Does Homepage SEO exist at all?It’s clear that a homepage serves a number of different purposes. Among others, it is your welcoming page and your main user guide for your website. I promise to devote another post to that.

There is however one purpose that I feel a homepage does not have, and that is ranking for keywords other than your business name or brand. We have had a number of email questions about that, so it is something certain webmasters or website owners think about. The question is: should they?

Homepage SEO

The process of optimizing your homepage for Google, or any other search engines, could be called homepage SEO. Let me make a bold statement right after naming it: I don’t think that homepage SEO exists (as such). That might not be what a webmaster wants to hear, especially if he has been trying to rank his homepage for years.

If your website is set up right and you have a nice number of backlinks, your homepage will probably rank for your business name or brand anyway. However, there is an exception to that rule. These days, a lot of websites have keyword based names like ‘Christmas Cookies’, ‘Grow Trees’ or ‘Cute Socks’. If your ‘brand’ name is a keyword people could use in Google, it becomes somewhat different. There will be more websites targeting these keywords, so all of a sudden you are facing competition for your site name. This post about homepage SEO is actually triggered by a support question from a review customer that could not get his site to rank for such a site name. He did try to optimize his homepage’s SEO for that.

Briefly, I emailed him my thoughts on homepage SEO and explained the concept of cornerstone content (see aside).

As you probably won’t try to rank your contact page, neither should you try to rank your homepage. That also means you don’t need to bother setting a focus keyword for these pages, let alone spend hours trying to get that green bullet.

However, there is a huge side note to be made. At Yoast, we believe that SEO in general will only work when other things like speed, user experience and social media are taken into account as well. And you could optimize your homepage for that.

Optimizing your homepage, SEO style

Although you don’t have to optimize your homepage for a keyword, there is still work to be done. We have mentioned a few in this article, but there are more. These are the things you can do to optimize your homepage for SEO related things:

  • Make sure the page title focuses on your brand name or main product;
  • add a clear, recognizable logo in the upper left corner for branding;
  • there should be a clear call-to-action that draws attention;
  • don’t forget to structure your menu(!);
  • provide OpenGraph and Twitter Cards for better social sharing;
  • make sure the meta description is filled out, that it explains your USP and invites the visitor to your website;
  • product images are inviting, but the page needs textual information or a great tagline as well;
  • don’t clutter your homepage with a million links. Keep it focused and don’t flood your footer or menu with these links;
  • contact details should be available for most websites, including social buttons and perhaps a newsletter subscription;
  • if applicable, add a search bar (prominent or as an extra).

This is a small checklist every website owner could use to analyse his own homepage. Have you thought of all of these?

Your opinion about Homepage SEO is valued

I am very open to discussion about this. There must be SEO consultants or web masters that feel that homepage SEO is very much needed for any SEO campaign. I am looking forward to seeing examples of that, by the way.

Last year, there was a small hype about one-page websites (nobody seems to be talking about these anymore). That’s probably the hardest homepage to rank, or at least it seems to be. Just another thought.

Let me know what you think of this. I’d love to hear your opinion in the comments: Does Homepage SEO exist at all?

This post first appeared on Yoast. Whoopity Doo!

If your website means anything for your business, you should not forget to schedule time to do maintenance on it. Therefore we regularly write about the things you should do to keep your site in shape. In this post we’ll write about the most basic of all: checking for 404 error pages.

Note: this post does not cover how to create a good 404 page, we do have an extensive post on that, though: Practical guide to creating a 404 error page.

404 error pages and broken links

One of the most annoying things that can happen to a visitor is to hit a 404 on your website. Search engine spiders tend to not like such errors much either. Annoyingly search engines often encounter other types of 404s than your visitors, which is why the first section of this post is split in two:

1. Measuring visitor 404 error pages

If you use the MonsterInsights plugin, it’ll automatically tag your 404 pages for you. So then, if you go into your Google Analytics account and go to Behavior → Site Content → Content Drilldown and search for “404.html”, you’ll find a ton of info about your 404s (click for larger version):

Google Analytics report showing 404 error pages

You’ll see URLs like this:

/404.html?page=/wordpress/plugin/local-seo/&from=https://yoast.com/articles/wordpress-seo/

This tells you two things:

  • The 404 URL was /wordpress/plugin/local-seo/ (it lacks an s after plugin)
  • It was linked to from our WordPress SEO article.

Using this info, you can fix the 404 and go into the article and fix the link.

As you can see from the above screenshot, we actually get 404s too. We break things all the time because our website is a constant work in progress. I don’t think anyone can totally prevent creating 404 errors on his or her site. Making sure that you notice it when you’re breaking things is a good way of not looking stupid for too long though.

Order a website review and get a plugin of your choice for free. We'll even configure it for you »

Get a Yoast website review$ 699 - Buy now » Info

2. Measuring bot 404 error pages

Next to 404s for visitors, search engines will also encounter 404s on your site that can be quite different. You can find the 404s that search engine spiders encounter by logging into their respective Webmaster Tools programs. There are three webmaster tools programs that can give you indexation reports, in which they tell you which 404s they encountered:

  1. Bing Webmaster Tools under Reports & Data → Crawl Information
  2. Google Search Console under Crawl → Crawl Errors
  3. Yandex Webmaster under Indexing → Excluded Pages → HTTP Status: Not Found (404)

One of the weird things you’ll find if you’re looking into those Webmaster Tools programs is that search engine spiders can encounter 404s that normal users would never get to. This is because a search spider will crawl just about anything on most sites, so even links that are hidden will be followed.

If you’re serious about website maintenance, you might want to find these 404s before search engines encounter them. In that case, spidering your site with a tool like Xenu or (our favorite) Screaming Frog will give you a lot of insight. These tools are built specifically to behave just like search engine spiders and will therefore help you find a lot of issues.

Fixing 404 errors

Now that we’ve found all these 404 errors, it’s time to fix them. If you know what caused the 404 and you can fix the link that caused it, it’s best to do that. This will be the best indication of quality of your site for both users and search engines.

As search engines will continue to hit those URLs for quite a while, it actually makes sense to still redirect those faulty URLs to the right pages as well. To create those redirects, there are several things you can do:

  • Create them manually in your .htaccess or your NGINX server config
    While this is not for the faint of heart, it’s often one of the fastest methods available if you have the know-how and the access to do it.
  • Create them with a redirect plugin
    There are several redirect plugins on the market, the most well known one being Redirection. This is a lot easier but has the disadvantage of being a lot slower as to do the redirect, the entire WordPress install has to load first. This usually adds half a second to a second to the load time for that particular redirect.
  • Create them with our Yoast SEO Premium plugin
    Our Yoast SEO Premium plugin has a redirect module that allows you to make redirects with the ease of the WordPress interface, but also allows you to save those to your .htaccess file or a NGINX include file, so they get executed with the speed of the first option above. It actually also has another few nifty options: you can get the 404 errors from Google Search Console straight in your WordPress install and redirect them straight away, and it’ll add a nice button in your WordPress toolbar if you’re on a 404 page:

Redirect button WordPress SEO Premium

Check for image / embed errors

If you’d look at your server logs, you’d get 404 errors of a different type too: 404s for broken images or broken video embeds. You might also have errors that don’t show up in your logs, like broken YouTube video embeds. They don’t cause the entire page not to work, but they do look sloppy. These types of errors are harder to find because webmaster tools programs don’t report them as reliable and you can’t track them with something like Google Analytics either.

The easiest method to find these broken images and embeds is using one of the aforementioned spiders. Screaming Frog in particular is very good at finding broken images. Another method is to check your server logs and go through them searching for a combination of 404 and “.jpg” and “.png”.

How often should you check for 404 errors?

You should be checking your 404s at least once every month and on a bigger site, every week. It doesn’t really depend on how much visitors you have but much more on how much content you have and create and how much can go wrong because of that. The first time you start looking into and trying to fix your 404 error pages you might find out that there are a lot of them and it can take quite a bit of time… Try to make it a habit so you’ll at least find the important ones quickly.

If you can’t wait and want to make sure you’re doing the best you can right now, why not order a website review?

Read more: ‘Clean up old posts and pages’ »

 

Landing pages are a very important part of your business. You see, if you optimize your landing page, you can be increasing both your traffic and your conversion rate. Obviously, you should tailor that landing page to your preferred audience, but there are a number of things that go for all landing pages. In this post, we’ll go over some best practices to get you going!

Landing pages

A landing page is a page where your visitors “land” (arrive) from other sources, such as search engines or social media. So basically it’s a page that’s optimized to evoke a certain reaction from the visitor, such as buying a product or subscribing to a newsletter.

Of course, you’ll have to do quite a few different things for your landing page to gain more traffic as opposed to increasing your conversion rate. In this article, we’ll focus mainly on how to increase your conversion rate. But don’t underestimate the importance of optimizing your page’s SEO. Check out our post on cornerstone content to get you started in that department.

Product pages vs. landing pages

If you have a shop and offer just a few products, your product pages will be landing pages. Take our company as an example. Our plugins all have product pages, and these pages are the pages people use to enter our site when searching for our plugins in Google or after they clicked on an ad on Facebook.

If you have a large shop, product pages and landing pages could very well be different. People will search for specific products, but also for particular categories. If you own an online shop selling clothes, people could search for a specific brand of jeans or jeans in general. You should make sure both function as landing pages.

Focus your landing pages

Focus is especially important on your landing pages since this is where you’re selling your products! Make sure you only have one thing people can focus on and not a lot of different things. If people come to your landing pages because they are looking for the ballet shoes you are offering on your website; you want to guide these visitors to your checkout.

For most landing pages it’s usually pretty easy to figure out what you want people to see most prominently. If you’re selling a product, your landing page for that product should focus on the ‘Add To Cart’ button, also known as the call-to-action. Think about the placement, color and text of your call-to-action. We’ve said this before.

Safety signs and security seals

Safety signs are security seals and logos that increase the trust of your visitors. They make sure people feel like your landing page is a safe place. Of course, some safety signs seem to be more effective than others. Though, having a security sign works better than having none.

Landing page: security seal examples

Payment options

People also prefer your eCommerce shop supporting more than just one payment option. And if people see your landing page has (multiple) trustworthy credit card logos, they’ll feel safer on it! But most importantly, about 60% of your visitors will just abandon their transaction if their preferred payment option isn’t or appears not to be available. So make sure these signs and logos are easy to find on your landing page.

Social proof: testimonials

Wikipedia gives the following description of the term ‘social proof’:

“A psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behavior for a given situation.”

Optimize testimonials

Make sure you use photos with your testimonials. Photos of the customer add to the credibility of the testimonial. The more legit a testimonial looks, the better it will work. It goes without saying that you should never make your testimonials up yourself.

A good way to convey that your testimonials are legit is by using video testimonials. This will obviously take more time, but videos are great for getting a message across.

Testimonials of influential people usually have more impact. Some people are so well-known in their field of work that their opinion carries weight. So with testimonials from influential people, the product will be perceived as better, and your company as more trustworthy.

This means that people will try to copy the behavior of others. And if you show them others who were (very) happy with your product, this will convince them to use it as well. One way to do this is by showing testimonials on your landing pages.

Another way to do this is showing how many other people have already used your product. This is often used for newsletter subscriptions, for example. We’re doing this on our WordPress SEO plugin page as well:

Landing page: reviews work

Headlines of your landing page

Your landing pages have to be very clear about your product from the start. People’s attention span is just about 8 seconds, so you have to make sure you tell all the important stuff first and tell it as fast as possible.

Make sure to optimize your headline and tagline. These should clearly communicate the core goal of your product. Create a headline for your landing page that attracts your visitors’ attention. Below that could be a tagline that brings home the message of your headline. Writing decent headlines and taglines is a science on its own, so this is something you need to test.

Images

Images are said to have a significant impact on navigating your visitor from your landing page through your website. If you’re selling physical products, having decent images on your landing pages can have a really big impact. This way people will better understand what they’re buying. It’s a replacement for actually touching and seeing a product in a physical store.

An excellent way to increase people’s understanding of your product is by having pictures of people using your product on your landing page. People can envision themselves using the product then as well. Beware of the dangers of this, though: using people in pictures will almost always result in facial distraction. Make sure the people in the pictures are looking the right way.

Summarizing

Your landing page should at least optimize for the following things I’ve mentioned in this post:

  • Focus
  • Social proof
  • Headlines
  • Safety signs
  • Payment options
  • Images

All these things require some actual thought and testing before you’ll know what works specifically for your website. So make sure you put some thought in this and test different versions before deciding what to go with. Good luck optimizing your landing page!

Read more: ‘Testimonials: increase your visitor’s trust’ »

This is a republish: we’ve made some minor changes to it. We decided to republish it, because this post and its content are still applicable and important now.

As a small business owner, there are many ways to promote your product or brand. One of these ways is free and can have a huge reach: social media. Unfortunately, a lot of the entrepreneurs I have spoken to recently feel that the effect isn’t worth the effort. We also see that in our reviews, by the way. It doesn’t matter if we review a photographer’s website or the site of an IT agency, most seem to invest little time in social media efforts or campaigns.

It’s hard to determine the ROI of a social media campaign. The tools that help in that determination are paid, most of the time. A small business owner that isn’t convinced about any ROI at all, won’t make that investment. Of course ROI is heavily depending on a number of factors. How do you convince the customer to buy in a tweet, for instance? Nigel’s comment on a previous post of mine about social media got me thinking:

I also like social media but how do you target the “ready to buy” segment instead of people “Browsing”.
Nigel Abery, oaklaurel.com.au

You don’t buy a hammer to drive a nail in a piece of wood, but to build a bench. Growing an audience using social media, like I mentioned in this previous post, is a means to an end. The ultimate goal of all your social media efforts is of course to sell stuff and make money. It can even be the first step in a multistep process: get more newsletter subscriptions via Twitter to sell your eBook, for instance.

Now how will you be able to trigger that social audience to purchase your products or services? I did some digging on the interwebs. There is a lot to be found on the subject, but no user manual that works for everybody. Unfortunately, but not unexpected. It’s not an exact science, of course. But I’ve come up with some insights nevertheless :)

The obvious social media sales

Larger companies with a huge social media audience tweet or post their way to money. Now we have this new product, buy it. This will make your life easier, buy it. If you already have this product of us, you’ll want this product. Buy it.

It’s a direct trigger, that works due to the large audience. If you tell 1,000’s of people to buy something, you’ll get sales. That seems obvious. It will trigger at least someone for sure.

Twitter Buy Button

As seen on Mashable, for instance

In most cases, social media efforts lead to long term wins, like someone that remembers that you are selling Lego t-shirts and finds you back on his Facebook timeline.

Obviously large brands with a huge following can become social entities of their own; small business almost never can. Just the other day I was talking to a local business owner about social media (Twitter). I asked him, if his personal profile had more visitors than his business profile. It did. In most small business cases, social media isn’t a business, but always the person behind it.

Small business

Where should you start, right? I think the social media efforts should be designed around your website, to be honest. If you consider social media a serious opportunity, you should make it work with your website, not next to it. If you come up with a nice idea to promote a product on social media, Twitter is limiting your message by 140 characters. Your optimized landing page on your website doesn’t have these limitations. If the landing page is for that Twitter campaign only, you could even measure the effect of the Twitter campaign without tagging your Twitter campaign in Google Analytics (or knowing what tagging an URL is in general).

Come to think of it, social media is a lead to a sale, not the sales effort itself in most small business cases. I have no scientific numbers to prove it, but it seems to make sense. Sure, you can set up a shop app on your Facebook page, but that would be the same as a great website. You are lowering barriers as visitors can become customers without leaving the social network site.

Besides Facebook, other social media are also catching up with this trend of immediate selling. Pinterest recently introduced buyable pins: when you spot a Pin with a blue price, that means you can buy it. Twitter announced the possibility to add a buy button just a few days ago, and even Instagram made their platform easy to sell from.

The question remains how small business owners can use social media for immediate or future profits.

Leading them to the sale

Social media is buzz for companies and people. Social media is people talking one to many. Social media is narrowing your business communication down to a niche. People just like to browse for things they might like. Unbounce did an article on cart abandonment a year ago, stating that “56% of shoppers aren’t ready to purchase but want to save their selection for later”, in their cart. I think it is safe to say that this behaviour has not changed. So what we should use social media for in this case, is to introduce that product to the customer.

browsing for products, also on social media

Sales appear less ad hoc when it’s a new product to the customer. When there’s some kind of buzz around your product, people might start to want your product unconsciously. It will become more and more top-of-mind, and an eventual sale will be deliberate. Even though it might seem ad hoc to the buyer at that point. This might be a long term effect of your social media efforts.

At Yoast, our main focus is SEO / UX, analytics and WordPress. Most tweets of our team are about those subjects. Creating a niche like that will give you the social following that is already interested in (one of) your products. It did for us.

It is nice to just tweet about beautiful cars when you are selling bread, but those tweets won’t make you money. Tweeting about that new paleo bread you are selling online starting today could get you (immediate) sales, though.

Start early in the process of a new product or offer; “We are releasing a brand new plugin early next week!” or “Only on sale next week, get yours!” and create scarcity; “We’ll start with a test audience of 250 people.” All the basics of sales go for social media as well. You can easily create series, repeat your offer. I tend to use Hootsuite for that. I dislike the GUI of the browser version, but like the functionality. Buffer is another great tool you could try.

Create the need or wish for your product or services. And guide the potential buyer via your preferred social media outlets to your website to close the deal.

To sum things up

Direct selling via social media is becoming more important, and could be an opportunity for small businesses. After reading a number of articles about it, my conclusions are that:

  • I am looking forward to reading about new products on Twitter and hitting ‘Buy’.
  • With more and more social media making the buy button available, I’m curious what the effects will be on social media as a proper sales channel.
  • My gut feeling tells me too little small businesses are aware of shop apps for Facebook, like the Shopify app. Dig into that, especially when you have a local following on Facebook.

Current social media sales efforts should trigger a niche specific sale on your optimized landing page. We also wrote a post about these Landing Pages: be sure to check it and align that landing page with your social media efforts!

This post first appeared as Use Social Media to increase your Sales on Yoast. Whoopity Doo!

A couple of years ago, Google introduced the Sitelinks Searchbox. When activated, this search box appears under the main search result from a given brand. So after searching for the brand in Google, you can directly use the search engine of the online store or site where you want to look something up. The results will be presented on the search results page of the relevant site.

Google sitelinks searchbox

An example of a Sitelinks Searchbox

Adding a Sitelinks Searchbox to your site

It’s not that difficult to make your site eligible for a Sitelinks Searchbox. The process consists of just three steps, and if you are a Yoast SEO user, it is even easier. This process takes care of the technical side, but, in the end, Google determines if your site gets a Searchbox. So, let’s run through steps one to three:

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

Yoast SEO for WordPress pluginBuy now » Info

1. Verify you have a functioning search engine

For 99.5% of WordPress sites, this one is simple: you type example.com/?s=query (replacing example.com with your site’s URL), and you should see search results. If you don’t see it, you’ve either made a conscious decision to move your search engine elsewhere, or you might need to fix your theme.

2. Add the necessary markup

Another very simple step, assuming that A, you found your search engine under step one and it’s the default WordPress one and B, you’re using our free or premium Yoast SEO plugin. If you use the latest version of our plugin, you’ve already got the code right on your site.

It could be that you don’t use the default search engine, in that case, you’ll need to change the URL using the built-in filter. If you don’t have a search engine, get one.

If you don’t use Yoast SEO, you can add the necessary code by hand via an individual block of Schema.org code. Here’s a piece of example code from Google’s documentation, in this same document you’ll also find the requirements for a valid technical implementation. This uses JSON-LD to mark up the code in an efficient and readable way.

3. Set up a preferred canonical URL for your homepage

Step three, and yet again, this one’s easy. When you use Yoast SEO, this has already been done for you. However, if you don’t have it installed, you’ll realize after reading this article that now is as good a time as any to install it. If you want – or need – to do it by hand, you can read up on canonical URL’s in our ultimate guide to rel=canonical.

When you have done all of this and Google deems your site eligible, you might eventually see something like the example above in the search results.

Conclusion

As said before, it is not too hard to get your site ready for a Sitelinks Searchbox. If you use our Yoast SEO plugin, the necessary code is already built in. Now you just have to wait and see if Google deems your site eligible and shows a search box.

Read more: ‘WordPress SEO: the ultimate guide’ »

This post starts with a confession: up until recently, I always asked my husband to do the page analyses of my blog posts. I have known about SEO for many years now, as Joost never stops talking about it. I just never used the plugin to check my own writings myself, I simply asked him to do that. Being married to Joost de Valk just has it benefits and this was one of them. But, as I started to read more and more about SEO and my interest in blogging increased, I decided to do some search engine optimization on my own.

The first time I used the plugin I was amazed by the ease of use and by the many features it contains. It made me fall in love with Joost all over again. I genuinely believe that the page analysis features in WP SEO can help you make your text SEO proof in a very, very easy way. The checks the plugin does are really amazing! But I also discovered a caveat: you should be aware of the temptation of the green bullet!

I want a green bullet in WP SEO by Yoast

Page Analysis and the green bullet in WP SEO by Yoast

The gamification of the page analysis within our WordPress SEO plugin helps you to upgrade the SEO-friendliness of your post. And it’s great fun! It can be a game to get as many green bullets as possible! However, the gamification also increases the likelihood that you cheat your own search engine optimization process in order to get that green bullet in WP SEO. And you should NOT do that!

Example of misuse of the Page Analysis Tool

In one of my first attempts to use the page analysis tool, I found myself cheating the tool in order to receive a green bullet: next to writing blogs for Yoast.com, I also blog for a new mom blog. One of my posts is about my favorite brands of newborn clothes. Of course, being the wife of Joost de Valk, I had done some extensive keyword research in advance. And I wanted this post to rank for baby clothes.

While starting my optimization with entering my focus keyword – baby clothes, I discovered that my blog did not contain the word baby clothes once. Not in the body of the text, not in the title, not in one of the headings. I simply had written about newborn clothes, instead of baby clothes. So, my bullet did not get green. And I felt agitated: I am Mrs Yoast and my bullet was orange. So, this is what I did: I changed my focus keyword from baby clothes to newborn clothes. And.. my bullet turned green instantly. It didn’t feel good, however… My keyword research had been an in depth and solid one. I had chosen, rather consciously, to attempt to rank for baby clothes.

Never change your focus keyword to receive a green bullet!

Changing your focus keyword in order to receive a green bullet is just plain nonsense. According to my keyword research, baby clothes is what people search for in Google. My post, however, was not optimized for baby clothes at all. Changing my focus keyword will not change the search behavior of people. A green bullet does not lead to findability if the terms you optimize for are not the terms people use to search in the search engines.

Fortunately, I came to my senses before my husband detected my cheating. It did make me wonder: if I am that susceptible to cheating the page analysis tool in order to get a green bullet in WP SEO, wouldn’t other people suffer from the same?

How to use the page analysis tool correctly

Your keyword research is always essential and should be leading. You should really analyze in depth on what terms you want people to find you. Your articles should be a reflection of these keywords. Changing your keywords according to the content of your articles, will lead to an ad hoc SEO strategy. You don’t want that! A strategy should never be ad hoc.

Without altering the core of the content of your blog or making too many concessions to readability and structure of your text, you can finetune your blog using the page analysis tool of the WP SEO plugin. Your SEO strategy should never be more important than the actual content and structure of your blog (read my post from last week), but minor changes in text and headings are perfectly acceptable!

I eventually made some alterations in my blog in order to fit it more nicely in my search engine strategy. I decided to change newborn clothes into baby clothes a few times and made some alterations in headings and titles. I did not change the core of my blog.

My bullet turned green and my husband was very proud…

This post first appeared on Yoast. Whoopity Doo!

Getting customers is step one, but keeping these customers really is a totally different ball game. You may annoy people with too many newsletters, or spend too little time on social media engaging to them. There’s more than one reason your once so good customer might abandon your ship to go shop elsewhere.

Engagement, and creating loyal customers, is a part of eCommerce optimization that is easily overlooked or even forgotten. And it really shouldn’t be. It’s a lot harder to convince people to buy your products for the first time than it is to welcome them back for a second purchase.

In this post, we’ll go over the question “how to get people who have already bought something from you to buy something again?” In other words, how do you create loyal customers?

Improve the sharing experience of your products on social media with the Yoast WooCommerce plugin! »

Yoast WooCommerce SEO pluginBuy now » Info

Keep in touch

The first thing you have to do to make sure people will keep buying your products, even after they’ve already bought one (or a few) is to let them know you’re still alive. The best way to do this is simply to actively engage with past customers. Most online shops will have a lot going on at any time, so all they have to do is to show what they’re doing. A very easy way to do this is by maintaining a blog. Launching a new product? Let your audience know in a blog post. Did you change any product features? Let your customers know! Tell them about anything you’re currently busy with.

The best thing is, these posts will also allow you to become more active on other platforms than your website as well. You can share your news on social media. And you can also feature that blog post in your weekly newsletter. So in one easy go, not just your website, but also your social media and your newsletter have become more active.

By being so active, you’ll be in the forefront of people’s mind! It’s why we keep sharing news and knowledge on an almost daily basis, via our blog and platforms like Facebook and our newsletter. This will generate traffic and sales from the audience you love most: your loyal customers.

The one example that immediately comes to mind is the release of our first eBook back in 2014. We launched a new product and promoted that via our default promotional channels:

  • Our SEO blog;
  • Twitter;
  • Facebook;
  • and our newsletter

Sales for the eBook skyrocketed the first days after release. People that knew us from our plugins and consultancy, wanted to know what else we could do for them. They knew we were good for insightful information.

There might be an extra effect here, we realized later. As we give loads of that knowledge, as well as our Yoast SEO for WordPress plugin, away for free. We’ve had quite the number of people telling they were glad to be able to purchase the eBook, to support the development of the plugin. Thank you for that.

Similar things happen after a software release by the way. We see spikes in traffic and sales after a release. The plugin directory is in this case, not per se deliberately, another channel for us to keep in touch. Our 3.3 release of June is a nice example of that:

Release spike

Have great support

Customer experience is probably one of the main reasons (next to your product, obviously) that your customers keep buying from you. Support is an important aspect of that customer experience. If you want people to keep coming back, make sure you give them the support they deserve. Happy customers are loyal customers. Loyalty translates into more revenue for your business, with 7 out of 10 Americans willing to spend about 13% more, if they believe your customer service is top notch (American Express press release, 2011). Of course, for Dutch people this is probably about half that, but that’s because we’re cheap.

If you search the internet, you’ll find a variety of opinions on how to create the best customer service possible. In our opinion, a couple of things matter for sure:

  • Relate to the customer’s problem and guide him towards a solution. Keep him in the loop and be honest about your findings.
  • The goal should be to answer any ticket within 24 hours or less. At Yoast, our support system (HelpScout) shows that almost half of our support is actually answered by a member of our global support team within the hour.
  • Have a clear refund policy. If you’re not able to solve the issue with your customer to your own satisfaction, and this kills the user experience of the customer, a refund might ‘solve’ the issue. It’s better to lose that customer (but maintain a happy relationship) than to maintain an angry customer.
  • One extra thing we are working on is a clear overview of all the licenses a customer has for the customer. We all know how frustrating it can be to find that one license or license key in your archived email messages. As mentioned, we are working on that and really feel this will improve both the support and the customer experience.

Perks of being a customer

A third way to create (more) loyal customers is reciprocity. First of all, let me explain what reciprocity actually is. Simply put, reciprocity means you repay kind actions with kind actions (obviously the word ‘kind’ can be replaced by a less positive word). It’s a construct from the social psychology that actually plays a big role in all of our daily lives.

By using reciprocity, you’ll make your loyal customers feel special. And apart from that, they actually do get something out of it. They’ll feel valued for being your customer. At Yoast, we’ve been doing this by for instance giving our newsletter subscribers or Facebook followers specials deals or discounts.

You can do this even more targeted if you have a online shop where people have to create accounts. You can specifically target the people that have bought multiple items in the past 2 weeks, for instance. Or you can target especially those people that haven’t bought an item in a while, trying to get them active within your company again. My first response was to go for the second one, but that would have been a mistake, as mentioned at the beginning of this post. Loyal customers are just way more important, and way more lucrative. In fact, this 2013 article mentions 80% of your future profit will come from just 20% of your customers. After reading this post, I’m sure you can see where these numbers are coming from.

Start valuing your loyal customers!

The point we’re trying to make in this article is that you shouldn’t just focus on how to get your next new visitors and customers. You should also think about how you can make your current customers more loyal. How you can make sure they love your products even more. Just by doing that, you’ll probably even see they’ll generate a lot of new traffic and customers all by themselves.

Now doesn’t that sound awesome?

Read more: ‘The basics of email marketing’ »

 

We’ve rebuilt our Google Analytics eCommerce tracking plugin and added support for WooCommerce! Read on to learn why you should buy it today. If you want to optimize your shops sales, you need to make sure you connect your visitor data to your transaction data. This plugin does just that. We’ve made transaction tracking so reliable that we can now confidently say our plugin should not miss a single sale.

eCommerce tracking allows you to do all sorts of nice reporting in Google Analytics, on which Thijs will be writing a few posts in the coming months, but let me show you the sort of reports you can get just by enabling the plugin and enabling eCommerce tracking in Google Analytics:

eCommerce overview - Google Analytics

99.9% reliable eCommerce tracking

Google introduce a new feature with Universal: a collections API that allows us to send calls on the server side instead of with JavaScript. This means that when a customer finishes a transaction, the plugin can immediately track it, instead of hoping the customer will reach the thank you page. The plugin can do this while still connecting the sale to the customers session. Because of that, your Google Analytics eCommerce tracking becomes almost 100% reliable. Almost, because there might be the odd occasion where your server errors in sending the request and we don’t want you suing us ;)

This new tracking method also means that when you refund a transaction, the transaction gets reversed in Google Analytics. This makes your Analytics data even more reliable and therefore much more useful.

This Google Analytics eCommerce tracking extension is the first premium extension specifically made for the new version 5 of our free Google Analytics plugin. From $49 for a single site, you can have the best e-commerce reports available.

Super simple installation

The plugin has no settings. You install, activate, enter your license key and activate the license so updates will flow in and you’re done:

installed analytics ecommerce tracking

 

WooCommerce bundle

woocommerce logoAs some of you might have noticed, this is our second WooCommerce offering; we also have our WooCommerce SEO plugin. We’ve bundled the two together in a new Yoast WooCommerce bundle for our most loyal users! If you use both our WordPress SEO plugin as well as our Google Analytics plugin this bundle will save you a lot of money.

Check out the Yoast WooCommerce bundle here or read more about the GA eCommerce tracking plugin!

This post first appeared on Yoast. Whoopity Doo!

We often get questions from people asking about what is “good” WordPress hosting. One of the things we tend to find hard is tell people which hosting company they should use in Europe. Some of the managed WordPress hosting companies out there offer servers in Europe, but their support is primarily American and it almost always shows.

Savvii LogoAbout a year ago, we were approached by a very local (to us) new managed WordPress hosting company, Savvii. They’re based in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, which is about 10 km away and they’d started to offer managed WordPress hosting. As Savvii is part of a larger company I already knew, we started talking immediately. As things go those were rather technical conversations: how should we do this, where should our servers be, etc.

Moving yoast.nl over to Savvii

Earlier this week, after quite some testing, we moved yoast.nl over. Now yoast.nl is not exactly “vital” to our business, but if something is wrong with it, I almost always get a tweet or 5 within the next few minutes, so people do still visit it :).

The new hosting is fast. We ran some tests and the yoast.nl is now actually twice as fast on the frontend. Now the frontend is nice, but the real test is always the admin, and this admin is screaming fast. Savvii’s servers are in England, which of course is a lot closer than our .com servers which are in the US, but the difference is more than “just” a bit of latency.

Savvii rocks all the things you’d expect from a managed hosting party, including 24 hour support and much more. We’ve been very happy to work with them and if you’re looking for high-end WordPress hosting in the Netherlands or elsewhere in Europe, I’d certainly check them out!

PS: we’re hosting a WP Meetup together with Savvii in Nijmegen tonight. The one for tonight is fully booked, but if you follow the WPM024 twitter account or check wpmeetup.nl we’ll tell you all about new meetings.

This post first appeared on Yoast. Whoopity Doo!

10tipspostWriting a blog post -like all other writing- is a skill. In order to keep your reader interested, you should think about structuring your text and writing in an appealing style. You should help your readers to grasp the main idea of your post by providing headings, subheadings and clear paragraphs. If people understand and like your text, they are much more likely to share, like, tweet and link to your post. And that will increase your rankings! So, in order to improve your ranking in Google, you should definitely try to maximize your writing skills!

For some, writing for SEO purposes and writing to attract and keep attracting your audience could appear as two contradictory goals. However, I totally disagree. Indeed, if you not only want a good but also an SEO-friendly blog post, your text should be written in such a way that the words you want to be found for have a very prominent place. And, using your keywords too often severely damages the readability of your text. So, you definitely should not do that!

In this post, I would like to give some tips on writing blog posts that are both very readable as well as SEO-friendly. I genuinely think those two goals should (and can easily!) go hand in hand!

Elementary writing tips for good blog posts

Before anything, your blog post just has to be a good piece of writing! A lot of bloggers just begin to write after creating a new blog post. They just type what comes to mind. For some, this may be sufficient, because they are natural writing talents. Others may need some help. I always follow the next set of ‘rules’ myself.

1. Think before you write!

Think hard about the message of your text. What do you want to tell your readers? And what is the purpose of your text? What do you want you readers to do at the end of the page? Write down the answers to these questions before you begin writing.

2. Write down the structure of your blog post.

Start your post with creating a clear structure. Every post should have some sort of introduction (in which you introduce your topic), a body (in which the main message is written) and a conclusion (which should summarize the most important ideas or deduce some new idea). Write down what you want to write in all these three sections. You now have some sort of summary of your post. The real writing can begin!

3. Use paragraphs.

Everybody uses paragraphs, but make sure to use paragraphs that make sense. Do not start a new sentence on a new line, just because it looks nice. There should be a reason for making a new paragraph. Every paragraph should have a main idea or a main subject. Ask yourself what the main idea of each paragraph is. You should be able to grasp that main idea in only one sentence. If you need more sentences, you simply need more paragraphs!

4. Use Headings.

Headings structure the entire page, so you should make sure to use headings. If you want people to find their way in your articles, you should use subheadings. Subheadings will lead people, help them scan your page, and make the structure of your articles that much clearer.

5. Use signal words.

Signal words help people to scan through your text and help people to grasp your main idea. If you, for instance, have three reasons for wanting to sell a product, you should use signal words as: First of all, Secondly and Finally. Also, words as Nevertheless, Surely and Indeed also give a clear signal to your readers. Readers will instantly get that a conclusion will follow after words as Thus, So or Therefore. Signal words are thus very important to structure your text.

6. Let other people read your post.

Before publishing your post, let someone else read your post first. Ask him/her whether or not he understands the main idea of your post. Correct typo’s and sentences that are not formulated correctly.

Additional tips for writing an SEO-friendly blog post

Learn a lot more about writing in our Content SEO eBook!

Content SEOI think you should start writing, while using the tips I mentioned above. You should never compromise the structure or the readability of your text for SEO purposes. If people like and understand your post, they are much more likely to link, tweet and share your posts. This will lead to higher ranking and more traffic. Nevertheless, without compromising on structure or readability, you can do somethings to improve your ranking even further.

1. Write rather lengthy articles.

Make sure your articles have a minimum of 300 words. As a general rule of thumb: try to put down your search terms in about 1 to 2 percent of your text. So in an article of 300 words, you should mention your search terms 3 to 6 times.

2. Use headings.

Headings are important for readability, but for SEO as well. Make sure that your keywords are used in the subheadings, but do not put your keyword in every subheading (as it will make the text unreadable). Headings help Google to grasp the main topics of a long post and thus can help in your ranking.

3. Use our Yoast SEO plugin.

Our Yoast SEO plugin actually helps you write an SEO-friendly blog post. If you want the help of our plugin you should start by choosing your focus keyword and entering it in the appropriate box. This is the most important search term you want people to find this particular page for. Our plugin actually measures many aspects of the text you are writing and helps with making your blog post SEO-friendly. We will describe the most important ones:

  • The plugin allows you to formulate a meta description. This description has to be a short text which indicates the main topic of the page. If the meta description contains the search term people use, the exact text will be shown by Google underneath your URL in the search results.
  • The plugin analyzes the text you write. It calculates a Flesch reading ease score, which indicates the readability of your article. The Flesch reading ease score for example takes into account the length of sentences.
  • The plugin does a pretty big number of checks. It checks whether or not you used your keyword in 5 important locations: the article-heading, the title of the page, the URL of the page, the content of the article and the meta-description. The plugin also checks the presence of links in your article and the presence of images in the article. It calculates the number of words and the density of usage of the focus keyword in the article. Above that, the plugin also checks whether or not other pages on your website use the same focus keyword, to prevent you from competing with yourself.

If you write a relatively SEO-friendly blog post (based on the aspects mentioned before) the plugin will indicate this with a green bullet. Writing pages with green bullets will help you improve the ranking of the pages on your website.

Note that not every dot has to be green for the overall score to be “good”. For instance, these are the results of this post, which does have a “Good” score:

page analysis results for this SEO-friendly blog post

If you’re not on WordPress, we also have this Page Analysis tool available on our site. It’s still in beta, so we’d love your feedback!

Looking for more optimization? Our Yoast SEO Premium plugin is currently in Summer Sale, which can save you up to 33%!

4. Add content regularly.

Adding actual and functional information to your website will give Google the idea that your website is alive. If it’s not an active website, Google will crawl it less often and it might become less appealing to Google to include the page in the search results.

Bonus tip: Link to previous content

If you already wrote some content about the topic of your current post, don’t forget to link to these posts. It will make your post stronger because you show some authority on the subject. Next to that, your link-structure is also of importance for your ranking in Google. You should read Joost his post about cornerstone articles if you want to read more about this.

Conclusion

The era in which some SEO tricks were sufficient to get your website to rank high in Google has long ended. Nowadays, good content has the highest likelihood to result in a higher positions in Google. And good content also leads to more Facebook likes and shares, tweets and return visitors to your website. Of course, you can do some extra things to maximize the SEO friendliness of your post, but most important is: just write a very, very good post!

This post first appeared as 10 tips for an awesome and SEO-friendly blog post on Yoast. Whoopity Doo!