If you own a website, you have to think about the structure of your site, whether it’s a blog or a shop. Site structure is essential to help users find their way on your site and it helps your site to rank. So your site’s hierarchy needs to make sense to both users and search engines. When you’re creating one, you might wonder if your structure is too deep or too shallow. Let’s take a look at an example.

Milada Sejnohova, emailed Ask Yoast with the following question:

“How deep can I make the site structure of my blog? Can I make it for instance:

  • Elemis
    • products
      • anti-aging?”

Check out the video or read the answer below!

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Depth of your site structure

In the video, I answer Milada’s question:

Well of course you can!

First of all, if you have a products section, then it’s not a blog, it’s a website.

And two, your structure (products and then anti-aging) is a perfectly reasonable way of setting up your site. As long as it’s useful to users and it makes sense, you’re okay. It has to make sense for someone who has never been on your site.

What you really should be thinking about is: if I come to your site and I’m on any page on your site and I know that something should be there, do I know how to get there easily? Because that’s determined in large by your site structure. So make it as easy to understand as possible! 

Good luck!”

Ask Yoast

In the series Ask Yoast we answer SEO questions from followers. Need some advice about SEO? Let us help you out! Send your question to ask@yoast.com.

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

Writing about SEO is easier than implementing best practices on a website yourself. Every site is different and every type of site presents its own challenge. We know that, and that’s why we started our Yoast Case studies, in which we scrutinize an existing site and give the owner practical advice on how to optimize it. In this third case study: SEO of a photographer’s site.

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Photography and SEO

In this case study, we dive into the site of a photographer: geoffwilkings.com. Geoff is curious what he could do to improve his website’s SEO. He’s told us he’s 100% about photography and photos but knows he needs textual content to rank. He does have a blog and he wonders if he is writing clear enough for prospects and search engines. Let’s have a look at different aspects of his photography website to see what’s good and what needs improvement.

Of course, a website is a work in progress, so while we reviewed his site, Geoff already made some changes to it. This means that what you see on his site might differ a bit from the screenshots below. But we’ll keep them here because we think they serve as nice examples!

Every website needs content to rank

Photos vs. textual content

It makes sense that photographers want to present their work on their website. The photos show their style and by adding lots of photos, they try to convince visitors of the quality of their work. Displaying great photos will, of course, increase the chances of people wanting to hire you, as a photographer. But what does it mean for SEO?

Adding content is one of the main things you need to do to make your website rank, as you might know. The content shows the search engines what the website is about and for what queries it should rank.

Content can consist of textual content but also photos, images and videos. For search engines, textual content is the most valuable content; it helps them determine what the website is about. So, for a photographer’s website, it’s essential to make sure there is enough textual content for the search engines to understand what every page is about.

Geoff’s site

If we look at Geoff’s website, we are in awe of his skills as a photographer: such beautiful pictures! You might just want to get married to get some fairytale-like photographs like that ;-)

There are things he could do though, to make his photos better findable. If we look at this gallery page, for example, we only see one photo on the URL:example of a gallery page with just one photo

Although Geoff added a great filename to the photo, a clear alt text and all the other meta data, it’s still hard for search engines to determine why this page should rank above other pages. Besides that, this gallery page contains only one photo, and therefore Google probably considers it a thin content page, leading to lower rankings. Lastly, since every photo is on a new URL, it’s harder to make all these different URLs rank.

To make these URLs rank there is a need for textual content, so we recommend adding relevant information about things like location, the couple, the theme and other nice things about the specific wedding. By adding textual content, it’s also possible to add an H1 heading to every page which is beneficial for SEO. Lots of pages don’t have an H1 heading at the moment.

After providing this feedback to Geoff we understood that there was some content, but it’s hidden. You can find it if you click on the comment icon on the right side of the photo. Unfortunately, we can’t view this content in the source code, which means Google can’t see it either. So we’d recommend to add it below the photo. Using keywords like wedding photography and the location might help him rank locally.

Improving User Experience for more conversions

Usability and SEO

Improving user experience is increasingly important and should go hand in hand with working on SEO because Google uses ‘user signals’ to determine the relevancy of a website:

If visitors leave your website very fast, search engines consider this a negative signal, because the website probably doesn’t show the information the visitor is looking for. On the other hand, spending lots of time on a page is a positive signal and search engines might rank you higher. This kind of data helps Google to determine the relevancy of a website for a specific search term. Google wants to show the best result on top of the search result pages and if your website is user-friendly, Google will notice this in the user data.

Geoff’s homepage

Looking at the homepage of Geoff’s site – again, such a beautiful picture! – we think a clear call-to-action is missing. It could be that the ‘Enter here’ is meant as a call-to-action, but the ghost button makes it very hard to read:

no clear call to action on the homepage

On top of that, ‘Enter here’ is not the best text for a call-to-action and if you click on it, you’ll end up on a gallery page. We recommend adding a call-to-action button with a text such as ‘Hire us’ or ‘Check if we’re a good match’ or ‘Contact us’, which leads the visitor to the respective page with more information.

Another improvement for the homepage is the formatting of the text. At the bottom of the homepage, we noticed a lot of text and the font of this text seems to be quite small. We recommend using a minimum of 16px to make sure it’s easy to read for visitors. Also, Geoff might want to use copy like this on other pages than his homepage, because ranking with other – more specific – pages than a homepage might be a more feasible strategy.

Geoff’s menu

Looking at the menu of the website, we believe there are too many options. To provide a good user experience, visitors need to find in a few seconds what they’re looking for. Offering too many choices makes this harder. Geoff could, for instance, consider cutting down the number of sub items in the drop down menu of ‘Info’.

to many sub items in the menu
Value of a blog

Blogging and SEO

Having a blog can be beneficial for your site’s SEO because it’s a possibility to add new content regularly, which Google likes. On top of that, it enables you to add more relevant content with internal links to your other pages which makes it easier to rank. Lastly, when other websites think that your blog posts are valuable and relevant to their websites, they’ll probably add a link to your blog. Increasing the amount of backlinks to your site helps a lot when you want your site to rank.

Geoff’s blog

Since we’re blogging a lot at Yoast, we’re always curious to see blogs of other websites. We were so excited to find out that Geoff’s website has one! Clicking through to the blog, however, tempered our excitement: the blog opened on another domain. This, unfortunately, means that the value of the blog doesn’t add much value to Geoff’s main website. We advise Geoff to move his blog to his main domain, a better URL to use would be, for instance, geoffwilkings.com/blog.

Read more: ‘Separate domains or not?’ »

In addition to moving the blog to the same domain, we’d advise choosing a different layout for the blog’s main page. Now it just shows just a large video above the fold. But when visitors navigate to your blog, they want to see what kind of posts you write and probably get inspiration. We recommend showing some excerpts of Geoff’s blog posts above the fold to make sure visitors know immediately that they landed on his blog.

When clicking through the blog posts, we did like what we see! For instance, some nice atmospheric posts about shootings for an engagement and a wedding, and a good explanation about retouching photos (we love the slider effect).

Technical SEO improvements

Let’s dive into the technical SEO aspects. We’ve crawled the website to check whether there are huge problems. We need to say that the website is doing a pretty good job! The only thing we’d like to mention is the use of canonicals. We noticed that most pages don’t have a canonical. At Yoast, we prefer to have a canonical on every page, so we’d advise having self-referencing canonical URLs. Joost explained this very well here: rel=canonical: the ultimate guide.

Is it possible to have a fast loading website if you have lots of high-quality photos?

Speed is often an issue on photographer’s websites. Because of the file size of the images, those websites tend to load quite slow. Since page speed is an actual ranking factor, it’s important to make the website as fast as possible. Analyze your website with the Google PageSpeed Tool and if the tool tells you that you need to optimize images, do so. This can be beneficial for your site’s SEO.

We did this check for Geoff’s site and we were pleasantly surprised! The website has a score of 73/100. Of course, Geoff can improve this score, but we can tell you, we’ve often seen photographer’s websites with scores below 50. The tool recommends to ‘Optimize images’, but it only mentions one image mentioned, so good job!

Are you a photographer as well and are there more images mentioned in the tool? In this post about image optimization, we’ll explain how to reduce the file size of your images, but maintain the same quality.

Lastly, there are some improvements to make regarding the use of JavaScript and CSS, in optimizing browser caching and enabling compression. We recommend Geoff to work on these issues (perhaps together with a developer) to make his website lightning fast!

Finding a photographer on a mobile phone

Imagine you’re getting married. Right after you decided to get married, you probably grab your phone for some inspiration and ideas! This means that as a photographer, you need to make sure your website works just as well on a mobile phone as it does on a desktop.

Checking the website of Geoff on a mobile phone, we noticed that no content is visible above the fold – the part of the website that is visible without scrolling. This means that the website looks like this:

on mobile

You probably understand that this view isn’t very attractive to visitors who visit the website for the first time. Grab the attention of the visitor immediately by adding some introductory content and a call-to-action. Or a stunning photo with a call-to-action. We recommend checking your website on mobile regularly to see whether you can use the same content as on the desktop.

We provided this feedback to Geoff and we’re really happy to hear that he already changed this! You’ll now see a much better version of his homepage on mobile!

Our summary for Geoff

We enjoyed checking your website, Geoff. You have some stunning photos on your site, and that’s, of course, the best basis for a photographer. On top of this, you run a blog! Our most important recommendation is to move your blog to your main domain, so the value of it contributes more to your site.

Furthermore, you could improve the call-to-action on your homepage, simplify your menu a bit and add more (textual) content to your gallery. And last but not least, try to give your mobile users an awesome experience too. For the rest, keep up the great work!

Keep reading: ‘Blogging: the ultimate guide’ »

When you’re starting a business, you probably want to launch a website too. So you have to register one domain or more. Let’s say you’re registering your brandname as a domain, which extensions or TLDs (Top Level Domains) should you pick? Brandname.com? Brandname.biz? Or perhaps brandname.vip? Does it matter for SEO? We’ll help you make that choice in this Ask Yoast.

We received a question from Rob:

“Is there any benefit to having multiple extensions of a .com domain name? Like .net, .biz, .co.uk, etc.?
If so, how can you use these to an SEO advantage?”

Check out the video or read the answer below!

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TLD influence on SEO?

In the video, I’ll explain what to consider when selecting additional Top Level Domains:

“Well, for SEO value it doesn’t really matter, because for SEO you probably want to use one domain and one domain only, in particular a more generic one, like .net, .biz, etc. I would really recommend using just one and if you can, use the .com. But on the other hand I would buy all of them. Why?

Well, because you don’t want anyone else using them for their business. Your domain name probably relates to your business in some way and you don’t want anyone else using that for something else. So I would preregister or register a lot of them or at least the common ones, especially the easy ones like .net, .biz. You don’t have to do all the new fancy ones, like .agency… or whatever they come up with, but I would do the .net, .biz, etc. for your business.

Good luck!”

Ask Yoast

In the series Ask Yoast we answer SEO questions from followers. Need some advice about SEO? Let us help you out! Send your question to ask@yoast.com.

Read more: ‘Domain names and their influence on SEO’ »

“Above the fold” is a term originating from newspaper and tabloid design. It refers to the upper half of the paper that shows the most important news and photos of the newspaper. In web design “above the fold” means the part that you can see without scrolling down the page. Guidelines often state that your most important message should be above the fold. However, the Twenty Seventeen theme just allows for a large image, and we received a question about that at Ask Yoast:

Ruth Maude emailed us about the Twenty Seventeen theme – the new default theme for WordPress:

“We’ve always told our customers that their main message and call-to-action should be above the fold. The new WordPress Twenty Seventeen is all image above the fold. Isn’t the fold important anymore?”

Check out the video or read the answer below!

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Not much action above the fold?

In the video, I’ll share how I feel about “above the fold” nowadays:

Well, Ruth, you’ve hit my single most important issue with the Twenty Seventeen theme. It’s just too big. I think something should be above the fold too. At the same time, what’s really most important is that you show people that there’s a way to scroll. If people see that there’s a way to scroll on your site, they will scroll and they will find that other stuff, if you’ve made it interesting enough for them. So really good imagery is what Twenty Seventeen is all about. That can really help. And it can give a sort of interaction with a user that can be pretty good. But I wish there was a bit more action above the fold on 2017 too. We agree.

Good luck!”

Ask Yoast

In the series Ask Yoast we answer SEO questions from followers. Need some advice about SEO? Let us help you out! Send your question to ask@yoast.com.

Read more: ‘How to find the perfect WordPress theme’ »

Every website should have a decent internal search functionality that shows the visitors search results that fit their search query. However, those search results pages on your site don’t need to be shown in Google’s search results. In fact, Google advises against this too; it’s not a great user experience to click on a Google search result, just to end up on a search result page of your site. Learn what’s best practice to prevent this from happening!

User experience is not the only reason to prevent Google from including these pages in their search results. Spam domains can also abuse your search results pages, which is what happened to Krunoslav from Croatia. He therefore emailed Ask Yoast:

“Some spam domains were linking to the search results pages on my WordPress site. So what could I do to block Google from accessing my site search results? Is there any code that I could put in robots.txt?”

Check out the video or read the answer below!

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Block your search results pages?

In the video, we explain what you could do to prevent Google from showing your site’s search results:

“Well, to be honest, I don’t think I would block them. What you could do, is try two different things:

1. One is do nothing and run our Yoast SEO plugin. We’ll automatically noindex all the search result pages on your site. But if that leads to weird rankings or to other stuff that is not really working for you, then you could do another thing:

2. The second way is to block them and put a disallow:/?=s* in your robots.txt. This basically means that you’re blocking Google from crawling your entire search query. I don’t know whether that’s the best solution though.

I would try noindex first and see if that does anything. If it doesn’t, then use the method of blocking your search results in your robots.txt.

Good luck!”

Ask Yoast

In the series Ask Yoast we answer SEO questions from followers. Need some advice about SEO? Let us help you out! Send your question to ask@yoast.com.

Read more: ‘Block your site’s search results pages’ »

If you’re using Yoast SEO to optimize your posts and pages, it’ll ask you to fill out a focus keyword. This is the search term you want your content to rank for. Deciding on a focus keyword can be challenging. For example, if you want to optimize your content for a long tail keyword – existing of multiple words –  what is the exact key phrase you should use? Does word order matter? In this Ask Yoast, you’ll learn how to use Yoast SEO when optimizing for long tail keywords.

Stefan Junestrand has emailed us asking:

“For long tail keywords that will be searched for with equal frequency with the words in different order, which would be best practice?
a. Use one long tail focus keyword
b. Use 5 different focus keywords with one focus keyword”

Check out the video or read the answer below!

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Word order of your focus keyword

In the video, we help you decide on the word order of your long tail focus keyword and how to use the multiple focus keyword functionality of Yoast SEO Premium.

” So you mean for example ‘WordPress SEO’ and ‘SEO WordPress’. Which one would be best practice to use? One focus keyword for each page? Or should you combine them all into one page?

You really should combine them into one page. SEO for WordPress and WordPress SEO are basically the same thing. Of course, if you’re writing naturally, you’ll probably use both combinations already. So just write one longer page and use different word orders.

If you have Yoast SEO Premium you can have up to 5 focus keywords: try and optimize for the most common variants in word order of your long tail keyword. But don’t overdo the optimizing! It might even be better to not get green bullets for all 5 combinations, if you’re optimizing for similar combinations with just a different word order. Because then your copy would become pretty hard to read. So write a natural text, make sure that you use different versions a couple of times and you should be good.

Good luck!”

Ask Yoast

In the series Ask Yoast we answer SEO questions from followers. Need some advice about SEO? Let us help you out! Send your question to ask@yoast.com.

Read more: ‘Why should you focus on multiple focus keywords’ »

Nowadays there are a lot of online platforms where you can create your business profile. The idea is that you can be found on those platforms and that the backlinks to your site will benefit your SEO. But is it really worth investing your time and money in those kind of directories? Get the answer in this Ask Yoast!

Marcial Bollinger emailed us asking:

“There are a lot of possibilities nowadays to add an online profile for your site on all sorts of directories, etc. It might give you a lot of backlinks, but are these worth anything for SEO?”

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Add an online profile for your business

In the video, we help you decide whether your should invest time in creating profiles on online directories. Do they boost your SEO?

“To be honest, probably not. The only reason to create profiles on sites like that is if those sites actually have traffic. If they have traffic, then having the profile probably has an SEO benefit too. Because, in that case, probably the links are worth something to Google, as they see that that site is a living thing and people really use it as a reference.

So if you can make a profile on one of those sites, by all means do. If you can make a profile on a site that you don’t think anyone would ever get to and you’re just doing it for Google, stop doing it. Stuff like that doesn’t work anymore, so don’t. Focus on sites that people might actually will find you on and if those sites are in your area or in your niche, then use them. If they don’t exist, then focus on something else.

Good luck!”

Ask Yoast

In the series Ask Yoast we answer SEO questions from followers. Need some advice about SEO? Let us help you out! Send your question to ask@yoast.com.

Read more: ‘6 steps to a successful link building strategy’ »

A website of a larger company often represents multiple divisions. If one division outgrows the others, or if expectations for one division are very high, the need for a separate website or domain may arise. What’s best to do for SEO in such a case? Set up a new domain for that division? Or build it on a sub-domain? In this Ask Yoast, we help you determine the best solution in case a division wants its own website.

Brooke Brown of smartbridge.com emailed us with this question:

“One division of our company is getting more presence, so they want to build that division its own website. What’s the best option?

1. Build it on a new domain like smartbridgemobility.com;
2. Build it on a totally separate domain;
3. Build it on a sub-domain like mobility.smartbridge.com.”

Check out the video or read the answer below!

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Division on separate domain

In the video, we help you decide what’s best for SEO if you want to give a division a separate website:

“Well Brooke, first of all I consider myself pretty good at branding and if your brand “Smartbridge” is strong, I would consider doing something much simpler. I would make it smartbridge.com/mobility. Give it its own look and feel, but keep it on one domain.

If you don’t want to do that, but you want to separate the two, then I would give it an entire brand for itself. Because that probably is best in the long run to sell or whatever you want to do with it. I’m not a big fan of sub-domains because they lead, or can lead, to all sorts of technical issues. And they’re a bit of nothing really. It’s not its own brand, it’s far too attached to your main domain.

So I would probably choose a sub-folder and if you can’t do that I would choose a completely different brand. Good luck!”

Ask Yoast

In the series Ask Yoast we answer SEO questions from followers. Need some advice about SEO? Let us help you out! Send your question to ask@yoast.com.

Read more: ‘Site structure: the ultimate guide’ »

If you own an eCommerce site, a product can run out of stock. When a product becomes permanently unavailable, what should you do with the product page in your online store? Delete that specific page? Set up a redirect? Show alternatives? Or just leave the page as it is? This Ask Yoast will help you make the best decision when a product goes out of stock.

Brad Griffin out of Texas USA emailed us:

“When a WooCommerce product is out of stock, I’ve got a couple of options: a redirect; a fallback URL; a waiting list; or delete it and do nothing. Let’s assume that the product is a one-time sale, it’s not coming back. What should I do with that URL?

Check out the video or read the answer below!

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Best practice product out of stock

In the video, we explain which options you have when a product goes out of stock and what would be the best decision:

” Well, Brad, simply delete it and do nothing is not an option, because people might have linked to that URL, so you want to send them somewhere decent. And a waiting list would be weird, because the product is not coming back.

So, I think you’ve got two options:

1. Redirect them to the category that the original product was in and make sure that they land on something that feels somewhat close to what they were looking for if they wanted to get to that URL.

2. Show them a page saying: Hey, we had this product. We’ve sold it, but we’ve got these other options:…, …, …,  (show alternatives).

Those are really your only two real options.

Good luck!”

Ask Yoast

In the series Ask Yoast we answer SEO questions from followers. Need some advice about SEO? Let us help you out! Send your question to ask@yoast.com.

Read more: ‘eCommerce usability: the ultimate guide’ »

If you’re creating content for a website, you might want to, occasionally, publish an article in a language different from the language of your other content. However, it’s difficult to rank with one specific article that’s written in a language that differs from the rest. So what should you do to improve the SEO of that article? In this Ask Yoast, I’ll help you out and explain when to optimize your metadata in another language, when to use hreflang and what more to do to help that article rank!

Justin from VPNgids.nl (VPNguide.nl) emailed us with this question:

“I’ve got a Dutch blog but I want to publish an article in English. What should I do? Should I just add an hreflang tag or something else?”

Check out the video or read the answer below!

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English article on a Dutch blog

In the video, we explain what options you have to improve the SEO of an article in a language that’s different from your other content:

“In this case, the hreflang tag isn’t even really necessary. The only reason you would use an hreflang is if you had a Dutch version and an English version of the same article. If that’s the case, then you should use hreflang on both articles. In case of a separate article in English, what you should make sure of is that on the English article all the metadata shows that that is an English article and not a Dutch article. Unfortunately this is quite hard to do in WordPress, if you’re not running a multilingual plug-in.

But to be honest, if you’re going to publish in English, maybe you should just make a separate section of your site for it that is completely in English. Adding some more content to it would give you a lot more chance for ranking, than just having one article in English. Of course you have to start somewhere. So by all means create that English section, start with that one article and then slowly add on to it.

It’s always a good idea, if you’re Dutch and your English is good enough, to switch to English. The Dutch language area is only very small and the world is a lot bigger, with a lot of English speakers. So I would really encourage you to start doing stuff in English. Just like we did! I started blogging in English eight years ago, which is why Yoast is so popular now.

Good luck!”

Ask Yoast

In the series Ask Yoast we answer SEO questions from followers. Need some advice about SEO? Let us help you out! Send your question to ask@yoast.com.

Read more: ‘hreflang: the ultimate guide’ »