Timeless SEO tips: 6 universal SEO tactics that never go out of fashion

Things are always on the move in the SEO world. Google regularly updates its algorithm and the competition is never far behind. So if you’re not sure about the latest best-practices, wouldn’t it be nice to have a list of timeless SEO improvements to focus on? We thought it might be! Arm yourself with these timeless SEO tactics and you’ll never go wrong.

1. Stay on the light side

If you’re desperate for quick results, you may be tempted to use blackhat SEO tactics. Well, don’t! Never, ever buy links, try to trick search engines or visitors with redirects or spam links on other sites. It may work for a short while, but search engines actively discourage this kind of thing, so it always backfires in the end and harms your rankings. You don’t want those tricks or bought links coming back to haunt you, do you?

Here at Yoast, we advocate Holistic SEO, which means you need to be the best result! Give your visitors high-quality content, a great user experience and a secure, technically superior website. It may take more time and effort, but it’s much more sustainable in the long run. Let’s take link building as an example: approached holistically, you produce quality content that people actually want to share. You can then reach out to relevant websites to see if they’ll consider linking to you. The links you’ll get this way will be much more valuable than any link you can buy. So go the extra mile and stay on the light side of SEO. Your website will benefit in the long run.

2. Optimize your site speed

In SEO, faster is better. We’re pretty confident that this will always be the case, as people expect to get content served to them quickly. Nobody likes waiting, even for a split second, so it always pays to invest time in improving your site’s speed.

There are several ways to speed up your WordPress site. We can’t cover them all in this article, but a good start is to install a caching plugin. This keeps static parts of your site saved on your server, and serves users these lighter HTML pages instead of processing the relatively resource-intensive WordPress PHP scripts. There are both free and paid caching plugins available and they can significantly speed up your site.

Read more: Improving site speed: tools and suggestions »

Images are another factor that’s often overlooked as people build their website. Big, high definition images will take a long time to load, while most of the time, a lower resolution image will do just fine. Always take the time to resize your images using an image optimization plugin.

And a final speed optimization tip: if your visitors come from all over the world, it may be worthwhile to use a CDN (or Content Delivery Network). It’ll direct visitors to the servers closest to their location, thereby greatly improving loading times. 

3. Work on excellent content

Another timeless SEO tip: don’t compromise on the quality of your content. Create the best quality content that you can, and consistently review and improve on it wherever possible. SEO isn’t just about improving your website, it’s also about beating the competition. In many cases, this means content that’s only ‘good enough’ simply won’t do. You have to demonstrate your expertise and stand out from the crowd. That means a big investment of time and effort; research into your topic, your audience and what they’re looking for.

Keep reading: It’s not enough to ‘write content’-you have to publish resources »

You may not always be able to do this right away, which is why you need to keep improving your articles, so they become valuable resources for your audience. How? Well, that all depends on your topic and what you’re trying to achieve. It’s always a good idea to ask yourself whether your questions would be answered by visiting your pages, and whether it aligns with what you’re seeing in the search results. These next tips will also help you improve the overall quality of your content.

4. Keep your audience in mind

Whether the aim of your website is to help you sell your product, or to attract followers for your blog posts, you will only succeed if you focus on what your audience wants and needs. That’s something that isn’t going to change, as search engines always aim to give users what they’re looking for. This is evident from the growing importance of search intent, so doing keyword research without first considering search intent is no longer an option. Are you really offering searchers what they’re looking for when they type in their search term -your keyword? Are they looking for information or to take action, and what do they need from you? Take a good look at the search results for your keywords to answer those questions.

There’s another reason to really focus on what your audience needs: the competition for people’s attention is fierce. So users can be picky, and they want to know whether you can solve their problem, or what they will get out of reading your blog post. They don’t much care about your product-related jargon, or why you want them to read your blog post. So, don’t overlook your visitor’s perspective in your SEO copy. That also includes not writing too much ‘I’ in your content. Make it about your user, not yourself!

Read on: Engaging your online audience: 8 practical tips »

5. Improve your internal linking structure

It’s always a good idea to make it easy for search engines to crawl your site to work out which articles are most important and to help your users find what they’re looking for. That’s why you can’t go wrong by improving your internal linking structure. Make sure that your most important articles also have the most internal links pointing to them. And don’t forget to add links to your most recent posts, to avoid orphaned content. It’s key to make sure that links are relevant to the context of a post or they won’t make sense to either the search engine or the user.

6. Keep your content well-maintained

A final timeless SEO tip: staying on top of your content maintenance always pays off. Not only will you save yourself the effort of cleaning up a load of posts in one go, but your content also stays fresh and relevant. Both search engines and users like that! What’s more, keeping track of your content and the topics it covers helps you avoid keyword cannibalization. And, you don’t want to impair your own chances of ranking by offering too much similar, competing content.

Of course, cleaning up is not generally people’s favorite task, so this is easier said than done. It helps to approach things systematically. Do a site search for one of your most important keywords and see what comes up. Do articles overlap, and do you still need to keep everything? How are pages performing? You’ll probably see some articles that can be deleted or merged. Doing this regularly helps to keep on top of things.

Timeless SEO: Be the best result! 

In the end, these timeless SEO tips boil down to the same thing: if you want to rank, you need to put effort into being the best result. Search engines may change their algorithms, but they ultimately want to offer their users what they’re looking for: high quality content that’s up to date and served on a fast loading website with no dirty tricks. It may seem like a lot of work, but at least it’s a clear objective to work on, right? So, let’s get on with it!

Keep on reading: WordPress SEO: the definitive guide »

The post Timeless SEO tips: 6 universal SEO tactics that never go out of fashion appeared first on Yoast.

On-SERP SEO can help you battle zero-click results

On-SERP SEO is the process of fully optimizing the first page of a search engine to maximize the visibility of your brand. On-SERP SEO is a tool you can use to battle the increase of so-called zero-click searches. Find out all about on-SERP SEO in this article.

Rise of the zero-click search

Rand Fishkin of SparkToro has been tracking developments in Google for a long time. One of his works is researching the changes in how people search and where the clicks go, based on data by an analytics firm. From his recent reports emerges an interesting trend: less than 50% of all the searches lead to a click! These are the so-called zero-click searches.

Over half of all searches don’t lead to a click

Of course, the decline of the click can partly be attributed to the rise in rich results. For many queries, these results — like featured snippets, answer boxes and knowledge graphs — tend to answer the exact question a searcher has. Often, leaving the searcher without the need to click on to a full article. Since Google is working hard to understand languages, entities, and intents better, it is no surprise that it manages to answer an increasing number and ever harder set of questions right there.

In addition to upping their skills, Google is also expanding its own properties in search. For industries such as travel, you can almost book a complete trip without ever leaving Google. It won’t be long before that last hurdle will be gone as well. Of course, end-users love interacting with rich results as they often solve their needs immediately.

These developments are Google helping win an enormous amount of traffic to its own properties, from YouTube to Flights and Jobs to Events, leaving regular companies and individuals struggling to find room to shine in the SERPs. One of the means you could turn to combat this is called on-SERP SEO.

What is on-SERP SEO?

With on-SERP SEO, you try to get as much exposure for a query — or your brand — on Google’s front page as possible. That doesn’t mean you should write ten articles on your main topic in the hopes of them all showing up on page one of Google because that’s a pipe dream. No, it’s about owning all the areas where it counts: 

  • A featured snippet
  • A highly-ranking post
  • The knowledge graph panel
  • People Also Ask boxes
  • Image search
  • Video search
  • Local three-pack
  • And maybe run an ad or two for your brand

Combined, these SERP elements will give you maximum exposure for your brand. In addition, visibility might lead to better CTR. Nevertheless, it might be a good idea to look at sources of traffic/visibility outside of Google’s clutches.

Got to occupy that brand space, right?

Note: Last week, Google changed how they handle duplicate URLs for posts that have a featured snippet. In the past, the featured snippet was at position 0, but now it is basically number 1. The regular result from that featured snippet is dropped from the results, leaving only the featured snippet. This might impact how you approach your work and it might make it harder to ‘own’ the SERPs.

How can it benefit your site?

The main reason for working on your on-SERP SEO is enhancing the visibility of your brand. Not everything is about traffic! It does beg to differ if you can make the investment in on-SERP SEO. It doesn’t always lead to more traffic, so you must ask yourself if you can live with not getting traffic from that high-profile featured snippet.

For many searches and industries, it is hard to occupy a load of search results page features. So, what you can do depends on who you are — or who you are working for, of course. Non-branded searches make it hard to get into the knowledge graph, for instance. Do investigate and see what you can achieve!

How to start with on-SERP SEO

The process of on-SERP SEO consists of several parts. First, you need to find out how you are doing. Where are people coming from? How are they finding you? What’s the CTR for your main keyphrases? Plus, how are all these numbers trending?

When you’ve painted a picture of your situation, you start looking at the SERPs and try to find opportunities to stand out.

Look at the SERPs

Looking at the SERPs is incredibly rewarding — and an essential task. Not only will it give you an idea of what’s going in your industry, for your keyphrases or your brand, but it will also signal opportunities. You also have to look at what’s not there. When you finally know your SERPs inside out you see the changes Google makes unfolding before your eyes. What’s more, you might be ready to act if needed.

You’ll notice rich results — like featured snippets — pop up and disappear, and you’ll see different elements move around the page. Plus, you see what your competitors are doing. You’ll also notice ranking changes when they appear. Several SEO suites — like Moz Pro and SEMrush — provide tools to track what happens to SERPs and which SERP features appear for certain keyphrases. 

If you have a solid understanding of your relevant SERPs you might pick up a chance to shine along the way. Be sure to act if it makes sense!

Find opportunities

There are many answers to be found in the SERPs, but don’t be scared to start thinking outside the box. There are several ways to increase your site’s visibility in search. Let’s go over a couple of ones.

Improve search intent-based content

A very helpful tool in your arsenal is search intent research. Try to find out how and when people end up on your site and map that to your customer journey. Did you miss a couple of spots? Can you appear earlier in the journey? What do the SERPs look like for every step of the journey and does your content match does touchpoints? 

Improve your keyphrase-based work

Search engines are getting better at defining what a query is actually about, but they are nowhere near faultless in matching that with a correct response. This means that you should still provide search engines with every detail you can think about. So, it makes sense to look into search intent, but it also makes sense to do old-fashioned keyword research. But now, don’t simply look at which words have the highest traffic potential, but also a good chance at a click!

Research featured snippets

A prominent spot at the top of the search results — who doesn’t want that? Getting a featured snippet is a good way of getting in the spotlights. It’s not always easy to get clicks from a featured snippet, but if you do the results can be interesting to see. It might not even be necessary to do it all for the clicks, because featured snippets can also be used to build trust or increase brand awareness.

Getting a featured snippet takes work and is a lot easier if you already rank on page one with your content. That means you should prioritize getting featured snippets for content that’s already doing well. Don’t forget to check if your research is pointing you to new chances.

Enhance visual and video search

On-SERP SEO also means improving the findability of your images and video. For your main keyphrases, your visual content needs to come out on top. Don’t have visual content pop up on image search for your brand or keyphrases? Don’t have videos? Well, you know what to do if you want to fully occupy the SERPs. The Yoast Video SEO add-on helps you get those videos in search.

Manage your social media

Your social media can appear in searches for your brand — tweets in search and links in the knowledge graph panel —, so it’s good to put work in those profiles. They don’t really push traffic, but people may view these profiles to form an opinion on your business. 

Add structured data

Structured data is incredibly important for search engines to truly understand what your site is about. By using structured data correctly for any given topic (recipes, events, jobs et cetera), search engines might even reward you with a rich result listing. This means your search result is highlighted, meaning it will take up more real estate in the SERPs. Yoast SEO automatically adds a lot of Schema structured data to your site for the most important properties. You can also use the Yoast SEO content blocks to build FAQ pages and how-to articles that stand out in the search results.

Improve your local listing

It’s important to look at what your site is doing locally. Google My Business is a must-have if you want your business to stand out in the local results. Curate your listing, manage reviews and finetune your photos. Having a lively local profile can really help your visibility and brand awareness.

Take out ads for your brand

Ever since Google is running ads right under the search bar, it is a good idea to take out ads for your own brand — or keywords, if they are affordable. This way, you get an extra spot at the top that Google can’t take away from you. In addition, it prevents a competitor from advertising in your name. 

Conclusion about on-SERP SEO

In the age of declining clicks, you need all the help you can get to stay visible for the searcher. One of the things you can do is look at the SERPs to try and find ways to occupy a lot of real-estate. On-SERP SEO can help you increase brand awareness. It also helps you gain new insights into what’s changing in Google and how you can react to that.

It doesn’t make sense to go all-out with on-SERP SEO for all your keyphrases. But, it does make sense to make your brand stand out, which is easier because you have most of the tools available to get that knowledge panel and ad listing.

The post On-SERP SEO can help you battle zero-click results appeared first on Yoast.

What makes a good website?

People often ask us to explain what makes a good website? If we have a list of elements that a great site should have? There isn’t an easy, one-size-fits-all answer to this. As in many things SEO, the answer will be: it depends. What kind of site do you have, who do you target? What do you want to achieve? Regardless, in this post, I’ll list a number of elements that help every site become a good site and a better search result.

Holistic SEO

The number one thing you must keep in mind is that we at Yoast advocate holistic SEO. This means that we’d like you to strive to be the best result. We’d like you to optimize every part of your site on all levels, from satisfying user intent to offering a stellar user experience. If you combine all these things in a solid SEO strategy, implement the enhancements and track the results, you’re on the right track!

Elements of a good website

Many things we deem important for a good website is hard to quantify. There’s a lot of talk in SEO about quality, for instance. Even Google has been saying for years that you should focus on the quality of your site and that of your content. After every algorithmic update by Google, the answer for those who lost rankings is the same: it might not be your fault, because other sites seem to be a better fit for this specific query — nonetheless, you should work on the overall quality of your content

People flock to the Search Quality Raters Guidelines for input on how to do that, looking for any guidance at all. You shouldn’t take everything that Google says as gospel, but in this case, they are right; you should improve your content — always! Always look at user intent and the behaviour of your potential customers. You should periodically redo your keyword research. Check your niche, what’s happening in your world?

By continually evaluating your SEO strategy, you get a grip on changing market and find new opportunities.

Your website satisfies user intent and has a clear goal

Do you know your audience? Do you know your business and what it is you contribute to this world? Why should anyone come to your site and do business with you? It’s not just because you think you have an awesome product — that just doesn’t fly anymore. “Build it and they will come?” Nope, I don’t think so. 

If you’d like to succeed, you need to know your audience. You have to uncover everything about them. You can probably find out what they say they want, but is that the same as what they really need? Does your product or service merely offer a solution to a problem or does it make your customer’s life genuinely better? Do you sell a drill or a hole in the wall? 

Your story has to be right. It has to align with what people want and need. It means you should nail search intent for your site. Uncover all the different ways of how people can end up on your pages and tailor these to answer their questions. Map out the users’ journey from A to Z and place your content in strategic spots. Also keep a close eye on the way you formulate your answers — more often than not, a conversational style will turn out to be what you are looking for. 

Your website has technical prowess

A good website is easily crawlable and shows search engines what they can and can’t index. Good sites don’t have a huge amount of errors. A good website loads super fast, from anywhere in the world. Make sure you do everything you can to get those pages to loads as fast as possible.

Technical SEO is incredibly important, but you can get ahead of the curve by getting the basics right. Thoroughly think about which CMS you’re going for and how you’re going to run it. Pick a reputable hosting company — one that’s flexible and helpful. We may be a bit biased, but WordPress has given us everything we need. It’s solid, flexible and has a huge following. WordPress is pretty SEO-friendly, but with a bit of help of Yoast SEO you get your WordPress SEO going in no time. 

Your website is trustworthy, safe and secure

Both search engines and users are looking for signals that signify trust. Why should your site or your content be trusted? Regular down time might point to sloppy maintenance. A missing green lock icon might mean you don’t take security seriously. There are a lot of little hints that they look for. 

Search engines like Google want to give searchers the best possible result. Increasingly, if a search engine doubts the claims you make or if you use sketchy ‘experts’ to validate your content, they will not show your content. They will pick a result that has proven to be a good result. That’s why you need to work on your trustworthiness on all levels, both technical as well as in content.

In addition, your site should be a safe haven for visitors. You need to have your security in order. A hacked site isn’t getting you anywhere! And a hacked site is easier to prevent than it is to fix. Use up-to-date software, have your SSL in order, make strong passwords, use tools such as Cloudflare to protect your site from DDoS attacks, et cetera. 

Your website has a great design and stellar UX

Does your website need to be beautiful? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The design of your website needs to help fulfil the goals you set. Your message should come across loud and clear. The design should be on-brand and well-thought out. But more importantly, your site should be clear and easy to use for everyone. Accessibility is not something you should scrimp on. 

User experience is not only how it looks, but also how it feels. It’s about giving users a joyful experience, something they can remember. UX is also not letting user wait long for your pages to load, getting them frustrated because they can’t read the text on your site thanks to your color scheme or they can’t hit the buttons on your mobile site. How can I turn frustration into happiness? 

And happy user might just have a higher buyer intent, so get those CTAs in order!

Your site has awesome, user-centered content

User-centered, not company-centered. Good content helps your users accomplish their goals and you offer this content at exactly the right moment, while keeping the business goals firmly in sight. To be able to do this, you need to know your user inside out, as I mentioned earlier. Understand them, understand their behaviour and focus your content on that. The content you offer should be clear and easy to understand by using the same language the users knows well. Try to bring something unique to the table. Do research and present original reporting.

Your site is mobile-friendly (or rather, designed mobile-first)

2019 is the year mobile traffic blah blah, we know the score. Mobile is it. If your site is not mobile-friendly by now, well, you know, it should, so get to it. But if your site has been mobile-friendly for a while, it is time to start looking at buildinsg your next site mobile-first

It’s not a new concept or anything, but most sites are still being developed desktop-first. After designing the desktop view, designer cram it down to mobile size, often losing its authenticity and freshness along the way. Adopting a mobile-first mindset helps you focus on the tasks users should be able to do on your mobile site. It helps to clean up the clutter and, more often than not, lets you come up with a minimal and fully focused design. Less is more, remember? 

Your site can ‘talk’ directly to search engines

For years, search engines tried to read content on pages to determine what that page is about. They need that content to be able to match the search query with the indexed pages that give the best answers to this query. Turns out that truly understanding what something on a page is or means, is harder than it seems, especially for machines. Search engines need a little guidance to discover the true meaning of elements on a page. Enter, structured data in Schema format

Schema is kind of like a translator for search engines. It describes elements on a page, so search engines can now say with certainty that a review is a review and a recipe a recipe. In return, because Google is so certain about the content, marking up these elements can lead to rich results in the search results pages. This includes carousels, nutritional information for recipes, star ratings, FAQ dropdowns, swipeable How-To boxes on mobile and much, much more. Structured data is one of the areas search engines spend a lot of resources on these days, so pay attention.

We noticed this and built a complete and fully extendable Schema framework inside Yoast SEO. This structured data implementation builds a complete graph for your site, so search engines not only know what everything means, but also how everything is connected to the bigger picture. Find out more in our Schema documentation

So what makes a good website?

There’s a lot that goes into building a good website. It’s not simply buying a domain, getting some random host, installing WordPress and picking a theme that looks cool. That’s setting yourself up for failure. You need to plan to get things right. You need a strategy — maybe that’s the most important element of a good website.

These are some of the most important elements you should focus on while developing of improving your site. This is not an exhaustive list, so I’d like to ask you:

What is your number one focal point for building a good website?

The post What makes a good website? appeared first on Yoast.

How to use WordPress: Answering 12 common WordPress questions

WordPress is huge. According to the latest stats, WordPress powers almost 35% of the web — and growing quickly. With so many sites using the CMS and so many new sites bursting onto the scene, there’re a lot of new users taking their first steps in the wonderful world of WordPress. People from all walks of life and many of them are bound to ask the same questions about using WordPress. That’s one of the reasons why we launched a free WordPress for Beginners course. In addition, you can quickly get answers to common WordPress questions in this big guide.

New to WordPress? Don’t worry! Our FREE WordPress for beginners training is here to help. Find out how to set up your own site, learn the ins and outs of creating and maintaining it, and more. Soon you’ll be able to do it all by yourself!

Table of contents

1. How to start a WordPress site?

So you’ve decided to start your own blog. Hooray! Before you start blogging away, you’ll have to take some steps, like setting up your own WordPress site. But there’s more to starting your own blog! Here, we’ll give you some more pointers on how to hit the ground running.

A purpose, niche, but don’t forget to have fun!

While years ago you’d follow blogs because of the person behind them, nowadays it’s all about answering people’s questions, a purpose for your blog and link building. Or that’s what it might look like. Don’t forget that blogging should be fun, as it is fun! There’s no such thing as too many blogs, as there’s no one like you. It’s cliche, but it’s the truth. 

Before you start your blog, you need to decide whether you just want to write for fun or to help others and get high rankings. In the first case, you can start a personal lifestyle blog with everything you love. In the second case, you might need to find yourself a niche as this will increase your chance of ranking tremendously.

When you know who you’re writing for and what to write about, you can start working on your first blog posts! Want to make sure this post will be awesome? Then read this step-by-step guide on how to craft the perfect blog post.

Read more: How to start a blog »

2. How to choose a host for your WordPress site?

What to look for in a WordPress host? There are hundreds, if not thousands, of WordPress hosts. How to pick one that’s perfect for you? Check out this curated list of WordPress hosts that we’ve gathered, and consider the following aspects when making a decision.

Speed and stability

Are you going for a small travel blog? Or are you planning to cater to the clothing needs of half a country? Based on what you’re planning to do with your website, you should pick a host that has reliable uptime and keeps running during busy hours. Make sure they can provide a seamless way for you to grow. Because as you gather more daily visitors, you will need to upgrade your hosting at some point.

Accessibility and services

It is good to know if your host provides a support crew that is willing and able to help you with both your financial and technical questions. The following services might also be useful:

  • Alternative ways to access your data in case your WordPress website breaks.
  • A user‑friendly control panel that suits your needs.
  • The service to register and/or maintain domain names.

Security

Even if you don’t know much about the internet and security, you want your websites’ visitors to be safe. Go for a hosting provider that, at the very least, offers the following:

  • (Installation of) Paid or free SSL certificates.
  • Up‑to‑date server software.
  • Continuous malware/virus scans.

Optionally, check for:

  • The option for a 1-click staging environment: this makes building and maintaining a  site much easier.
  • Data retention and regulation protocols: based on your country’s laws, make sure you know where the data is stored and how it is handled.
  • Backup services: if something breaks, you will want to be able to restore it quickly.

A decent firewall (sometimes provided as an additional service, like CloudFlare).

3. How to get to the WordPress dashboard

The WordPress dashboard is the first thing you see when you log into WordPress. From there, you see an overview of various dashboard widgets with relevant information. For instance, our Yoast SEO dashboard widget gives you a quick overview of the SEO health of your site. 

But if you’ve never logged into your WordPress dashboard before, finding it can be a little tricky. When you installed WordPress, you were guided into the WordPress dashboard automagically after the installation process. However, if you haven’t saved the URL of your WordPress dashboard, logging back in is not that easy. 

Luckily, there’s a solution that works for all WordPress sites. When you add /login/ or /admin/ to the URL of your site, you will be sent to the login screen. Upon logging in, you’ll be sent to your WordPress dashboard. So what does that look like? If your domain, for example, is everydayimtravelling.com, the login URL would become everydayimtravelling.com/admin/ and this will prompt you with the login screen. For future convenience, bookmark that page as soon as you’re logged in so you’ll even have a quicker way to log in.

4. How to install and activate a WordPress theme 

A theme governs the layout of your WordPress site. That includes, among other things, the appearance of your posts and pages, and the location of the menus and sidebars. Not surprisingly, finding the right theme is quite important for your website as it makes your site stand out from the masses. But, with so many choices out there, that may be harder than it seems. So, make sure to spend some time and effort and choose the best WordPress theme for your site.

Once you have chosen a theme, installing and activating it is easy. There are two ways to install a new theme in WordPress.

A. Installing a theme from the WordPress directory:

You can install a theme from the WordPress repository. In addition, it is also possible to buy premium themes from a variety of sellers. To install and activate a theme, follow these steps or check out the free WordPress for beginners course.

  1. Open the Themes overview screen
    In the admin menu in your WordPress Backend, click on Appearance, then Themes. The Themes overview screen will open. 
  2. Click the Add New button or the Add New Theme area
    At the top of the screen, you’ll find the Add new button. Alternatively, in the themes overview area, there is an Add New Theme square. Click on either one, to open the screen with available themes.
  3. Preview the theme
    Before you install a theme, it is a good idea to see how it looks on your site. You can do this by hitting the Preview button. Note, this is not an exact match of your site, but it does give you a really good idea if the theme fits your goals.
  4. Install the theme
    Hover over the theme you want to use and click Install. The Install button will transform into an Activate button.
  5. Activate the theme
    Click the Activate button. The theme will be activated, and it will change the appearance of your website. 
  6. Go check what your site looks like on the front end!

B. Upload a theme

You can also add a theme that you’ve downloaded from outside the WordPress directory, this could be from one of the many online theme shops out there. The theme will have to be in a .zip format! To install and activate it, follow these steps or check out the free WordPress for beginners training

  1. In the Themes overview screen, click Add New
    Once you have accessed the Themes overview screen through the admin menu, you’ll see the Add New button at the top of the screen as well as the Add New Theme square in the area below. Click either one to open the screen with available themes. 
  2. Click the upload theme button
    At the top of the screen with available themes is the Upload Theme button. Click the button. You’ll see the new option to upload a .zip file.
  3. Click the Choose file button
    Once you click the button, a dialogue box will appear, that will allow you to choose files from your computer. Find and select the .zip file that you previously downloaded.
  4. Install the theme
    Click the Install Now button. Your theme will be installed and added to your themes overview.
  5. Activate the theme
    In the themes overview screen, hover over the theme, and click Activate. The theme will activate, and it will change the appearance of your website.
  6. Go check what your site looks like on the front end

Curious for more? Check out this lesson on themes of the free WordPress for beginners course.

5. How to install a WordPress plugin

Plugins can change or improve the functionality of your site in various ways. As a WordPress user, you’ll surely need to install a plugin at some point. How do you do that? Easy. You can do it in two ways. Either install a plugin from the WordPress plugin directory or upload a plugin you have downloaded from a third-party. Please note that only free and approved plugins are featured in the WordPress plugin directory.

A. Install a plugin from the WordPress directory

Let’s start by installing a plugin from the WordPress directory. Just follow these simple steps:

  1. Access the WordPress plugin directory
    In the WordPress backend, go to the admin menu. Hover over the Plugins menu item, and select Add New from the fly-out menu. The WordPress plugin directory will appear.
  2. Find the plugin you want
    Use the filter tabs in the toolbar, or search for plugins by typing in a keyword, author, or tag in the search box.
  3. Check the quality of the plugin
    Each plugin is featured in a box with basic information. A good quality plugin will have good reviews, a high number of active installations, frequent updates, and it will be compatible with your version of WordPress.
  4. Install the plugin
    Click the Install Now button in the plugin box. Once the installation is complete, the Activate button will replace the Install button. In addition, the plugin will appear on the Installed Plugins screen.
  5. Activate the plugin
    Clicking Activate is crucial for the plugin to work. You can activate the plugin in the plugin box by clicking the Activate button when the installation is complete. Alternatively, you can click the Activate link in the Plugins overview screen.

B. Upload a plugin

The WordPress plugin directory has a lot of plugins, but it does not have all of them. You can also find some cool plugins on third-party sites like, for example, Yoast SEO Premium. But no worries, you can still easily add these plugins to WordPress. To upload a plugin to WordPress, follow these steps:

  1. Download the plugin from the third-party site
    Note that you will need to download the plugin in a .zip format. Otherwise, the upload may fail. If the plugin is not available for download in that format, contact the plugin provider.
  2. Access the WordPress plugin directory
    In your backend, go to the admin menu. Hover over the Plugins menu item, and select. Add New from the fly-out menu. The WordPress plugin directory will appear.
  3. Upload the plugin
    In the WordPress plugin directory, click the Upload Plugin button at the top of the screen. A new option will appear to add a file. Click the Choose file button, which will trigger a dialogue box to open. Find and select the file from your computer and click Open.
  4. Install the plugin
    Click the Install Now button, and the plugin will be installed.
  5. Activate the plugin
    Remember, you always need to activate a plugin after installing it. Go to your plugins overview, locate the plugin, and click the Activate link.

6. How to change the site title in WordPress

Setting your site title is an important step when creating your website. Your site title is the name that will show up at the top of the browser window, in bookmarks, and when people share your site on social media or via messaging apps.

To set your site title, select Appearance > Customize from your admin dashboard menu. 

This will open the Customizer, which offers a lot of options to customize your site — as you may have guessed from the name. The option we need is right at the top, under Site identity > Site title. 

Enter the name you have chosen for your website, and if possible, try to keep it short. You’ll want to have plenty of space left in the search results to also display the title of your post or page. You can learn about why titles are important here.

And, while you’re there, make sure that you change your site’s favicon, which is called a site icon in WordPress. Find out how to do this in our step-by-step guide on changing your favicon.

7. How to add a page to WordPress

Pages form the backbone of your site structure. Naturally, it is quite important to know how to add a page in WordPress. Luckily, it’s quite easy. Just follow our instructions, and you’ll be adding pages to your WordPress site in no time.

To add a page, do this or check out the free WordPress for beginners training:

  1. Access the Page editing screen
    To access the page editing screen, hover over the Pages menu item in the Admin menu and choose the Add New tab from the flyout menu.
  2. Add a title
    In the editing screen, you will see a block with the text Add title. Add the title of your page there. Click enter to create a new block.
  3. Add content
    Add the content of your page by choosing the appropriate block. If you want to add text, choose the Paragraph block. To add a subheading, choose the Heading block. Choose an appropriate new block for each new type of content you want to add. For example, add an Image block for an image, or a Video block to add a video to your page.
  4. Preview the page
    When you’re done adding content to the page in the editor, we’d advise previewing what the page will look like on your site. To do that, click the Preview button in the top right corner of the screen.
  5. Publish the page
    When you’re satisfied with the preview, all you need to do is click on the Publish button. Your page will be published.

Curious for more? Check out this lesson on creating pages in WordPress of the free WordPress for beginners course.

8. How to delete a page in WordPress

You might think deleting a page from your site is as easy as just hitting that delete button. But with deleting a page, you’ll also delete one or more URLs. This usually results in a ‘404 not found’ error… Which isn’t great, neither for visitors, nor Google. 

So, think before you delete a page. You have two valid options after deleting a page: redirecting it to another page or showing search engine spiders a 410 header, which indicates the page is deleted intentionally. Redirecting a deleted page is the best choice when you have other content on your site that is similar to the deleted content. The goal still is to provide the user with the information he or she was looking for. If there’s no other page that answers the user’s question, you need to decide if you want to improve the existing page or show a 410 header instead. You can set such a header in code, but it’s much easier to do with one of the many redirect plugins for WordPress.

Redirect a page
There are different kinds of redirects, but a 301 redirect is what you should use when you redirect the deleted page to another one. This redirect, called a permanent redirect, makes sure the link value of the old page will be assigned to the new URL. You can redirect posts or pages easily with the Yoast SEO redirect manager, as it will ask you what to do with a URL when you delete a page. Just enter the replacing URL and you’re done!

Show a 410 Content deleted header
Is there no other page on your site that will give the reader the information he or she is looking for? Then it’s better to delete or improve that page. In case of deleting, you’ll need to send a ‘410 content deleted’ header. By using this HTTP status code, you’ll let Google know that you removed the URL on purpose and that Google can remove the URL from its index faster. In the  Yoast SEO redirect manager, you can also choose the option to show a ‘410 content deleted’ page after you’ve deleted a page.

9. How to change the font size in WordPress

What if the WordPress theme you’ve chosen is perfect — except for one little thing? The font size is just a little bit off. Do you need to find yourself a completely new theme because of this? Of course not! Changing the font size in your WordPress theme is relatively easy, but it does involve a little bit of CSS coding. We’ll help you! These are the steps you need to take to change the font size in WordPress:

  1. First, you’ll have to identify what the current font size is. You can do this by opening the Inspector of your browser. When you right-click on the text you’d like to see in a different font size, you’ll be greeted with a menu that will have a direct link to your browser inspector tool. They look different from browser to browser, but they all work in a similar fashion. In Chrome, the menu item is called Inspect and in Firefox Inspect Element. Go ahead and click on that.
  2. Next up is finding the relevant CSS code that dictates the current font size. You’ll be looking for a section inside the Inspector you’ve just activated on the right-hand side of the screen called Styles. 
  3. Below that, you’ll see lines of code that match the element you’ve clicked on. You’ll see a line that has something like font-size: 14px or font-size: 1rem. 
  4. You can manually change the value of that line of code to, for instance, font-size: 16px. You’ll immediately see that change reflected in the open screen of your website. This is how you can check which value works best for you. 
  5. Once you’ve made up your mind on what you’d like to change it to, it’s time to write that down. You’ll also have to save the CSS element in which you changed the value. Most of the time this will be either a p or an h2 or h2 if you’ve selected a title.
  6. You’ll need to entire CSS code snippet for our next step, but it will look like something like this: p {font-size: 16px;}
  7. The next step is to navigate to your WordPress dashboard and find the Customize menu option inside the Appearance menu. 
  8. Click that and you’ll see a preview of your site on the right-hand side of your screen and a menu on the left-hand side. Inside this menu, you’ll find the Additional CSS menu. 
  9. Click on that menu option and you’ll see an input field. Here, you can paste the CSS snippet you saved earlier. As soon as you’ve pasted it, you’ll see the effects reflected on the right-hand side of your screen. 
  10. If it has the desired effect, go ahead and save your settings by clicking the Publish button inside the Customizer section. Afterwards, you click on the plus ( + ) sign in the top left-hand side of the Customizer to close the customizer screen. That’s it — you’ve now successfully changed the font size of your WordPress site.

Many themes have a so-called footer. The footer at the bottom of your pages is a good location to add some links to the less prominent content on your site, such as your address and contact information, terms of service and privacy policy. Not every theme has one, and the ones that do, often have different ways of activating and filling the footer. The Genesis theme, for instance, uses the Customizer settings to get this done, while other themes have a different setting for it. So, you best look around in the settings to find it. Here’s one of the most used ways of adding a footer to your theme.

  • Go to Appearance > Widgets from your admin dashboard.
  • On the left of this page are widgets that you can add to various places in your site’s theme. Those locations are listed on the right.
  • Find the widget that you want to add, and drag it to the location called “Footer”.
  • That’s it!

11. How to embed Youtube videos in WordPress

To really engage your audience, making your content visually appealing is key. One of the easiest ways to do this is by adding some images, or even a video. Embedding video hasn’t always been easy, but thanks to the block editor in WordPress 5.0, it is now! When you are editing a post or a page on your site, here’s how to do it:

  • Go to Youtube and find the video you want to add to your content.
  • Click the Share icon and copy the URL it displays.
  • Open the post or page on your site you want to add the video to.
  • Press the + icon where you want the video to appear to add a new block.
  • Paste the URL of the Youtube video, and it should automatically convert to an embedded video!
  • If you want, you can change the styling of the video to make it stand out.

12. How to do SEO on WordPress

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the practice of optimizing your site and content to reach a high position in the search results of Google or other search engines. WordPress itself is already pretty SEO-friendly, but it still pays off to do WordPress SEO. Let’s look at a few important SEO aspects.

Technical SEO

An important first step to take when optimizing your WordPress site, is to make sure everything ‘under the hood’ of your website is in good shape. Technical SEO encompasses many things, such as:

Content SEO

Besides working on your site’s technical side, you should also optimize your content. There are three pillars of content SEO:

Holistic SEO

At Yoast, we believe in holistic SEO: ranking by being the best result. That’s why, in our opinion, flawless user experience (UX) should be part of your SEO strategy. We also believe that websites should be usable for everyone, which is why accessibility matters.

There are also outside factors that affect your (WordPress) SEO, such as link building, social media, and local SEO. We call this off-page SEO. While it can take some effort, working on this aspect of SEO for your WordPress site is also part of a holistic SEO strategy. 

Yoast SEO

As you can see, there are several sides of SEO, and it’s a lot of work to keep everything on track. Luckily, the Yoast plugin will help you work on many aspects, from site structure to content optimization to technical settings. That’s why every website needs Yoast SEO!

Keep reading: WordPress SEO: the definitive guide »

The post How to use WordPress: Answering 12 common WordPress questions appeared first on Yoast.

15 questions about ranking factors – Yoast webinar recap

People are always talking about ranking factors. You know, the secret ingredients to Google’s magic algorithmic formula. If you know them and find a way to please these factors, you’re well on your way to that coveted number one spot — or so people seem to think. In general, chasing all these individual ranking factors is not a good tactic. Focusing on building the best site is. We thought it’d be a cool idea to play a game of “is-a-ranking-factor” in our latest webinar. Here are the results!

Haven’t watched the webinar?

If you haven’t watched the ranking factor webinar, please do. Jono Alderson gives an incredible introduction to ranking factors, why people are talking about it, and what we should be talking about. After that, Jono and Joost get to pick cards with questions about possible ranking factors. Their answers are very insightful! You can find it on YouTube and embedded below.

The ranking factor FAQ

To guide you through this minefield, we collected some of the ranking factors we mentioned on the show in this FAQ. Let’s kick things off with an answer to the question: What are ranking factors?

What are ranking factors?

Ranking factors are all the elements that search engines take into account to rank a specific page in the search results. This concerns technical considerations, content quality, site structure, links, user signals, user experience, reputation and many, many other elements. The number of factors that search engines take into account is unknown but run in the hundreds and maybe thousands.

Is user experience a ranking factor?

Joost de Valk: User experience is a ranking factor. User experience, however, is not something you can rate on a 0 to 10 scale. The problematic thing with a lot of these factors is that they’re all both direct and indirect ranking factors. If your user experience is horrible, no one will ever link to you. If your user experience is excellent, probably more people are willing to recommend you to their friends, search for you again and go back to your website. All these things tie in together.

If UX is a ranking factor how does Google determine that?

Jono Alderson: This is interesting because they’re not on your site measuring your site are they? So there’s a lot of conspiracy theories that they might read your Google Analytics or insights from Chrome, but that’s probably not true. What they are looking at when they visit your site is content, structure, speed, layout, color schemes et cetera. Not only that, but they’re also looking for those critical short clicks, bounce backs and pogo-sticking. They do check if people visit five other web sites when they visit this one. They’re analyzing their own search results. But it’s hard for them to quantify UX because they’re not there. They’re trying to work it out from the outside in.

Is word count a ranking factor?

Jono: There’s not one true answer for this. The point is, you need the right amount of content for answering the question that the user has. There’s no answer to how many words a post should need. There’s no obvious maximum and more isn’t necessarily better but more than enough is a good answer. If you can write 500 words on a topic and that feels right, then definitely don’t stop at 200. But in some cases, a short answer is what you want. 

Joost: At some point, I chose to put a minimum word count into Yoast SEO for a reason. I think most algorithms still need a bit of content to be able to determine a topic. If you don’t have enough content, then determining a topic becomes very hard. So don’t get too hung up about an absolute amount.

Is the weather a ranking factor?

Joost: If you think about this you’d say no, of course not. The weather doesn’t impact rankings. That’s true, not directly. But if you sell air-conditioning, people search differently during a heat wave than in regular weather conditions. Now, they’re looking for “ships today” or “delivered by tomorrow.” So it’s an outside factor. The weather influences the way people click. It changes their behavior and that click behavior can dramatically impact rankings quite quickly. All because of how Google works with these things. So the weather can influence rankings, but the question is can you play into it in a good way. That’s probably a lot harder, although not impossible.

Is bold text a ranking factor?

Jono: I think once upon a time somebody thought it was. People thought it was a good idea to put the keywords they want to rank for in bold because Google would  “recognize” those and deem them important. I don’t think it ever worked like that. Somehow, there are still people doing it. Maybe it correlates as being a _bad_ ranking factor. If you’re bolding your keywords instead of thinking about how to make this text good and readable, you’re probably making things worse.

Is bounce rate a ranking factor?

Joost: I think that bounce rate is a result of a lot of things happening on your site. It’s a very measurable thing and it’s one of the results of good user experience. Bounce rate is often misunderstood. There’s a couple of different things at play here. People search, then click on your website and going back to the search results and click on the next result. They didn’t find a result they liked so they bounced back to SERPs. This is called pogo-sticking and I think that is an important thing to look at.

It’s also about bounce rate in general, because there might be a certain number of people who come to your site and immediately click away because of whatever it is you have on your site, whether that is a pop-up or you have a horrible design. Fixing your bounce rate by genuinely improving your site is helpful and it will help you regardless of whether your rankings get better. 

Jono: Obviously, there are scenarios where bounce rate is fine. If you have a great article that answers the question the user has they come to read it and go away. That’s not a bad experience, because that’s what we want to happen. Plus, there’s something worth dwelling on here, which is the mental model we all have that somebody searches something and then clicks on a result isn’t how people behave. They search than change their search, they search again, they click on five different results and they see all these different brands and all these different pages and it’s that experience that decides whether they bounce and how they feel about the experience. That’s how we need to be thinking about search and optimizing. It’s not just why did they bounce from my site, but what was their experience and what role did I play in it.

Is site speed a ranking factor?

Jono: Yes, site speed is a ranking factor. Google has confirmed in various publications that site speed affects the ranking position of your site. Now they do say that’s only the case when you are very slow, so it only affects a tiny percentage. But site speed is a huge part of user experience. All research says that people prefer fast web sites. So even if site speed isn’t a huge ranking factor the experience users have of your site is. It means they’re more likely to read, less likely to bounce, more likely to link, etc. It is a huge part of user experience.

Is having a meta description a ranking factor?

Joost: The question is, does having a meta description by itself make you rank better? I don’t know whether we can answer that with a yes or no. If you’re lucky, your pages get a meta description in the search results underneath the title of your site. If you’re lucky, because in a lot of cases Google will show something else. So changing it might not directly impact what’s shown there. If it’s shown there and it’s good, it might influence the CTR from the SERPs to your website. So it might influence the number of people reaching your site, therefore, it might help your rankings overall et cetera.

Is having a progressive web app (PWA) a ranking factor?

Jono: Regarding progressive web apps, if you do it well and you take advantage of the technology, maybe that will affect your rankings, but is it a ranking factor? You might become eligible for rich results or use functionality that’s integrated into the search results. You might get the ability to book your restaurant directly from the search results, which might mean more people have a good experience, which gets you more good reviews, which might make you rank higher. It’s a technological platform, it’s not a thing that ranks you better or not but it unlocks capabilities for sure.

Can Google understand text and evaluate the quality of a text?

Marieke: I do think that Google knows what quality text is. They employ linguists. They know about language. They know that people can only have twenty words in their short-term memory, so longer sentences will be hard to read.

Joost: One of the things that our linguistic team learned while doing research, is that it’s hard to get the topic out of a text if the text is poorly written. So even if a text is more eloquent and uses more fancy words, it might actually be harder to figure out what the text is about. I think that good, readable and understandable text has a higher chance of getting Google to understand what it’s about.

Does CSS styling or the visual layout of the page influence ranking?

Jono: Google tries to understand pages like humans do. They have a famous patent called The Reasonable Surfer. Here, they look at the layout of the page and try to assess what’s what. They know that a link in a photo is probably less relevant than a link in the header. They go further than that. We know they render the page, we know they process and parse all the CSS, we know that broken layouts and hiding things impact things. So yeah, they are looking at the design. How that manifests in the system: who knows. Your CSS might impact your rankings. So if you have an ugly shade of pink as the background for your page or all your stuff is moving or half of it is invisible, that’s an issue.

Is having multiple languages a ranking factor if you offer products in more than one language?

Joost: I don’t think it’s necessarily a ranking factor. I do think that if you do all the technical stuff around multilingual SEO well and you have a page ranking well in English and you have a page in Spanish then the fact that you have an English page that hreflangs correctly to that Spanish page might be helping that Spanish page. In that case, it’s not the fact that you have multiple languages, but it’s the fact that you have multiple places in which you can rank and gather links and whatnot. Having a translated version of your website can be beneficial.

All this talk about ranking factors and no mention of links?

Joost: I still feel that links are the result of other stuff you do. So if you do PR well, if you do your marketing well, if you do a lot of these things and then you get links as a result. It is important to remember that the time of getting links artificially is over. At least for the English-speaking market and maybe in a few other languages. Unfortunately, in other languages, like in Dutch, getting a ton of spammy links still works when the other sites aren’t very good. When you have strong competition it becomes impossible to rank against them.

A final note on ranking factors

When Google was much simpler, it was easy to spot the specific tactics or patterns which you could use to get ahead of the competition. You could tweak your page titles, get some more links and what not. But that’s not how it works anymore — Google is too sophisticated. The secret is to focus less on all these individual tactics and focus more on becoming the best result for your users.

Google doesn’t want site owners trying to reverse-engineer how they rank sites. They simply want better sites. They want better results for their users and that makes it harder to know what will have impact and what not. It also means that you’ll almost always benefit from improving your site. Understand your audience and solve their problems.

We don’t want to say that ranking factors don’t exist. They do exist. They’re real, but we are saying that if you’re focusing on which ranking factors you should be optimizing for you’re probably missing the big picture. You need to work on the overall quality of your website. Every one of your pages has to be awesome and there’s no faking that. You have to be the best result for each phrase you want to be found for. Getting all of that right requires a lot of hard work and a holistic approach to SEO.

The post 15 questions about ranking factors – Yoast webinar recap appeared first on Yoast.

Let us care for your site: Yoast SEO Care

As a hard-working site owner, it is often difficult to find the time to work on issues that are holding your company back. You might find that the blog posts of your competitor appear higher in search results, but you don’t know what to do about it. Or, you might discover that your site isn’t performing as well as you’d like, even after you’ve tried everything in your power.

For most people, time and lack of knowledge are the factors that limit their success. That’s why we’ve developed Yoast SEO Care. We take the most important technical tasks out of your hands and put them into the trusted hands of seasoned SEO professionals.

Let our SEO experts analyze and improve your site's SEO! »

Yoast SEO Care$ 199 - Buy now » Info

You’ve tried it all

It’s hard to figure out where something is going wrong. But, it’s even harder to discover where to make little changes that can have a dramatically positive effect on your results. You’ve tried to read up on SEO related subjects, but the information is scattered, outdated or just plain wrong. It’s difficult to cut through the bull to get to the real, actionable knowledge. Nobody has time for this, except for us: it’s our job.

What do I get out of it?

You’ve worked hard to build your business. Countless hours to make it grow, year after year. That’s something to be proud of. It takes a lot of effort to become successful. Your site is a crucial part of your business and therefore needs special attention. If you can’t find the time to work on it, or if you fear the technological side, then you need outside help.

By calling in Team Yoast, you’ll get back the freedom to work on other aspects of your business. The experts at Yoast have your back on the technical side of things. We have checked countless sites from clients big and small, from the little artisan bakery around the corner to some of the world’s leading online magazines. Not everyone can call Disney, NASA and StarWars.com their customers.

In addition to that, we know what it’s like to help people make their website better. Currently, the Yoast SEO plugin runs on more than five million sites. For years, Yoast has been helping people to get the most out of their sites and making SEO available for everyone.

This is what we do

Our experts check your site on more than 300 points. We can’t list every one on this page, but here are a couple of important focus points:

  • Technical SEO: are technical issues holding you back?
  • How does your content perform? And how to make it better?
  • Site speed: a slow site is inexcusable
  • Plus, we’ll install and configure Yoast SEO Premium

The extensive, monthly Yoast SEO Care package has even more checks, for instance:

  • Site structure: is your site and content structure correct?
  • Broken pages: customers must never stumble upon these
  • Mobile: how does your site function on mobile phones?
  • Site security: a secure site is a must-have

What you can expect

Besides the comforting feeling that a world-class SEO company is looking out for your painstakingly built site? A personal SEO expert will regularly check your site. He or she will fix issues, make enhancements and give you easy to understand advice that you can use to make your work even better. Following the check-up, your site is in perfect condition to take on any competition you might have.

Let our SEO experts analyze and improve your site's SEO! »

Yoast SEO Care$ 199 - Buy now » Info

Let’s get down to brass tacks

There are two Yoast SEO Care packages. Yoast SEO Basic Care is for site-owners who want a bit of guidance in their work. You still have to put in some work yourself. That’s fine if you have an understanding of SEO, but just need a little nudge. The monthly SEO Care packages gives our experts much more time to invest in your site, making it better in every possible way.

Yoast SEO Basic Care

  • Price: $249 per quarter
  • Quarterly checks (4)
  • Basic checks
    • Technical SEO
    • Content
    • Indexability
    • Site speed
  • Free Yoast SEO Premium license, plus installation

Yoast SEO Care

  • Price: $199 per month
  • Monthly checks (12)
  • All basic checks, plus extended checks
    • Security
    • Site structure
    • Keywords
    • Mobile
    • Duplicate content
    • UX & conversion
    • Meta data

All these checks will be done by a Yoast expert, who will also fix issues, if any, and improve the site in general. You will also receive updates on the progress of your site, plus actionable advice that you can easily implement yourself. In the end, your site is ready to outrank and outperform your competitors!

Ready to make your site a runaway success?

Do you lack the time and skills to take your site or business to the next level? Are you often banging your head on your desk in search of the right answer to a technical challenge? Do your competitors perform better and you can’t figure out how to beat them? Yoast SEO Care can help! Call in Team Yoast and be prepared for more traffic and more sales.

What is SEO?

SEO stands for ‘Search Engine Optimization’. It’s the practice of optimizing your web pages to make them reach a high position in the search results of Google or other search engines. SEO focuses on improving the rankings in the organic – aka non paid – search results. If you have a website and you want to get more traffic, it should be part of your marketing efforts. Here, I’ll explain what SEO is and how we approach it at Yoast.

Google’s algorithm

The rankings of these search results are determined by Google’s algorithm. Although Google’s algorithm remains secret, years of experience in SEO have resulted in a pretty good idea about the important factors. In our view, the factors in Google’s algorithm can be divided into two categories:

On-page SEO factors

The ranking of your website is partly decided by on-page factors. On-page SEO factors are all those things you can influence from within your actual website. These factors include technical aspects (e.g. the quality of your code and site speed) and content-related aspects, like the structure of your website or the quality of the copy on your website. These are all crucial on-page SEO factors.

Off-page SEO factors

In addition to on-page SEO factors, there are off-page SEO factors. These factors include links from other websites, social media attention, and other marketing activities outside your own website. These off-page SEO factors can be rather difficult to influence. The most important of these off-page factors is the number and quality of links pointing towards your site. The more quality, relevant sites that link to your website, the higher your position in Google will be.

Read more: Link building from a holistic SEO perspective »

Another off-page factor is your competition relating to the niche of your particular business. In some niches it is much harder to rank than in others. The competitiveness of your market therefore also has a major influence on your chances of ranking.

Holistic SEO

At Yoast, we practice what we call ‘holistic SEO‘. This means that your primary goal should be to build and maintain the best possible website. Don’t try to fool Google, but use a sustainable long-term strategy. Ranking will come automatically if your website is of extremely high quality. Google wants to get its users to the right place, as its mission is to index all the world’s online information and make it universally accessible and useful.

In addition to this, Google, of course, wants to make money. To achieve this, they have to make sure people keep using Google. This means that they’ll have to show people results they are looking for. So if your website is the best in your market, Google wants it to rank high in the results.

Permanently ranking well in Google demands an extensive SEO strategy focused on every aspect of your website and its marketing. The technical side, the User eXperience (UX), the content on your website: all need to be top notch. To keep ranking well in Google, you should develop – what we call – a holistic SEO approach.

Learning SEO

Our online SEO training courses teach you vital SEO skills you can apply immediately. Find out how to outrank your competition and become the best result through our training courses! Whether you’re a blogger, developer, online marketer, or own a business, big or small: we believe in SEO for everyone. We’ve got a great variety of courses, from Keyword Research, Site structure and SEO Copywriting to the more technical aspects of SEO: Structured data, multilingual SEO and Technical SEO training. There’s something for everyone, so be sure to check them out!

Conclusion

SEO is the practice of optimizing websites to make them reach a high position in Google’s – or another search engine’s – search results. At Yoast, we believe that holistic SEO is the best way to rank your website because you focus on making every aspect of your site awesome. Don’t use any black-hat SEO tricks, because eventually, this will have negative consequences for your rankings. Instead, practice sustainable SEO, with your user in mind, and you will benefit in the long run.

Keep reading: How to rank high in Google »

The post What is SEO? appeared first on Yoast.

6 steps to a successful link building strategy

Links are important for SEO. And link building should therefore definitely be part of your holistic SEO strategy. But more importantly, link building should be part of your growth strategy. Links should help generate traffic to your site directly. In this post, I’ll describe 6 important steps for a successful link building strategy, the holistic SEO way.Link building is part of your growth strategy

Link building as part of your growth strategy

Links will help your pages to rank higher in Google search results, this post explains why. That’s perfectly true. That, however, is not the only thing links do. Backlinks will also help in getting more (referral) traffic to your site via those links. When you determine your link building strategy you should keep in mind: the reason links were invented was to send you off to pages you might enjoy as well. Use link building as a strategy for the growth of your website audience and place links on sites that will actually generate traffic to your own site.

A good link, first and foremost, drives traffic to your site.

Step 1: get to know your audience

If you want your audience to grow, you need to find out how to expand your audience or how to find a new audience. You should therefore know two things: who is my audience right now and what does my ideal audience look like. At Yoast.com for example, we started out with an audience mainly consisting of (web) developers, but we aspired to reach an audience consisting of a more general group of WordPress users (whilst keeping our initial developers audience). We adapted our content to this new group of people, but in order to reach these ‘new’ audiences, links from other websites to our new (less nerdy) content were also important. You should do some research in order to get to know your audience.

Step 2: make a list of websites that appeal to your desired audience

If you have a clear picture of your present and desired audience in mind, you can make a list of websites that could possibly help you in reaching your new audience. Find those websites that already appeal to your desired audience. Links from these websites could help you to reach your new audience.

Step 3: write amazing content

In order to get other websites to link to your content, your content simply has to be amazing. And more importantly, it should appeal to the audience you’re aspiring to make your readers or buyers. Make sure your pieces and articles are well structured and nicely written.

Step 4: match content to websites

If you have written an awesome blog post, you should dive into the list you made as part of your growth strategy (step 2). Choose sites from that list that could possibly link to the article you have written. If you have a long tail keyword approach (writing about small and niche subjects) the number of websites which will be fit to link to your blog post will be small. Make an effort to find those websites that really fit the specific topic of your blog post or article. These websites will probably be very willing to link, as your blog post really fits their content. More importantly, visitors that will come to your website following that link will really be interested in the topic of your article (making chances of conversion and recurring visits much higher).

Step 5: reach out

If you’ve really put an effort in both writing content as well as finding websites that fit the content of your article, you should contact the website you would like to link to your site. Tell them about the content or product and ask them to write about it and link to it. Most people will be happy to write about your product if this means they’ll receive it for free! You can use email, but in many cases Twitter or even a phone call is a great way to contact people as well. Make sure to reach out in a personal way, never send out automated emails.

Step 6: use social media!

If your content is original and well structured, you’ll be able to reach new audiences (and get links) by using social media as well. Make sure you tweet about your blog, perhaps send some tweets to specific persons of whom you think they may like your article. Facebook is also a great way to get exposure for your articles (maybe… even promote it a bit?). And as many people like, tweet and share your articles, you’re bound to receive some more links as well.

Conclusion: link building is a growth strategy

A successful link building strategy should always be aimed to bring a new, aspired audience to your website. A (welcome) side effect will then be a higher ranking in Google. As long as you consider link building as a way to reach out to other sites in order to get more visitors from that site, you’re doing it the ‘right’ way.

Link building from a holistic SEO perspective

Link building isn’t easy. That doesn’t mean it’s rocket science, it means it takes a lot of work if you do it right. Link building done the wrong way can backfire, resulting in a ban from Google altogether. In this post, I’ll discuss our ideas about getting more backlinks: link building from a holistic SEO perspective.

Before we dive in, if you want to learn more about link building strategies and other essential SEO skills, you should check out our All-around SEO training! It doesn’t just tell you about SEO: it makes sure you know how to put these skills into actual practice!

How does a link help your page to rank well?

Let’s first discuss why link building is important for SEO. A link to your site helps in its ranking in four ways:

  • It adds value to the receiving page, allowing it to improve its visibility in the search engines.
  • It adds value to the entire receiving domain, allowing each page on that domain to improve its rank ever so slightly.
  • The anchor text of the link and the surrounding copy is an indication to the search engine of the topic of the website and more specifically the receiving page.
  • And obviously, people click on links, resulting in so-called direct traffic.

The value of a link for the receiving page is determined in part by the topic of the page the link is on. A link from a page with the same topic as the receiving page is of more value than a link from a page about an entirely different topic. Also, a link from within an article is worth way more than a link from a sidebar or a footer. And, in general, the more links there are on a page, the less each individual link is worth.

Bad reputation

Link building has got a somewhat nasty reputation. Once people noticed that backlinks from other sites resulted in higher rankings, they began to abuse this. They got links from sites that didn’t have any topical relation with their own site. In other cases, people bought links from other sites.

These shady links polluted the search engines. That is why Google started giving penalties to companies that bought links or used links from non-related websites (Google Penguin was all about this). If you got a penalty from Google, it’d be serious: your site would disappear from the search results.

The bad reputation of link building comes from companies who were a bit too enthusiastic about shady link building techniques and got penalties from Google. Does this mean that you shouldn’t do any link building at all? Of course not!

Read more: Link building: what not to do? »

Outreaching activity

Link building is – or should be – an outreaching activity. That means that you have to contact people and ask them to write about and link to your website. Usually, you will get better results if you contact people personally. That means writing emails and press releases, making phone calls, talking about your product. If your product and content are good, there will be people who would like to write about it. Most bloggers and journalists need content, so presenting your products to them could very well make them happy too!

Link building as part of a holistic SEO strategy

Holistic SEO means that you’ll do everything to make your website the best: you should show high-quality information, provide an excellent user experience, have the fastest website and so on. Link building will get easier if your website offers a great experience, just like your products and/or services. It’s far more likely that people are willing to write about and link to such a site.

Link building should feel like a normal marketing activity and not like a trick. Do remember that link building should generate links that get your target audience to your site. Those are the people that will read your posts, subscribe to your newsletter or buy your products. Those people will make your business thrive.

Keep reading: 6 steps to a successful link building strategy »

The post Link building from a holistic SEO perspective appeared first on Yoast.

New Yoast eBook: UX & Conversion from a holistic SEO perspective

As of today, we offer a brand new eBook ‘UX & Conversion from a holistic SEO perspective‘. This eBook focuses on many different aspects of UX and Usability and gives great insights in Conversion Rate Optimization and A/B-testing. The eBook is offered for only $14 the entire month of October (after that the price will be $19).

About ‘UX & Conversion from a holistic SEO perspective’

We cover the basics, but also provide more in-depth information on User Experience and Conversion. The book consists of five sections: an introduction, a section about general usability issues, a section about usability of specific pages, a section about mobile UX and a final section about conversion research. The chapters are all written by Joost de Valk, Michiel Heijmans, Thijs de Valk and Marieke van de Rakt. The eBook consists of 128 pages, you will receive a PDF, a Kindle version and an ePub version.

eBook UX Conversion

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Why buy this eBook

UX is important for both conversion as well as SEO. We consider UX as a very important part of a holistic SEO strategy. In order to keep ranking well in Google, you should continuously invest in decent UX on your website. Our eBook will give practical tips and useful insights in both UX and conversion.