Google Analytics provides us with lots of information about our visitors. However, we are in complete ignorance about the motivations of our visitors to buy our products.  Why do people shop online?  And how can we influence their motives and make them buy (more of) our products?

Thijs already gave lots of useful insights in how to optimize the conversion of your website in several of his recent posts about conversion rate optimization. Thijs and I are currently working on an extensive study about online purchasing behavior and conversion optimization. For our research we are reading a lot of scientific articles about what makes people buy products online. In this post, I’ll make an overview of some of the most valuable insights about peoples motives to purchase online. And: what you could do with these insights to increase your sales!

Utilitarian & hedonic motives


In most studies investigating the motives people have to shop online, researchers distinguish hedonic motives from utilitarian motives (e.g. To, Liao & Lin, 2007). Utilitarian motives are rational, critical and goal oriented. These people shop to find the right product for the right price.

Next to utilitarian motives, there are hedonic motives. The reason that hedonic consumers love to shop is simply because they enjoy the shopping process. They search for happiness, fantasy, sensuality or enjoyment and they find that in shopping.

While visitors with utilitarian motives should be convinced by rational arguments, the hedonic shoppers will be converted by emotions. Of course, anticipating on utilitarian or on hedonic motives will have totally different consequences for the design and the layout of your website. I will discuss both utilitarian motives (cognitions and trust) as well as hedonic motives (emotions) in more detail below.

Rational motives (utilitarian)

Utilitarian motives are rational. Utilitarian buyers shop to gather information or simply to immediately purchase a product. Utilitarian buyers have a shopping plan and know what they want. These buyers shop online because it saves them money or because they want to find the cheapest product. They also shop online because it is convenient, it saves them time or because they have more products to choose from.

As long as the benefits outgrow the costs, you can easily persuade a utilitarian buyer to buy your product. Wanting to persuade utilitarian buyers means you have to offer good products for a good price, with good information and with a good and swift service.

Some products especially appeal to an utilitarian audience. If you would try to sell WordPress-plugins for instance, chances are big that your audience will have rational motives to buy your products. Few of our clients will be in search of fantasy or sensuality when they consider buying one of our products.

Trust (utilitarian)

Important for the utilitarian buyer is trust. Is this webshop genuine? Will I get my purchases in time? Toufaily, Souiden & Ladhari (2013) claim that online shopping is more prone to uncertainty and risks than traditional shopping. Technological advances have improved security levels, but the lack of psychical contact with both product and vendor make it hard for consumers to trust online shops. This makes the costs for an online transaction higher.

As utilitarian buyers are more convinced that the payment is secure on a website, they are more likely to buy. Thus, making sure your payment is secure will increase the likelihood people buy online. But you should also make an effort to show your visitors who you are. How can they contact you when they are not satisfied? Make sure names (and possibly pictures) of (customer service) employees appear on your website.

Emotions (Hedonic)

Hedonic motives are not rational, but emotional. In an article in Electronic Commerce Research and Applications, Lopez and Ruiz (2011) investigate (among other things) the influence of emotions on online purchasing behavior. They state that several studies have shown that positive emotions, such as enjoyment, predict whether people in fact return to your website.  Research of Bosnjak, Galesic and Tuten (2007) even shows that emotions are more important than cognitions in online shopping.

Lopez and Ruiz recommend companies dealing with hedonic products such as perfumes, jewellery or vacations to evoke emotional responses when communicating their products through the website. The reason for this, Lopez and Ruiz claim, is that “most of its consumers may not be interested in the specific composition of the fragrance or the way the jewel has been cut, but in the sensations the consumer would feel in case of purchasing.” If you try to sell luxury goods you could do your advantage with this marketing technique. The design of your website plays a big role in evoking positive emotions like fun, happiness and relaxation.

Bear in mind that hedonic shopping can influence unplanned shopping behavior. Evoking an emotion could well lead to impulsive shopping behaviour. If you want to increase your sales, you should anticipate on this by offering products in a way that people experience as enjoyable and fun.

How do I know what the motives of my visitors are?

Maybe (a part of) your audience has hedonic motives. But how do you find out? And how do you know whether your audience finds your webshop trustworthy? Google Analytics does not give you that kind of information.

For most websites, you do not have to be a rocket scientist to figure out what motives most of your visitors will have. Simply looking at your product will give you a good idea. If you are offering a luxurious item, chances are big you are dealing with a hedonic audience. But still, if you really want to anticipate on the motives of your visitors, you should measure their motives.

Measuring the motives of your audiences is hard but not at all impossible. You can use packages such as PollDaddy to make an online survey and simply ask your audience what their motives are.  Making the questionnaire is the hardest part of measuring the motives of your audience. Simply asking whether their motives are hedonic or utilitarian doesn’t cut it ;-). If you would want to measure shopping motives, I would advice you to read some studies on motives and learn from the questionnaires these studies used.


Website visitors can have different motives to visit your website. They could be rational, goal-oriented buyers with a clear plan and idea of what they want. In that case, providing quality information and offering a fair price while making the appearance of your website trustworthy would be important to increase conversion. But if you appeal to a hedonic audience, your website should evoke positive emotions in order to persuade your audience to buy your products.

You should keep the motives and the way to appeal to your audience solidly in mind while shaping and altering your website.


Bosnjak, M., Galesic, M., & Tuten, T. (2007). Personality determinants of online shopping: Explaining online purchase intentions using a hierarchical approach. Journal of Business Research.

López, I., & Ruiz, S. (2011). Explaining website effectiveness: The hedonic–utilitarian dual mediation hypothesis. Electronic Commerce Research and Applications.

To, P.-L., Liao, C., & Lin, T.-H. (2007). Shopping motivations on Internet: A study based on utilitarian and hedonic value. Technovation.

Toufaily, E., Souiden, N., & Ladhari, R. (2013). Consumer trust toward retail websites: Comparison between pure click and click-and-brick retailers. Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services20(6), 538-548. Retrieved from

This post first appeared on Yoast. Whoopity Doo!

Two weeks ago, we did a Facebook free giveaway for a Conversion Review. The lucky winner was the webshop Indigobox Jewels. In this post, I’ll highlight a few of the most important things we’ve come across during the review.

I’ll first go through the website as if I were a visitor who wants to buy something. After that, I’ll dive in a bit deeper by going into some interesting data from Google Analytics. You will be shown a screenshot of every step, which I will comment on with what could be improved. That way, you’ll be able to see everything I’m talking about.


If I were to come onto the website at the homepage, this would be my first view:

The design isn’t bad, but there are definitely a few things that could be improved on this homepage:

  1. The menu doesn’t look like the menu of a webshop. Sure, it has the menu-item shop. But is that what you’d expect from a webshop? No, you’d expect categories in the menu. Everything in this menu should be in a top menu or even a footer. The menu bar you’re seeing there should show categories: Rings, Watches, Earrings, etc.
  2. The slider takes up a lot of space, and doesn’t really do anything useful. There are no buttons or calls-to-action in there that could convince me to click through to that item. And even if it did: research has shown that just 1% will actually click the first slide. No one will click any other slide.
  3. There’s a HUGE free shipping call-to-action in the middle there, but I can’t click it! And even if I could click it, should this really be the focus of this homepage? No. The focus should be on getting people to click products, or going to one of the category pages.
  4. The other calls-to-action are way too boring. They’re black ‘Add to cart’ buttons, that don’t really make me want to click them at all. Testing with a different color, but especially shape and size could give some good results.
  5. Lastly, who are you? Why should I buy my products with you? Try to gain some trust from your visitors. Don’t just throw on a few products on a website and think people will start buying it. People will want to know their money is safe.

Category page

I’m not fully sold on any of the products on the homepage, so I’ll click the ‘Shop’ menu item. Here’s what I’m seeing next:

Here are the things I’d do differently on this page:

  1. This is exactly why the categories should be in the menu. If I’m not interested in necklaces, or that one bracelet I’m seeing, I need to click again, choosing one of the categories on the left.
  2. There’s way too much emphasis on the filtering option. There’s a black button there, that at the moment seems just as important as the ‘Add to cart’ buttons.
  3. I’m surprised by the fact that there’s suddenly a “sale” section! Why didn’t I get to see that on the homepage? I’m always interested in getting something cheaper! And these seem like some good discounts, so why isn’t there more emphasis on this?
  4. I’m missing a lot more filter options here, actually. Why can’t I filter on what material the products are made of, for instance?

Product page

So lets say I was interested in the top left necklace, and wanted to learn a bit more about it. I’d click the ‘View more…’ link and get to this page:

This is quite a disappointing page to me. Here’s why:

  1. I clicked the ‘View more…’ button! Why isn’t there actually more to view? I’m getting the same picture! Granted, I can now click on the image to enlarge it, but it’s still the same image. I’d love a 3D picture of the item.
  2. There’s no product description! This just makes that heading ‘Product Description’ even more painful, because it’s just the name of the item there. Try to give as much detail about the product as you can, including material used, size, weight, etc.
  3. There are no reviews. This doesn’t really spark my trust. Did no one like this product? It’s really important that you get some reviews on your products. And if you don’t have any on your products, include reviews on your webshop! Don’t just leave it empty.

It all comes down to creating an experience that comes as close to ‘the real thing’ as possible. What I mean by this is that people want to get the information they’d also get by holding the product in their hands and looking at it.

Shopping cart page

Now, if I were interested in buying, I’d click the ‘Add to cart’ button. This is the page I get to see then:

Now there are two obvious problems with this:

  1. If I just wanted the one product, why can’t I go to the cart immediately? This should at least be an option next to the ‘Add to cart’ button.
  2. The blue bar at the top there is to guide you to the cart. That’s just not enough emphasis for someone who’s just added something to the cart. This should pop out a lot more.

I’ll click on the ‘View Cart’ text link next:

There’s a lot going on here, especially for a cart:

  1. I put something of $15.95 in my cart, but now the order total shows me $22.18?Unexpected costs are the #1 reason for people to abandon their shopping cart. Sure, I could’ve guessed that I’d have to pay some shipping, because I’m not over the $25 limit, but the tax, at least, should be included.
  2. There’s absolutely no focus on this page. There’s three calls-to-action fighting for attention. The only distinction is that the ‘Proceed to Checkout’ button is slightly bigger. That’s too small a distinction. The ‘Apply Coupon’ and ‘Update Cart’ buttons should simply be text links.
  3. Why is that Calculate Shipping text link there? The shipping fee is already there, isn’t it? This makes it all confusing and very uncertain for someone who wants to purchase something. In conjunction with that note text there (“Note: Shipping and taxes are estimated (taxes estimated for the United States) and will be updated during checkout based on your billing and shipping information.”), this doesn’t really make me trust this is the end price.
  4. Why is there no message telling me “order for just $9.05 more, and get free shipping!”? The shipping is at least $4.95, so a quick little sum tells me that would actually just cost me $4.10 more. So this is definitely something any webshop owner should be pushing!
  5. Lastly: I’m missing a progress bar. Let me know how far ahead I am in the process of ordering your product. This will lead to gamification, which means more people will finish the whole process, and more quickly.

Checkout page

I don’t want to apply any coupon, update the cart or calculate any shipping, so I’ll click ‘Proceed to Checkout’:

There are a few things here that meet my eye:

  1. I just went to the checkout page, and I’m confronted with these ‘error’ type messages. These should really be a lot less intrusive, because now it looks like I’ve done something wrong.
  2. See that small text next to Shipping Address? That says ‘Ship to some other address’. This is really hard to read, so that should definitely be a lot bigger.
  3. I’m missing my order here. That’s all the way at the bottom of the page. I don’t want to fill in all my details before I can make sure the order is alright. So the details about what I ordered should actually be on top.
  4. There’s only one payment option on this page: PayPal (can’t be seen on the screenshot). If people see your website has (multiple) trustworthy credit card logos, they’ll feel safer on your website! Maybe even more important: 59% will simply abandon their transaction if the preferred payment option isn’t available.
  5. You should really use inline validation, which I’ve already written about in a previous post about our own checkout page. Giving people direct feedback will gamify the process of filling in your form fields. This will make it more likely they fill in the entire form!

Google Analytics

Of course the front end part of the purchase process is very important for conversion rate optimization, but when it comes down to it, the base of it all is data. And that’s why you need Google Analytics. However, in order to get useful data out of Google Analytics, there are a few things you need to do. Especially if you have a webshop.


The setup of the Google Analytics of Indigobox Jewels was missing goals. Goals are a very important measurement for any kind of website really. No matter what kind of website you have, there’s always something you want your visitors to do. And that’s why you set up goals, to see how many of your visitors are actually doing what you want them to.

Goals allow you to see how many people start in your so called ‘funnel’, and how many proceed to the next step in this funnel. This allows you to see the conversion rate of every step. Obviously this tells you a lot about where you have the most room for improvement, which is invaluable data in itself.

Ecommerce tracking

Ecommerce tracking is the tracking of your revenue. This is a must for anyone selling anything through their website. Unfortunately, Indigobox Jewels were missing a setup for ecommerce tracking as well.

With ecommerce tracking, not only can you keep track of what your revenue has been for any given period of time, but it also shows you which pages are worth the most. Google Analytics calculates this by measuring which pages eventually led to a sale 1 or 2 steps down the road. In knowing this, you know which pages to put more focus on, and which pages can use some improvement.

Mobile traffic

When going through the Google Analytics of Indigobox Jewels, I noticed the site had a very high percentage of mobile visitors:

And the orange piece of the pie there is the percentage of visitors on a tablet. This is nearly 60% on mobile devices! With numbers like these, you need to make sure your mobile website is up to par. And if you’re selling things on your website, your purchase process should be working flawlessly on mobile devices as well.

Indigobox Jewels had a pretty nicely responsive website, but there was room for a few improvements on their cart page:

As you can see, the menu and header take up a lot of space on a smartphone. Half of the screen is taken by it, in fact. The call-to-action to go to the checkout page was a long way down. You always have to make sure your most important call-to-action of every page is easily accessible, even on mobile devices. And apart from that, make sure everything fits and doesn’t “fall off” the page on a mobile device. Having your total not completely visible, as in the screenshot above, will definitely not help your conversion rate.

Optimizing for mobile devices

Optimizing for mobile devices can be quite bothersome. There are always hard choices to make, but some choices you can’t go without. With Indigobox Jewels this was the amount of visitors accessing their website using iDevices:

Of their mobile traffic, 52.7% came from an iPhone, and 21.2% came from an iPad. So if there’s any place to start the optimization for mobile devices, it’s with iDevices, in Indigobox Jewels’ case. Always check your statistics to make sure you’re making the right choices.

That’s it!

As said, this is only a small part of what we’re looking into during our Conversion Reviews. Do you have any questions or remarks? Let me know in the comments!

This post first appeared on Yoast. Whoopity Doo!

If you’re an advanced WordPress user, you’ll have “abused” taxonomies quite often to relate post types to each other. Now you might think “abused? but that’s what they’re for, right?” Well… Not entirely. Sometimes you just want to relate posts directly to posts. There are loads of reasons why you’d want to do this, for instance I might want to relate plugins to this post as I talk about them This functionality is exactly what our new plugin Post Connector offers.

The backstory

Sometimes, in business, you get lucky. We did recently when we were lucky enough to find a kick ass new senior developer within one (!!) day of posting the job posting. Barry Kooij joined us and has been showing his skills on various plugin projects already. Barry already had a premium plugin going which we “acqui-hired” along with him.

When I saw this plugins code, I knew I wanted to hire Barry. I have to admit I was slightly scared by the code too. Barry is the kind of developer that makes me weep at my own ineptitude to properly structure and document code. You’ll find out what his new skills mean for our other plugins soon, if you haven’t already.

The plugin used to be called Sub Posts but we’ve decided to rename it Post Connector, and it is now available on

Some of you might know about a plugin called Posts to Posts from Scribu. I loved that plugin, but Scribu himself has entered it into “hibernation mode”, which makes our, fully supported premium plugin, all the more valuable.

Future plans

We have lots more features planned for this plugin and will be entering into an active release schedule with it. Along with those releases, we’ll be working on our marketing materials, as I realise we can do a better job of explaining what this plugin does. For now, go to the Post Connector plugin page and check it out!

This post first appeared on Yoast. Whoopity Doo!

To-Do List Tools

To-Do List Tools

Remember The Milk (RTM) // Trello // Asana // // Evernote.

Since I’m really serious about following the main idea for this site – which is making normal people’s lives easier by providing structured and actually useful info – I’m starting with something that’s an important part of every internet person’s existence.

The fact is that if you’re doing any sort of business on the web then you have tens of projects to deal with, tens of tasks, tens of people to contact, and tens of goals to achieve…and probably other tens of things as well.

A productivity tool does come handy. That’s for sure. But which one to use? This is the question we’ll answer today.


This isn’t a fake review. I did actually spend a considerable amount of time testing all these tools. And this was real testing, meaning that I made those tools part of my daily work. In short, I’ve become a user. Heck, here’s a proof of my RTM usage:


So I guess what should follow now is a handful of blocks of text talking about various features and then giving you my verdict on the best to-do list tool out there, right? But that would be: (1) boring, and (2) wouldn’t be a usable resource.

That’s why I’m going to do the following instead…

Below, there’s a simple table that presents all 5 tools, their strong and weak sides, their purpose, their level of simplicity, their ease of use, their feature-richness, their GTD-friendliness, and their (assumed) target group of users.

Top 5 productivity tools compared

Remember The Milk

Remember The Milk


To-do list management for a single person.

Tags, multiple lists (projects), deadlines, priorities, keyboard shortcuts.

Not as far as I know.

Android, iPhone, iPad (Siri integration), BlackBerry, Gmail plugin, Outlook plugin, Twitter integration, Google Calendar integration, plus a number of third-party apps.


(just a single list of tasks/things; no place to get lost).

(setting your lists and your tasks should only take a couple of minutes).


Easy to implement (it isn’t built in from the get go).

The ease of use, the speed of use, the ultra-functional keyboard shortcuts and the number of additional apps available.

Their iOS apps. The sync is done only once a day (you have to pay for real-time sync).

I’ve been using this tool (on and off) for more than 2 years. It’s very optimized for heavy desktop users. It’s fast and reliable. However, it doesn’t support any teamwork, and like I said, the iOS apps are weak. So this tool is for heavy desktop users that work alone.


Very simple task management.

Only simple task management, and basic project functionality.

Not really.

Android, iPhone, iPad.


(there’s just one main list-style layout with some buttons on the top).

(it takes no time to learn it; you can get started right away).


Kind of. You can use as one of your GTD elements, not as a manager to handle a whole GTD setup.

Its simplicity. There’s literally no learning curve

If you want to use it on desktop, you only get the Chrome plugin. There’s no official web interface.

People who just need the simplest task manager possible.



Free (the basic plan).

Task management and overall “things” management (snippets of notes, etc.).

Boards (projects), lists, tasks, sub-lists, drag and drop, labels, deadlines.


Android, iPhone, iPad, Window’s 8 Tablet.


(there’s just the main workspace with lists and cards, nothing fancy).

(the interface is highly intuitive and it takes no time to master).


Easy to implement (it isn’t built in from the get go).

Ultra-easy to use. Setting it up and getting started takes no time. Strong focus on teamwork.

A design that’s a bit too simple. No clear way to mark tasks as completed.

People who need a powerful task manager, but most of all want to be able to get started with it right away with no hiccups.



Free (the basic plan).

Project management and task management in a group setup or on your own.

Projects, deadlines, collaboration, subtasks, tasks, hearts (whatever that is).

Yes. Up to 15 users in your team for free.

Android, iPhone, iPad, Chrome plugin, Google Calendar integration, and more.


(the tool uses a classic list layout; there are sections for projects and tasks; in short, kind of simple, but you need a while to get a grasp on everything).

(creating tasks and projects is very simple, but you need a while to learn how to make the tasks actually appear on your dashboard and how to speed up the process of creating and editing the tasks).


Easy to implement (it isn’t built in from the get go).

High focus on teamwork. Plus, the design is very nice to look at.

There’s a centralized place for tasks. What this means is that you need to create a task first, and only then assign it to yourself so you can see it on your dashboard. This isn’t the most optimized solution if you’re working on your own. But at the same time, it’s a huge advantage if you’re a project manager.

Project managers and people who like to be able to expand their operations above some standard task management. For single user, this might be an overkill though.



Free (the basic plan).

Advanced note management system.

A ton of them: real-time cloud sync, multiple notebooks, support for various types of content, tags, reminders, sharing, and a lot more.

Yes, in Evernote for Business.

Android, iPhone, iPad. Plus, a range of other side apps and third-party apps.


(Evernote is advanced, and because of this, the interface isn’t simple).

(We’re talking about using Evernote for to-do list management, and Evernote is simply not optimized for this; it requires a lot of setup before you can use it for this purpose).


Possible to implement. The fact that Evernote can be used for GTD is actually the only reason why I’m including it on this list. (There’s a great guide called The Secret Weapon on how to configure your Evernote for GTD-enabled task management.)

The possibility to make it your cloud-based central for all kinds of notes. It goes a lot further than a simple task management.

The amount of work you have to do before you can start managing your tasks and projects with it.

People who are taking various types of notes heavily and like to have everything in one place. People who like to have complete control over their tasks and projects. Also, people who for some reason, don’t like any of the other task management tools presented here.


And the best to-do list manager is…

The best tools for me personally are and RTM. But that’s only because of the way I’ve built my personal productivity system – taking my current setup into consideration, the kind of work I do and the kind of tasks I usually take care of.

Let me emphasize this again, those two are the best for me.

Will they be the best for you? I don’t know.

That’s why I’ve created this comparison so you can take a glance at each tool’s basic features and make an educated guess based on this data.

I am curious to hear your opinion about these tools, by the way, so don’t hesitate to contact me.

 Looking for some online business advice for normal people
and more resources just like this one? Jump in.

Which Is the Best To-Do List Manager / Task Manager? Top 5 Tools Compared |

We’re very proud to bring this release to you today: WordPress SEO premium 1.0 is here. This premium version adds a redirect module to the WordPress SEO plugin that allows you to manage your redirects from within your WordPress installation. It also allows you to retrieve your site’s crawl errors from Google Webmaster Tools and fix those immediately with that redirect functionality.

If you’d already bought the premium plugin, you’ll receive an email soon with a download link.

Fix your site’s crawl errors easily

The combination of being able to retrieve Google’s crawl errors and the tool to fix them is something I’ve long wanted to combine into one. I’ve been annoyed for ages with the need to log into Google Webmaster Tools, look at the errors and then write redirects which went into my servers config file. It can be a tedious process and writing redirects is not everybody’s forte.

I’ve used several plugins to do redirects but none of them really worked, especially as, when your site gets older and bigger, you’ll end up with more and more redirects. Which is why we came up with a scalable redirection solution. Look how easy it is:

WordPress SEO Premium: easily redirect / fix GWT errors

Scalable redirect solution

You have two options when using the WordPress SEO Premium plugins redirect module: you can have it do the redirects for you, or you can have it write a file that you can then include in your server config files or even your .htaccess. Doing the latter means that the redirects will be faster, which is especially useful if you have a lot of them, while still allowing you to maintain them in an easy, WordPress like interface:

Wordpress SEO Premium: redirects manager

More is to come!

We’ve got a lot more plans for the WordPress SEO Premium plugin (and for the core WordPress SEO plugin for that matter), so more is definitely to come. Those of you who’ve followed our WordPress SEO github will have noticed that Barry, our new senior developer, has been going all over the place fixing errors, which has lead to a number of releases of the last few weeks.

I’m very excited about this new release, I hope you will be to!

Want to buy the WordPress SEO Premium plugin? Well you can! For as little as $89 for a single site, you’ll get 1 year of upgrades (and new features) and access to our support team:

Check out our WordPress SEO Premium plugin

Let us know what you think!

This post first appeared on Yoast. Whoopity Doo!

After six weeks and more than 9.3 million downloads of WordPress 3.8, we’re pleased to announce WordPress 3.8.1 is now available.

Version 3.8.1 is a maintenance releases that addresses 31 bugs in 3.8, including various fixes and improvements for the new dashboard design and new themes admin screen. An issue with taxonomy queries in WP_Query was resolved. And if you’ve been frustrated by submit buttons that won’t do anything when you click on them (or thought you were going crazy, like some of us), we’ve found and fixed this “dead zone” on submit buttons.

It also contains a fix for embedding tweets (by placing the URL to the tweet on its own line), which was broken due to a recent Twitter API change. (For more on Embeds, see the Codex.)

For a full list of changes, consult the list of tickets and the changelog. There’s also a detailed summary for developers on the development blog.

If you are one of the millions already running WordPress 3.8, we will start rolling out automatic background updates for WordPress 3.8.1 in the next few hours. For sites that support them, of course.

Download WordPress 3.8.1 or venture over to Dashboard → Updates and simply click “Update Now.”

Thanks to all of these fine individuals for contributing to 3.8.1:

Aaron Jorbin, Allan Collins, Andrew Nacin, Andrew Ozz, Aubrey Portwood, Ben Dunkle, Connor Jennings, Dion Hulse, Dominik Schilling, fboender, Janneke Van Dorpe, janrenn, Joe Dolson, John Blackbourn, José Pino, Konstantin Kovshenin, Matias Ventura, Matthew Haines-Young, Matt Thomas, Mel Choyce, Mohammad Jangda, Morgan Estes, nivijah, Scott Taylor, Sergey Biryukov, undergroundnetwork, and Yuri Victor.

WordPress three eight one
We heard you didn’t like bugs
So we took them out

In our site reviews we check a website from multiple angles, and because of that we use a variety of tools to determine what to advise. Some tools are for analysing, some for clearing things up when we are in doubt. It only seems logical to provide you with a list of some of these tools and encourage you to use them as well. Here they are:

Screaming Frog SEO Spider

Screaming Frog SEO Spider We have mentioned this tool a few times before, as we are really enthusiastic about it. Screaming Frog SEO Spider makes our job a lot easier, as it goes over all links and pages of a website and provides among others:

  • Status codes (301, 404)
  • Page titles and meta descriptions
  • Canonical URLs and robots meta data

Besides that, there is a bunch of extra information and all is filterable per file type, but also for instance on page titles longer than 65 characters.
Visit their website for more information:


SearchMetricsThe possibilities of are huge. Their set of collected data per website is always giving us insights on trends in SEO Visibility, backlinks and much more. We use their graphs to determine possible Panda and Penguin problems, for instance (when visibility drops all of a sudden). Sudden rises in visibility could indicate malicious link practices.

We also like the (weekly) rankings for keywords, to see whether the website is ranking for keywords they tell us they want to rank for. provides insights on overall search trends, and changes in rankings for the major websites. Next to that, the social rank and visibility tells us whether a website is using social media marketing the right way.
Please find more information on their website:


MajesticSEOWhen analysing backlinks for a website, you want to determine whether links and anchors are high or low quality, and what the number of links is. Although links currently is an SEO subject of discussion, bad links are never a good thing. The list of anchor texts also gives a hint on over-optimisation of links.

MajesticSEO shows all the link information you need, not just in numbers and text, but also in trends and graphs. The Referring Domains and External Backlinks Link Profiles use a trust flow (how well-known are the websites linking your website) and citation flow (how many websites link to your website) to show immediately how well a website is doing, link wise.
This tool can be found on

Quix App

Yes, Joost built this one a couple of years ago, and we haven’t been maintaining it for a while. Yet the tool provides a lot of quick insight on a specific page, for instance using the command ‘seocss’ to see which headings a site is using and which links are (no-)followed. The ‘seo’ command shows some basic checks: is the canonical right, and does the page title make sense? It also counts the number of links per page, for instance.

For server checks (what server, etc), the command ‘h’ tells you more. Next to SEO checks, the plugin does a lot more. As mentioned, the app is not supported at the moment, and some of the commands may not work properly, it is still an essential tool for our site reviews.
More on Quix App at the website:

Google PageSpeed Insights, Pingdom Tools, Yslow, WebPageTest

Obviously, site speed is different when checking it from different locations, and the tools mentioned above do not always provide the same results. That is why we use all these tools and do not rely on just one. Google Page Speed Insights splits mobile and desktop, Pingdom Tools allows for multiple locations and Yslow has segmented the checks nicely. WebPageTest has a few main checks it grades nicely.

URLs for these tools:


Sometimes you just want a quick check for broken links or status codes. That is where the free tool Integrity (for Mac) comes in. Just enter an URL and find the information you are looking for. A nice alternative for Windows is Xenu.
Visit the Integrity website at


Like Integrity, this tool is just for a quick check. Where the speed tools we mentioned do provide recommendations like ‘enable compression’, this check has told us more than once that compression is already enabled. Which means the possible compression advice in the review either is not valid for the website (compression is recommended for files that can norm easily be influenced) or should be more specified.
For more information see


And of course we use Google as well. D’oh.

We would be more than happy to hear from other tools you use, and why. Please leave a comment (don’t forget the URL of that tool!).

This post first appeared on Yoast. Whoopity Doo!

If you want to rank a site for a keyword that’s even remotely competitive in search engines like Bing and Google, you need links. Link building has thus been one of the important pillars of most SEO campaigns over the last decade. Getting links is a non trivial business, and because of that, the SEO industry has always jumped on every new tactic it discovered to get links at scale. The usual result is Google “killing” that tactic.

We’ve seen link buying, comment spamming, directories, etc. etc. It’s a long list of tactics that, in and of themselves aren’t bad, but when used at scale, go sour quickly. As they say: “too much of a good thing”. The latest tactic being hammered by Matt Cutts is guest blogging. As the owner of a fairly popular blog I can only agree with him: it’s gone too far.

In his post, Matt says:

In general I wouldn’t recommend accepting a guest blog post unless you are willing to vouch for someone personally or know them well.

If you check the list of authors on this blog, you’ll see people that either work here, I’ve personally worked with in previous jobs / projects and / or consider good friends. All of them are people with an opinion I respect on their respective topics. I didn’t need Matt to tell me that, I’ve always thought that was the only way to do it, because I respect my own brand.

I’m currently on my way back home from Silicon Valley, where I’ve seen and spoken to people at 9 different companies, both large and small. These guys needn’t really think about link building. Most of them are building something so cool, that people link to it because they like it. That doesn’t mean you can’t or needn’t do link building. In fact I advised one of them to amplify their link growth by doing a specific kind of outreach.

Branding is the new link building

Admittedly, I never did do that much link building and have been doing less and less of it. I was thinking as to why I never did, and it’s actually rather obvious if you look at our client list for our SEO consulting (I don’t mean our website reviews, but the consulting where I come on-site and do training and strategic and tactical work). We work for big brands. Not necessarily big companies, but all of them truly brands with a product or service we believe in. In fact, we’ve stopped doing SEO consulting for companies whose products we don’t believe in.

If you’re not willing to build a product or service people love (or at least talk about), and to attach a brand value to it that people will relate to, do you really think you deserve to rank?

Content marketing without branding is…

Like an airplane without wings: it won’t fly. You can have the best airplane chairs in the world, if you don’t put engines and a wing on that plane, you’re not going to get very far. In discussing this topic I got the counter argument that the best content for any specific topic should rank. I think that’s bullshit. Search engine result pages based entirely on the quality of content would look like **** too, just like results based on the number of links are. This is not simple math.

So SEOs have a choice: now that Matt has said guest blogging won’t work anymore, are they going to try and find the next disposable tactic? Will they remain tricksters? Or are they going to become real marketers? I think that as an industry we’ve been relying on crappy tactics enough by now.

I’ve made my choice quite a while ago. We invest heavily in branding. We have, Erwin, our illustrator and Mijke, our designer, doing lots of work for that. Together they’re responsible for the fact that people recognise that Barry, our new developer, works at Yoast just by seeing his avatar. So branding is one of our tactics and probably the most expensive one at that.

We also sponsor conferences, we speak at conferences, we write great content, we do some outreach, we even write the occasional guest post. You see, all of those things are tactics. If we relied on any one of them too much, we’d be in trouble, but we don’t. And yes, I think good branding is just as important for SEO as link building is.

These tactics are part of our larger strategy that is aimed at making us a bigger brand in the spaces of SEO, website optimisation, conversion rate optimisation and WordPress. So, what is your strategy and your goal? Which tactics fit into that strategy?

This post first appeared on Yoast. Whoopity Doo!

Davis Ogilvie -

This WordPress-driven site is for a South Island, New Zealand engineering, surveying, and development company.

Urban Legend web was commissioned by Publica DDM to create the theme and functionality from supplied PSD files.

We used  Responsive v as a parent theme. A series of new widgetable areas was created,  the Advanced Custom Fields plugin was used. Custom jQuery drives the front page scroller, and portfolio and people page mouseovers.

Recover Your Site From Being Hacked

Recover Your Site From Being Hacked

UPDATE. This whole thing happened at the turn of 2013 and 2014. However, I’m still experiencing some SEO consequences of this and that’s why I consider this study a valuable read for any online business owner. At the bottom, there are takeaway lessons on how you can avoid something similar happening to your site.

A couple of months ago, my domain got hacked. Kind of. I mean, the domain itself didn’t get hacked directly, but the problem was the server it was hosted on.

Back then, I was a HostGator customer, a mistake I will never make again.

Just to give you a quick heads-up on that situation, HostGator doesn’t care that much about their customers’ safety. So in my case, they allowed for a spam forum to get installed on my domain without my knowledge.

You could see it by navigating to (no longer there, so don’t bother checking the URL). The forum featured a ton of spam phrases and links. As we all know, those things are not good for SEO…not good at all.

So how did I discover the problem? Well, I’m not an IT security ninja or anything. I was simply informed by vBulletin update service that “my forum needs to be updated.” Can you imagine?

I quickly found that the forum is quite big, and what’s even worse …

525 pages of it were indexed by Google

This is visible on the screenshot I took on the day of the discovery:


Oct 15th 2013

This was Oct 15th 2013.

Today’s Jan 17th 2014 and 2 of the pages are still indexed

… despite being nonexistent for months:


Jan 17th 2014

This means that Google still didn’t manage to fix things on their end.

(By the way, for future reference; if you want to check out what’s the status of the spam pages on Google this very moment, click here.)

I’m saying this not to complain about my own personal situation but to provide some educational value. What I mean precisely is that Google is obviously not as good at indexing stuff as we’d like it to be.

And what that means for you is that you will likely be forced to wait a similar amount of time, should you get hit by a similar problem.

What did I do about the index?

Apparently, I didn’t just sit patiently and wait for Google to do its magic on their own, so I took some steps to help them out.

First of all, here are the things I didn’t do.

I didn’t go to the index exclusion tool available in Google Webmaster Tools. The reason why is simple, in my book, using this tool would just like admitting that I’m guilty of placing the forum there, which I wasn’t.

Now, I’m not entirely sure whether such reasoning makes sense or not, but that’s what I did nevertheless.

Here are the three main things I did:

1. Changed my webhost

HostGator failed to even acknowledge the problem so I moved over to IX Web Hosting. One of the nice surprises right off the bat was that they gave me a dedicated IP for no extra charge (it has its values for SEO, I’d advise always going for a dedicated IP if you have the chance).

Changing my webhost ultimately killed the forum since the problem was on the previous server. This also confirmed that it was exactly the case, by the way.

2. Researched .htaccess files

The .htaccess file is a small text file that sits in your server’s root (main) directory and deals cards as for who gets to see what on your site, more or less.

In other words, you can prevent anyone from accessing a given area of your site by creating a new rule in the .htaccess file.

What I did was block all access to

3. Tuned my robots.txt file

Robots.txt is another text file sitting in your server’s root directory. This one is responsible for regulating what gets accessed by search engine robots (hence the name, robots.txt).

This was another place where I blocked access to the forum.

Could I do anything more?

Maybe, I don’t know. I should have probably reached out to some security specialist. Too bad I didn’t.

Nonetheless, I thought that the above was just enough for Google to get a grasp and deindex those old and non-existent forum pages.

It wasn’t.

As I already mentioned here, I still have 2 pages indexed in Google.

The takeaway and lessons for the future

A handful of them:

  1. Always keep a close eye on what’s going on on your domain/site. Do it through rank tracking tools like Market Samurai, Moz, or even Google Webmaster Tools.
  2. Use additional security plugins like BulletProof Security.
  3. Perform frequent site backups. You can use Online Backup for WordPress for that.
  4. In case anything bad happens, make fast decisions. Like my decision to flee from HostGator.
  5. (Something I didn’t do.) Ask around on expert forums online. In hindsight, this could have saved me a lot of hassle and wandering in the dark.

How Long Does It Take to Recover Your Site From Being Hacked, Google-Wise [Case Study] |