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.

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By SEO for boring products, we mean SEO for products that are impossible to write exciting content for. Products that need a thousand words to describe all tiny details and small print, but are, in the end, just car insurances, paper clips or emergency exit signs. We have all had or have been that customer that just could not come up with the right, engaging content. Sometimes it’s just hard to write something that makes sense about a product, from your own perspective. In this article, we’ll explain how to approach SEO for boring products!

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First: get the basics right

Regardless of what product you’re selling, you always need to make sure that the basics of SEO for your site are right. That means that you’ll have to put some decent effort into:

  • keyword research
  • site structure
  • technical SEO

You’re in luck. At Yoast, we offer SEO courses for every one of those aspects. Or you could start out with our Basic SEO training and take it from there. And if you are using WordPress, install our Yoast SEO plugin and we’ll cover a lot of these basics for you. So far for commercial messages.

Are your products boring, to begin with?

Sometimes we feel like a product is boring, but in the end, it really isn’t.  We’re not selling insurance; we’re selling safety. You’re not selling paper clips; you’re cleaning up or organizing a messy office desk. A hammer isn’t used to drive in a nail; we’re using it to hang a painting.

If you look closely at the goal of your product for the end user, you might find that, even though your technical specs might be boring, there is still an engaging story to tell. SEO for boring products could be less about the product itself, focusing instead on the purpose of the product. That’s just the first step. Don’t be modest about your products, but look at them from your customer’s angle.

The product category, not the product

Even with the purpose of your product in mind, we understand that it’s incredibly hard to write engaging content for every one of your 1,500 types of screws. Yes, some may have other uses than others, but in the end, a screw is a screw. When it’s hard to optimize every single product page (I’m not saying it’s impossible), you could take a closer look at your category page instead. The same rules apply: look at your product category’s purpose, not at the actual products. We’re knitting a scarf, not selling threads of wool here.

Content ideas for boring content

Content used for SEO for boring products could be just informative. But it should also be content that people want to link to and share on social media. So, perhaps you could also think along the lines of more entertaining content, like a funny product video. We see a lot of these nowadays, right? Besides that, keep in mind that your product page isn’t the only place on your website that’s suitable to inform people about your product. You could have general pages about your company that are suitable for product promotion. And what about your blog? Your blog is an excellent spot to talk more in-depth about your products, like we do on our blog about our courses and plugins. A blog is obviously awesome to help with SEO for boring products.

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Here are some content ideas

The input for these pages can be found everywhere. And can be quite diverse.

  • Check social media for ideas – what is the competition doing? You are not the only one in your niche or industry, so you’ll probably get some good ideas on what to do and what not to do. See what the competition is doing, see if something similar fits your brand and create your own stories, blog posts, product pages based on that. Learn, but don’t imitate. Improve what your competitor is doing.
  • Talk to your users and get their stories, so people can relate to that. Recognition is always a trigger for me. If I can relate to a story about a product – not necessarily because the product appeals to me, but the person telling the story is someone that I can relate to- the product already becomes more appealing. Think similar social groups, age categories, etcetera. Talk to your users, tell their story about your product. What have they gained by it, what did it bring them? How did their lives become better after purchasing your product or reading your website?
  • Write an extensive how-to or manual – people are always looking for how-tos, right? If you are selling travel insurances, your visitor wants to know what they have to do when they actually need that insurance. Will it be hard to reach you and talk to you? I can imagine a lot of them want to know how to do that upfront. And why not go overboard: how to make an elephant out of a paper clip. I’m sure it can be done. But that’s a whole different angle.
  • Add videos. Perhaps even more than written howtos, people watch videos. When I’m looking for a product that will set me back a certain amount of money, usually certain gadgets and other stuff I think I really need, I watch unboxing videos, people using the product and preferably live reviews. I want to see other people sharing their stories, so feel free to create that video after talking to your users as mentioned before!
  • Create a user story and start storytelling. Storytelling is hot, you see it more and more. ‘Create’ users and share their experiences online. Social media is excellent for this, but your blog also provides a solid base for storytelling. We mentioned before in an article about testimonials that “stories have a positive influence on a customer’s perception of a brand, as well as the willingness to purchase. Stories can affect behavior, given that the story resonates with your visitor.” And you can craft that story to your own needs, as long as you keep it natural. Create a story people can relate to.
  • Top 10 tips and other awesome ideas with your product. I just wanted to mention this separately. The paper clip elephant could easily grow into a top 10 paper clip animals – great for social sharing. Emergency exit signs are boring, but I’m sure a few of those appear in leading roles in Hollywood blockbusters. On a more serious note, in the case of the insurances, the top 10 tips for travels to <insert country> and that travel checklist are great ideas that will attract visitors. Again, check the competition and learn from them.

SEO for boring products is about making a product less boring by focusing less on the product and more on the visitor/customer and the reason they need your product. These stories, combined with a solid SEO base and an engaging social media strategy will help you a lot.

Good luck optimizing

The last thing that I would like to mention, is that there is a real opportunity here. If you manage to make your SEO for boring products work, if you manage to create engaging content for products that you thought were dull and uninteresting, this is going to give you an edge on your competitors. You are not alone in finding it hard to come up with that content. All your competitors are probably struggling as well. Get creative! Good luck optimizing.

Read more: Product page SEO »

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Last week, Google announced a new feature in their knowledge panels. You’re now able to verify your branded or personal panel and add or change some of the information in it. But what exactly are knowledge panels? Are these useful? Should your company have one?  I’ll tell you all about it in this post!

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What is a knowledge panel?

Knowledge panels contain information about businesses or people. Such a panel appears on the right in the desktop search results. It contains information about the company, for instance when the company was founded and where the company is situated. A panel also contains pictures.

There are two types of knowledge panels: local panels and branded/personal panels. Google calls both of these knowledge panels, but the process of verifying them is totally different. For the local panels, verification was already possible through Google My Business. The new feature actually only applies to the branded/personal panels.

Why should we care about knowledge panels?

If you want to be found on your brand or business name, a knowledge panel is really useful! If Google decides to show your knowledge panel,  you pretty much dominate the search results on the right side of the screen in desktop search. In mobile, the knowledge panel will appear between other results but is pretty dominant as well. A knowledge panel will thus make sure your company or brand will stand out in the search results when people are specifically searching for it. That’ll give you lots and lots of clicks. And this makes sense too: if people are searching for your brand name, they want to find your website.

How do you get a knowledge panel for your business?

As with other types of search results, Google will decide whether or not it’ll show a knowledge panel in the search results. If you’re a local business, you can do some things to increase your chances to rank with a knowledge panel. For the branded and personal panels, it is much harder to obtain such a knowledge panel.

Local panels

If you want a chance of Google displaying a local panel for your business, the first step is to open a Google My Business account.  You’ll then be able to verify that you are the owner of your business. After that, you can add or edit all relevant information about your business, such as address information, opening hours and photos.

In the end, Google will decide whether or not to show a knowledge panel. Relevance, distance, and the prominence of the business are all important aspects for Google in determining if it’ll show knowledge panels. Making sure your website is really awesome and working on a high-authority domain could enhance your chances.

Read more: ‘Improve your local SEO with Google My Business’ »

Branded/personal panels

It is not possible to apply for a branded or personal panel. Google will decide whether or not your brand is worthy of a knowledge panel.  If your brand has enough authority, a knowledge panel will appear. Brands and people who have Wikipedia pages, often have knowledge panels as well. For Yoast, we do have a knowledge panel.  Joost de Valk also has a personal knowledge panel. I do not have a knowledge panel. I’ll keep working on that level of authority.

How to verify your panel

So, Google’s news from last week was that people could now verify their brand or personal knowledge panel. Verifying is not all that hard. If you have a knowledge panel, make sure to verify it. Follow the steps Google has outlined for you in this article. You need to log in to your Google account and sign in to one of your official sites or profiles to get verification for your business. For Yoast, it was pretty easy.

Once verified, you’ll be able to make changes in the knowledge panel and make sure it looks the way you want it to look.

Conclusion on knowledge panels

Knowledge panels are a great asset to have in the search results. For local panels, you should make sure you’re doing everything you can to get a knowledge panel. For branded or personal knowledge panels, it is much harder to influence your chances of getting one. It all depends on your level of authority, and that’s something that probably won’t be fixed overnight.

Keep reading: ‘Ultimate guide to small business SEO’ »

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If you own a business in a small town near a big city, you’re probably a bit jealous of your competitors in this big city. The search volume for that city will most likely be significantly larger, and with that, the amount of potential customers as well.

So, is there any way you can still benefit from this proximity of potential customers? Perhaps if you also appear to be located in this city? You could, for example, easily use the name of a city in your URL, even if your business is actually located in the neighboring town. But how does this affect your SEO? And are there perhaps other reasons to avoid doing this? Let’s discuss in today’s Ask Yoast!

Vincent Ramos emailed us his dilemma:

I have a website with a city name in the URL, but my actual location is in the neighboring city, which gets smaller search volume. Our NAP is in the footer of every page with our actual address. Does it hurt my SEO that there’s a different city in the URL?

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

Adding a different location to your URL than your actual location

“Does it hurt your SEO? No, but it might hurt your visitors when they come and visit your site because they expect you to be in city A and you’re not. So, I’d always tend to go to the side of honesty: just say that you’re in the city that you’re actually in.

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You’ll find that actually being close to the center of the city that you want to be found in is very important in terms of local SEO. It’s very annoying, but that’s how most of the local rankings work. So, don’t lie, put your real location in your website URL if you can. See how that reflects on people and just say on your page, “We’re very close to ‘whatever the name of the city is’…”, because that’s the honest truth that usually lasts longer than any tricks around that. Good luck.”

Ask Yoast

In the series Ask Yoast, we answer SEO questions from our readers. Have an SEO-related question? Maybe we can help you out! Send an email to ask@yoast.com.

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

Read more: ‘Ranking your local business’ »

 

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Maintaining a website is hard work, and to do it right, you have to be skilled in many things: writing, editing, SEO, marketing (if you own a business) and perhaps even a bit of coding, to name but a few. But that’s not all. If you handle and collect the data of your site’s visitors, you should also familiarize yourself with relevant laws on data protection and privacy.

In April 2016, a new regulation on privacy and data protection was adopted by the European Parliament and the European Council. After a transition period of two years, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will become enforceable from 25 May 2018 onward. This means you can get a fine if you don’t comply with the GDPR.

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It’s important to note that the GDPR doesn’t just apply to organizations located within the EU. It also applies to organizations located outside of the EU, if they offer services or products to, or monitor the behavior of people residing in the EU. The consequences of this law for you and your business depend on the kind of data you handle and if (and how) you get consent for that. So, what to do when preparing for the GDPR? Let me give you my take on the subject in this week’s Ask Yoast!

Joerg Gastmann emailed us his question on the GDPR:

At YoastCon 2017, Dixon Jones mentioned that certain plugins collect data about users and this might cause problems with the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). What should a webmaster do to avoid legal penalties for using plugins, like Jetpack, that process statistical/user data on their servers?

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

Preparing for the GDPR

“Well, you don’t get a penalty specifically for the fact that these plugins are using that data. You get a penalty for not getting your user’s consent for doing that. So you should get your user’s consent, or stop doing that. Some of these things you can put into your general terms of service because they’re required for your business to work.

But if you’re doing things like profiling people based on what they visited, based on information they’ve given you them about them, then you should really dive into the GDPR. This is not something I can easily answer in a couple of minutes. It’s a lot of work. There are a lot of people that are very hard at work, making sure that we can do all the things in WordPress that you should be able to do under the GDPR. So yeah, dive in, consult a lawyer- I’m not a lawyer. Good luck!”

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In the series Ask Yoast, we answer SEO questions from our readers. Have an SEO-related question? Maybe we can help you out! Send an email to ask@yoast.com.

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

Read on: ‘Yoast and the GDPR’ »

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Optimizing your product pages and product category pages can cause a bit of a dilemma. You want your products to shine, so they’re the first thing people notice, and in this regard, a picture usually says more than a 1000 words. On the other hand, you need to add sufficient textual content to help you rank. But adding a lot of text could direct attention away from your products, and you want to avoid that.

As I discussed in another Ask Yoast video, it often boils down to this question: do you want that product page to rank for a keyword? For most individual product pages, it’s often not necessary. But for a product category page, that’s probably the case. So you need to add a sufficient amount of text. But you still want products on that page to catch the eye. In this Ask Yoast, I’ll discuss some options for dealing with that!

Stefan Wohlert emailed us this question:

Should I start with a long introduction on my shop’s category page? If I write 400 – 500 words, the actual products will be pushed down a lot.

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

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Adding content on product category pages

“This is a question we get a lot. You want content on those pages to be able to rank. At the same time, your products are more important than your content. Now I would suggest having a couple of hundred words up top and then maybe allow people to continue to read by going to the bottom of the page and having a button there that takes them there.

You can play with this. You can also do different tabs. This was a big no-no in the past, but with the advent of mobile, Google has actually started indexing both tabs, even the non visible ones, because on mobile this actually makes sense. So you can play with this, see what works, see what makes your ranking change and then make it as good as possible. I would keep up the 400, 500 words per page, though. That’s a very good thing. Good luck.”

Ask Yoast

In the series Ask Yoast we answer SEO questions from our readers. Have an SEO-related question? Let us help you out! Send an email to ask@yoast.com.

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

Read more: ‘eCommerce SEO checklist’ »

 

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With the holiday season now mostly behind us, many owners of online shops are probably still recovering from this very busy time. Many businesses offer special, holiday-themed products and gifts during this season. But how to handle the product pages of holiday gift sets after the holidays are over?

Even if the gift set or product was a great success, and you want to offer it again next year, it’ll be a long while until the page is relevant again. So, what’s the best way to deal with these pages in the meantime? Let’s get into that in this Ask Yoast!

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Marek emailed his question on this subject:

‘I want to offer special gift sets for different holidays. What to do with them after the special is over? Should I archive or redirect them?’

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

Holiday gift sets after the holidays

“Well, it really depends if you’re going to offer that special gift set again next year. And I’m guessing you’re going to if it worked out. In that case, I would probably keep the pages up. You might want to make them less visible to people just browsing your site. But having the page there, even when it’s not linked for a while, and then linking to it again, when you’re back in the season is better than deleting it and making a new one next year.
So, keep it up, and make sure that it has a slightly timeless content, so that if someone wants to order a Christmas box in March, they can… Why wouldn’t you allow that? So that’s how we would treat it. Good luck!”

Ask Yoast

In the series Ask Yoast we answer SEO questions from our readers. Have an SEO-related question? Let us help you out! Send an email to ask@yoast.com.

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

Read more: ‘Holiday season SEO’ »

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Would you buy a product or service from a website that doesn’t look trustworthy? Probably not. So you understand how important it is to gain the trust of your visitors if you own a business. Adding testimonials to your site can help you with this. They give potential customers some idea of the experiences of others, and why whatever it is you’re offering them is so awesome. If you have some nice testimonials on your site, of course, you want to make sure people can find them. So, what’s the best way to do that?

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Ariette emailed us a question on this subject:

I have 30+ testimonials on my site and all of them are in separate posts. These testimonials don’t have content other than a few kind words from clients. Can I just add keywords like ‘realtor testimonial’ or ‘realtor review’ to every post?

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

The best way to use testimonials on your site

“These testimonials are testimonials for something you’re selling, so you should add those testimonials to the pages that you’re selling those products on. Don’t have them on separate pages, but show them on the pages where you’re selling that individual product and then show a couple. Make them show a picture, make sure that they look genuine and real, but add them next to the product that you’re selling.

Having separate pages for reviews is hardly ever a good idea, unless they are reviews of books or something like that, where the review itself is a read-worthy piece. But don’t add reviews as a single post type on your site. It just doesn’t make any sense.

Good luck!”

Ask Yoast

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

Read more: ‘Testimonials: increase your visitor’s trust’ »

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

Topher Knoll emailed us the following question:

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

Check out the video or read the answer below!

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The most complete eCommerce plugin

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

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

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

Good luck!”

Ask Yoast

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

Read more: ‘eCommerce SEO checklist’ »

Why do so many eCommerce sites have a blog? Is that because online shop owners love to write posts? Or perhaps they have a lot of spare time on their hands? Probably not. Although blogging is lots of fun, it also is a great marketing and SEO strategy. And because of that, eCommerce site owners start a blog. Here, I’ll explain why blogging is such a great marketing and SEO strategy. On top of that, I’ll give some practical tips on how to set up blog on a eCommerce site. 

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Why blog on an eCommerce site?

Inform your audience about you and your products

Blogging is a great way to inform your audience about your product. In a blog post, you can show how to use a product and why people should buy it. You can also tell your audience about yourself and your company. And you’ll be able to tell the story of your products from your perspective. If you’re, for instance, selling baby clothes on your site, a blog about children and children’s fashion is a great idea.

Stay top of mind

If you blog on a regular basis and post your blog posts on social media, you’ll stay top of mind of your audience. You want your audience to remember you, even when they’re not going to buy anything just now. If a visitor encounters one of your posts on how to dress children on a hot day, for instance, this visitor may not immediately want to buy new clothes for his or her children. But, they got to know you and your eCommerce site through your post. That way, you increase the chance people think about you when they DO need new clothes for their children.

Blogging is a great SEO strategy

Maintaining a blog contributes to SEO as well. Every time you write a new blogpost, you’re adding fresh content, which Google likes. In addition to that, maintaining a blog will allow you to start writing content related to those keywords you would like to rank for.

Practical tips for your blog on an eCommerce site

What to blog about?

You can write about all kinds of things on your blog, but make sure to do proper keyword research first. You need to know what search terms you want to be found for. These keywords should be leading when you choose what to blog about. A keyword, however, is not a topic yet. You need an angle, a story around such a keyword.

A great way to come up with ideas for blog posts is by referring and writing about current events. Keep an eye on different news sites, and write posts in which you incorporate your views on the news in your niche. Another way to get ideas is to invite your audience to leave comments on your blog. It may take a while to get them, but you could receive some questions or feedback that are excellent starters for your next post.

Read more: ‘6 tips for coming up with blog ideas’ »

Blog in the menu

The menu or top navigation of your site helps visitors understand what your website is about and what you’re offering. It should reflect the structure of your website. If you add a blog to your eCommerce site, you should make sure it also appears in your menu. A blog should be in your main menu.

I would advise you to set it apart from the categories of your eCommerce site. Put it all the way left (next to home), or all the way right in your menu, for instance. You should be able to click through to your blog from your homepage. After all, you want visitors to find your blog easily. And linking to your blog from your homepage will indicate to Google that your blog is important, which can increase the ranking of your blog. Also, make sure your blog is on the same domain as your eCommerce site, this way both your eCommerce site and your blog will profit from each other’s rankings.

Use of tags

If you have a blog on your eCommerce site, you’d probably write a lot on topics related to your products. Maybe about events where you use them, or what to use them for, how to use them best, comparisons between different products etc. Therefore, it makes sense that your tags will partly overlap with the product categories and subcategories of your shop. This is OK. Because in the end, you’d like to rank with those posts to draw people to the products you sell. And, if you group products, whether that’s in categories or tags, it’s easier to make them rank.

Social media and newsletters

If you start a blog on your eCommerce site, make sure to share these posts on social media as well. In addition to that, you should definitely send out a newsletter promoting your latest blog posts to your audience. People need a reminder of the existence of you and your blog once in a while.

Conclusion

A blog is a great marketing and SEO tool for eCommerce sites. In your posts, you can tell readers about your brand and products, and perhaps also about yourself. No excuses here, just start blogging!

Keep reading: ‘How to start a blog’ »