Ask Yoast: Meta descriptions and excerpts

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

Renee Lodens sent us an email with the following question:

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

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

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

Yoast SEO for WordPress pluginBuy now » Info

Meta descriptions and excerpts

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

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

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

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

Good luck!”

Ask Yoast

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

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

Metadata and SEO part 2: link rel metadata

In the first post of our metadata series, I discussed the meta tags in the <head> of your site. But there’s more metadata in the <head> that can influence the SEO of your site. In this second post, we’ll dive into link rel metadata. You can use link rel metadata to instruct browsers and Google, for example to point them to the AMP version of a page or to prevent duplicate content issues. The link rel tags come in a lot of flavors. I’d like to address the most important ones here.

Use rel=canonical to prevent duplicate content

Every website should use rel=canonical to prevent duplicate content and point Google to the original source of that content. rel=canonical is one of those metadata elements that has an immediate influence on your site’s SEO. If done wrong, it might ruin it. An example: we have seen sites that had the canonical of all pages pointed to the homepage. That is basically telling Google that for all the content on your website, you just want the homepage to rank.
If done right, you could give props to another website for writing an article that you republished.

If you want to read up on rel=canonical, please read this article: Rel=canonical: the ultimate guide.

Add rel=amphtml to point search engines to your AMP pages

In order to link a page to its AMP variant, use the rel=amphtml. AMP is a variation of your desktop page, designed for faster loading and better user experience on a mobile device. It was introduced by Google, and to be honest, we like it. It seriously improves the mobile user experience.

So be sure to set up an AMP site and link the AMP pages in your head section. If you have a WordPress site, adding AMP pages is a piece of cake. You can simply install the AMP plugin by Automattic and you’ll have AMP pages and the rel=amphtml links right after that.

If you’d like to read up about AMP, be sure to check our AMP archive.

dns-prefetch for faster loading

By telling the browser in advance about a number of locations where it can find certain files it needs to render a page, you simply make it easier and faster for the browser to load your page, or (elements from) a page you link to. If implemented right, DNS prefetching will make sure a browser knows the IP address of the site linked and is ready to show the requested page.

An example:
<link rel="dns-prefetch" href="https://cdn.yoast.com/">

Please note that if the website you are prefetching has performance issues, the speed gains might be little, or none. This could even depend on the time of day. Monitor your prefetch URLs from time to time.

Become a technical SEO expert with our Technical SEO 1 training! »

Technical SEO 1 training$ 199 - Buy now » Info

What about rel=author?

Rel=author has no effect whatsoever at the moment. It hasn’t had any effect we know of for quite a while actually, as Joost already mentioned this in October of 2015. You never know what use Google might come up with for it, but for now, we’re not pushing it in our plugin. It was used to point to the author of the post, giving the article more or less authority depending on how well-known an author was. At the time, this was reflected in the search results pages as well (it’s not anymore). No need to include it in your template anymore.

Other rel elements include your stylesheets (make sure Google can use these) and you can set icons for a variety of devices. SEO impact of these is rather low or simply not existing.

Is there more?

So we discussed meta tags and link rel metadata in the <head> . Is there even more metadata that affects SEO? Yes there is! In our next metadata post, I’ll explore social metadata, like OpenGraph and Twitter Cards. In addition to that, we’ll go intohreflang, an essential asset for site owners that serve more than one country or language with their website. Stand by for more!

Read more: ‘Metadata and SEO part 1: the head section’ »

Ask Yoast: duplicate content issues on my shop?

If you own an eCommerce site, you might wonder how to optimize your category pages and your product pages. Could you have the same content on your category page and your product pages? If you have the same content on multiple pages of your website, would Google know what to rank first? Or would it cause duplicate content issues? This Ask Yoast is about the optimization of category and product pages of your online shop. Hear what I have to say about this!

Jeroen Custers from Maastricht, the Netherlands, has emailed us, asking:

“My product pages and category pages have 99% the same description, except for the color. Although the category page gets all the links, one product page ranks. Does Google see my pages as duplicate content?”

Check out the video or read the answer below!

Want to outrank your competitor and get more sales? Read our Shop SEO eBook! »

Shop SEO$ 25 - Buy now » Info

Duplicate content on your shop?

Check out the video or read the answer below!

The answer is simple: Yes. So what should you do is optimize your category page for the product. And only optimize the sub pages, the product pages for the individual product colors, and then make sure that the category page gets all the links for that product. So you should improve your internal linking structure so that when you mention the product, you link to the category page and not to the specific color page underneath that.

If you improve that category structure in the right way, then that should fix it. If it doesn’t, then noindex the product pages and “canonical” all of them back to the category, so that Google really knows that the category is the main thing. That’s what you want people to land on. Most people want to see that you have more than one option.

If they search for the specific product and you do not noindex it, so if you choose for the first option, then Google should send them to the right page. So try that first. If that doesn’t work, noindex as product page and then “canonicalize” them back to the category.

Good luck!

Ask Yoast

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

Read more: ‘Crafting the perfect shop category page’ »

Ask Yoast: Duplicate content on LinkedIn Pulse

Social media is not only an important part of your marketing strategy, but it’s important for your SEO strategy as well. LinkedIn publishing platform Pulse is one of the many content publishing platforms out there. You can read stories and news from other publishers, and you can publish your own content. But could you publish the same blog post on Pulse, as the one you post on your own site? Or should you post an excerpt and link back to your site? Does Google consider content on Pulse as duplicate content? Joost will answer this question in this Ask Yoast.

Guy Andefors from Stockholm in Sweden emailed us the following question:

“Can we safely republish an entire blog post on Pulse or should we post an excerpt and link back to our site?”

Check out the video or read the answer below!

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

Yoast SEO for WordPress pluginBuy now » Info

LinkedIn Pulse

Read the transcript of the video here:

To be honest, if you post your own blog post first, make sure that it’s indexed in Google and then post it on Pulse with a link underneath the posting: “This post originally appeared on…” linking back to your blog post. If you do this, you should be okay.

It’s not rel=canonical, but Google is smart enough to understand most of that and work its way through, so you should be okay. It might still rank the LinkedIn one higher, if your own domain is not that strong, because it might think that it actually gets a better interaction on LinkedIn. If that’s the case you should think about maybe using excerpts. Just try it a bit, see how it works for you. It really depends on how strong your own domain is and on what you want to achieve. If it works on LinkedIn, maybe leave it on LinkedIn and then make people click from LinkedIn to your site. That’s just as good for you, if it works. 

Good luck!”

Ask Yoast

In the series Ask Yoast we do our best to answer your SEO question! Need some help with your site’s SEO? Send your question to ask@yoast.com. You might get a personal answer on video!

Read more: ‘DIY: Duplicate content check’ »

Ask Yoast: importance of using excerpts

Want to know how to create attractive archive pages? And how to increase click-through rates to your posts or pages? Make sure to write short and appealing excerpts for every post or page. The excerpt should be a teaser to get people to read your post. In this Ask Yoast, Joost explains the importance of using excerpts.

This Ask Yoast is all about the following question:

“Why is it important to use the excerpt? Doesn’t Google consider this to be duplicate content?”

Check out the video or read the answer below!

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

Yoast SEO for WordPress pluginBuy now » Info

The importance of using an excerpt

“The excerpt is that bit of the post, that will be shown on archive pages. So, if you write a specific excerpt for a post, then that excerpt is what shows on archive pages.”

excerpt input field wordpress

The excerpt input field in WordPress

 “Sometimes it’s also shown on your front page, if the front page of your site features your blog posts. The excerpt can actually be a very good teaser to get people to read your article.”

excerpt on homepage

Blog post excerpt as shown on our homepage

“The excerpt is not considered to be duplicate content. In fact having excerpts for every post prevents having duplicate content, when you have a long archive page which shows more bits of the post. So you should use the excerpt if you can. It’s a bit more work, because that means writing an excerpt for every post. But you should if you could. Good luck!”

Ask Yoast

In the series Ask Yoast we help you with your SEO question! Not sure what’s best for your site’s SEO? We’ll come to the rescue! Just send your question to ask@yoast.com.

Read more: ‘How to create the right metadescription’ »

DIY: Duplicate content check

Duplicate content might confuse Google. If your content is on multiple pages on your or other websites, Google won’t know what to rank first. Prevent duplicate content as much as possible. Perform a duplicate content check every now and then to find copied content.

In the XML sitemap section of our Yoast SEO plugin, we have predefined a snippet to add to your feed entry saying “This article first appeared on yourwebsite.com”. The link in this snippet makes sure that every scraper includes the link to the original article. Of course, this already helps to prevent duplicate content, as Google will find that backlink to your website.

Nevertheless, if you write awesome content, your content will be duplicated. And that copy won’t always include a link to your website. All the more reason to do a duplicate content check on a regular basis. In this article, I will show you quick ways to find duplicate content for your website.

CopyScape duplicate content checker

There are a lot of tools to find duplicate content. One of the best known duplicate content checkers probably is CopyScape.com. This tool works pretty easy: insert a link and CopyScape tells you where the content on the other page is:

CopyScape: duplicate content checker

That’s step one. It will return a number of results (9 in this case), presented like Google’s search result pages. Simply click one for more details.

duplicate content checker - CopyScape

In this case, 2% of the Creativ Form page is copied from our website. CopyScape nicely highlights the text they found to be duplicate. By doing so, this duplicate content checker will give an idea of how severe the copying is. If it’s just 2% of the page like in this case, I wouldn’t worry. If it’s like over 40%, that makes quite a large part of the other page and I would simply email them to change the copied text.

By the way, dear Creativ Form. If you want to copy our content, please tailor it to your website. “In this article” makes absolutely no sense in this case :P

Order a website review NOW and get a plugin of your choice for free. We'll even configure it for you!

Get a Yoast website review

By the way, we frequently find manufacturer descriptions used in online shops to be duplicate. Usually, these are automatically imported into the shop’s content management system. Usually, not just for your website. Be aware of this. I understand it’s quite the hassle to write unique product descriptions for every product, but at least start with your best-selling products and take it from there. Start now.

Use the CopyScape duplicate content checker to find copied content from your website on other websites. Again, it’s one of many tools but this one’s free and easy to use. If you want to dive a bit deeper into your duplicate content, CopyScape also offers a premium version for more insights at 5c per search.

Siteliner internal duplicate content check

Siteliner is CopyScapes brother that searches for internal duplicate content. This duplicate content checker will find duplicate content on your own site. A very common example of this is when a WordPress blog doesn’t use excerpts but shows the entire blog post on the blog’s homepage. That simply means that the blog post is available on at least two pages: the homepage and the post itself. And probably on the category and tag overview pages next to that. That’s four versions of the same article on your own website already.

The advantage of using excerpts is that the excerpt always has a proper link to the post. This link will tell Google that the original content is not on that blog/category/tag page but in the post itself. I think we recommend the use of excerpts in half of all the WordPress website reviews we do. That also means half of the websites actually has this internal duplicate content issue.

The Siteliner duplicate content check will show you a lot of things, but limited to 250 pages and 30 days. Again, there is a premium version, but the free one will already give you a good idea. Just do a search, find the overview page and please click to details. Don’t get scared by high numbers of internal duplicate content, as this duplicate content check even tells you the excerpts are duplicate content:

SiteLiner: internal duplicate content check

Percentages

Where Google understands what a sidebar is, CopyScape and Siteliner seem to include all text on a page in their percentage calculations. Please keep this in mind when you use on of these duplicate content checker. The actual percentage of the duplicate content, when just looking at the main content of a page, might be higher. Just a head’s up!

Am I worried? No. Simply click one of the links and check if it’s indeed the excerpt (it is). The total of the matched words is 223, but in fact, the ‘duplicate part’ is just 57 words of 1,086 words in total in the main content section of that article. And the excerpt obviously links to the post, so we’re covered.

Manual duplicate content check

CopyScape and Siteliner are nice, easy-to-use duplicate content checkers. However, if you want to see what’s duplicate according to Google, you could also use Google itself.

If you have a certain page that you’d like to check, simply go to that page. Copy a text snippet, preferably from a section that you think might be attractive for others to copy. Insert the exact snippet in Google using double quotation marks like this:

Duplicate content check in Google

“WordPress is one of the best, if not the best content management systems when it comes to SEO. That being said, spending time on your WordPress SEO might seem like a waste”. Limit that phrase to 32 words, as Google will only take the first 32 words into account. This search query returns ‘about 517 results’ according to Google, which is well over the 9 results CopyScape returned.

Check your own duplicate content

Use a duplicate content checker like CopyScape to find what has been copied from your site, and use Google to see where else on the internet this content ended up. These are simple tools that serve a higher goal: to prevent duplicate content. If you want to read more on duplicate content, start with our Duplicate content: causes and solutions article. Or visit our duplicate content tag page.

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

 

Ask Yoast: www and duplicate content

If content on different urls is the same, search engines don’t know which url to show in the search results. We call this a duplicate content issue. And it can hurt your rankings! Unfortunately it happens more often than you’d think. Did you, for instance, ever think about the consequences of www or non www versions of your site?

At Ask Yoast, we received a question about this from Steve Blundell of Avonsci:

“Do the www and non www versions of a page create duplicate content, and if so how can I deal with it?”

Watch the answer in the video below!

www or not?

“The answer is yes, it creates duplicate content. It’s not the worst kind of duplicate content, because Google knows that these things happen, but it’s better to fix it nonetheless. The best way of fixing it is to choose one, either the www or the non www version and to redirect the other to it. So on Yoast.com we redirect www.yoast.com to yoast.com. We did that, because we think it’s cooler and www is a bit old fashioned. But, choose whatever suits you best, redirect the other and you’re done!”

Do you have a question about duplicate content, link building or copywriting? Just ask! We’ll be glad to help you out if we can. Send your SEO question to ask@yoast.com!

Read more: ‘Duplicate content: causes and solutions’ »

Yoast SEO: hidden features

There are many choices on how to optimize your site. When we develop our Yoast SEO plugin we don’t translate all these choices into settings. In fact, we try to make as few settings as possible! If we think something should always be on, it’s on. We call these features ‘hidden features’, because as a user you’re not necessarily aware of their existence. You might think we don’t have certain features, because there’s no setting for it. While in fact we just do it for you! In this post we’ll dig a little deeper into these hidden features.

First, you might want to check out this video! We’ll explain which hidden features we have, why we have them and how they help you optimize your site!

Canonicals

Canonicals were introduced 6 to 7 years ago as an answer to duplicate content issues. In a web shop, for instance, a product can be in 3 different categories. Therefore you can have 3 different urls with the exact same content. Or, in another case, you might have a url with a campaign tag and one without it, showing the same content.

You don’t want to confuse Google nor the user with these different urls. The solution for this is the rel=canonical link element. The canonical url lets you say: “Of all the options available for this url, this url is the one you should show”. You can do so by adding a rel=canonical tag on a page, pointing to the page that you’d actually like to rank.

Yoast SEO does this for you, everywhere on your site: single posts and pages; homepages; category archives; tag archives; date archives; author archives etc. If you’re not a technical person, we understand the canonical can be quite confusing. Or something you don’t really want to think about. So we don’t make you think about it! We add it by default and hide it.

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

rel=next / rel=prev

Another hidden feature in Yoast SEO is rel=next / rel=prev . It’s a method of indicating paginated archives to search engines. This way a search engine knows certain pages are part of an archive. A rel=next/prev tag in the header of your site tells Google what the previous and the next page in that archive is. Nobody else than people looking at the source code of your site and search engines see this piece of code.

Keep reading: ‘rel=”next” & rel=”prev” for paginated archives’ »

Login & registration

Yoast SEO also tells search engines not to follow links for login and registration pages. If you have a WordPress blog, you probably have a login link, and a registration link on your site. That’s not something that’s very useful to search engines. A search engine would never have to be on your admin page. It will never need to register for your site. So Yoast SEO makes sure that search engines will never follow these links. It’s a tiny tweek, but it saves a lot of unneeded Google action.

Noindex search results

The last hidden feature is based on Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. Google says that you have to noindex your search results on your site. This prevents a user from going from a search result in Google to a search result on your site. Google considers that as a bad user experience. So we noindex these pages. This means that the links on these page can be followed and counted, but they will never show up in the search results.

Ask Yoast: RSS importers and duplicate content

At Yoast we’re happy to help you with your SEO question! This time we received a question from Diana. She’s asking:

“Does Google consider it to be duplicate content when I import my articles from one blog to my main blog using an RSS Importer? Will I be penalized by Google in some way?”

Watch the answer in this video or find it in the transcript below!

Transcript

Well you won’t necessarily be penalized, but Google will only show one of the two sites that have the blog articles. Your best bet probably, is to choose either one of them, and to make sure that the canonical on the one that you don’t want to rank is set to the one that you do want to rank. This might be slightly technical, but it’s in the Advanced tab of Yoast SEO. Underneath each post you can set the canonical to point to another url than the url of the post. And by doing that you’ll tell Google which one you want to rank. This solves any duplicate content issues. And you should be able to get your RSS importer to do that for you. Good luck!

Read more: ‘RSS feeds in the age of Panda and Penguin’ »

In the series Ask Yoast we help you with your SEO query. Don’t hesitate and send your SEO question to ask@yoast.com!

Ask Yoast: product feeds and duplicate content

Previously in Ask Yoast, we took Kathy’s question about selling products through multiple channels and the risk of duplicate content. More webshop owners seem to struggle to avoid duplicate content. Like Stephan ten Cate, who has send the following question to ask@yoast.com:

“A lot of webshops (e.g. Magento) use product feeds to distribute their content to other channels (eBay, Etsy etc.), leading to duplicate content on these channels. Is there a technical solution to avoid duplicate content, while still using product feeds?”

Watch this video to get to know the answer:

Can’t watch the video?

We’ve made a transcript for you:

Yes, there is a solution. The solution is to make your product feeds use different content for all these channels. We’ve covered this in another video as well and I know it’s a tough one because you’ll have to write a lot more content. But there really is no other solution than that. You’ll have to write unique content for each platform. Sorry! Good luck!

In Ask Yoast we answer SEO questions from our followers. Can we help you as well with your SEO question? Send your question to ask@yoast.com, and you might get a personal answer on video!

Read more: ‘Duplicate content: causes and solutions’ »