The snippet is a single search result in a set of search results and generally consists of a title, a URL and a description of the page. The content of a snippet matches parts of the search query and you’ll see your keyword highlighted in the snippet description. Search engines often use pieces of your content to fill in the parts that make up the snippet. In most cases, search engines determine the best possible snippet for you, but you can try to override that by adding a meta description to your page. In this post, we’ll dive deeper into what is a snippet.

snippet in serps

A snippet as found on a search result page

The snippet is one of your most valuable pieces of online real estate. This is the doorway to your site, and you should make it as enticing as possible. You need people to click your link — without misleading them, of course. While search engines have the last say in how these snippets appear, you can give them options. If they deem these worthy, they’ll use it. Even Googles John Mueller says you should fill out your meta description:

Regular snippets, rich snippets, and featured snippets

The snippet in the screenshot you saw at the beginning of this article is a regular, static snippet but there are many variations to be found. Search engines love to experiment with different ways of highlighting particular results within the search results pages.

For some time now, we’ve seen rich results appear in different forms. Rich snippets are regular snippets with added information, like product details, availability, reviews and a lot more. Here’s a rich snippet for the search term [Fender Standard Precision Bass sunburst]. You’ll notice that this snippet is much ‘richer’ so to say. It has ratings, review, pricing, stock availability and some product highlights. This is a specific product rich snippets, but there are similar snippets for recipes, reviews, videos, events, courses and much more. Adding structured data is a necessity for some types of these rich results.

fender precision rich snippet

A rich snippet found while searching for [Fender Standard Precision Bass sunburst]

Another type of snippet is the featured snippet. This is a new kind of result that appears at the top of the search results pages, even before the first organic search result — at position 0 so to say. The content for these featured snippets comes from pages that best answer that specific question in its content. You can’t sign up for this — you have to earn it with your content. Here’s one of our featured snippets, this one for the search term [what is a meta description]. This feature snippet takes the full answer to that question from our article and puts it right at the top of the page.

meta description featured snippet new

A featured snippet for the search term [what is a meta description]

SEO title and meta description

Earlier, I pointed out that search engines sometimes prefer to pick their own text from a website to use in the snippets. While they are pretty apt at making up something nice, in a lot of cases you’d probably want to control how your page appears in search. One of the ways you can influence this is by adding a meta description to your page. This is a short piece of text describing your content in a way that makes it attractive for both searchers as well as search engines. You can also edit the SEO title of your article if you want to override the standard way search engines show your page title. Yoast SEO helps you do all this.

Snippet preview in Yoast SEO

Enter the snippet preview in Yoast SEO:

snippet preview new

The snippet preview gives you an idea of how your post will appear in the search results

The snippet preview in Yoast SEO gives you a good idea of how your post or page might look like in search engines. Also, you can edit the SEO title if you want it to be something else then your regular page title. If you want you can use variables, so you can automate stuff. You’ll also find the meta description field in which you can add the text you want to suggest to search engines to use. Learn how to make your site stand out in search results and how to write an awesome meta description.

Now you know all about the snippet

A snippet is a deceptively simple thing: a single search result. However, it has great power. A good snippet will help you get those clicks. You don’t just want to appear at the top of the search results, no, you want those clicks! And to get people to click, you need a brilliant snippet.

The post What is a snippet? appeared first on Yoast.

Yoast SEO Premium 9.0 fulfills a long lasting wish of many bloggers and content writers, including me. The Yoast SEO premium analysis is able to do something it has never done before: take word forms into account (amongst other things). As one of Yoast’s linguists pointed out: “Google knows word forms, so should we.”

Testing the new analysis for you!

For the people who follow Yoast, I might not be a stranger. But if you somehow stumbled upon this post by accident, or by sheer curiosity, I’ll start by introducing myself. I’m Caroline, I’ve been with Yoast for 4 years now and I’ve seen Yoast SEO and its premium version evolve into a better and friendlier product with every release.

Am I the best person to test this analysis for you? You might think not, as I’m a Yoast employee. However, as a blogger for Yoast and for my own Dutch mom blog, I’m one of the people in the company who rants and raves about the plugin out in the open. The developers know what I think of certain aspects of the plugin. Because of my work on GitHub, my blog posts on Yoast.com and my contacts with bloggers worldwide, I know exactly what the cons of the plugin are. So yes, I am the best person to test our new version!

Keyphrase recognition no matter what the order of words is

Our linguistic team worked for months on this release. They got me excited the moment they explained they were overhauling the entire way we were doing keyword recognition. If you’re unsure what this means: until now, we could only match the exact keyphrase in the SEO analysis. This means that if your keyphrase is ‘yellow chair’, we couldn’t match for [yellow chairs] or [chairs that are yellow]. Google knows that [yellow chairs] and [chairs that are yellow], is the same as [a yellow chair], but Yoast SEO did not.

Create better content more freely

In Yoast SEO the word order doesn’t matter anymore. And, in Yoast SEO Premium recognizes plurals and other word forms (for now just in English) like Google does. This means we can provide you with feedback that’s more true to how Google views your content. Not having to worry about exact matches anymore, enables you to focus on creating awesome content.

These new functionalities make sure that your old posts that were, according to us, not particularly optimized for SEO, suddenly are optimized very well. Test it yourself: there’s a huge chance that posts that scored bad or mediocre according to our plugin, now score higher than they did before.

Synonyms

Although the word form recognition only works for English – with more languages to follow soon! – this doesn’t mean the release is useless for non-English users. On the contrary: all our premium users, regardless of language, will benefit so much from this release. In a previous version we’ve introduced synonyms in the plugin. We reevaluated which checks should take synonyms into account. These checks have been completely revised and now rely on both the keyphrase and its synonyms when calculating the SEO score. This means that, despite writing in a non-English language, you can write compelling texts without worrying about the analysis not recognizing synonyms.

What does this mean for my SEO?

Considering the above, we can say for certain that the SEO score will be matching Google’s scoring algorithm more closely. Although no one knows the exact algorithm Google uses, we have come one step closer in providing you the perfect tools to optimize for Google and your visitors.

I can prove this to you by using a post I wrote on Yoast.com this summer. I wrote an article of which the keyphrase is: ‘blogging in summer’. Its score? Orange. Yet, if you Google ‘blogging in summer’, or ‘blogging during summer’ this post scores number one. With the new analysis the SEO score is green, without changing a single line of text. Is this more in line of what we see in Google? Yes, it definitely is. As you can see in the screenshot below, a lot of the checks have gone from red to orange or even green. If I change the keyphrase to ‘blogging during summer’, the analysis stays green, which reflects Google in this as well.

The old Yoast SEO Premium analysis versus the new one

The old Yoast SEO Premium analysis versus the new one

SEO analysis and non-English websites

So far it might seem this release is only interesting for the people who maintain English websites. This is not the case. This release is very interesting for non-English users as well. How so? The function words are filtered out for eight additional languages. For these languages the synonyms are taken into account as well. This results in posts receiving a higher SEO score as well, as seen in below’s print screen of one of my blog posts in Dutch:

SEO Analysis Premium 9.0 for foreign languages

SEO Analysis Premium 9.0 for foreign languages – previous release versus 9.0

Filtering out the function words works – in the free version as well – for the languages: German, Dutch, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Russian and Polish.

Synonyms work in Yoast SEO premium only, but aren’t language specific, i.e. work in every language.

Conclusion

What I think of this release? I feared, for an instant, that this release was only impacting the English sites, but I found out this works very well for other languages too. The developers definitely thought of non-English users as well. I can’t wait for the full functionality to be rolled out in all other languages!

Test the plugin yourself

If you still have questions regarding my post or still fear I am not the best person to test this plugin, then I ask you to test it yourself. Our premium plugin has a 30 day refund policy, no questions asked.

Get Yoast SEO Premium now »Only $89 $79 (ex VAT) for 1 site

The post The Yoast SEO Premium analysis: new vs old appeared first on Yoast.

Writing content for another site as guest author or blogger can have many benefits. It could help you get more exposure, especially if you’re writing for a site that’s a lot bigger than yours. Working with other sites also gives you the opportunity to build potentially worthwhile (business) relationships and broaden your network. You might even get paid for your guest articles. Another obvious advantage, of course, is gaining valuable backlinks to your site.

Now, this doesn’t mean you should start sending out loads of mediocre articles to every blog that’s even remotely relevant to your own. A better strategy: guest-write great content for the right website, perhaps a few guest posts, and engage with the audience: you’ll surely get noticed.

But, once you’ve invested a lot of time in writing a great article that you’re very proud of, odds are you also want to put that content on your own site. Preferably without creating duplicate content issues. What are your options, in that case?

Yossi sent us a question that shows this dilemma:

I sometimes write articles for a third party website. I’d also like to put them on my own site. But I noticed the other site set a rel=”canonical” attribute pointing to their page. So, how can I put the articles I wrote on my site and benefit from them, without getting a penalty from Google?

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

Reposting guest-authored content

“The problem is, Yossi, if you publish them on that other site first, and that other site is bigger than yours, then the chance of you ranking with that content is close to zero.

Learn how to write online copy that ranks!

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  • Includes personal feedback
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So, if you want to rank with content, you need to decide where to put it first, and otherwise, you have to put a canonical on that third-party website to yours. But if they’re paying you to write that, or if there’s another sort of deal, they’ll probably not be willing to do that. So, decide where you want to rank with content, publish it there first, otherwise put a canonical from the page that you want not to rank to the page that you want to rank.

But if you can’t do any of that, then I would not go through the trouble of publishing it again on your own site. Because it really doesn’t make all that much sense. And you’d be better off just publishing a short snippet on your own site, saying, “Hey, I wrote this on that other site.” Good luck.”

Ask Yoast

In the series Ask Yoast, we answer SEO questions from our readers. Do you have an SEO-related question? A pressing SEO dilemma you can’t find the answer to? Send an email to ask@yoast.com, and your question may be featured in one of our weekly Ask Yoast vlogs.

Note: you may want to check our blog and knowledge base first, the answer to your question could already be out there! For urgent questions, for example about the Yoast SEO plugin not working properly, please contact us through our support page.

Read more: The ultimate guide to content SEO »

The post Ask Yoast: Can I repost my guest-authored content? appeared first on Yoast.

There have been moments in the past year that I wanted to quit my blog. My inner critic would tell me I wasn’t good enough to play with the big bloggers out there and I would tell myself over and over again the blogging world is oversaturated and in particular the mom blog niche. Instead of quitting, I took breaks, started blogging for Yoast and found my love for my blog and my writing style again. And it’s safe to say: people start to recognize my personal brand. How I did this and how you can achieve this too, is something I want to explain today. And the good news is: you do not need 10,000 followers on Instagram and 100,000 visitors on your blog!

Background and statistics

Before we dive into the world of personal branding, let’s go back to the article I wrote a few months ago about my goals and statistics. Maybe you remember me saying I wanted to reach 100K of unique visitors a month at the end of 2018. Although I still want to grow to these numbers, I am not working on growing that rapidly anymore. As a blogger, you do not (yet) need an audience that’s in the very high numbers. You need to make sure your base is strong and your engagement is high. How I came to this conclusion? Last week I was at a blogging event where I spoke to Cassandra, a blogger in my niche. She talked about micro influencing and about the importance of becoming a brand, instead of focussing on reaching the mighty and powerful 10K on Instagram ‘just’ for the swipe up function. And my head started spinning.

Personal brand – what is it?

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One of the most hyped, but also important, expressions currently is ‘personal brand’. In short, it means presenting yourself as a brand to the world. It’s what people see when they look at you, read something about you or hear from you. You want this image to be positive and true to who you are. I know that I’m seen as someone who works at Yoast, knows a lot about the plugin and SEO. But there’s more to that. As I give talks and workshops about SEO to bloggers, I’ve received comments about how people see me. And most of the time people know me for my love for Disney, my advocacy for self-care for mothers, Yoast, SEO, my sense of humor and the ability to explain things.

My personal brand is more than just my blog or my Instagram, it’s everything. On my blog, you won’t find many hints to Yoast, but on Instagram, you will. On my blog, you will find a lot of hints towards Disney, less so on my Instagram. Yet either platform is completely true to who I am. I mock motherhood and being an ‘influencer’ both on Instagram and on my blog and I definitely portray the importance of self-care on both platforms.

You should ask the same feedback from the people around you. Someone might say something you don’t particularly agree with, but it’s how they see you. Be sure to know what you want to be known for. If you do not receive that from anyone or not from everyone, then that means you’ve got work cut out for you!

Your personal brand helps you stay focused and unique

You might wonder where I’m going with my explanation about personal brand. There’s an important reason for it: knowing how the world sees you and how you want to be seen, will make sure your blog will stay or become more focused. If you know what you and your blog stand for, you know what your audience expects from you. If you, for example, wish to do a collaboration with a company, you should make sure it is in line with your brand’s values and reputation. For example, if you usually only share vegetarian dishes, it would be a bit strange to suddenly do a collaboration with a company that’s not vegetarian. Although you might still eat non-vegetarian products in your daily life, if your audience is not aware of this fact, your followers will be confused. Do this too often and you might lose your credibility.

The importance of micro influencing

I currently have a little over 700 followers on my personal Instagram. Although I too wish to grow my following, I’d find it more important to interact with my followers. My average engagement rate is 12.45%. According to Influencermarketinghub, the average engagement rate for accounts with less than 1000 followers, is 8%. I’m well above that and I take pride in this. It means my Instagram followers represent the people I wish to reach. Less is more and this is definitely the case in the world of online influencing. Although it might look awesome to have thousands upon thousands of followers, if your engagement rate is low and your following does not represent your blog’s audience, it might be even harder to be considered an influencer than someone with fewer followers, but a higher engagement rate. Because it means that the latter knows where his or her audience is ‘hiding’ and knows how to reach them.

So how would you grow?

Does it mean I don’t want to grow my blog anymore? No, not at all. I still want to reach a big audience. But I realize now that won’t last if I don’t take the route of commitment. If I don’t want to be forgotten in a few months, it means people should really feel connected to my brand: to me. By knowing what I stand for, I know how I should grow, not how I can grow. If this is a little too vague, let me make it a more clear with an explanation.

The kind of blog posts I write, are:

  • Blog posts about self-care, in particular, self-care for mothers;
  • Blog posts about motherhood with a personal twist, think of: things I can say at home, but not at work, the laws of motherhood outdoors and a tutorial on how to avoid changing diapers at all cost.
  • Blog posts about Disneyland Paris;
  • Inspiration interior blog posts, for example: Halloween decorations or an Ikea Hack;
  • Vegan recipes that are easy to make, because I hate to cook;
  • DIYs that are easy and fast done and still steal the show, in case it’s your mother in law’s birthday and you haven’t made a gift with your toddler yet.

I know I could reach a lot more visitors by competing with the bigger bloggers out there. I could write ‘how to’s’ and informational articles that have been written over and over again. This could be a business model or a part of your brand, that’s totally fine. But it’s not mine. I would lose my current following and would gain a new following. My current blog posts wouldn’t fit into that strategy and people will become confused about my personal brand.

By staying true to your brand with your articles and on social media, people will eventually recognize you and your brand. Although your biggest source of traffic might not come from Google for a very long time, your brand will be strong and depends on people rather than on algorithms.

I’m curious how you are maintaining your brand. Are you already working on your personal brand and if so, how?

Read more: Blogging: the ultimate guide »

The post Caroline’s Corner: How to stay unique despite being one of many bloggers in your niche appeared first on Yoast.

It’s hard to imagine a life without a search engine that knows what it’s doing. I remember the days of AltaVista and co, search engines that just dump random pages on you for every given query. I was so excited to see Google enter the scene and immediately do everything right — the results were great, it was fast and it had no ads. Didn’t take long before I was hooked. But a lot has happened in the past twenty years and a lot will happen in the next. Starting today, Google is looking to change search for the next twenty years.

Google’s Future of Search Event

On Monday, Google held a small event to celebrate its 20th anniversary and it took the opportunity to offer a sneak peek at the coming years. Google introduced three paradigm shifts in how it sees search in the future:

  • A shift from answers to journeys
  • A shift from queries to providing a queryless way to get information
  • Plus a shift from text to a more visual way of finding information

I’ll dive into this below.

Changing how search works: from answers to journeys

One of the biggest challenges search engines had to face was finding out what a user meant to do when he or she entered a specific search term. Search intent became some sort of holy grail that everyone was trying to get to first.

Today, we know all the different kinds of searches a user can do. We also know there are different stages in that process. One doesn’t often go from knowing hardly anything about a product to buying it in one single search, right? Weeks can go by before you enter the next step of the process. By matching your keywords and content to that intent, you can make sure your content fits, so to say.

Now, that journey will become the focal point for Google’s future of search. Increasingly, Google will know where you are in the journey, remember what you did and where you most likely want to go. In the end, it wants you to discover and consume more content — even without you specifically asking for it. We’ll see Google provide more and more content instead of just pointing to other pages. But, hopefully, you’ll be a good boy and visit the sites of advertising partners.

AI-driven search

It was written on the wall for some time: Google uses AI to up its understanding of languages and uses that knowledge to power new types of search. We’ve been talking about context as one the most important terms in SEO for a while now here at Yoast. Now here’s confirmation that it really is all about what goes on around the terms you use in your content. Google Search Liaison Danny Sullivan said that the past months, Google has been using an AI method to better connect words to concepts. Danny calls these super synonyms. This type of 30% of the queries are affected by this type of search.

Ben Gomes, Google’s VP, Search, News and Assistant, explains this technique called neural matching:

“We’ve now reached the point where neural networks can help us take a major leap forward from understanding words to understanding concepts. Neural embeddings, an approach developed in the field of neural networks, allow us to transform words to fuzzier representations of the underlying concepts, and then match the concepts in the query with the concepts in the document. We call this technique neural matching. This can enable us to address queries like: “why does my TV look strange?” to surface the most relevant results for that question, even if the exact words aren’t contained in the page. (By the way, it turns out the reason is called the soap opera effect).”

Who knows, maybe your site can now show up in the search results without ever mentioning your keyword in your content once — just by providing all the context surrounding that particular topic, Google can match that to the query entered.

Searches without the exact words leading to the correct answer. Photo by Danny Sullivan

A Topic Layer for the Knowledge Graph

To make all these connections, Google introduced the Knowledge Graph years ago. The Knowledge Graph explores and understands connections between entities — i.e. people, places, things and facts about them. What it missed, was something that understands how these connections grow over time and change as people get to know more about the topic they’re interested in. That’s what they’re adding today in the form of the new Topic Layer.

Google's new topic layer in the knowledge graph

Google’s new topic layer in the knowledge graph

Nick Fox, Google’s Vice President of Product & Design, Search and Assistant:

“The Topic Layer is built by analyzing all the content that exists on the web for a given topic and develops hundreds and thousands of subtopics. For these subtopics, we can identify the most relevant articles and videos—the ones that have shown themselves to be evergreen and continually useful, as well as fresh content on the topic. We then look at patterns to understand how these subtopics relate to each other, so we can more intelligently surface the type of content you might want to explore next.”

This new Topic Layer will power a lot of the changes that are coming to the search engine. You can easily see why it is getting incredibly important to know your subject inside out. Not only that, you need to know the world in which it lives and try to figure out how the connections are made exactly.

Manage searches and discover new content: Activity, Collection and Discover

Google’s new AI powers drive the innovation of new ways of surfacing and collecting search results. One of the features launched yesterday was the Activity tab. The Activity tab helps you retrace your steps in search. It shows you which sites you’ve visited during a particular session. This tab — visible only to you — will only appear on searches where it makes sense according to Google. It will arrive with suggested searches as well. Of course, you can always delete it.

Another way to keep track of what you are doing is by using the new Collections tab. This tab lets you collect searches from your Activity cards in groups so you can use them at a later date. Of course, you’ll also get content suggestions to deepen the knowledge of your subject/search etc.google collectionsIn the search results itself, searches that can result in a very broad result will now be supported by much more contextual information. Here’s Nick Fox again:

“Rather than presenting information within a set of predetermined categories we can intelligently show the subtopics that are most relevant to what you’re searching for and make it easy to explore information from the web, all with a single search.”

Google’s new and improved Discover feed

Another way AI will drive traffic is Google’s news feed on mobile — renamed Discover. It has proven to be a source of traffic for many sites. It now has over 800 million users and has sent 2.5 times more traffic to publishers over the last year. The feed will also use the new Topic Layer to uncover new articles relevant to the interests of the user. It suggests content without intent: the user might not even know he or she wanted to read this. The more you use it, the more it knows what you like. It even changes content based on the intent you show in search.

Moving to visual search

The move to a more visual style of search has been written in the stars for some time. Not just Google, but also Microsoft and Pinterest have been very active in this space over the past few years. Earlier this year, Google launched the new and improved Lens app. This AI-powered visual search tool can analyze text in photos and it can show you lookalikes of items in the photos all by pointing your camera to the item. Desktop search will now get a Lens feature as well, so you can analyze what’s in a photo and continue your search on that.

Google is also introducing featured videos into the results. These videos are carefully selected and should serve as an entry point into a subject. Google uses computer vision to analyze video’s and automatically select the pieces of a video that best fit the particular topic.

Tomorrow, 27th of September will see the release of a new desktop interface for Google image search. The interface will provide much more context surrounding the images and should make visually search much more satisfying. Related search terms will help you narrow down your search even more.

The last piece in the visual search puzzle is the launch of AI-rendered, AMP-powered Stories in the search results. Whether you love it or hate it, Google continues to push AMP. This time, we get AMP Stories in search. Stories are a concept done to death by other companies, like Facebook and Instagram, but Google wants to get publishers to adopt the story format as well. It won’t be long before this will be ad-supported of course.

A lot of stuff happening at Google

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On the surface, it might look as if search hasn’t changed a lot over the course of twenty years. We still enter a search term into a box on a white page, press enter and get results. How these search results are generated has always been a work in progress. The way they are selected and sorted will forever be in the hands of ever-changing algorithms. Google now wants to get more control over how people interact with search and its results. It is looking for more ways to get people inside the results and keep them there. Very interested to see how this plays out.

Read Google’s blog posts about these changes:

Read more: Why every website needs Yoast SEO »

The post Google at 20: Journeys, AI-driven results and visual search appeared first on Yoast.

Many, many sites have an FAQ page. This is a page where a lot of frequently asked questions get the appropriate answer. It is often a single page filled to the brim with questions and answers. While it’s easy to add one, it’s good to keep in mind that not all sites need an FAQ. Most of the times all you need is good content targeted at the users’ needs. Here, I’ll discuss the use of FAQ pages and show you how to make one yourself with Yoast SEOs new structured data content blocks for Gutenberg. You won’t believe how easy it is.

What is an FAQ?

FAQ stands for frequently asked questions. It is more often than not a single page collecting a series of question and its answers on a specific subject, product or company. An FAQ is often seen as a tool to reduce the workload of the customer support team. It is also used to show that you are aware of the issues a customer might have and to provide an answer to that.

But first: Do you really, really, really need an FAQ?

Usually, if you need to answer a lot of questions from users in an FAQ, that means that your content is not providing these answers and that you should work on that. Or maybe it is your product or service itself that’s not clear enough? One of the main criticisms of FAQs is that they hardly ever answer the questions consumers really have. They are also lazy: instead of figuring out how to truly answer a question with formidable content, people rather throw some random stuff on a page and call it an FAQ.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t use an FAQ. Numerous sites successfully apply them — even we use them. They do provide value. Users understand how an FAQ works and are quick to find what they are looking for — if the makers of the page know what they are doing. So don’t make endless lists of loosely related ‘How can I…’ or ‘How to…’ questions, because people will struggle to filter out what they need.

It has to be a page that’s easy to digest and has to have real answers to real questions by users. You can find scores of these if you search for them: ask your support team for instance! Collect and analyze the issues that come up frequently to see if you’re not missing some pain points in your products or if your content is targeting the wrong questions.

So don’t hide answers to pressings questions away on an FAQ page if you want to answer these in-depth: make an article out of it. This is what SEO deals with nowadays: provide an answer that matches your content to the search intent.

Questions and answers spoken out loud?

Google is trying to match a question from a searcher to an answer from a source. If you mark up your questions and answers with Question structured data, you tell search engines that this little sentence is a question and that this paragraph is its answer. Paragraph-based content is all the rage. One of the reasons? The advent of voice search. Google is looking for easy to understand, block-based content that it can use to answer searchers questions right in the search engine — or by speaking it out loud. Using the brand-spanking new Schema property speakable might even speed up this content discovery by determining which part of the content is fit for text-to-speech conversion.

How to build an FAQ page in WordPress via Yoast SEO content blocks

The best way to set up a findable, readable and understandable FAQ page on a WordPress site is by using the new structured data content blocks in Yoast SEO. These Gutenberg blocks make building an FAQ page a piece of cake. It even automatically adds the necessary structured data so search engines like Google can do cool stuff with it. But, if nothing else, it might even give you an edge over your competitor. So, let’s get to it!

Use structured data to win in Google!

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Step 1: Open WordPress’ new Gutenberg editor

Make a page in WordPress, add a title and an introductory paragraph. Now add the FAQ structured data content block. You can find the Yoast SEO structured data content blocks inside the Add Block modal. Scroll all the way down to find them or type ‘FAQ’ in the search bar, which I’ve highlighted in the screenshot below.

Step 2: Add questions and answers

After you’ve added the FAQ block, you can start to add questions and answers to it. Keep in mind that these questions live inside the FAQ block. It’s advisable to keep the content related to each other so you can keep the page clean and focused. So no throwing in random questions.

Step 3: Keep filling, check and publish

After adding the first question and answering it well, keep adding the rest of your questions and answers until you’ve filled your FAQ page. In the screenshot below you see two questions filled in. I’ve highlighted two buttons, the Add Image button and the Add Question. These speak for themselves.

Once you are done, you’ll have a well-structured FAQ page. Go to the frontend of your site and check if everything is in order. If not, make the necessary changes.

What does this look like under the hood?

Run your new FAQ page through Structured Data Testing Tool to see what it looks like for Google. Yoast SEO should generate valid structured data for your FAQ page. Here’s a piece of a page I made, showing one particular question:
It’s basically built up like this. The context surrounding the questions is an FAQPage Schema graph. Every question gets a Question type and an acceptedAnswer with an answer type. That sounds hard, but it’s not. All you have to do is fill in the Question and the Answer and you’re good to go! Let’s break it down:

  • context is Schema.org of course
  • The FAQ page content lives inside a graph
  • type: Question
  • name: The question as written by you
  • answerCount: The number of answers counted. In our case that’s only one, but this will change if you have a Quora type of site where people can send in their own answers
  • acceptedAnswer: The answer that will show in search
    • type: Answer
    • text: The written answer for the question in this block

This translates to the code below as generated automatically by the Yoast SEO structured data content blocks. Now, Google will immediately see that this piece of content contains a question with an accepted answer. If you’re lucky, this might eventually lead to a featured snippets or another type of cool rich result.

<script type="application/ld+json">
	{
		"@context": "http:\/\/schema.org",
		"@graph": [{
				"@type": "FAQPage",
				"name": "An FAQ: How to use Yoast structured data content blocks"
			},
			{
				"@type": "Question",
				"name": "What is SEO?",
				"answerCount": 1,
				"acceptedAnswer": {
					"@type": "Answer",
					"text": "SEO is the acronym for Search Engine Optimization. It's the practice of optimizing websites to make them reach a high position in Google's - or another search engine's - search results. SEO focuses on rankings in the organic (non-paid) search results."
				}
			},
			{
				"@type": "Question",
				"name": "What is crawlability?",
				"answerCount": 1,
				"acceptedAnswer": {
					"@type": "Answer",
					"text": "Crawlability has to do with the possibilities Google has to crawl your website. Crawlers can be blocked from your site. There are a few ways to block a crawler from your website. If your website or a page on your website is blocked, you're saying to Google's crawler: 'do not come here'. Your site or the respective page won't turn up in the search results in most of these cases."
				}
			}
		]
	}
</script>

Structured data is so cool

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Structured data is where it’s at. It is one of the foundations on which the web is built today and its importance will only increase with time. In this post, I’ve shown you one of the newest Schema additions, and you’ll be seeing this pop up in the search results sometime soon.

Since this is only an introduction to FAQ Schema, there are loads more properties to find on Schema.org. While not everything is available in Yoast SEO structured data content blocks, there’s a chance we’ll add some of those soon. You can always build on the groundwork that Yoast SEO lays down for you.

Read more: Why every website needs Yoast SEO »

The post How to build an FAQ page with Gutenberg and Yoast SEO appeared first on Yoast.

For the bloggers who started building websites in the early 00s, blogging was ‘just’ writing an update on your life or writing a tutorial. Photos were  not usual and if you had photos, you made sure the title of the blog post contained something like: ‘warning: image heavy’. Today, you cannot imagine posting a blog without an image. Your post is less likely to be picked up on Facebook, Twitter and even Google. And as we all know, even the Yoast SEO plugin tells you to use images in your post! But… why do you use those images? And where do you get them from? Fear not! I’m going to share all my secrets with you. Again!

Why you should use images in your blog posts

My most popular posts on my blog are, not quite coincidentally, posts with high-quality images. A picture is worth a thousand words. And this holds very true for bloggers in a niche that’s saturated. If a visitor has to choose which site to visit on Pinterest or Facebook, they will choose one with an image that’s compelling to them. Sure, your call to action will have to persuade them as well, but if you don’t use images, or don’t use high-quality ones, they very well might skip your blog post.

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There’s another reason why you need proper images, other than social sharing: Google images. When you have high quality and optimized images, your images could rank first when people perform a Google image search. There are several posts I actually rank first with on Google Images. And does this give me visitors? Yes, it sure does!

Before you grab your camera…

Before you fear you have to invest in photography courses, have to hire a professional photographer or you just cannot create the right photos, read on. Because I’ve got some tips and tricks for you.

Use stock photos

If you cannot create your own photo for whatever reason, there are a lot of stock photo websites you can grab images from. Do not, and I repeat, not, Google search for images and just grab them. This is stealing. The photos you are placing on your website, belong to someone else. You need to have the photographer’s permission. You don’t want to see your blog post on someone else’s blog. A photographer does not like their photo on your site without permission. You wouldn’t be the first one to get a claim from a photographer, and rightfully so.

But if you can’t just grab every image, where should you find them? Luckily, there are quite a few stock photo websites out there that have licenses that permit you to use the photos. Please always check the licenses described on the website. Because I like you and because I’m feeling very helpful today, I’ve explored the licenses on the sites below.

Unsplash.com

Unsplash is my absolute favorite. The images on here are gorgeous, the website is easy to navigate and the licensing is very clear. All photos published on Unsplash, are free for commercial and non-commercial use. You can alter the images if you wish without needing to give the photographer credit. I use this website for my personal blog quite often. Especially for blog posts about motherhood, when I don’t want to photograph my own child.

Pixabay.com

Pixabay has both paid and free images. A lot of images here do not require crediting the photographer. If you don’t have to credit and you can alter the image, you will find that the image is released under Creative Commons CC0.

Foter.com

Foter claims there are over 335 million free stock photos on its site. Just conduct a search. Each and every photo will display the license under which it’s listed. Some photos require credit to the photographer, some photos may not be altered and some may not be modified. It can be quite hard to find a picture you like here, especially if you have to make sure you comply with the licenses.

But what if my blog is about a subject I can’t find a photo for?

What if you write about blogging or programming? Or about showering, and you don’t want to have someone naked on your blog who’s enjoying their shampoo a tad too much? Be creative! You’re a blogger, a writer, you can be creative with images, can’t you? For that blogging article, use a (stock) photo of a laptop. And for that shower, use a shower head. Or just running water. Remember: the image does not replace your article, it’ll enhance it and grab your reader’s attention.

But what if you really, really, really cannot find a suitable image? Well, have you ever heard of Canva?

Canva is amazing

With Canva, you can create designs for every need in your browser. It holds a lot of free designs you can use. There are premade designs for Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, posters and more. With these designs, varying from drawings to quotes and photos, you’ll be able to find a suitable image for your blog post, I’m absolutely sure of it.

Say thanks

We’re lucky to live in a world where it’s very cheap to create your own website. Where you don’t have to pay for WordPress, you can use a lot of free plugins and become big without spending a dime on your website. You might be one of the few bloggers that make a living out of blogging. If so: that’s awesome. I have one request for you in that case: if you make money with your website and you do use stock photos, please consider thanking the photographer by donating a (small) amount to thank them for their work in making your website better. It’s up to you to decide if you wish to do this and if you have the means to do so, but I do believe ‘we bloggers’ owe quite a lot of thanks to the wonderful people out there who share their knowledge and resources for free.

Please let me know in the comments which stock photo websites you use that I haven’t heard of. Oh, and a game for you: spot the stock photos on my own personal blog ;)

Read more: Image SEO: Optimizing for search engines »

The post Blog post images: Why use them and where to get them appeared first on Yoast.

Journalists have been using the inverted pyramid writing style for ages. Using it, you put your most important information upfront. Don’t hedge. Don’t bury your key point halfway down the third paragraph. Don’t hold back; tell the complete story in the first paragraph. Even online, this writing style holds up pretty well for some types of articles. It even comes in handy now that web content is increasingly used to answer every type of question a searcher might have. Find out how!

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What is the inverted pyramid?

Most readers don’t have the time or desire to carefully read an article, so journalists put the critical pieces of a story in the first paragraph to inform and draw in a reader. This paragraph is the meat and potatoes of a story, so to say. This way, every reader can read the first paragraph — also known as the lead — and get a complete notion of what the story is about. It gives away the traditional W’s instantly: who, what, when, where, why and, of course, how.

The introductory paragraph is followed by paragraphs that contain important details. After that, follows general information and whatever background the writers deem supportive of the narrative. This has several advantages:

  • It supports all readers, even those who skim
  • It improves comprehension, everything you need to understand the article is in that first paragraph
  • You need less time to get to the point
  • It gives writers a full paragraph to draw readers in
  • Done well, it encourages readers to scroll and read the rest of the article
  • It gives writers full control over the structure
  • It makes it easier to edit articles

An example

Here’s an example of such an intro. Marieke wrote an article called What is SEO? that answers exactly that question in an easy to understand way. She gives away the answer immediately, but also uses triggers to get people to read the rest of the article. Here’s the intro:

“SEO is the acronym for Search Engine Optimization. It’s the practice of optimizing websites to make them reach a high position in Google’s – or another search engine’s – search results. SEO focuses on rankings in the organic (non-paid) search results. In this post, I’ll answer the question “What is SEO?” and I’ll explain how we perform SEO at Yoast.”

The inverted pyramid is just one of many techniques you can use to present and structure content. You can use it to write powerful news articles, press releases, product pages, blog posts or explanatory articles, like we do.

This style of writing, however, is not suited for every piece of content. Maybe you write poetry, or long essays with a complete story arc or just a piece of complex fiction. Critics are quick to add that the inverted pyramid style cripples their creativity. But, even then, you can learn from the techniques of the inverted pyramid that helps you to draw a reader in and figure out a good way to structure a story. And, as we all know, a solid structure is key in getting people — and search engines — to understand your content. Marieke wrote a great article on setting up a clear text structure.

The power of paragraphs

Well-written paragraphs are incredibly powerful. These paragraphs can stand on their own. I always try to write in a modular way. I’m regularly moving paragraphs around if I think they fit better somewhere else in the article. It makes editing and changing the structure of a story so much easier.

Good writers give every paragraph a stand-out first sentence, these are known as core sentences. These sentences raise one question or concept per paragraph. Someone who scans the article by reading the first sentence of every paragraph will get the gist of it and can choose to read the rest of the paragraph or not. Of course, the rest of the paragraph is spent answering or supporting that question or concept.

It’s all blocks these days anyways

On the web, there is a movement towards block-based content. Google uses whole paragraphs from articles to answers questions in the search results with featured snippets or answer boxes. The voice search revolution is powered by paragraph-based content. Even our beloved WordPress CMS will move to a block-based new editor called Gutenberg. These blocks are self-contained pieces of content that search engines are going to enjoy gobbling up. We can even give these blocks the structured data needed to let search engines know exactly what content is in that block. Blocks are it — another reason you need to write better paragraphs.

Answering questions

Something else is going on: a lot of content out there is written specifically to answer questions based on user intent. Google is also showing much more questions and answers right away in the search results. That’s why it makes a lot of sense to structure your questions and answers in such a way that is easy to digest for both readers and search engines. This also supports the inverted pyramid theory. If you want to answer a specific question, do that right beneath that question. Don’t obfuscate it. Keep it upfront. You can answer supporting questions or give a more elaborate answer further down the text. If you have data supporting your answer, please present it.

How to write with the inverted pyramid in mind

The inverted pyramid forces you to think about your story: what is it, which parts are key to understanding everything? Even if you don’t follow the structure to the letter, focusing on the essential parts of your story and deleting the fluff is always a good thing. In his seminal work The Elements of Style, William Strunk famously wrote:

“Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail and treat his subjects only in outline, but that he make every word tell.”

In short, writing works like this:

  • Map it out: What are the most important points you want to make?
  • Filter: Which points are supportive, but not key?
  • Connect: How does everything fit together?
  • Structure: Use sub-headers to build an easy to understand structure for your article
  • Write: Start every paragraph with your core sentence and support/prove/disprove/etc these in the coming sentences
  • Revise: Are the paragraphs in the correct order? Maybe you should move some around to enhance readability or understanding?
  • Edit: I.e. killing your darlings. Do you edit your own work or can someone do it for you?
  • Publish: Add the article to WordPress and hit that Publish button

Need more writing tips? Marieke gives 10 tips for writing an awesome and SEO-friendly blog post.

Try it

Like I said, not every type of content will benefit from the inverted pyramid. But the inverted pyramid has sure made its mark over the past century or more. Even now, as we mostly write content for the web this type of thinking about a story or article makes us focus on the most important parts — and how we tell about those parts. It forces you to separate facts from fiction and fluff from real nuggets of content gold. Try it out and your next article might turn out to be the best yet.

Read more: SEO copywriting: the ultimate guide »

The post First things first: writing content with the inverted pyramid style appeared first on Yoast.

Using testimonials on your site (the right way) is always beneficial, whether your goal is more sales, or more subscribers, etc. Providing social proof that your product or blog is awesome will help convince people that giving your their money or time is worth their while. While you can certainly use written testimonials, video testimonials are a great way to show that other people, real people, are happy with what you have to offer.

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A good testimonial on video should be authentic and to-the-point. You don’t want it to look scripted, so it’s believable. And if it’s too long and too many aspects of a product are covered, viewers will get bored and won’t remember the most important takeaways. So, in short, have a nice and relaxed conversation with the person giving the testimonial, but think about what you want highlight in this testimonial beforehand, so the conversation can focus on that. After you invest your time and effort into creating the perfect video testimonial, you’ll obviously want to put it to good use. But, how do you do that?

Jessica Martinieri was wondering the same thing:

I’m going to employ video testimonials from my company. Besides adding these videos to my website what more can I do to fully benefit from them and spread the word? Is simply adding them to Facebook and other social media okay?

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

Using video testimonials

“Well, simply adding them is not enough. You have to share them, you have to be proud of them and show why you’re proud of them.

You can also ask the people that you’ve taken the testimonial from to share them as well. Use them in any way that you can. You can also optimize them a bit. If you’ve done specific things for people that you’d like them to talk about, make sure that they talk about that. Also, add a transcript to those videos. And put them on YouTube, and people will find you on YouTube for the terms mentioned in that video. Sometimes it’s that simple. Good luck!”

Ask Yoast

In the series Ask Yoast, we answer SEO questions from our readers. Do you have an SEO-related question? A pressing SEO dilemma you can’t find the answer to? Send an email to ask@yoast.com, and your question may be featured in one of our weekly Ask Yoast vlogs.

Note: you may want to check our blog and knowledge base first, the answer to your question could already be out there! For urgent questions, for example about the Yoast SEO plugin not working properly, please contact us through our support page.

Read on: Testimonials: Increase your visitor’s trust »

The post Ask Yoast: How to use video testimonials? appeared first on Yoast.

It can happen to you: other people copy content from your site and republish it on their own site. You have gone the extra mile to write an awesome article for your website, when, all of a sudden, another website takes possession of it. It can be frustrating to see this happen, and it happens more often than you think. If your website reaches a certain number of visitors and stands out from the crowd, there will be people that try to benefit from your content for their own gain.

Simple example: after this post is published, it will appear in our RSS feed. And this will cause other websites to publish the article automatically on their own website. They fully automated that process. Not the nicest way to express appreciation, right? But it happens.

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In this article, we’d like to show you a number of ways that people can copy your content. We’ll also show you what possible actions you can take, without directly asking your lawyer to take action.

People copy content via your RSS feed

Most content management systems publish an RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed for your website. Being the fossil that I am, I still use these feeds in my RSS reader (I’m using Feedly) so I can read up on a number of websites at once.

However, some websites use RSS to include news from other websites on their website. That can be done by including a list of your latest article titles that link to your website. You’ll probably have no problem with it if someone does this. But if it’s done to republish your content on their website without that link to you, it’s a different story. This is one of the reasons our Yoast SEO plugin allows you to add an extra line to your feed items. That line could say “The article (article title) was first published on (your URL)”. There is a line like that included by default, by the way. This ensures that, if people copy content from your website via your RSS feed, there will always be a link back to your website. Google will find that link and understand you are the original source.

Make sure there is a link back to the original article in the RSS feed. That way, the website that copies your content won’t get all the credits for your article.

Manually copying your content

If someone manually copies your content or removes that line directing the reader and Google to your website from your RSS feed, chances are you won’t even notice they copied it. But if you do, first, try to get them to add that link back to your article in there. Just send an email and hope that the ‘thief’ is willing to add that link.

We have had people telling us that the only reason they copy content from our website was that they felt their readers should know about that specific issue or tip as well. There didn’t appear to be bad intentions and the link was added immediately after our email.

The best way: canonical link

The best way to make sure search engines understand that your content is the original source for the content is by adding a canonical link back to your website. If the other website is willing to do so and is running our Yoast SEO plugin, this is easy as pie. If the website at hand has no bad intentions, they will be willing to add that link.

What if people copy content from your site? Canonical urls as a solution for duplicate content

Get rid of that copy altogether

It’s trickier when people have less good intentions for stealing your content. If they copy content from your website only for their own benefit, they might not even respond to your email. In that case, you may have to use your copyright as the original author to have that content removed. Google suggests contacting the host of the website and filing a request at Google as well (see the last paragraph of that article).

Translating your content

There is another way that websites can copy your content. If this article, for instance, gets translated into Italian, we might not find even out about it. But usually, articles like that do surface on Twitter. And you obviously have a saved search for your brand on social, right? Or one of the internal links that you added could remain in the translated article and show up in Google Analytics. You might find a Google Alert in our inbox showing that article. There are ways to find a translated article.

Do you want to be associated with that website?

Now I hear you think “If a canonical would help to link duplicate content cross-domain, I need hreflang here.” But you probably don’t. There is no use adding that hreflang tag if the other site isn’t linking back to you using the same method. And you have no control over the translation whatsoever, so you might not want to be linked to that domain anyway.

If the translation makes sense in your book, I would ask the other website to add a link in the article, stating that the original article appeared on your website, in English (or whatever language you originally wrote it in). If the translated article is for an audience that you’re not targeting, I wouldn’t even put too much effort into it.

Artwork

I’d like to wrap up this article with a small remark about artwork. We use artwork heavily in our publications (and branding). Every single illustration we have on our website is our own.

What if people copy content from your site? Use the copyright on your own artwork for instance

In case a website, Youtube video or social media publication uses that artwork, we have the option to have that publication taken down because of that. Usually, using this copyright angle is the easiest way to get rid of non-responsive thieves of your content. Simply send the website an email first, and ask the hosting company to take action if you get no response. Another reason to stay away from stock photos and use your own media to enhance your website!

Good luck!

Read more: DIY: Duplicate content check »

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