEO. That’s why we often write about site speed tools, speed optimization, and other things you need to know to make your site lightning fast. One factor in site speed is image optimization: on most sites, images will play a part in loading times. So, giving your image SEO some thought will pay off.

Want to bump your SEO to a higher level? Become a technical SEO expert with our Technical SEO training! »

Technical SEO training Info

Besides resizing and compressing your images to improve loading times, there’s the option to implement ‘lazy loading’ on your site. Lazy loading means that an image or object on your site doesn’t load until it appears in your visitor’s browser. For example: if a page has 8 images, only those that appear ‘above the fold’ load right away, while the others load as the user scrolls down. This can significantly improve speed, especially on pages that contain a lot of images. There are several plugins you can use to add lazy loading to your WordPress site. But is there really no catch? Will Google still index all your images?

MaAnna emailed us, wondering exactly that:

I’m testing the lazy load image function in WP Rocket. In online testers like WebPage Test, the waterfall doesn’t show the images loading, but when I do a Fetch and Render in Google Search Console all images on a page are shown. Can Google deal with lazy load and still index our images, as Fetch and Render seems to indicate?

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

Can Google deal with Lazy Load?

“Yes, it can. It renders the page, it waits a bit and it scrolls down the page a bit to generate all the events that it needs to generate to make sure that it has loaded the entire page.

So yes, it can deal with that. You’re very fine using something like that lazy load image function. Google actually has code itself as well, in which it promotes the lazy loading of images because it really enhances people’s experience because pages get faster using lazy load. So, by all means, do use it. Use it well. Good luck!”

Ask Yoast

In the series Ask Yoast, we answer SEO questions from our readers. Do you have an SEO-related question? A pressing SEO dilemma to which you can’t find the answer? Send an email to ask@yoast.com, and your question may be featured in one of our weekly Ask Yoast vlogs.

Note: you may want to check our blog and knowledge base first, the answer to your question could already be out there! For urgent questions, for example about the Yoast SEO plugin not working properly, please contact us through our support page.

Read more: Does site speed influence SEO? »

The post Ask Yoast: Can Google deal with Lazy Load? appeared first on Yoast.

As of today, there’s finally an online Yoast Academy training course on a crucial aspect of SEO: keyword research! We’re so excited! And judging by the comments we got when we announced the training course, so are you. And you should be! In the Keyword research training, you’ll find out what keywords are most effective for your site. And how you can rank for those words!

You can get the course for $129, but only in the first week, so don’t wait too long!

Find out how to rank for your most important keywords with our Keyword research training »

Keyword research training Info

Get the new Keyword research training Now$149 $129 (ex VAT) for course, certificate and badge

Why should I be excited about the Keyword research training?

Doing keyword research is not an option, it’s essential. It forms the basis of everything SEO. Without keywords, Google can’t make sense of your copy. Without keywords, there is nothing to build a site structure around. Without keywords, technical optimization is basically pointless. Do you want to know which words your audience uses to find you? Are you frustrated with competing with sites you just can’t seem to beat? Are you ranking for keywords, but not getting any traffic? The keyword research training will solve these problems for you.

What will I learn in the Keyword research training?

The Keyword research training course is an online training you’ll get access to for a full year. You’ll go through every step of the actual keyword research process. In each module, world-renowned SEO experts like Joost de Valk and Jono Alderson provide you with theory, best practices and tips. Then, you can apply your new knowledge immediately, by building your own keyword list step by step.

First, you’ll make a business profile with your mission and unique selling points (USPs). After that, you’ll draft your first list of keywords. Then, you’ll assess the potential traffic, potential conversion and potential to rank top 3 for your keywords.

At the end of the course, you’ll end up with a keyword list to start creating pages and copy for your most effective keywords immediately! And no worries if you’re short on time, you can also just focus on the theory. By the way, you don’t need any previous knowledge to take this training course. We start with the very basics. Nor do you need to use any paid tools: all of the tools we discuss are free.

Get feedback on your strategy!

When you’ve completed your keyword list, you may want to confirm you’re on the right track. That’s why we offer feedback on your work if you want it. If you choose the feedback package, a Yoast expert will check your keyword list within two weeks, and provide feedback on your keywords and their potential. This way, you can make sure your keyword list will help you rank for your most efficient keywords!

Get the Keyword research training with feedback Now$199 $179 (ex VAT) for training and feedback

Conclusion

The Keyword research training provides you with all the tools you need to get the first step in SEO right. In fact, the Keyword research training even goes beyond SEO. You’ll also learn a lot about content marketing in general. It’s a great way to kickstart or recharge your SEO strategy, whether you maintain a blog, an e-commerce site, or any other type of website. Make sure your content gets the attention it deserves by taking the Yoast Academy Keyword research training! You can get it by simply clicking the button below. It is currently available for $129, so get it before the offer expires!

Get the new Keyword research training NowOnly $149 $129 (ex VAT) to master the essential first step of SEO

The post Out now: Keyword research training! appeared first on Yoast.

In the week of August 1st Google rolled out a “broad core algorithm update.” We know it was that because they said so on Twitter. There was quite a bit of buzz around this update. Some sites “won”, others “lost”, which is logical because, in the end, this is pretty much a zero-sum game. We’ve been trying to make sense of what happened; this post explains what we know.

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

Yoast SEO: the #1 WordPress SEO plugin Info

Why is it called the Medic update?

It’s called the Medic update because Barry Schwartz, one of the most prolific writes in the search industry, called it that. It doesn’t mean this update only affected medical sites.

What do we know about this update?

In reality: not much. Google hasn’t said anything specific, and repeat their standard party line:

If you think this isn’t helpful: we’re sorry. It probably is the best advice you’re going to get around this update or any update for that matter. You shouldn’t “just” build great content though. Great content has to fit with the goal of your site, whether that’s informing people, selling products or something else.

But what does “the data” say?

There are a lot of tools out there, like SearchMetrics and Sistrix, which check the rankings on millions of keywords and tell us what changed. From looking at it, you might get the idea that you understood what happened. Except there’s a problem. Even by looking at the top 50 domains in either tool, you’d still be looking at only a fraction of the data. So: all of what follows is by no means science. It’s anecdotal.

We see some trends after this medic update that are interesting:

Changes for brand searches

For searches towards large brands — think KLM, IBM, McDonald’s, etc. — Google seems to have slightly changed what they show. This now almost always includes a “jobs at” type result, which resulted in a huge uptick in those rankings for some large job sites.

Commercial sites doing slightly better

On the whole, commercial sites seem to be doing better. Among the examples we see are eBay in the US and Germany and Marktplaats (which is owned by eBay) in the Netherlands, but also non-eBay commercial sites. When they do better, content sites in those results have taken a hit, and some price comparison sites also seem to have taken a slight hit.

Is the Medic update about intent?

We can be honest about this: no, we do not see an overall trend. In discussing this, we have a hunch of what Google tried to do with this update: it seems to try and show results that better match the intent of the search. This would fit with another bit of news that came out of Google recently: updated search quality rater guidelines.

Google has teams of search quality raters that look at sites manually and score them according to a manual. This manual recently got an update, and one of the most interesting changes in that update was a new section about the “beneficial purpose” of a page:

Google has also added the concept of “beneficial purpose” to the Quality Rater Guidelines, where raters are not just asked to rate the quality of the content, but also consider whether the page has a beneficial purpose or use to being on the site. What would a visitor to the site gain?

The idea of the “purpose” of a page ties in with the intent a searcher has for a query. Let me explain: If I’m searching for a “LEGO minifgures display case”, I either want to learn how to make one, or where to buy one. Pages in my results should either explain to me how to build one or try to sell me one. If I search for “buy LEGO minifigures display case”, Google can leave out all the pages explaining how to build one.

Our best guess as to what the Medic update did was improve that “match” between intent and results. All of the changes above would make sense with that point of view. The “problem” is that if that’s true, Google’s advice probably is still the best advice on how to do better: build a site that people want to visit. A site that matches people’s search queries and their search intent, and you’ll do just fine.

Read more: When Google changes up: Should I abide every decision they make? »

The post Google’s Medic update, and how to deal with it appeared first on Yoast.

This post is for those of you who want to use Google Analytics, but feel a threshold to start with this tool. For everyone that wants to see the fun of Google Analytics, but is having a hard time finding that fun. This is a post for people that are scared to use Google Analytics because they’re afraid to break something. This is a post I needed when I started with Google Analytics.

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

Yoast SEO: the #1 WordPress SEO plugin Info

Google Analytics’ Danger zone

If you’re afraid of skewing data, removing data, or harming data, if you will, then the following should release you from that stress: as long as you are in the reporting section of Google Analytics, nothing bad can happen.

The Admin section is the place where you can do real damage. Here, you can add filters that could harm your data if not used right, here you can adjust time zones. In other words: the Admin section is the place where you implement changes that affect your data.

You can’t adjust the actual data in the reporting section. You can only adjust how you’re seeing your data, the section of data you want to see, but underneath it all, the data stays the same. So, the reporting section is for everyone, even for people who don’t have a clue what the heck they’re looking at.

Reporting section aka play zone

Know what you’re looking at

If you can’t harm your data when in the reporting section, this means you’re in a playground where you can do anything you like and just play with what you’re seeing. Of course, it helps if you have a little context. Knowledge about what you’re seeing. Luckily, Google offers a lot of information about how to handle Google Analytics. These pieces of information are in Google Analytics, you just need to know where to find them.

Every dimension and metric in Google Analytics is accompanied by a question mark that explains what you’re looking at:

Hover over question marks in Google Analytics

I really like this feature because it gives you so much more context. And if the explanation is too vague or complex, Google it. There’s always someone that can explain it better on the world wide web.

There’s also a section in Google Analytics called ‘Intelligence’ that’s set to guide you through Google Analytics by asking you questions (and showing you some answers) and notifying you about anomalies in your data:

Intelligence and Help function in Google Analytics

And at the top of the page is a question mark where you can ask for help. Especially the ‘Intelligence’ section is a nice starting point for your Google Analytics journey.

Let’s play!!

I want to share some very basic exercises with you that made me realize Google Analytics is a fun tool to play with. If you understand how the following exercises work, and the opportunities they’ll give you, then you can find the joy and insights you’re looking for.

Exercise number 1: use the search bar

There are a couple of search functions in Google Analytics. One that helps you with how to use Google Analytics or helps with navigating quickly to your destination.

search navigation in Google Analytics

But that’s not the one we’ll be using for this exercise. I’m referring to the search bar in the data table. This lets you search in the first column of the table. Here’s the assignment:

  1. Go to the ‘Acquisition’ section
  2. Click on the ‘Source/Medium’ report from the ‘All traffic’ dropdown
  3. Enter in the search bar “organic”
  4. What do you see?

This is very awesome if you need to find very specific information, or want to see totals of a category or a group of data. Like in this case, the group ‘organic’. Or, if you want to check a specific page or just pages that have /category/ in common for example, the search bar comes in really handy. And it saves you a lot of time scrolling.

Of course, there are other ways to see just your organic traffic, but this post is meant to be simple, so I’m keeping it simple. Or at least, I hope you don’t find it too hard.

Exercise number 2: add a secondary dimension

Context is not just the SEO word of 2018, it’s vital for doing a proper analysis. Adding a secondary dimension gives you more context because it adds more information to the data you’re seeing. Without proper context, you might draw the wrong conclusions. So, follow these steps to add more context to your report:

  1. Go to the ‘Behavior’ section
  2. Click on ‘Landing Pages’ from the ‘Site Content’ dropdown
  3. Click on ‘Secondary dimension’
  4. Select ‘Source’ in the dropdown
  5. What do you see?

Now, this is awesome, you can check per source where people land on. Go over all metrics, hovering over the question marks to understand what you’re seeing. Can you see differences per landing page, per source? And what does that tell you?

Exercise number 3: use a segment

This challenge lets you specify things even further, giving the report even more context. In Google Analytics, you can add segments and this enables you to see just a specific piece of data. I absolutely love segments because, for me, they make the data I’m seeing much more understandable and less abracadabra.

  1. Stick to your current report
  2. Scroll all the way up and click on ‘+ Add Segment’
  3. Search for the ‘Organic Traffic’ segment
  4. Hit ‘Apply’
  5. Remove the ‘All Users’ segment by clicking on the downward arrow
  6. What do you see?

So, what do you see? How does this relate to SEO? You’re seeing pages people land on who are coming from a search engine. What’s the most popular search engine? And are the pages you’re seeing, pages you want to rank with? So much information about SEO in Google Analytics right here! Very cool right?

Conclusion

Google Analytics can be scary, especially if you’re afraid you might break something. But if you stay in the reporting section, everything you do is for your eyes only. After doing the exercises in this post, I invite you to just click around. Click on everything that’s clickable and try to understand what you’re seeing after that. If you do that, Google Analytics is far more easy to digest. And, hopefully, more fun, too. Good luck!

Read more: Tracking your SEO with Google Analytics »

The post Annelieke’s Analytics: 3 exercises to have more fun with Google Analytics appeared first on Yoast.

It can be quite a search to find the perfect WordPress theme. One that has a design you like, is nice and fast, and has all the functionalities you need. So, imagine you’ve finally found a theme you like, that answers all your needs, only to realise you’re not happy with the way it generates the category pages. Terribly frustrating, right?

A great site structure is a must for both visitors and Google. Learn how to set it up today in our Site structure training! »

Site structure training Info

You know that category pages are important for your SEO efforts, so you want them to be to your liking. But what can you do? Is creating a clever workaround a good solution? And how is your SEO affected when you do that? In this Ask Yoast, I’ll discuss what you should consider before you go for a fix like that.

Saurabh emailed us a possible workaround for creating a category page:

I can’t style my category pages the way I want because they are dynamically generated. I thought of the following workaround: creating a regular page for each category, styling it and adding a blog module to show the right items and redirecting the default category to these pages. Is that a good solution, SEO wise?

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

Building your category pages

“Well, from an SEO perspective, it might work, but it might make changing themes later on, really a bit of a hassle.

So, I would not do that. I would just go with the theme that already allows you to do what you want to do on the category pages themselves. That probably means you have to go with a bit more of a builder, something like DV, or Elementor or Beaver Builder which allows you to do a lot more on those pages. Good luck!”

Ask Yoast

In the series Ask Yoast, we answer SEO questions from our readers. Do you have an SEO-related question? A pressing SEO dilemma you can’t find the answer to? Send an email to ask@yoast.com, and your question may be featured in one of our weekly Ask Yoast vlogs.

Note: you may want to check our blog and knowledge base first, the answer to your question could already be out there! For urgent questions, for example about the Yoast SEO plugin not working properly, please contact us through our support page.

Read more: Using category and tag pages for SEO »

The post Ask Yoast: Workaround to create category page appeared first on Yoast.