If you own a business in a small town near a big city, you’re probably a bit jealous of your competitors in this big city. The search volume for that city will most likely be significantly larger, and with that, the amount of potential customers as well.

So, is there any way you can still benefit from this proximity of potential customers? Perhaps if you also appear to be located in this city? You could, for example, easily use the name of a city in your URL, even if your business is actually located in the neighboring town. But how does this affect your SEO? And are there perhaps other reasons to avoid doing this? Let’s discuss in today’s Ask Yoast!

Vincent Ramos emailed us his dilemma:

I have a website with a city name in the URL, but my actual location is in the neighboring city, which gets smaller search volume. Our NAP is in the footer of every page with our actual address. Does it hurt my SEO that there’s a different city in the URL?

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

Adding a different location to your URL than your actual location

“Does it hurt your SEO? No, but it might hurt your visitors when they come and visit your site because they expect you to be in city A and you’re not. So, I’d always tend to go to the side of honesty: just say that you’re in the city that you’re actually in.

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You’ll find that actually being close to the center of the city that you want to be found in is very important in terms of local SEO. It’s very annoying, but that’s how most of the local rankings work. So, don’t lie, put your real location in your website URL if you can. See how that reflects on people and just say on your page, “We’re very close to ‘whatever the name of the city is’…”, because that’s the honest truth that usually lasts longer than any tricks around that. Good luck.”

Ask Yoast

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

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

Read more: ‘Ranking your local business’ »

 

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We regularly receive questions about category pages and similar pages. It seems some of you are unsure of how to properly implement these. And sure, it’s good to think about this, as pages like category or tag pages can be thin content, if you do nothing to improve them. But you can also use these pages to your advantage!

It’s a good idea to give your category and tag pages some TLC, so there’s sufficient content on them. For product category pages, that means adding some text about that particular type of product, for example. So, what about food blogs? What should you do with your category and tag pages to help your recipes rank as best they can?

Analida Braeger emailed us her question on the subject:

Is it true that leaving tags, categories and paginated content open on a food blog hurts the ability of existing recipes to rank effectively? Should these be blocked with a ‘noindex, follow’ robots tag?

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

Should you noindex tags and categories on food blogs?

“No, don’t noindex those pages. Category and tag pages are very important pages that you want crawled a lot. As soon as you start noindexing them, Google will crawl them less and less. So you shouldn’t do that.

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What you should do is optimize your category and tag pages for terms that are groups. So, if you have recipes, then you have groups of recipes too, and you should optimize those category and tag pages for those terms.

You should make sure that, for instance, for pasta recipes, your category page for that is good enough for people to land on. So, you should improve on those pages and make them better landing pages to land on from the search results and then they will get traffic for terms that are broader than the average recipe, and they’d be perfect pages. So, don’t noindex follow them, instead improve them. Good luck.”

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

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There are many occassions when you may want to put a PDF on your site. For example, when you’ve made an online magazine, when an article you wrote was featured in a book or magazine, or when you’ve written detailed instructions for a DIY project. So far, so good.

But things can get a bit more complicated when you also have the content from this PDF somewhere else on your site, or on another website. To avoid duplicate content, you need to set a canonical URL. But how do you do that for a PDF document? And what is the best way to do that? Let’s discuss in today’s Ask Yoast!

Karen Schousboe emailed us her question:

I plan to publish a PDF magazine under medieval.news. Some of the articles in each issue will also be freely available on a sister website. How should I handle that? Do I link canonical from the articles to the PDF magazine or from the magazine to the website?”

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

Canonicalization and PDFs

“Well, you can have a canonical HTTP header and what I would suggest doing is canonicalizing from the PDF magazine to the sister website, because HTML pages just rank a lot better than PDFs, usually.

In fact, I would suggest publishing everything in HTML and not necessarily in PDF because PDF is just not very easy to land on from search. You can’t do any tracking, you can’t do a whole lot of things that you can do with HTML. So I would seriously consider doing all of it in HTML pages and then canonicalizing between them. Good luck.”

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Ask Yoast

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

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

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

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To increase your reach, it could be worth your while to post some of your content on sites with more authority and more visitors than your own site. But it’s a good idea to think about how to do that. You may think ‘If many people see my post on a site like medium.com, they’ll automatically head over to my site to check out that post, increasing my traffic.’ But is that really the case?

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You probably don’t want to end up with duplicate content, and it also isn’t in your best interest to be competing with high authority sites. So, how can you use these platforms, like Medium, to your advantage? Let me tell you what I think in today’s Ask Yoast!

Tsahi Levent-Levin emailed us a question on crossposting content on Medium:

There seems to be a trend of placing a post on a blog and then republishing the exact same content on medium.com. As there’s no ability to control the canonical tag, how do you view this practice? Does it increase reach and discoverability or does it dilute ranking due to duplicate content?

Rectification: It appears that you can set a canonical link on Medium! So please add it and prevent duplicate content by doing so.

 

Ask Yoast

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

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

Read more: ‘What to do if the traffic on your blog is decreasing?’ »

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It’s one of the most frustrating problems you can encounter when working on your site’s SEO: one of your pages is ranking well in Google, but it’s ranking for the wrong keyword. You haven’t optimized this page for the keyword it’s ranking for, and the page you did optimize for that keyword, is nowhere to be found in the results pages.

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It can be harmful to your CTR and conversion rate when the wrong page for a keyword pops up in the results pages, but what can you do about it? First, you should make sure the page you actually want to rank for your keyword can be properly crawled and indexed. If that is indeed the case, take a long, hard look at how you’ve optimized your content. Odds are, your content and your internal linking structure aren’t as good as you think at showing Google which page to rank for which keyword. Let’s dive into this a bit further in this Ask Yoast!

David Dumdei sent us his question on this matter:

Google insists on ranking our homepage for ‘computer services’ and completely ignores the page on our subdirectory ‘computer services’ that is actually optimized for this keyword. As our home page isn’t optimized for ‘computer services’, we rank low. What can we do if we already have great site structure and keyword optimization? I’m considering creating a subdomain to fix this issue.

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

When Google picks the ‘wrong’ page to rank for your keyword

“Don’t create a subdomain. I know that you think you have great site structure and keyword optimization, but if Google insists on ranking your homepage for a specific term that you have optimized another page for, then you probably do not have great site structure. I’m sorry to be so blunt, but that’s the way it is.

You probably need to interlink better and link better within your site. This is not something that’s easy. If you can’t figure it out yourself, hire an external SEO to help you do this, because creating a subdomain will only create more problems, not less. Good luck.”

Ask Yoast

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

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

Read on: ‘The ultimate guide to site structure’ »

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If you write a lot about events on your site, odds are that the content on your site changes rapidly. Whether it’s food events, concerts, antique fairs, you name it, it’s a lot of work to maintain a site that lists all the fun events in a certain category and area. With new events being added regularly, and past events becoming less important, you should definitely give your site structure some extra thought.

For example: what do you do with past events? You don’t want a load of irrelevant pages bloating your site’s structure, but some of these pages might still attract visitors to your site. And how do you properly delete these pages from your site? Let’s go into expired event pages and SEO in this week’s Ask Yoast!

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Carsten Lentfer emailed us quite a complicated dilemma on the subject, which I distilled to this main question:

My website is a calendar for food events. If I delete and redirect event pages once an event has passed, I will end up with loads of redirects, mainly to the homepage versus a relatively small number of ‘live’ pages. How does that affect my SEO? Is it better to keep the old pages?

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

Keep event pages or delete and redirect them?

“Well, if that event is a yearly thing, then it’s definitely better to keep the event page around and just update it for the next year. If that event is a one time only thing, then I would delete it or keep it around, if there’s a lot of content on it that people might want to look at later.

It depends a bit on how thin these pages are. If they are very thin, I would delete them. If they’re rich then I would just keep them around and keep them as a sort of history.

But for the yearly events, it’s a very good idea to actually have a page that returns every year because then you’ll start ranking for each of those events better and better as time goes by. Good luck.”

Ask Yoast

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

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

Read more: ‘How to clean up your site structure’ »

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Podcasts are a popular medium these days, as a great, relatively low-cost way to engage with your audience. You can make a podcast about every subject imaginable: science, health, arts & culture, family life, news and technology, to name but a few possibilities.

At Yoast, for example, the Yoast academy team releases an internal podcast every monday to get everyone up to speed on developments in the academy. Since this podcast is for Yoast employees only, it won’t show up in the search engines. But if you’re making a livelihood with your podcasts, you’ll definitely want your podcasts to rank well.

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Optimizing your site’s pages for podcasts can be a bit tricky because the bulk of your content will be audio content, which Google can’t listen to. Some general SEO rules still apply, for example: the title of your podcast should be clear and engaging: write titles you’re proud of! And, as always, make sure that your site is user-friendly. But is there anything else you can do to optimize your site for podcasts?

Steve Eisenberg emailed us his question on podcast SEO:

I was wondering if you have some advice on the best way to optimize for audio podcasts using Yoast SEO or another tool.

Podcast SEO

“Well, you can use Yoast SEO just fine, but you’re going to need something else, which I don’t necessarily think you’ll like. You’ll need a transcript. This is the same for videos as it is for audio podcasts. You will need a full transcript because Google really only is good at optimizing and finding content in text. It doesn’t necessarily always find stuff that you’ve spoken about. So, if you have a full transcript, then you can optimize like any other page. Good luck!”

Ask Yoast

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

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

Read more: ‘3 SEO quick wins’ »

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Maintaining a website is hard work, and to do it right, you have to be skilled in many things: writing, editing, SEO, marketing (if you own a business) and perhaps even a bit of coding, to name but a few. But that’s not all. If you handle and collect the data of your site’s visitors, you should also familiarize yourself with relevant laws on data protection and privacy.

In April 2016, a new regulation on privacy and data protection was adopted by the European Parliament and the European Council. After a transition period of two years, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will become enforceable from 25 May 2018 onward. This means you can get a fine if you don’t comply with the GDPR.

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It’s important to note that the GDPR doesn’t just apply to organizations located within the EU. It also applies to organizations located outside of the EU, if they offer services or products to, or monitor the behavior of people residing in the EU. The consequences of this law for you and your business depend on the kind of data you handle and if (and how) you get consent for that. So, what to do when preparing for the GDPR? Let me give you my take on the subject in this week’s Ask Yoast!

Joerg Gastmann emailed us his question on the GDPR:

At YoastCon 2017, Dixon Jones mentioned that certain plugins collect data about users and this might cause problems with the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). What should a webmaster do to avoid legal penalties for using plugins, like Jetpack, that process statistical/user data on their servers?

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

Preparing for the GDPR

“Well, you don’t get a penalty specifically for the fact that these plugins are using that data. You get a penalty for not getting your user’s consent for doing that. So you should get your user’s consent, or stop doing that. Some of these things you can put into your general terms of service because they’re required for your business to work.

But if you’re doing things like profiling people based on what they visited, based on information they’ve given you them about them, then you should really dive into the GDPR. This is not something I can easily answer in a couple of minutes. It’s a lot of work. There are a lot of people that are very hard at work, making sure that we can do all the things in WordPress that you should be able to do under the GDPR. So yeah, dive in, consult a lawyer- I’m not a lawyer. Good luck!”

Ask Yoast

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

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

Read on: ‘Yoast and the GDPR’ »

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Today’s Ask Yoast will discuss a problem that may be familiar to you if your site is in a non-ASCII language, like Arabic, Persian, Hebrew and many other languages. You work hard to write good, SEO-friendly URLs, so people will click to your website. However, when your site is linked to or shared, for instance on social media, the slug doesn’t show the right characters. Instead, it changes into a long string of percent signs, capitals and numbers.

To give you an example: check out this link to an Arabic Wikipedia article on SEO. In the address bar, it looks good:

arabic URL in address bar

However, when I try to copy it into this post, it turns into this:

arabic URL copy-pasted

Of course, a slug like that looks weird and a bit unsettling: it doesn’t tempt people to click, and doesn’t reveal much about the content of a page either. So, if you come across this problem with your non-ASCII slugs, what are your options for dealing with this?

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Ahmed Saad emailed us on this subject:

My site’s content is in Arabic and that means that the slug looks very bad when it’s shared on social media. Should I change the URL language to English so it looks better or does that hurt my SEO?

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

Dealing with bad slugs for Arabic URLs

‘I honestly don’t have a good answer to that because this slug is not good for your SEO either. This slug doesn’t really entice people to click. I guess that the best solution would be to get the shortest slug as possible in Arabic, because you can have i18n URLs. But support for that is not always as good across CMSes.

If that doesn’t work then you can certainly fall back to English, or to an English ‘way’ of writing your Arabic strings, which is something that a lot of Indian languages do. Good luck!’

Ask Yoast

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

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

Read more: ‘How to create SEO-friendly copy in a foreign language’ »

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Allowing people to comment on your content is a great way to increase engagement and get in touch with your audience. So, it pays off to choose a good comment system that works for you. Besides the standard WordPress comment system, there are several other systems out there you can implement on your website so your readers can directly respond to your posts.

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It’s good to keep some things in mind when selecting what comment system you want to use. Do you want integration with social media, for example? Do you want to be able to keep your comments if you ever need to change your comment system, and what features do you need? You may want more functionalities than WordPress’ standard comment system provides and therefore choose another system. But are there really no downsides to that, keeping the importance of site speed in mind? What about comment systems and SEO? Let’s get into this dilemma in this week’s Ask Yoast!

Max sent us his question on comment systems:

There is no question that the Disqus service takes a little while to load on a webpage. So, do these blog commenting services, like Disqus, affect SEO in some way?

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

The impact of comment systems on SEO

“Do they affect SEO? Well, yes, they do. Because, in fact, they’re so slow to load that most of the time, what you see is that Google doesn’t load the content of those comments, and doesn’t use them to rank that page. Which might be either a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how good your comments are and whether your comments have a lot of content or not.

I personally don’t like these services because they slow down the page load so much and because they make it slower for people to be able to repond to your content, which is why, on yoast.com, we use the plain vanilla WordPress commenting system with some added features that are in the Yoast Comment Hacks plugin, which we’ve released for free on the repository. So that’s why we use that, and not any service like Disqus. But I know there’s a lot of fans of services like Disqus because of all the other features they have. So it’s a trade-off. We made our choice, you have to make yours. Good luck!”

Ask Yoast

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

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

Read more: ‘How to handle comments on your blog’ »

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