Some of the things Yoast SEO does are pure magic. Lots of things are just taken care of after you’ve installed the plugin. You don’t have to do anything about that. Simply installing Yoast SEO will fix a lot of important technical SEO things for you. The content side of SEO, though, is something you should always do yourself. Yoast SEO will help you, but you’ll need to make an effort for it. So there’s a lot of work in it for you. In this post, I’m going to tell to you about the things you need to do yourself, in order to make your SEO strategy successful.

Configure Yoast SEO properly

First of all, you need to configure Yoast SEO correctly. You should be aware that the plugin can’t perform to its full potential if the settings of Yoast SEO aren’t optimal for your specific website. So, make sure that the configuration of Yoast SEO is, in fact, in line with your website. The configuration wizard helps you take care of a lot of these settings, you can read about what it does in this post

Learn how to write awesome and SEO friendly articles in our SEO Copywriting training »

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Keyword research… always

The second thing you need to make sure of is doing your keyword research right. You need to know that you’re focusing on the words that people actually are searching for. If you’re optimizing for a term nobody uses, you can rank number one, but you still won’t have any traffic. And if you’re optimizing for a term that’s so competitive that you won’t ever be able to rank for it, then you won’t get any traffic as well.

Doing your keyword research means getting inside the heads of your audience. It also means knowing your competition and estimating your chances to rank for a certain keyword. Yoast SEO will help you optimize your content for your keywords, but figuring out what the right keywords are, is your job.

Read more: ‘How to choose keywords that’ll attract traffic’ »

Write awesome content

The third thing you need to do yourself is to write awesome content. And that’s something you have to do manually. Of course, you can outsource this, but it’s something somebody has to do. Yoast SEO actually helps you to write both SEO-friendly, as well as readable texts with the content and SEO analysis. So you should use this feature and make sure your text is well-optimized for the search engines. But adding great content is still something you need to do yourself, it won’t happen magically.

Internal linking

Another thing you’ll need to do yourself is take care of your internal linking structure. This is very important because a proper internal linking structure will make sure that Google understands your website. And you want Google to understand your website. Otherwise, you will be competing with your own content for a place in the search results.

Yoast SEO (premium) will help you to do that, with our internal linking feature. But it’s still something you need to be actually doing yourself. Yoast SEO will make suggestions for articles you could link to, but you still have to put them in your article.

Optimize your site for search & social media and keep it optimized with Yoast SEO Premium »

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Social previews and redirects

Social previews and redirects are features in Yoast SEO that’ll help you improve your SEO. Your effort is needed in order to gain an SEO advantage from these features. Part of your SEO strategy will be a strategy on social media, so Facebook and Twitter. And Yoast SEO can help you make those posts on Facebook, but you still have to hit that button and write the content. Same goes for the redirects. If a page is outdated, you want to redirect it to another page. But it won’t happen just magically; you have to create those redirects yourself.

Don’t forget your competition

Even if they’ve done all the things I talked about, some people are unable to rank for a specific term. Why is that? Well, I think a lot of it has to do with competition. Some search terms are so competitive, and dominated by high-authority brands, that it’s terribly hard for a starting out blog to rank between them. If you want to rank for ‘holiday home Florida’ and you’re just starting out as a blog, you’re probably not going to rank right away. You need to have a whole strategy, in which you focus on long-tail search terms first. So, part of why you’re not ranking has to do with the competition.

On top of that, SEO sometimes takes a long time. Don’t despair if you’re not ranking overnight. It can take a little while before you start ranking for specific search terms. It’s a process that requires a strategy and it takes some time before you see the results.


SEO is a lot of work. Yoast SEO magically takes care of most of the technical SEO stuff. The content side of SEO is a different story though. You’ll need to make an effort to set up a successful content SEO strategy. There are a lot of things you should work on, in which Yoast SEO can actually help you and take you by the hand. And don’t forget: whether or not you rank for specific terms also depends on your competition in your specific niche. 

Keep reading: ‘The ultimate guide to content SEO’ »

The post Yoast SEO: don’t just set it and forget it! appeared first on Yoast.

At Yoast, we like to say ‘Content is king’. By this, we mean that you cannot rank for any keyword if you don’t write meaningful and original content about it. In this SEO basics post, I’ll explain why you absolutely need content to make your site attractive for your visitors. Also, I’ll clarify why Google dislikes low quality or thin content and what you can do about it.

Learn how to write awesome and SEO friendly articles in our SEO Copywriting training »

SEO copywriting training Info

Thin content

So what is thin content? Thin content is content that has little or no value to the user. Google considers doorway pages, low quality affiliate pages, or simply pages with very little or no content as thin content pages. But don’t fall into the trap of just producing loads of very similar content: non-original pages, pages with scraped and duplicate content, are considered thin content pages too. On top of that, Google doesn’t like pages that are stuffed with keywords either. Google has gotten smarter and has learned to distinguish between valuable and low quality content, especially since Google Panda.

What does Google want?

Google tries to provide the best results that match the search intent of the user. If you want to rank high, you have to convince Google that you’re giving the answer to the question of the user. This isn’t possible if you’re not willing to write extensively on the topic you like to rank for. Thin content rarely qualifies for Google as the best result. As a minimum, Google has to know what your page is about to know if it should display your result to the user. So try to write enjoyable, informative copy, to make Google, but first an foremost, your users happy.

Read more: ‘SEO basics: What does Google do?’ »

Be the best result

We recommend writing meaningful copy about the keywords you’d like to rank for. If you keep a blog about your favorite hobby, this shouldn’t be much of a problem, right? If you write about something you love and know everything about, then it’s easy to show Google that your pages contain the expert answer they are looking for!

We do understand that every situation is different and that it’s not always possible to write an elaborate text about everything. For instance, if you own an online shop that sells hundreds of different computer parts, it can be a challenge to write an extensive text about everything. But at least make sure that every page has some original introductory content, instead of just an image and a buy button next to the price. If you sell lots of products that are very alike, you could also choose to optimize the category page instead of the product page or to use canonicals to prevent duplicate content issues.

How do we help you?

The Yoast SEO plugin helps you write awesome copy. It does that by providing content analysis checks. One of these checks is to write at least 300 words per page or posts. We also check if you haven’t used the same keyword before, which helps prevent you from creating similar content over and over. Another check that’s useful for this, is our keyword density check. If your score is too high, you’re probably stuffing your keyword into your copy, giving it an unnatural feel. So make sure at least these bullets are green.

content checks thin content

On top of that, you can use our readability check to make sure the quality of your text is good and readers can easily understand the text you’ve written.

Really want to learn how to create content that ranks? Then our SEO copywriting training probably is what you need. It guides you through the entire process of keyword research and content creation, helping you to develop the skills to write awesome content for your website!

Keep reading: ‘Content SEO: the ultimate guide’ »

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In our Ask Yoast case studies, we generally give SEO advise to clients who sign up for this series. This time, however, we’ve had a look at the website of Ryan Hoffman: He didn’t sign up for the case study, but commented on our Ultimate guide to Content SEO. He told us nobody in his target audience reads content. So we became curious if we could give Ryan tips to optimize his website without focusing on the text only. Our main conclusion is: Ryan’s website would benefit from a more holistic SEO strategy. Read on to find out how!

What keywords does your target audience use?

First of all, setting up an SEO strategy and creating content should always start with keyword research. Writing about keywords nobody is searching for doesn’t make sense, as you probably understand. Ryan already mentioned that people searching for a keyword such as ‘How to sell a house’ probably aren’t looking for great content. Those people end up calling an agent, sell their house and that’s it.

So what type of content could attract people interested in real estate? Where would you be interested in if you were looking for a new house? List everything that pops up your mind, and you’ll probably get great new content ideas. For example, think of ‘Tips for buying a house’, ‘Should I buy or rent a house?’, ‘What additional costs can I expect when buying a house?’. 

Learn how to write awesome and SEO friendly articles in our SEO Copywriting training »

SEO copywriting training Info

Make your keywords specific

You might notice that the key phrases I’ve added to the paragraph before are quite long. Such specific key phrases are also called long tail keywords. Long tail keywords are more specific than main keywords, but they can be of equal value to your website. Of course, fewer people will search for such specific keywords, but if they do, they’re more likely to convert. People searching for long tail keywords usually know better what they’re looking for on the internet. This means it’s easier to meet their needs by writing specific content about long tail keywords.

We recommend checking the content of existing articles to see if you can determine a specific long tail keyword you want to rank for with that article. If you find one, try optimizing that article for it to increase the value of the traffic to that article.

Make use of tools

In addition to listing the subjects that pop up in your mind, you can use tools to find new keywords. There are lots of tools that can be helpful by finding relevant keywords for your business. This article about keyword research tools will give you some examples of tools we use at Yoast. Our Yoast Suggest tool shows popular, relevant keywords as well as keyword ideas for every letter of the alphabet. Just take a look at these images:

Help visitors reach the main goal of your site

When visitors click on your website in the search engines, most of them will probably land on a specific article. It’s important to keep those visitors on your website and to easily reach the main goal of your website.

When we look at your site, however, it’s not completely clear to us what the main goal of is. Do you just want visitors to read your content or do you want them to search for an actual house on your website? Looking at the website, we think the option to search for a house is quite hard to find. If this isn’t your main goal, this is no problem. Think about what you want your visitors to do on your website and make sure you help them navigate to that goal with the right links on the right spots.

Positive user signals

In the introduction of this post, we already mentioned that we recommend following a holistic SEO strategy. This means you should strive to make every single aspect of your website great. For example, adding new content regularly is something search engines like. Keeping visitors on your website though, is probably just as important.

Google uses so-called user signals to determine if the website is a result that matches the search intent or search query of the visitor. The time visitors stay on your website can be an indicator of that match. Visitors staying for a long time on your website send a positive user signal, improving your site’s SEO indirectly and possibly leading to higher rankings.

How to keep visitors on your website

To increase your visitors’ time on site, it’s important to give them the opportunity to easily navigate to relevant, other posts on your website. Make sure you link to relevant content at the bottom of each post but also from within the texts of posts by using internal links. By adding more internal links, you can make your most important posts stronger and you’ll give your visitors the opportunity to easily navigate to other relevant posts. 

Looking at your posts, we think there might be too much distraction because of all the different elements in the sidebar and below the posts. Try to add more focus to the part you want your visitors to click on after reading a post.

In addition to that, you can  create more specific categories. Checking the XML Sitemap, we noticed that you’ve only added very generic categories:
Categorizing posts, you can make a strong ‘bulk’ of content about the same or nearly the same subject. Adding more relevant posts to a category will make it  stronger. Google will see that the content within that category is all related and therefore, valuable for potential visitors. For example, for the category ‘Home buying’ you could add subcategories such as ‘Home buying: apartments’ and ‘Home buying: cities’. Another option is adding tags such as ‘Apartments’ and ‘Beach houses’ to create specific overviews of related posts on your site. 

Categories and tags are beneficial for your site structure and for Google – to understand what content you have on your site. Moreover it helps to keep visitors on your site. When users see a link to related categories or tags they’ll likely navigate to those sections to read more relevant content. But now, the posts within the category ‘Home buying’ are probably too different to find specific posts a visitor would be interested in.  

Make sure your customers find your shop! Optimize your site with our Local SEO plugin and show your opening hours, locations, map and much more! »

Local SEO for WordPress plugin Info

Optimizing for local SEO

Since the business of Ryan Hoffman is focused on particular areas of New York, it’s important to optimize for local SEO as well. There are probably lots of people in the neighborhood looking for a house in one of those areas. When you optimize for local SEO your website will be more visible in the search results of people nearby.

We noticed that you’ve already added separate pages for different areas which is great! Doing this, the search engines understand what areas your business focuses on. To give those location pages even more value, we recommend adding introductory content with information about the specific area to increase your rankings in the local search results even more.

In addition to that, we think that you didn’t create a Google My Business account yet. Adding your business details to Google My Business can also be very valuable for local SEO. We definitely recommend setting this up!

The power of social media

Lastly, we would like to mention that you shouldn’t underestimate the power of social media nowadays. The amount of people having social media accounts is still increasing, so your target audience probably uses social media every day.

We think social media should definitely be part of a holistic SEO strategy. Google and other search engines can’t ignore the importance of social media anymore and this means that you can boost your site’s SEO by the right use of social media. Since you write lots of great posts, we think it would be great to promote them on social media. Give your posts attractive titles and perhaps promote them – this isn’t too expensive on for example Facebook –  you’ll lead people from social media to your website. And when they are in, you should keep them in and make them convert!

To sum it up

In short, it’s important to do proper keyword research to really know what your target audience would like to read online. Adding more long tail keywords will probably make it a bit easier to rank. Besides using the right keywords, it’s important to make sure visitors can easily navigate to relevant content on the website. Make use of internal links and remove all the clutter. The main goal of your website should be clear and with internal links you can lead your visitors to that goal. Lastly, optimize for local SEO and make sure you benefit from the power of social media to improve your SEO and to get more traffic to your site.

Ryan’s response

When we showed the draft of this post to Ryan, we got a very nice and detailed response. Thanks and good luck Ryan!

“Great points on long tail research. With a lot of local competition, I think I could benefit from targeting more in depth keywords in an effort to drive specific traffic.

I have been a bit frustrated about how to keep my bounce rate down and keep visitors on the page. I want them to search homes for sale, but with most of my traffic coming from mobile, I have had a hard time presenting the home search ability to visitors. I want them to read articles to learn about the market, but also search. I need to make this clearer when they land.

I do have a lack of links inside articles. Maybe assuming that visitors will read to the end and navigate elsewhere is naive of me, but I also wanted them to see that I have houses for sale on the site they can click on. So far through, it hasn’t been working.

Niche specific categories and tags has definitely been something I have on my list. I need to drill down into these broad categories to get more specific for my visitors and for Google.

Another great point by Yoast here is that I need to add content to the different geographic pages of my home search. Right now these pages just offer a list of active homes for sale. But creating video or other relevant content before the list of homes in presented is something I should definitely do.

I have been working on social media, and of course my Google my business page. Sharing posts on Facebook has seen an increase of traffic, but also, my content is not specific enough to target an audience. Right now my content is for “everyone” and every area in my surrounding location. I think I would benefit from a more niches based approach.

I thank Yoast for this great case study regarding my site. Truth be told, I have studied SEO, mostly via Yoast content for quite some time, and have seen improvements in my SEO when following their best practices. I have been enlightened with this case study and learned a lot on new things to work on, but also feel like I am on the right path since Yoast mentioned a few ideas that I already had on my list, mainly because I learned them from Yoast! Thanks again for the great piece.”

Read more: ‘How to optimize your real estate site’ »

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Writers tend to put some real thought into their title. For online content, titles are important for both readers and search engines. That makes them double important! If you use WordPress and our Yoast SEO plugin, you insert the post’s title in the post title input field. Your title will appear as an H1 heading on top of your post. But Yoast SEO also offers possibilities to edit and improve your SEO title separately. Why is that? What’s the difference? And how should you edit your SEO title? I’ll explain it in this post. 

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Yoast SEO: the #1 WordPress SEO plugin Info

Two input fields

For some of you this will be obvious, but let’s take a look at where to find the input fields for the post title – the same as the H1 heading – and the SEO title. The post title input field can be found on top of the page or post editor in WordPress.

You can find the input field for the SEO title in the Yoast SEO metabox, which appears underneath the post input field. To edit the SEO title, you need to click on the edit snippet button. The snippet preview will then open. The snippet preview offers you three input fields. The first one is the input field to edit your SEO title. Beneath the input field you’ll – hopefully – see a green bar. That’s to say, it will be green if your SEO title is well-optimized. If it’s orange or red you should put some effort in improving it. As you can see, the SEO title has all kinds of weird %-signs in it. Don’t let this scare you off, I’ll tell you all about it later on in this post.

Purpose of the post title and the SEO title

It is important to realize that your SEO title doesn’t have the same purpose as the title of your post or page. Your post title is meant for people that are already on your site. It’s telling them what your post or page is about. Your SEO title, on the other hand, is meant for people who are not on your website yet. It will be shown to people in the search engines. It will be the title of your snippet in Google – that’s why it’s in the snippet preview. The purpose of your SEO title is to make people click on the snippet, come to your website and read your post or buy your product.

What does Yoast SEO automatically do?

Without doing anything, Yoast SEO will generate an SEO title based on the title of your post, the H1 heading. It will also put your site’s name in the SEO title. If you don’t put your site’s name in your SEO title, Google will do this for you. Yoast SEO will make sure your title isn’t too long – you’ll get a notice if your title is too long. At Yoast, we use a small bullet to separate the post title from the site name, but you could also use a dash, for example.

At Yoast we use a bullet to separate the title from the site name. Note that in this example we choose to create a short phrase instead of just our site name after the bullet.

You can set the way you want to generate your SEO title in the titles and meta section of Yoast SEO. If you do that, all your post titles will be generated in the exact same way. But, as described above, you can also edit the SEO title separately for a post. In the next paragraph we’ll explain in which cases you’d want to do that.

Should you edit the SEO title?

Personally, I never edit the SEO title of a separate post. I write a post and choose a title which is suitable for people who are already on our site, as well as people who see the snippet in the search engines. The settings to automatically generate titles in our own Yoast SEO install are – of course – totally fine.

If I want to adapt my title, maybe because I forgot to use the focus keyword in the title of my post, I always alter the title of the post. The SEO title will change along with that. For posts like this, this works fine. However, if you sell a product for example, the post or page title might not be the best SEO title. Perhaps you would like to mention the price of the product in your SEO title, but not in the H1 of your page. In these cases, editing the SEO title is necessary.

How do you edit the SEO title?

How do you edit the SEO title? And what are these weird %% signs in the input field? How can you use these?

The SEO title template

As described above Yoast SEO automatically generates SEO titles for you. You can adapt this title template to your liking in the titles and meta section of Yoast SEO. That’s what the %% signs are about. We call these %%title%% signs, magic variables. These magic variables take certain pieces of information and put them together to form the SEO title. So, if you type %%title%% in the SEO template input field, the title of a post or page will appear. The %%sep%% will take the separator sign you’ve chosen – like the small bullet we use – and put it in the SEO title.

You can find all about setting these title and meta variables in Edwin’s post. For an overview of all the magic variables, you can check our knowledge base.

For a separate post

If you’re working on a post and you want to change the SEO title, you can just click on the SEO title in the Yoast SEO meta box beneath your post. The magic variables will disappear and you’ll be able to edit the SEO title for just this post. Note that you can still use the magic variables for a separate post! For example, if you want to just amend the first part of the title, but keep the separator and the site name, you can create an SEO title like: ‘[customized post title] %%sep%% %%site name%%’. 


Your SEO title and your post title both serve a different purpose. In many cases, you can use your post title as the base for your SEO title. Yoast SEO will generate a nice SEO title based on your post title. In some cases, you’re better off customizing the SEO title. You can use the magic variables to create that awesome SEO title. We’re currently working on a new and improved interface for these magic variables. In the future, it will become much easier and more intuitive to edit your title. Just a little bit more patience!

Read more: ‘Crafting a good page title for SEO’ »

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You might have heard the term before: mobile parity. With, as a subset of that, content parity. Perhaps “One Web” triggers some kind of recognition? It all comes down to one thing: is your mobile site equal to your desktop site? In this article, I’ll give you some pointers on why you should check that and a number of things that influence the presence or absence of mobile parity.

What is mobile parity?

We talk about mobile parity when we compare a desktop site to a mobile site. Are both similar, or even better, basically the same? Does your mobile site resemble the desktop site, or are there differences? Think about the goal of your website and why it matters so much to have this parity. Let’s go over a number of things that relate to this mobile parity.

Content is king

Yes, content is king. And it doesn’t matter if someone is visiting your mobile site or desktop site. They are looking for specific information or a specific product, so you better make sure content is the same on both. It’s common use to hide some larger images on a mobile device or put some more content behind tabs (which is OK for Google, don’t get me wrong). It speeds up rendering of the mobile content, which will only help both users and Google. But the end result of that mobile optimization should not interfere with the end goal of your desktop site. It’s the same. So in regards to content, mobile parity matters. 

Learn how to write awesome and SEO friendly articles in our SEO Copywriting training »

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Consistent branding on all devices

Looking at the design of your website, you need to make sure if it sends the same “message” on every device. We’ve seen fantastic desktop sites that have a mobile version that has been very toned down. As with AMP, I don’t mind removing clutter and focusing on what needs focus (top tasks), but both websites need to share the same “look and feel”.

The same goes for, for instance, your page titles. If you have different page titles on your mobile site and your desktop site, make sure they align. If your site is responsive, this will be no problem, but there are still a lot of websites that maintain a separate mobile site (why!?). The same will go for Progressive Web Apps and similar developments. If the content structure aligns with your desktop website, make sure other things align as well. There’s more.


If you have no clue what mobile-first means, read up first. If Google starts to rank your website based on your mobile website in the first place, there might be work to do. A lot of website owners, web designers, web agencies etcetera have been creating and selling mobile sites as an extra to a desktop site. “See how this website looks on your computer screen and how it gradually slims down to your mobile device”, will be a sentence of the past.

Mobile parity is important, especially with the mobile-first index just around the corner.

We need to set up a mobile site that folds out to a desktop site instead. Quality matters, contents matters, design, and branding matter. In Dutch, we have a saying “the soup isn’t always eaten as hot as it is served“, meaning that measures might be less severe than announced. Perhaps Google’s mobile first “threat” isn’t as strict as it may seem, but you’d better be prepared, right. So make sure your mobile website covers all bases your desktop site covers, with the same quality look and feel. Ask yourself: If you wouldn’t have a desktop site, would you still be able to get the same conversion/traffic/engagement results on your website as you currently do?

Internal links

In everything that relates to mobile parity, internal links seem to surface in my mind as a point of attention. We hide things, remove things, change things when making our website responsible. We kill a sidebar, reduce the number of footer links, might even change our menu. All these actions have an effect on the number of internal links a page has.

Internal links influence SEO, just like external links to your website do. They play an important part in setting up cornerstone content and most other content strategies. It’s your site structure that you change with every one of those changes. When Google flips the switch and your mobile site becomes most important, you might ruin that entire structure just because of the fact that your site lacks mobile parity.

It’s not just the visual stuff

Especially when your website isn’t responsive, other issues may arise. How about a 301 redirect on your desktop that is forgotten on your mobile site? I can’t stress enough that I’d still prefer a responsive website over other solutions. It simply makes sure things like this are handled properly. Think canonical links, robots meta tags, etc. You don’t want to go wrong here.

I hope I have given you some food for thought for your own website. Mobile parity is something you need to check every now and then, but definitely now as well, to make sure your mobile visitors and Google aren’t missing out on anything. Prevent that your focus on desktop doesn’t ruin your rankings.

Mobile parity audit

Moz has written a nice article that guides you through the process of a mobile parity audit. Read that article as well and see how similar your mobile and desktop websites really are!

Read more: ‘Mobile SEO: the ultimate guide’ »

The post Mobile parity: are your desktop and mobile site equal? appeared first on Yoast.

February 7, 2018, marks the release of a brand new course in the Yoast Academy: Multilingual SEO. The Multilingual SEO training is for every site owner, developer or SEO who targets people in various locales and languages. The time-limited introductory price will be $169. After a week, it will go to its regular price of $199. Don’t miss this great Multilingual SEO course!

Loads of sites target consumers from other countries. Sometimes these consumers even speak another language. Targeting these customers with a well-thought-out SEO strategy takes some work, and many sites fail to deliver. Wouldn’t it be great to get some help reaching those customers in other countries? We know it can be a struggle setting everything up correctly so we’d like to help you. That’s why, on February 7, we’re launching the Multilingual SEO course.

Sign up for our newsletter and we’ll let you know when it’s available! »

According to Yoast founder and CEO Joost de Valk, many sites make mistakes when implementing the hreflang standard. The new Multilingual SEO training by Yoast makes hreflang easy to grasp and gives a step-by-step guide to implement hreflang correctly.

We’ll also teach you how to set up and maintain a multilingual keyword research strategy. Also, users get practical tips to transfer original content from one language to the next and to pick the domain name that fits their goals best.

The Multilingual SEO course will have an introductory price of $169. The regular price will be $199.

The Multilingual SEO training has over 2 hours of video, loads of reading material and interactive quizzes to educate users on every major issue surrounding multilingual and multiregional SEO. It will take about 12 hours to complete the full training program.

What will you learn in the Multilingual SEO training?

  • How to make sure you use the keywords that your audience is searching for in a specific language.
  • To write and adapt SEO optimized copy for various languages.
  • How to target specific audiences in specific regions and countries
  • To pick the optimal domain structure for your situation
  • Tell Google what variation of a page people from which country should be directed to.

Who is the Multilingual SEO course for?

  • Everyone who is operating – or looking to operate – a multilingual site
  • You maintain sites, blogs or online shops for clients or you have your own
  • You have a technical background, or you don’t – doesn’t matter!
  • It also doesn’t matter if you use WordPress or another CMS

And here’s a brief overview of the contents:

1. Introduction

  • What does Google do
  • Holistic SEO

2. Keywords and content

  • Keyword research, international keyword research.
  • Copywriting, multilingual copywriting, transcreating content

3. Domain structure

  • TLDs
  • Subdirectories and subdomains
  • Targeting multiple languages within a country

4. Hreflang

  • Hreflang basics
  • Implementation elements converning hreflang
  • Hreflang implementation choices
  • Hreflang risks & maintenance

The Multilingual SEO training will be launched on February 7, 2018. Sign up for our newsletter and receive a message when it is available to buy.

Sign up for our newsletter and we’ll let you know when it’s available! »

The post Coming soon: Multilingual SEO training appeared first on Yoast.

If your online business is doing well in your country, you might consider expanding to international markets. To be successful in new markets requires some extra investments in SEO though. You’d better start thinking about multilingual SEO, if you want to be sure your website will be found and used well in other countries! Here, I’ll explain what multilingual SEO is, why it’s important and which elements it consists of.

What is multilingual SEO?

Multilingual SEO deals with offering optimized content for multiple languages or multiple locations. Let’s explain this with an example. Imagine you have an online shop: you sell WordPress plugins in many countries. To increase your sales in Germany, you’ve decided to translate your content into German and create a German site. Now, you have two variations of the same page: an English and German version. Pretty straight-forward, you’d say? Well, there’s more.

Especially if you want to target countries with similar languages or countries where multiple languages are used, this will pose some challenges. Let’s explore the situation displayed in the image below. This is a simplified example; there are obviously many more potential audiences than we’ve included, like British users.

multilingual SEO

Multilingual SEO scenario: targeting audiences with German and English content

Obviously, you want people who search in German to be directed to the German site. Maybe you even want to have a specific site for German speakers in Switzerland. It would be even better to have a French alternative for speakers of French in Switzerland as well, of course. Let’s assume for now that you don’t have the required resources for that, though. In that case, it’s probably best to send users from Switzerland who speak French to the English site. On top of that, you need to make sure that you send all other users to your English site, as they are more likely to speak English than German. In a scenario like this, you need to set up and implement a multilingual SEO strategy.

Because it’s not easy to get the right website ranking in the right market we decided to set up a Multilingual SEO training, which will be available soon! In this course we’ll guide you step by step through all important multilingual SEO elements. Don’t miss the launch, subscribe to our newsletter now!

Why is multilingual SEO a thing?

You want your website to be found with Google. In a standard SEO strategy, you optimize your content for one language: the language your website is written in.  Sometimes, however, you want to target audiences in multiple countries and regions. These audiences are probably similar, but there are always differences. This presents you with an opportunity. By targeting your audiences specifically, it is easier to address their needs. One of these differences is the language they speak. When you make your site available in several languages and target specific regions, you achieve two things:

  • You expand your potential audience;
  • You improve your chances of ranking for a specific region and in several languages.

Let’s revisit the example we discussed before in light of this. By making a German variation of your original English site, you’ve made it possible for users searching in German to find your product. In the end, multilingual SEO is all about addressing the needs of your users.

It all sounds rather clear-cut, but multilingual SEO can be hard. A lot can go wrong, and a bad multilingual implementation can hurt your rankings. This means that you need to know what you’re doing.

One of the biggest risks of multilingual SEO is duplicate content. If you present very similar content on your website on multiple pages, Google won’t know which content to show in the search engines. Duplicate pages compete with each other, so the individual rankings of the pages will go down. You can avoid this particular issue with hreflang, an element of your multilingual SEO strategy. But there’s more to multilingual SEO. Let’s discuss the main aspects below.

Multilingual SEO: content, domains and hreflang

Content for international sites

Content is a very important aspect of your multilingual SEO strategy. If you want to write content in different languages, you’ll need to adapt existing content or create new content. Adapting your content while maintaining good SEO can be a challenge.

Your content strategy should always start with keyword research for the region and language you’re targeting. You can’t just translate your keywords using Google Translate. You’ll have to get inside the heads of your new audience. You need to know which words they are using. Same words can have different meanings in languages used in multiple countries, as my colleague Jesse explained before.

Translating content is a challenge as well. Take into account the cultural differences that exist between countries. Otherwise, your copy won’t be appealing to your new audience. If possible, you should have native speakers translate or at least check your translated content to prevent your from making awkward mistakes. If you want a complete list of what to consider when translating content read Marieke’s post on how to create SEO-friendly copy in a foreign language.

Domain structure for international sites

To successfully target your audiences, you need to consider which pages you want them to land on. There are several options as to what domain structure you’re going to use. Do you need to get the ccTLD (country code Top Level Domain) like for Germany? Or could you create subdirectories for countries like Or, will you use a subdomain like And what about countries where multiple languages are spoken? How do you set up a domain structure for those countries?

There’s a lot you have to consider to take these decisions. This is where domain authority, but also the size of your business and marketing capacities in your target countries come into play. If you want to really dive into this, you should check out our Multilingual SEO training, that we’ll launch February 7!


Hreflang is the technical implementation you’ll need to put in place if you’re offering your content in multiple languages. Simply put, you’ll tell Google which result to show to whom in the search engines. It’s not as easy as it might sound though and this is something that often goes wrong, even on the big sites. Joost wrote an extensive post on how to implement hreflang the right way.

International ambitions? Get your multilingual SEO right!

Multilingual SEO focuses on optimizing content for different languages for the search engines. With a proper multilingual SEO strategy, people in different countries will be able to find your website for their market, in their native language. Multilingual SEO can be hard though and you need to know what you’re doing. It touches on a lot of different aspects of website optimization. If you really want to get it right, take our Multilingual SEO training!

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


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This is just one of the many misconceptions about the Yoast SEO readability feedback we’re happy to set straight. We’ve often been telling you to go chase those green bullets – or green lights as some are calling them. The bullets are a key part of the Yoast SEO plugin. The Yoast SEO bullets serve to give intuitive feedback on your text and gamify the Yoast SEO experience.

Trying to get all green bullets can become an addiction, but it isn’t necessarily the best way of creating great copy. Over the years, we’ve seen all kinds of misconceptions about the green bullets on social media and in our support channels. Let’s discuss some of them to get a feel for how to approach the bullets feedback.

1. I have some red and orange bullets, so I will never rank!

Generally, the more green bullets, the more SEO fit your text is, as we’ve told you in other posts on this site. But not every bullet has to be green. The bullets indicate strengths and weaknesses in your text. They can help you easily identify some elements you could improve on. Don’t take them as gospel. They are tools, not commandments.

Also, and this is most important: never try to cheat the game by tinkering with your text until your red and amber bullets turn green. Use the plugin feedback to your advantage, and use common sense to determine whether you can make improvements to your text. Therefore, we always advise you to write the text first, and only check the feedback once you feel the text is finished. 

Learn how to write awesome and SEO friendly articles in our SEO Copywriting training »

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2. All my bullets are green, but I still don’t rank!

It goes the other way around as well: if all your bullets are green, that doesn’t mean you’ll rank. First of all, green bullets don’t equal a great text. If your text has great readability but doesn’t have good information, you won’t be the best result. Moreover, if you base your text too much on the bullets feedback, your text may actually even be worse than it may have been otherwise.

Don’t become a slave of the green bullet. Of course, it’s also perfectly possible that you’ve written a great text but your competition is stiff and all of them have also written great texts. Or you may have SEO issues in other areas.

3. Every post should be optimized!

Not all posts have to be optimized. You have to consider whether your post will be part of your SEO strategy. Some posts will suffer if you optimize them. Others, like announcements, don’t make sense to optimize for. Consider whether your post fits your SEO strategy and make a conscious decision of whether to optimize it.

4. If I paste Hemingway into the readability analysis, all I see is red and orange, so you can’t trust the Yoast SEO feedback!

The Yoast SEO readability analysis is aimed at optimizing for online content. Hemingway wasn’t looking to sell pens, or maintain a mom blog, or anything like that. Most online authors are not trying to write the Great American Novel, and they shouldn’t. They should write readable online content. That’s the goal, so that’s what the plugin measures.

5. Yoast SEO hates my writing style!

We don’t hate your writing style, so the Yoast SEO plugin doesn’t either. It merely provides you with readability feedback. Your writing style may not fit the guidelines for good SEO copy that is easy to understand.

Research has shown that overusing passive voice leads to worse readability. Research has shown that using too many long sentences makes your text difficult to read. This is especially important when it comes to online copy. We don’t think that’s a question of style. You can decide for yourself whether you agree. If you don’t, ignore the feedback at your own risk!

6. Yoast SEO wants me to dumb down my text!

We want your text to be as clear as possible. And you should aim to write as clearly as possible. Most of you are trying to reach a broad audience. Many of you are trying to reach non-native speakers. Using simple vocab and short sentences does not equal dumbing down your text. It’s the other way around: it opens your copy up to a broader audience. This is especially important when writing online copy.

The longer it takes for your audience to grasp what you are trying to say, the bigger the chances of them bouncing. Attention spans are short, so cater to them. And of course, sometimes you have to use jargon in a technical text. But generally, you should keep things simple. Writing clearly and concisely is an art, not a shortcoming.

Read more: ‘Readability ranks!’ »

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Low-quality pages are pages that don’t contribute much to your SEO. In most cases, these pages add little value for your visitors as well. You can have different types of low-quality pages on your site, sometimes without even knowing it. Like thin content – pages holding little information – and duplicate content – pages showing the same information as on other pages. Especially the latter can work against you if you want to rank well. Read how to find and fix those pages here.

What are low-quality pages?

In general, thin content pages aren’t useful for your visitors nor the search engines. That could be because these pages hold little information, or contain just an image, like most attachment pages in WordPress. These pages are only used as a placeholder for an actual image. They are often linked when clicking, for instance, an image on a WordPress blog.

The second type of low-quality content is duplicate content. The same goes for these duplicate pages: they add little value. Their content is already in Google’s index, on your site or another site. These low-quality pages can have a strong influence on your site’s rankings. Google might even penalize you for having them. 

Learn how to write awesome and SEO friendly articles in our SEO Copywriting training »

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In addition to these indicators of low-quality content, there’s a third issue that you can fix yourself: poorly written content. Google gave us a kind of checklist in 2011 already. I think most of what’s in there is still relevant seven years later.


We’ve written quite a bit about Google’s Panda update. We’ve seen our share of websites whose rankings dived being hit by that algorithm update. The Panda update handles quality control, so to say. If your website has a lot of low-quality pages, you can bet on it that Google will someday find these. All of a sudden, your website drops a few or even a lot of places in Google’s rankings. You’re not sure why, and then you remember this post. It might be your low-quality content.

As Google has integrated this Panda update (that used to be on a specific day) in its algorithm, so it’s sometimes hard to find the exact reason for the drop. But be sure to analyze if you have any low-quality pages first. It makes all the sense in the world to me that if Google considers the majority of your pages thin content, it will lower your rankings.

How to identify low-quality pages

It’s pretty hard to give you one trick, or one application to identify the pages you want to address because we’re talking about all the pages that don’t help Google and your visitors.

If we’re talking about duplicate content, please read our article on it: Duplicate content: causes and solutions. You might have duplicate content without even knowing it! Tools like Copyscape are your first help, but please investigate a bit more like described in the article.

If you want to rule out attachment pages in WordPress, you should simply query your site in Google:
Low-quality pages: attachments

If you use this as a query – replace with your domain – it will return all attachment pages that are indexed for your website (or none, which is good): inurl:attachment_id

Screaming Frog

One of the main tools I use myself to identify low-quality content is Screaming Frog SEO Spider. After clicking through a website for some time, you will learn what the default page structure is, perhaps remember the main pages’ URLs and their structure.

When you run a query for your website in the SEO spider, you will get a list of all the URLs on your site. Now scroll through that list and visit every URL that makes no sense to you. The thing is that low-quality pages often occur in groups, not as a single page. Think along the line of old .html pages where you end your URLs with a trailing slash now. Think some attachment pages, think anything with too many numbers in it. These should all make you feel suspicious. Visit the page, see if it shows low-quality content that shouldn’t be on Google. Test if these pages are indexed and see if there are more pages like them. Just go about it like that and if present, you’ll find these low-quality pages in no-time.

Moz describes an even more in-depth analysis of low-quality pages in one of their Whiteboard Fridays you might want to check as well, by the way.

How to fix low-quality pages

Here’s where logic comes in and you’ll need to trust your instincts in some way. You’ll need to determine if you still need these pages and what you want to do with it.

Remove pages (periodically)

Step one will be to find out if you need these low-quality pages. This isn’t one-time maintenance; I’d recommend that you’d do this, for instance, once a year – depending on how much content you write per year, obviously. If you are using a content management system, it pays to check your first posts, from way back. If you find any posts that have no use anymore because they don’t touch your current business anymore, it is probably safe to remove those.

What to do with the URLs? If they still receive a decent amount of traffic, redirect them. To a similar page or post if possible, otherwise to a related category or tag page, and if all of that doesn’t fit, to the homepage. If there is little to no traffic, simply remove them and let Google find the 404 or 410 error message. Your page will vanish from the search results and Google will be able to focus on relevant pages on your site instead.


If the page itself still holds relevant links to other parts of your website and has some traffic due to, for instance, links from other websites, why not use noindex, follow in your robots meta tag. This way Google can find the page, follow the relevant links, but it will keep the page itself out of the search results. Note that this is a different approach than merely deleting the page.

Write better content

Oh, the obvious. Write better content, write unique content. Try to become the source for people instead of copying that source. If you write unique, insightful, useful content, people will be much more inclined to share that content on social media and link to it. Google will see that content as an addition to their index. There’s a lot you’ll have to do yourself, but our Yoast SEO plugin guides you with the readability analysis as well, and we offer courses like SEO Copywriting that will give you plenty of insights on how to write more engaging, better content as well.

All of this will give Google a website that truly helps their visitors, and in the end, simply answers their question. As soon as you have cleaned up all that low-quality content and all high-quality pages surface in Google, you know you’ve made yet another sustainable step towards better rankings. Have fun!

Read more: ‘Content SEO: the ultimate guide’ »

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On your site, you’ll probably have a number of articles that are most dear to your heart. Articles you really want people to read. Articles you want people to find with Google. At Yoast, we call these articles your cornerstone articles. How do you make sure these articles pop up in a high position in the search engines? And how could the Yoast SEO plugin help you set up a cornerstone content strategy? I’ll tell you all about that in this blog post.

Optimize your site for search & social media and keep it optimized with Yoast SEO Premium »

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What is cornerstone content?

Cornerstone content are those articles that you’re most proud of. The articles that reflect the mission of your company and the ones you definitely want to rank for. In general, cornerstone content are lengthy articles and they tend to be informative.

Perhaps you’ve never put much thought in using a cornerstone content strategy. It is worth your time though. Think about the blog posts on your site. Which articles are most precious to you? Which articles are the most complete and authoritative? Choose these to be your cornerstone content.

Read more: ‘What is cornerstone content?’ »

What does Yoast SEO do with cornerstone content?

Two things are important for a successful cornerstone content approach:

  • Cornerstone content should be lengthy, well-written and well-optimized articles.
  • Cornerstone articles should have a prominent place in your site’s structure.

Yoast SEO will help you take care of both of these things!

1. Write awesome articles

The SEO and readability analysis in Yoast SEO will give you feedback on your writing. If you consider a post to be one of your cornerstone content articles, you should check the box ‘this article is cornerstone content’ beneath the focus keyword input field.

Indicating that an article is cornerstone content, will make the SEO analysis and the readability analysis a bit more strict. For example, we propose to write at least 300 words for a normal post. If a post is cornerstone content, we want you to write at least 900 words.

Our SEO analysis will help you optimize your blog post for the search engines. For cornerstone content, you have to go the extra mile. Make sure you use the focus keyword enough, mention your focus keyword in a few headings and optimize your pictures. Readability is equally important though. Our readability analysis helps you to, for instance, use enough headings and to write in short, easy to read sentences and paragraphs.

Keep reading: ‘How our cornerstone analysis helps you create your best articles’ »

2. Incorporate cornerstone content in your site structure

You have to link to your cornerstone articles to make them rank high in the search engines. By linking to your favorite articles, you’ll tell Google that these are the ones that are most important. That way, you won’t be competing with your own content for a place in the search engines.

Yoast SEO can help you link to your cornerstone content articles. If you use our premium plugin, you can use our internal linking tool. This tool will make linking suggestions for other posts based on the words you’re using in your post. The posts you’ve marked as cornerstone content articles – as described previously – will always appear on top of our list of suggestions. That way, whenever you’re writing about a specific topic, you’ll find the right cornerstone article to link to.

Using our internal linking tool will remind you to link to your cornerstones whenever you’re writing a new post. As a result, your cornerstones will stay on top in your linking structure. And that’s what they need to start ranking.

Read on: ‘How to incorporate cornerstone content?’ »

Cornerstone content strategy made simple with Yoast SEO

Your cornerstone content strategy consist of two elements. Your cornerstone content articles should be informative, nice to read and well-optimized. In addition to that, they should have a prominent place in your site’s structure. Yoast SEO helps you carry out both these things.

Don’t forget! You should update your cornerstone articles once in a while. On the post overview page of your WordPress install, you can use Yoast SEO to filter out your cornerstones. It’s a good idea to browse through these most precious articles every other month. Just make sure these articles are still up-to-date and get enough links. They deserve that little bit of extra attention!

Read more: ‘Why you should buy Yoast SEO Premium’ »

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