Imagine visiting an online shop, and receiving a notification from your browser that this site is not secure. You’re probably not so eager to buy something there and provide this website with private or sensitive information. Well, both your visitors and Google most likely agree. In 2014, Google announced that HTTPS would become a ranking signal. So it’s definitely something to take into account as a website owner. But getting an SSL certificate and moving your website to HTTPS can be difficult, as we at Yoast know all too well. If you don’t do it right, it can have a negative impact on your rankings. But what about the other way around? In this Ask Yoast, I discuss what to do if you suspect your rankings have lowered because you don’t have an SSL layer.

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Larry Launstein Jr. emailed us a question on this subject.

How do you optimize a site that has been lowered in the rankings because of lack of an SSL layer? Is there a workaround
for this, or does it need to get an SSL layer no matter what?

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

Lower rankings without HTTPS?

“So what can you do to optimize a site that has lost rankings, because of lack of an SSL layer or basically because of lack of HTTPS? Well, if all of your competitors have HTTPS and you don’t, at some point you might start losing some rankings because of that.

But I honestly do not believe that that is your only ranking problem if you have a ranking problem. But does every website need HTTPS in the future? Yes. Should you thus be doing that right now if you’re working on your site? Yes, by all means.

If you do migrate, though, make sure that all the old URLs redirect properly to the new ones and, basically, get an SSL certificate and thus HTTPS for your entire site as soon as possible. Good luck!”

Ask Yoast

In the series Ask Yoast we answer SEO questions from our readers. Have an SEO-related question? Let us help you out! Send an email to ask@yoast.com.
(note: please check our knowledge base first, the answer to your question may already be there! For urgent questions, for example about our plugin not working properly, we’d like to refer you to our support page.)

Read more: ‘Ask Yoast: redirecting your site to non-www and HTTPS’ »

The post Ask Yoast: Lower rankings without HTTPS? appeared first on Yoast.

There are several kinds of pages that you’ll expect to find on most websites: a home page, a contact page or an about page, for example. In this Ask Yoast, I’m going to discuss another type of page: the privacy page. This is a page where you put your privacy policy, which allows your visitors to check, for instance, how their information is handled. Not every website will need a such a page, but what about privacy pages and SEO? Is there a benefit to having a privacy page on your site? Read on to find out!

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Derek Little sent us an email with the following question:

I’ve heard that having (or not having ) a privacy page is or was a big factor in SEO, and important to Google. Is this still the case?

Watch the video or read the transcript further down the page!

Privacy pages and SEO?

So, does having or not having a privacy page on your site have an impact on SEO?

“Well, as far as I know, this was only ever a factor for the AdWords quality score, not for SEO itself. So, it was important when you were advertising in AdWords, and not in SEO.  

At the same time, having a privacy page on your site makes you look all that more professional, which can help, of course, if you’re selling something. So, I would say, make it, think about what you put on there, think about how you deal with the privacy of your visitors and customers. Put that on there, and show that to the world: that’s always a good thing.

Good luck!”   

Ask Yoast

In the series Ask Yoast we answer SEO questions from our readers. Have an SEO-related question? Let us help you out! Send an email to ask@yoast.com.
(note: please check our knowledge base first, the answer to your question may already be there! For urgent questions, for example about our plugin not working properly, we’d like to refer you to our support page.)

Read more: ‘Holistic SEO’ »

The post Ask Yoast: having a privacy page and SEO appeared first on Yoast.

If you own a website, you have probably, at some point, thought about your preferred URL. Perhaps you chose between www.yoursite.com and yoursite.com straight away and never thought about it again. Or maybe you switched to or from www at one point. While in the early days of the internet www was the norm, these days a good many sites of great repute -Yoast.com included ;)- don’t use www. So, are there any SEO-implications to choosing either option? I’ll get into that in this Ask Yoast!

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Dirkje Evers emailed us her question on this subject:

A Dutch hosting company told me that it’s better for Google to use the domain www.exampledomain.nl instead of exampledomain.nl. Should I take their advice or not?

Watch the video or read the transcript further down the page!

Should I use www for Google or not?

“Dirkje Evers emailed us about a Dutch hosting company that had recommended to them that using www.example.nl was better than using just example.nl for Google. And whether they should take that advice or not. Well, no… That’s what we call…nonsense. In terms that I can use on video. Because I’m actually up to use some other terms. It’s absolutely nonsense, you don’t have to use www for anything. The only reason why you would use www.something is if people would otherwise not recognize your domain name as a domain name. Which is something that is bound to happen, if you have a somewhat older target audience. But other than that use whatever you want. Use www or do not use www, whatever rocks your boat.

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

Read more: ‘Redirecting your site to non-www and https’ »

The post Ask Yoast: www or no www? appeared first on Yoast.

It’s important to have breadcrumbs on your website. They show users how a page fits into the structure of a site, and allow search engines to determine the site’s structure. But how do you go about implementing breadcrumbs when you have many products that fit into more than one category? In this Ask Yoast, I’ll discuss the best way to handle breadcrumbs for products in multiple categories.

Niall Diamond emailed us an interesting question:

“When you have a product within multiple categories each page will have a canonical URL that is the same, but what about the breadcrumb for the canonical URL page?”

Watch the video or read the transcript further down the page!

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Handling breadcrumbs for products in multiple categories

“Well Niall, there is one primary category for that product and if you use our Yoast SEO breadcrumbs then it will always show that primary category in the breadcrumbs. If you use another system of using breadcrumbs……well, don’t. Because most systems can’t handle this in a proper way. So switch to using Yoast SEO breadcrumbs and this will be fixed for you. Good luck!”

Read on: ‘What are breadcrumbs and why are they important for SEO?’ »

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

 

The post Ask Yoast: Breadcrumbs for products in multiple categories appeared first on Yoast.

No matter what you’re selling: you want to use the best eCommerce system possible. So you know you’ll get optimal results and therefore have one less thing to worry about. But with all the different systems and plugins out there it can be hard to choose. In this edition of Ask Yoast, I’ll share which eCommerce plugin I generally recommend.

Topher Knoll emailed us the following question:

I’m curious what Yoast uses as its WordPress eCommerce plugin or what it recommends. I’m interested in something with plenty of SEO capability, and that has an easily customizable theme. I want to be able to encourage conversions with a good UX.
This is for ducttapedanyol.com which is an artist’s portfolio.

Check out the video or read the answer below!

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The most complete eCommerce plugin

“Well, let me answer that. We currently use Easy Digital Downloads and we are in the process of switching to WooCommerce. Both are fine systems.

We have outgrown Easy Digital Downloads a bit because we do so much more than digital downloads and we wanted a more complete eco-system. 

I think by now, I would probably recommend most people on WordPress to use WooCommerce and nothing else, because it has the most complete eco-system, the most plugins, etc.

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

Read more: ‘eCommerce SEO checklist’ »

When you’re running a large and busy website, it’s practical and time-saving if you can reuse some of your material. Both meta descriptions and excerpts use a brief passage to summarize the content of a web page. So, it could be handy to use the same text for both. But how do you do that? In this video, Joost explains the easiest way to reuse your text for both meta descriptions and excerpts, and whether Google approves of this reuse.

Renee Lodens sent us an email with the following question:

“Is there a way to bulk copy the Yoast SEO meta descriptions to the excerpt field? Also, is this considered duplicate content?”

Watch the video or read the transcript further down the page! 

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Meta descriptions and excerpts

So, what to do if you want to save time and use the same passages for meta descriptions and excerpts?

“Well, let’s start with the first thing. It’s probably easier to do it the other way around. If you put the description that you want in the excerpt field, and then in the back end, in the Yoast SEO Titles & Meta section, you can use the excerpt short code for meta descriptions. We will automatically put your excerpt in your meta description. That’s easier. You can do it the other way around too, but then you’d have to code a bit.

Is this considered duplicate content? No, it’s not. Because they are different things used for different purposes. Your meta description will only show up in the metadata, which will not be shown on the page. And Google considers these two separate things.

So this might actually work well for you if you write really good short excerpts that fit well into your meta description.

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 on: ‘How to create the right meta descriptions’ »

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’ »