If you’re serious about your SEO, you’ve probably set (implicit) goals on what you want to achieve. Perhaps you want to rank in the top ten search results for a specific keyword. Maybe you want your organic traffic to rise with a certain number. But what do you do if you are unable to meet your goals? Simply reset your goals? Or do you adapt and improve your SEO strategy? And how should you do that? In this post, I’ll talk you through the most important and effective tactics in content SEO strategy that’ll help you to achieve your SEO goals.

Why set SEO goals at all?

If you set SEO goals, chances are much higher your content SEO strategy will be successful. Specifying your goals will give you the motivation to meet those goals. They will give focus to your strategy. Also important, you’ll be able to measure the success of your SEO strategy, if you make your goals specific.

You could set goals for ranking top 10, top 5, top 3 or taking the number 1 position in the search engines for specific terms. You can also set goals for the amount of traffic you want to attract from the search engines. Make goals specific and put deadlines on them. That’ll help you become extra focused and determined to achieve your SEO goals.

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

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Not meeting your goals isn’t that bad…

It can be disappointing if you’re unable to meet your SEO goals, especially if you put a lot of effort into your content SEO strategy. No worries, though. The next step is to analyze what went wrong. If you analyze and evaluate properly, you’ll uncover valuable information. That information will help you to set realistic new goals and to improve your SEO strategy on all fronts.

Are all technical SEO aspects taken care of?

Make sure your technical SEO is in order. Yoast SEO takes care of these things for you. Still, you won’t be the first to accidentally have a noindex/nofollow tag in the wrong place. If you’re blocking – perhaps even without knowing it! – crawlers from your site, you’ll never rank high in Google.

Read more: ‘Technical pointers’ »

Evaluate your keyword research

A common mistake in content SEO is to aim for keywords that are simply too competitive to rank for. It’s understandable that we all want to rank for terms that generate the most traffic. Competition on those terms is killing, though. We can’t all rank for the same terms. If you are unable to meet your goals for certain keywords or keyphrases, you might be aiming too high.

Consider ranking for long tail keywords. The longer and more specific your keywords are, the less competitive they’ll be. If you focus on many of those long tail keywords, you can generate lots of traffic with those. And, after a while, you’ll be able to rank for more head terms as well, as your authority in your domain will increase.

Ranking for competitive search terms is always a longterm SEO strategy. I’m not saying you shouldn’t set goals to enter the top 5 in Google on a competitive term. I’m just saying that you should give yourself some time to achieve those goals. In the meantime, set goals on entering the top 5 in Google on more long tail and less competitive keywords. You’ll be able to celebrate successes while working towards your ultimate ranking goal.

Keep reading: ‘Keyword research: the ultimate guide’ »

Evaluate your content

Another reason you’re not ranking (yet) could be that your site lacks awesome and SEO-friendly content. A successful SEO strategy requires lots of great quality content. A few thin-content sales pages will not get you in Google’s top 10. You need to incorporate several awesome, informative cornerstone content pages. Besides that, writing informative, unique and well-optimized articles and blogposts will do the trick.

When tackling your content to achieve your goals, check the following things: Did you write multiple lengthy articles or blogposts? Are they optimized for the right search terms? Did you update old content? Writing SEO friendly content is a lot of work. It’ll pay off, but you need to make an effort. No shortcuts here.

Learn how to write engaging copy and how to organize it well on your site: Combine our SEO copywriting and Site structure training. »

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Update that site structure

A third reason why you’re not ranking well or attracting as much traffic as you’d like could be that your site’s structure isn’t up to scratch. If your website is about ballet shoes, you’re probably writing many related articles about ballet shoes. But you want to tell Google which of these articles is the most important. Otherwise, you will end up competing with your own content in the search results. That could result in lower rankings for all of your articles.

The best way to improve your site structure is to choose a cornerstone approach. Determine which article on each main topic you’re writing about is most important. Link from all other blogposts on that topic to your most important one. Our Yoast SEO plugin has several features to help you improve your site’s structure. Using these will do wonders for your SEO!

Conclusion

Whether you reach your goals or not isn’t the main issue; you just need to set them. If you don’t manage to reach those goals, it’s a good starting point to look for the reasons you did not meet them. And that’ll allow you to improve your SEO strategy.

Read on: ‘The ultimate guide to site structure’ »

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If you want to do high-quality keyword research, you’ll need a lot of time. Or a lot of people. Keyword research is a process which requires you to get inside the heads of your audience. You want to find out which words they are using. After that, you’ll need to analyze which keywords you should go after first. That’s difficult, as well as time-consuming. So, what to do if you don’t have that much time? Are there any shortcuts? In this post, I’ll talk you through the process of accelerating your keyword research.

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

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What is high-speed keyword research?

High-speed keyword research is keyword research that’s focused on quickly assessing which words are most viable to optimize website texts for. Without doing proper keyword research, your content SEO strategy could well be completely worthless. But high-speed keyword research allows for some shortcuts, without making too many concessions to the quality of your keyword research. You can save time on two aspects; firstly:  finding your keywords and secondly: evaluating which keywords to go after (first).

Quickly finding your keywords

You can use some practical tools that’ll make it much easier to find keywords. You will still have to make a short list yourself (no corners to cut there), but once you have ten to twenty proper keywords, you can use several tools to find similar keywords. Using these tools will significantly speed up the process of coming up with long lists of keywords.

Tools like Übersuggest offer clusters of keywords. If you fill in a keyword your audience uses, Übersuggest will give you keywords they’ll probably also be searching for. In other words, this tool generates keywords that are similar to the keyword you’ve come up with. Such a tool will easily supply you with many alternatives, once you’ve come up with a few good keywords.

There are many tools like Übersuggest. We particularly like Yoast Suggest Expander. Yoast Suggest uses the Google Suggest Keyword expander. It’s a helpful tool to come up with many (long tail) keywords.

Tools are incredibly useful, and we actively use them at Yoast as well, but you should never lose track of what you’re doing. Keyword research always has to do with trying to make sense of the search questions of your audience. Getting inside the heads of your audience usually involves talking to that audience. No app or tool can ever replace that process entirely.

Quickly assessing viability of keywords

Assessing which keywords to go after first is a crucial second step in your keyword research. This is difficult: not everyone is good at estimating which keywords their site will be able to rank for. If your niche is very competitive, you probably shouldn’t go after the most competitive head terms. It will be really hard to rank for those.

Moz has a very nice tool which gauges how competitive your keyword is. Keywords that are very difficult to rank for, are probably not the ones you want to go after (unless you have a very authoritative, high-ranking website already). The Moz tool will probably help you speed up your keyword research. It does come with a little price tag, however.

If you don’t want to spend any money on a keyword tool, you can simply google the keyword you want to rank for. Does your site ‘fit in’ with the results Google shows you? Or are the sites on the results pages much larger or more well-established than your website? Go after more long tail and less competitive search terms if your website is too small to compete with the websites in the search results.

Read more: ‘Why focus on long tail keywords’ »

Conclusion

Keyword research is something that needs focus and attention. It’s something you should take seriously. Without proper keyword research, you could well be optimizing your texts for the wrong search terms. Even though keyword research is the first and most important step in your SEO strategy, there are a few corners to cut. Using tools to make a long list of potential keywords is a great way to speed up your keyword research. When deciding which keywords to go after, you could also use a tool, but simply googling your keywords will also give you insight into the difficulty to rank for a certain search term.

Keep reading: ‘Keyword Research: Ultimate guide’ »

 

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If you want to grow your audience, it could be a great strategy to focus on a different language. Creating content in a foreign language can be quite a challenge though. In this post, I’ll discuss three ways to create content in a foreign language. I’ll also share some useful tips on how to write in a language that’s not your mother tongue.

Multilingual keyword research

SEO copywriting always starts with keyword research. Creating copy in a foreign language makes no exception to that rule. Jesse, our academy lead, wrote an awesome post in which he explains that creating copy in a foreign language could have large implications for your SEO. If you’re going to aim your content at a new foreign audience, you need to find out what words they are using when they search in Google. You’ll have to get in the heads of your foreign audience.

Learn how to write engaging copy and how to organize it well on your site: Combine our SEO copywriting and Site structure training. »

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Take cultural differences into account

Next to using the words your audience uses, you’ll need to make sure that the content you create matches the local niche of your audience. If you’re a British company and you want to get started on the French market, you’ll encounter some cultural differences. If you are a British company and you want to get started in the Chinese market, you’ll come across some really big cultural differences. Being aware of cultural differences is important if you’re going to create content in a foreign language.

Three options to create content

After you’ve focused on your multilingual keyword research, and on the possible cultural differences, you’ll want to start creating content. There are three ways to create new content:

Translate

You can translate the content you already have on your original website in the language of your choice. You can do that yourself (provided that you have mastered the language) or you can outsource this. Translating is the cheapest way to create new content. That’s a huge plus for this strategy. However, it hardly leaves any room for the keyword research you’ve done, nor for possible cultural differences.

Write new content

The second strategy for creating content in a foreign language is by writing entirely new content. Again, you can do that yourself (provided that your writing skills in the new language are up to scratch) or you can outsource this. If you choose to outsource, I would advise you to give a detailed outline of what you want your article to say. Native writers are usually best at embedding an article in a local culture. They can use examples of current affairs in a specific country. That’ll make the copy appealing.

Transcreate

The third option for creating content in a new language is a combination of the two other strategies mentioned: transcreation. A blog post from your ‘old’ website will be the inspiration for a new article or blog post. However, keyword research and cultural differences are taken into account. The content will not be translated literally, but in the end, the articles will pretty much have the same message. This strategy is probably is the most efficient way of creating new content in a foreign language. You do not have to come up with all new ideas, but the local culture and the specific words of your audience are taken into account.

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

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Tips for writing in a foreign language

You can only write content yourself if your writing skills in the new language are up to scratch. Otherwise, you should outsource the writing. Writing in a language that’s not your mother tongue can be quite hard. I know from experience. So, what can you do to improve your writing?

Read a lot… and after that, read some more

The best thing you can do is to read a lot. Of course, you need to read texts in the language you want to master. Read blog posts, newspaper articles, novels. Your brain will recognize patterns of words and memorize phrases, sayings, figures of speech and preferred word order.

Practice and study

Reading will help you to passively use the language. Practising by actually writing stuff will improve your skills even further. Write, correct and write some more. It will also pay off to study the basic grammar and spelling rules before you start putting pen to paper. That’ll help you to avoid the most common mistakes.

Use a tool or a native speaker

There are lots of tools out there that’ll help you with grammar and spelling in a foreign language. I always use Grammarly to correct my English. Tools like this are helpful. Another way to get feedback on your writing is to ask a native speaker for feedback. Native speakers will also be able to correct spelling and grammar, and besides that, they could give valuable tips on style and sentence construction.

Conclusion

Adding a language to your website could very well open your site to a whole new audience. Creating content in a foreign language can be quite a challenge, though. If you want to create this content yourself, your writing skills in the foreign language should be rather good. In any case, you should always do keyword research in a foreign language and take into account any cultural differences there may exist.

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

 

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If you make a website from scratch, you need to take a few SEO related things into account. It’s incredibly important to do this right from the start, as that will prevent a vast number of future headaches. Things like speed optimization and the right use of heading tags help to improve your website for both your visitors and Google. Now, I am sure you have covered the technical basics we described in the first part of this article. Just be aware of what you are doing, add focus and you’ll be fine. The greatest challenge begins when you start adding content to your website.

In this article, we’ll go over a number of steps everyone who makes a website should take when optimizing content.

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Filling the website with content

You can optimize the entire technical side of your site and still find it lost on page two or more in Google. SEO isn’t a trick. It isn’t something your web developer can do for you. It’s something you can get guidance in, for instance with our SEO courses, or in our Yoast SEO (Premium) plugin. But first and foremost, SEO is Seriously Effortful Optimization. A continuous process, and something you, as a website owner, should make a strategy for. If you make a website, be prepared to write valuable content about the topic/purpose of your website. And that process starts with a bit of research.

Keyword research

Speaking from experience, I have often seen product manufacturers describe a product from their point of view. Let me give you an example: our Yoast SEO Premium plugin has an internal linking feature, which analyzes what posts on your website best match the content you are writing in your new post. You can copy that link from the WordPress sidebar and paste it into your post, to optimize your site structure. How awesome is that? Well, it might not sound so awesome to the user. They’re probably wondering what exactly they’re gaining with this feature. From a developer point of view, the description matches the feature. But for the user, the description should be:

Our internal linking tool allows you to create valuable links to all pages of your website, which will help these pages to rank in Google.

And even that might be a bit technical. In your keyword research you should focus on customer lingo first: how do people call your product? Find the right keywords and start writing. Want to learn more about keyword research? Take our SEO copywriting course for more insights.

Setting up the menu and site structure

In that same SEO copywriting training, we continue the SEO process for your website with the next step: site structure. You can even take our site structure course for more on this subject. Don’t underestimate the importance of a good structure. It’s the foundation of you visible site. If you set up a proper site structure right when you start a website, you’ll make optimizing your content so much easier.

As Marieke put it:

Your users need the structure to navigate through your site, to click from one page to the other. And Google uses the structure of your site in order to determine what content is important and what content is less important.

That’s a quote from our ultimate guide to site structure. It’s as simple as that. Optimizing the site structure influences SEO, UX, crawling of your pages and, let’s not forget, the right structure makes maintenance so much easier.

Good site structure will also help highlight the most important pages for your users. Include these pages in your (main, sub or footer) menu. As with customer lingo, use the data collected from Google Analytics to find the pages your visitors like most, and use these in your menu. Read more about optimizing your menu here.

Learn how to write engaging copy and how to organize it well on your site: Combine our SEO copywriting and Site structure training. »

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One page per topic

Keyword research is done, the structure is set up, so now we can start writing. And we’ll create one page per topic. Need more pages to elaborate on a topic? Then feel free to do so, but use a new, long tail keyword for every new page.

Using one focus keyword per page, you force yourself to make a hierarchy in your collection of keywords, something you already started when doing your keyword research.

Small step back to keyword research

Now I see you thinking about this focus keyword and the analyses in our plugin during your writing process. You know that feeling when you check keyword density and wonder what to do with synonyms? The first thing to do here is to check Google Trends. Let’s say we optimize for (just an example!) “create a website”. A synonym is “start a website”. Google Trends tells us the main keyword should be “create a website”, see graph here:

Make a website - Google Trends

But we use “start a website” a lot ourselves and want to include that phrase in our post as well. In the Yoast SEO Premium plugin, I can simply insert a second focus keyword. Overall keyword density should be right in that case (check both keyword tabs), as we know Google treats them as the same keyword: If I do a search for “start a website”, “create a website” is also a highlighted (bold) keyphrase in the results. “Make a website” is also a valid synonym. Just a small peek into the way I approach this myself.

Title tags

Using the focus keyword we mentioned earlier, creating a great title for your page is easy. Google still values that title highly, so put some effort in improving it. We usually use the title as the main article heading (or the H1 we mentioned in part 1 of this post). Besides that, it’s used as the most important part of the actual <title> tag, the tag that also defines your title in Google’s search result pages. This tag is not only visible when someone shares your post on Facebook or Twitter, it’s also used when someone bookmarks your site.

Optimize the title page according to these guidelines » 

Optimize your content

Learn how to write engaging copy and how to organize it well on your site: Combine our SEO copywriting and Site structure training. »

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Here we go: use Yoast SEO to optimize your page’s content. I’m just going to tell you that again. And if you don’t use WordPress, that’s not even an excuse anymore. We have Yoast SEO for Magento 2 and Yoast SEO for TYPO3 these days (created with our partner MaxServ).

Our SEO analysis will tell you, every time you write a post or page, what can be improved on your content:

Yoast SEO analysis

Read our SEO blog, as there’s a ton of free information about content optimization in there. And subscribe to our newsletter to keep your knowledge up to date.

How about meta descriptions?

I felt the need to at least mention meta descriptions here. Most SEO plugins, plans or whatever, mention meta descriptions as a must-do. I agree to a certain level. If you can write a nice, optimized ‘invitation’ to your website, you should most definitely add a meta description to your product pages. Usually, there is so much unrelated content on a product page (dimensions, manufacturer info, terms of service, etc.) that there’s always a risk that Google creates a meta description for that product page that doesn’t give the right information. So it makes sense to serve your own.

On regular pages and posts, Google will most probably grab a piece of related content, including the keyword used in the search query. That makes a lot of sense for news sites, for example. Still, I recommend adding a meta description to all your important pages. Facebook will use it as a description as well. And usually, when you are setting up a page on your website, it’s not that much work to add it, right?

Go make a website!

So, with this second part about content optimization, we have covered the very basics of SEO related things you should take into account when you make a website. I am sure you can come up with more insights, more tools or any other help for people that want to create a new website. Please feel free to add these in the comment section below this post, our readers (and I) will appreciate that!

Now go start that website!

Read on: ‘The ultimate guide to SEO copywriting’ »

 

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Ranking in the search engines can be hard. Especially if the competition in your niche is high. As you probably know, you should start with doing your keyword research: getting inside the heads of your audience, knowing exactly what words they use and what they are searching for. But then what? How do you choose which keywords to optimize for? Should you focus on long tail keywords, or go straight for the most competitive head terms? In this post, I’ll help you to determine your strategy for deciding which keywords you want to optimize your content for.

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

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Competition is key

Whether you should go after long tail keywords, which are specific and consist of multiple words, or after head terms largely depends on your competition. If the competition in your niche is high, you’ll have a hard time ranking on competitive head terms. If you have little competition, you’ll even be able to rank for head terms. It sounds so very easy!

In our SEO copywriting course, our students do a bit of keyword research as an assignment. We ask them to estimate their chances to rank in the search engines. People aren’t very good in assessing their chances to rank. Most people largely overestimate their chances and focus on head terms that won’t attract much traffic to their site.

So how do you determine your competition? What should you be looking for? There are two strategies:

  • Google and analyze your competition
  • Try, evaluate and try again.

I will discuss both strategies in more detail below.

Google and analyze your competition

Google the keywords that came out of your keyword research. Start with your most ‘head’ term. The most general one. Check out the search engine result page (SERP). These are the websites you’ll be competing against once you optimize your content for such a keyword. To check whether or not you’ll be able to compete with the websites on that result page, analyze the following things:

  • Are the websites professional websites? Are they company websites? Ask yourself whether or not you are an ‘equal’ to these companies. Does your website belong among these sites? Is your company of similar size and does it have as much influence in your niche?
  • Does the SERP show well-known brands? It’s harder to rank when you’re competing against sites with strong brand-names. If brands are known from TV or radio commercials, your chances to rank will become even smaller.
  • What about the content of these websites? Is the content well written and well optimized? How long are the articles on the sites? If your competition has poor content, you’ll have a larger chance to outrank them!
  • Are there any ads in Google? And how much is the pay-per-click in Google adwords? Search terms that have a high pay-per-click are usually also harder to rank for in the organic results.

Read more: ‘Keyword Research Tools’ »

One simple question

It all boils down to a single question: how does my website hold up, compared to the websites in the SERPs? Are you of equal size and marketing budget: go ahead and focus on those head terms. If not: try a more long tail keyword.

The next step is to do the same analysis with a keyword that’s slightly more long tail. Longer and more specific search terms will generate less traffic, but ranking on those terms will be much easier. Focusing on a whole bunch of long tail keywords combined could very well attract a lot of traffic. Once you’ve managed to rank for those long tail keywords, aiming for more head terms will become a bit easier.

Try, evaluate and try again

Once you’ve done a thorough analysis of your chances to rank on a specific term, the next step is to write an amazing article and optimize it accordingly. And hit publish. Make sure you’ll attract some nice backlinks. And wait a little while. Check out your rankings. Does your article pop up? Did it hit the first page of Google’s SERPs? Or is it hidden away on page 2 or 3? Make sure to evaluate your articles in the SERPs. Google the terms you’ve optimized your articles for. Check whether or not your SEO is paying off!

If you’re not able to rank on the first page, try to write another article, focused on a (even) more long tail keyword. Make it a little bit more specific, more niche. And see how that goes. Evaluate again. Continue this process until you hit that first page of the SERPs!

Conclusion

Figuring out which keywords you should focus on to get the most traffic to your site can be rather daunting. For many people, it’s hard to assess their chances to rank in the search engines. And even with the tips in this article, it’ll remain hard. But if you get it right, it’ll definitely pay off! So, after thoroughly analyzing your competition, start testing. Write an article and see how it ranks. After evaluating your rankings, adapt your strategy. You’ll get there eventually. If you want some help with your keyword research strategy, check out our SEO copywriting course. And if you really want to take your keyword research to the next level, consider doing Roy Huiskes’ keyword research workshop at YoastCon!

Keep reading: ‘Keyword Research: the Ultimate Guide’ »

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This is the third post in an 8-part series on how to rank your business for local searches at Google. Previously, I’ve listed the most important aspects that influence your local ranking and discussed how to get the most out of Google My Business. Here, I’ll focus on another essential asset for local SEO: optimizing your website for local search. Learn why and how to do that!

Your website is one of your most important pieces of digital equity, and one of the fundamental components of a successful local marketing stack. It’s a crucial communication vehicle from you to your customers. Regardless of changing consumer search and social media behavior over time, it will remain a place that consumers visit. It’s the place to get more information about and connect with your business.

All that being said, it may surprise you to learn that your website makes up a relatively small part of Google’s local ranking algorithm. Google is famously secretive about how it ranks local businesses. But the experts surveyed for the Local Search Ranking Factors peg website influence at only around 14% for local pack results, and only 24% for local organic results. More on the distinction later in this post.

Your website is the ranking factor over which you have complete control, however. This makes it an ideal asset from which to begin your local marketing campaigns. Let’s take a look at the most important website optimization criteria (also known as on-site optimization or on-page optimization). Improving your performance across each of these criteria will help you rank better for local searches, and attract more customers.

Crawlability

Google has built a giant database of hundreds of trillions of webpages which its algorithm then analyzes and ranks. It does this by sending out scores of digital robots, or “spiders,” which visit page after page. They “click on” the links on each page to see where they lead. We refer to this activity as “crawling.” 

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Technical issues

As a business owner, you want to make sure that Google’s spiders are crawling your website and storing its contents in their database appropriately. The quickest way to assess your website’s crawlability for major hurdles to Google’s spiders is to enter this search at Google: [site:yourdomain.com]. For example:

number of results in search

Before you browse the list of results, take a look at the number that Google returns and judge whether it’s more-or-less accurate. For example, if you have a 5-page website and Google returns 1000 pages, or if you have a 1000-page website and Google only returns 5 pages, you have a major technical issue with your site. You may want to dive into that with the Yoast SEO plugin, or even bring in outside assistance.

You should also register your website with Google Search Console for additional technical advice and other testing tools. You can read more about GSC here.

Site architecture

The term site architecture, for the purposes of this article, refers to the arrangement of the functional and visual aspects of your website. Essentially it’s the hierarchy of pages within your site, and the hierarchy of content within each page.

When it comes to local search, there are a couple of key best practices to follow for your site architecture.

First, place your basic contact information in the header (usually at the top righthand side) and footer of your website. You want to make it as easy as possible for customers who land on your website to contact you or to make a transaction. No matter what page they enter first.

My friend Willi Galloway’s Perch Furniture website does an excellent job with this feature.

It’s also a good idea to have a dedicated “Contact us” page with more detailed information about your business. Make sure you link to this page from your homepage, and ideally from your primary navigation menu as well.

Contact page content

Your contact page should contain the same information you submitted to Google My Business (address, phone number, and hours). It should also contain an email address or contact form for customers who prefer email to voice calls. If you collect reviews and testimonials from customers, this is a good page to include at least a handful of those.

If you’re a traditional brick-and-mortar business, you should include written driving directions from population centers near you. These driving directions not only help prospective customers but also help Google identify markets you serve (more on this in the Relevance section below). Include an embedded Google Map too, as Google may track clicks for driving driving directions as a ranking factor.

If you’re a Service Area Business, your contact page should mention the major surrounding towns and cities that your business serves. You might even consider building a unique page for each of these major towns and cities. Link to them from your contact page and fill them with case studies and testimonials from customers in those markets.

The Perfectly Optimized Local Landing Page, by Bowler Hat and Search Engine Land

 

Marcus Miller of Bowler Hat Marketing has put together this excellent example above.

Advice for businesses with multiple locations

If your business operates more than one physical location, it’s essential to create a unique page for each one. Including a unique page for each location helps your customers (and Google) avoid conflating contact information between them. It’s also the best way to expand your local ranking potential to multiple cities.

If you operate a handful of locations, link to the contact page for each one from the footer of each page of your website.  If you operate more than a handful, link to a store locator page from your primary navigation or other utility menu.

Special markup: Schema.org

Schema.org is a code protocol developed jointly by the world’s top search engines. It’s created to make it easier for companies to structure the data they present on their websites. One of the most widely-used schemas is for business contact information.

As my friend Mary Bowling says, marking up your contact information in schema.org is like “handing Google a business card”. Google’s pretty smart, but rather than leaving to chance that it will be able to crawl your contact info, why not do everything you can to guarantee it?

It’s not clear that marking up your contact information in schema.org will directly improve your rankings. But it can give your organic results some extra visual impact, increasing chances that customers will click on your result.

schema.org local seo

There are various schemas for LocalBusiness, with more added every year, including LegalService, AutomotiveBusiness, and more.

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

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Crawlability made easy: the Yoast Local SEO plugin

Whew! That’s a lot of advice to consider. Luckily, you can use the Yoast Local SEO plugin to take care of lots of it. You’ll have to add the proper pages to your WordPress-powered website and link them appropriately from your menus yourself. But the plugin handles most of the technical details required for your contact page, and I highly recommend it.

Mobility

At the moment, the average consumer is surprisingly forgiving of non-mobile-friendly websites. 70% of all local searches, however, are projected to come from mobile devices within the next two years. So businesses that fail to prepare their websites for this reality are going to see customer conversions – and search rankings – drop significantly.

The SEO industry cried wolf on Google’s “Mobilegeddon” update a couple of years ago. But now the tea leaves are very clear that mobility will be a significant ranking factor in the coming years. You can prepare for the inevitable by making your website faster, and making it easier for mobile visitors to use.

Test your site’s mobile friendliness

Google provides this easy-to-use free tool to test how friendly your website is for mobile visitors. It warns you about any major suboptimal features, and renders a screenshot of how your site appears for the majority of mobile visitors.

Improve mobile user experience

Google also provides a detailed guide of how to improve the user experience of your website for mobile visitors. Key aspects of user experience to keep in mind:

  • Does the width of your website automatically adjust to the screen size (“viewport”) of the visitor’s device?
  • Does text automatically resize for mobile visitors, so that they don’t have to pinch-and-scroll to read it?
  • Are your calls to action and other buttons large enough for people to click with their fingers and thumbs?

These kinds of adjustments for the mobile visitor comprise what’s known as “responsive” behavior. If your WordPress website is not yet responsive it’s time to upgrade your theme to one that is.

Make your site faster

And of course, one of the biggest website improvements you can make is to get your site to load faster. We’ve all been frustrated by sites that load slowly, or won’t load at all, on slower data connections. Sites that load quickly help build positive digital engagement with your business, and there’s some evidence to suggest that both load time and engagement with your content improve your rankings.

Conveniently, Google also provides a free tool to assess how quickly your site loads relative to others. This one is an extremely tough grader though! It’s rare to see sites score above the 75-80 range. Nonetheless if you want to supercharge your website speed, Google provides free advice for how to do it. Find it in the Possible Optimizations section of this tool.

Relevance

Thus far I’ve focused mostly on the technical aspects of your website. But if your technically-optimized website features weak or irrelevant content, you’re going to rank poorly – and attract very few customers.

From a content standpoint, the goal of your website is to communicate a strong “scent” to both Google and users about exactly what products or services you offer, and where you offer them.

What keywords (keyphrases) to target

At the risk of stating the obvious: you want to be relevant for keywords and phrases that your customers are searching for. This typically means using generic layperson’s terms to describe your products and services as opposed to industry jargon. (Unless you’re in a very niche business-to-business industry.) An example from the medical field would be to use “ear, nose, and throat doctor” instead of “otolaryngologist.” 

Keyword research is an entire sub-discipline within SEO and it’s easy to go down a rabbit hole. But there are a couple of easy sources for good keywords to target:

  • Pay attention to the language that customers use in their phone calls with you (or your staff) and in emails and contact forms.
  • Pay attention to the category terms that Google My Business returns when you type related keywords.
  • Perform a search for each of the terms above and scroll to the bottom of the results page. Google will list terms related to the one you searched for, front-and-center.

Build a master list of these terms and match them up with pages on your website, one keyword to one page. It’s entirely likely each page will rank for far more terms than the keyword you target. But it’s good to keep your pages focused on a small handful of terms.

In addition to talking about your products or services, you should include your city and state or metropolitan area as part of these keyphrases as well. As I mentioned in the comments of my previous post Google has gotten better at detecting the area that a local business website serves – particularly for websites that use schema.org. But it’s still a good practice to sprinkle these geographic keywords liberally within your website.

Where to place your keywords

Your Title Tags are far-and-away the most important places to put your keywords. Note that Title tags and the Page or Post titles that you enter in WordPress are not the same thing.

To see what your existing Title Tags are, perform the “site:yourdomain.com” search I mentioned earlier in the Crawlability section.

The blue link text associated with each page in these results is the Title Tag of that page.

For editing your Title Tags, the Yoast SEO plugin is a godsend. Pull up your list of keywords to target from the previous section and add them to the corresponding pages. Personally, I like to use the Yoast plugin Bulk Editor (SEO -> Tools -> Bulk Editor in your WordPress dashboard) to make these changes efficiently.

Take some time in crafting each Title Tag, though. Don’t just stuff your keywords in willy-nilly and then tack on your city and state (or region or county) at the end. Remember that in addition to conveying to Google the terms for which you want your business to be relevant, these are the phrases that your prospective customers will see when they’re searching. So make these Titles enticing for visitors as well as keyword-focused.

For example, which Title Tag would you be more likely to click on?

Option 1:

Car Insurance Agent – Luxury Car Insurance Agent – Car Insurance Agency – Portland, Oregon

Option 2:

Portland’s Top Locally-Owned Car Insurance Agency since 1954: Smith Insurance

I’d certainly choose Option 2, and most of your customers would also.

It’s also a best practice to include your target keywords in your WordPress page/post titles and other headlines. Nevertheless it’s far more important to write these for your visitors than it is to write them for Google.

The final place to use your keywords is within the text of links you use on your website (known as “anchor text”). So for example, instead of saying “click here,” you might say “click here to contact our insurance agency” to help Google gain a little more context about what services your contact page is relevant for.

The changing place of your website in Google’s Local SERP Topography

As I hinted in Part I of this series, we’re moving into a world with more place-based (mobile and voice) results and fewer website-based (desktop) results. Increasingly, Google is trying to extract as much structured information as it can from your website and place it front-and-center in the Knowledge Panel it constructs with the information from Google My Business.

This Knowledge Panel information will form the basis for voice responses from Google Home and other personal assistants. After all, listening to an assistant read an entire webpage after you asked it a question would not be much fun!

This shift is why the Crawlability section above was the longest part of this article. It’s important that your website give Google (and visitors) a strong sense of what you do and where you do it, but it’s even more important that Google can crawl that information, assimilate it, and present it in a structured format.

As a result, tactics like Schema.org markup and tools like the Yoast Local SEO Plugin that help structure information about your business are becoming that much more important. Your content is still critical, but start thinking of your website primarily as a data source for the Knowledge Graph and as a customer destination secondarily.

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

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Summary

  • Ensure your website is crawlable with the site:yourdomain.com search. Note the number of results.
  • Use Google’s Mobile-Friendly and Page Speed tools to ensure your website converts the most mobile visitors possible, and make it easy to contact you from the top and bottom of every page.
  • Build a unique contact page for each location that you operate and mark up your location information in Schema.org with the Yoast Local SEO Plugin.
  • Use keywords relevant to your products and services that your customers are searching for, especially in your Title Tags and internal links.
  • Continue to monitor your Knowledge Panel, and those of other businesses in your industry, for additional structured information sought by Google.

Read more: ‘Ranking your local business at Google: Introduction’ »

You would think this post would be redundant by now: people know that the meta keyword tag is useless nowadays, right? The truth is that we still see site owners using meta keywords on their website. In addition to that, people are still searching for meta keywords according to Google Trends, although there seem to be less queries than 5 years ago. That’s why we republish this post about the uselessness of meta keywords for SEO once again.

Let me give you the full history of the meta keywords tag’s demise. Already in September 2009, Google announced officially what was true for years back then: “Google does not use the keywords meta tag in web ranking”. Matt Cutts explained it in a video:

Do Yahoo! and Bing use meta keywords?

In October of that same year, 2009, at SMX East, Yahoo! announced they no longer use the meta keywords tag anymore either. This turned out to be not entirely true, as they do index them, but they won’t help you one bit.

Bing also stated in 2014:

“Today, it’s pretty clear the meta keyword tag is dead in terms of SEO value. Sure, it might have value for contextual ad systems or serve as a signal to bots plying the web looking for topics to target, but as far as search goes, that tag flat lined years ago as a booster.”

Earlier, they even implied that using them – the wrong way – could work against you, because it’s rather seen as a spam signal than a ranking signal.

So don’t waste your time on the meta keywords tag. Instead of thinking about which keywords to put in that silly tag for 5 minutes, think about your content for 5 minutes longer. Really. It’s worth it.

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But I want meta keywords!!!

By default, there is no meta keywords input field in our Yoast SEO plugin. If you use Yoast SEO and you really can’t live without them, you can turn it on though. You’ll first need to enable the advanced settings before you can change this. For a detailed explanation on how to do this, check out ‘how to enable meta keywords in Yoast SEO‘.

turn on meta keywords in yoast seo

Don’t expect me to think you’re cool though. The reality is, that if you’re trying to rank for any term that’s even only a little competitive, meta keywords won’t help. You should write engaging, meaningful content on a technically well optimized platform and get good links and social engagement. That’s what builds great rankings, meta keywords have nothing to do with it.

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

If you’re using Yoast SEO to optimize your posts and pages, it’ll ask you to fill out a focus keyword. This is the search term you want your content to rank for. Deciding on a focus keyword can be challenging. For example, if you want to optimize your content for a long tail keyword – existing of multiple words –  what is the exact key phrase you should use? Does word order matter? In this Ask Yoast, you’ll learn how to use Yoast SEO when optimizing for long tail keywords.

Stefan Junestrand has emailed us asking:

“For long tail keywords that will be searched for with equal frequency with the words in different order, which would be best practice?
a. Use one long tail focus keyword
b. Use 5 different focus keywords with one focus keyword”

Check out the video or read the answer below!

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Word order of your focus keyword

In the video, we help you decide on the word order of your long tail focus keyword and how to use the multiple focus keyword functionality of Yoast SEO Premium.

” So you mean for example ‘WordPress SEO’ and ‘SEO WordPress’. Which one would be best practice to use? One focus keyword for each page? Or should you combine them all into one page?

You really should combine them into one page. SEO for WordPress and WordPress SEO are basically the same thing. Of course, if you’re writing naturally, you’ll probably use both combinations already. So just write one longer page and use different word orders.

If you have Yoast SEO Premium you can have up to 5 focus keywords: try and optimize for the most common variants in word order of your long tail keyword. But don’t overdo the optimizing! It might even be better to not get green bullets for all 5 combinations, if you’re optimizing for similar combinations with just a different word order. Because then your copy would become pretty hard to read. So write a natural text, make sure that you use different versions a couple of times and you should be good.

Good luck!”

Ask Yoast

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

Read more: ‘Why should you focus on multiple focus keywords’ »

Business to Business (B2B) marketing is often different from Business to Consumer (B2C) marketing thanks to the elaborate buying processes, a narrow market and more complex products and services of a B2B website. In this article about B2B SEO, I’ll compare the distinctions between the two and explain what that means for your B2B website and SEO.

When reading the above, you might think: “In both cases you’re selling products or services to a customer, and you want those products to be found and ordered, so what could be the difference?” While that might be true in case of, for example, office supplies, there are instances of B2B products and services that do require a different approach, especially when it comes to more specialized, complex, technical and expensive products, ordered by larger organizations with multiple stakeholders, so you’ll have to adapt your website to take those distinctions into account.

Differences between B2B and B2C

So, what are the main differences between B2B and B2C trading?

  • The buying process can take much longer, often involves more stakeholders and specific requirements;
  • The products and services can be more complex and more costly;
  • Professionals usually speak a certain jargon to describe their products;
  • Size of the market: the B2B market generally is much narrower;
  • Ordering scale: orders for businesses can be much larger.

How do these dissimilarities affect the goal of your site, your keyword research and the web content you present to your audience? Let’s go into detail!

1. Buying process in a B2B market

In general, the time required to close a deal in the B2B market is much longer than the time that’s needed to get a B2C order. Even the most expensive B2C products, like holidays or cars, only take a few weeks between gathering information about the product and ordering it. When it comes to ordering products or services as a business, it might take weeks or even months before the decision is taken to order the product. This mostly related to the amount of money and the number of stakeholders involved.

Let’s look at an example of buying a complex technical installation or expensive software: The user of the machine or software wants know the features and how it works. The technician has to take a look at the performance of the machine or IT has to evaluate the possibilities for integration. Finance is interested in the costs of buying and maintaining the machine and, the managing director wants to know if it will help his staff to perform better and, in the end, probably needs to give his seal of approval too.

An extensive buying process like this, influences both the goal of your website and demands some extras from your web content:

B2B and the goal of your site

On a lot of B2C eCommerce sites the goal is to get the sale done as fast as possible. People look for a product they’re interested in, find it, think about it, add it to their cart or perhaps wait a day or two, and then decide to buy it or not.

A B2B website, especially when it comes to complex and expensive products and services, is much more aimed on getting sales leads from a website. Customers won’t order a $25.000 machine or 300.000 medical gloves in a split second, so they’ll gather more information, and probably want to contact a sales rep or product specialist to get more details on the products or services as well. Perhaps they’d even like to order a sample of the product, or test it.

Obviously, you should mention all these options on your site. Make it as easy as possible for your potential customer. Display the phone number on a prominent place on every page of your site. Create easy to use forms to request for a sample, a trial or a quote. Perhaps customers can directly email product specialists or ask them questions in a chat? Whatever possibilities you offer, make sure your prospect can’t miss them!

Read more: ‘What’s the mission of your website’ »

B2B sales and your web copy

In the B2C market, the buyer is also the person who is going to use the product. This doesn’t always apply to B2B. As mentioned above, many people are involved in the purchase of larger B2B products. To ease the decision that has to be made you’ll have to address different stakeholders in your web copy. Define which stakeholders there are and make sure to provide all of them with the necessary information. Whether that’s the staff that will use the equipment, the technician, IT, finance, the manager or the director.

So your site will need quite a bit of information. Remember that, compared to B2C purchases, there is less emotional involvement with the purchase of a product or a service. This means that you want to communicate solutions, rather than the beauty and the esthetic value of the product. 

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2. The complexity of products and services

Another difference between B2B and B2C is that, generally, B2B products and services are more complex. Not many people use, for instance, an X-ray machine at home. But, your B2B customer doesn’t even have to buy a complicated machine or software to be interested in very detailed specifications.

I used to work at a company that sold medical supplies, like exam and surgical gloves. If you would compare buying disposable housekeeping gloves to buying medical gloves, you’ll find out that even for a ‘simple’ product like that, obviously, the requirements will be much higher. Before buying, the hospital will want to find out: What material is it made of? What’s the exact thickness? Does it contain latex (allergies)? How’s the texture? Is it tested for use with chemotherapy drugs? Is it certified? Can you scientifically prove the claims you make about this product? And so on.

Complex B2B products and your web content

Tip: Show how it works!

At Yoast, we’d like everyone to comprehend all the possibilities of our Premium plugin. Therefore we recorded various videos and screencasts to show how easy it is to use these features.

The complexity of the products and services mostly affects your web content. Clearly, describe specifications and features in detail. Also, include information that helps your prospect how to use the equipment or software. How do you work with these features? Help potential customers understand your product by adding detailed descriptions, imagery and product videos. Just show how easy it is to work with that complex machine you’re selling!

Potential customers that still have questions should be able to contact you easily through your website. So besides providing sufficient information on how to use the product, get your sales team and product specialists geared up to answer those questions. And, in case of complicated product and services, show how your support team helps your customers out, if they would encounter problems after a purchase.

Not only is well-written, explanatory content necessary to help visitors understand your product, if you write about the right keywords, it’s one of the most important assets that will get people to your website in the first place! This is closely related to the next characteristic of B2B: the use of jargon.

3. Jargon

Every field of expertise has its own language. And people in a certain industry might not even be aware that they’re using very specialized words. Nevertheless, often these will be the words they’ll be searching for when looking for products or services online. So make sure you know which search terms they’re using! This is crucial for your keyword research, as I’ll elaborate on below.

Jargon and B2B Keyword research

When you’re doing keyword research – whether that’s for B2B or B2C – it’s essential to get to know your customers. Don’t assume you already know them! Take the opportunity to speak with customers and prospects, find out which stakeholder does the most searching for the business when it comes to finding a product like yours. Is it the manager? The user? Or the purchase department? For your website to be found, you’ll have to write enough high quality content on your site, in which you speak the same language as this stakeholder.

A mistake that businesses often make is heavily promoting a product name, instead of using the search terms their prospect use. If you’re brand is really famous for a certain product, that might work. In most cases though, you’re prospect will be searching for a type of product, so the search volume for that term will be a lot bigger. It does mean you’ll have to compete with your competitors to rank for the same search terms. But that’s when a great content SEO strategy can help you out.

One more thing on jargon: to be found you’ll need to use some specialized word. However, don’t overdo this! Balance the use of difficult, industry specific words with the use of clear and easy to comprehend language. Keep your text readable, the readability analysis of Yoast SEO will help you do so. You don’t want to scare away newbies to the industry! 

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4. Size of the market

Most consumer goods are of interest to a large part of the population. Marketing these products is therefore aimed at a very wide audience. Specialized, business related products will only matter to the folks working in a certain field. This means you’re selling in a much smaller market, a so called niche.

Niche products and SEO

In terms of SEO this does have some advantages. Your target group might be smaller, but there might be less competition too. To become successful in a niche you should write great informational content on the keywords your prospects use, as described above. To increase the chance for ranking you can first focus on long tail keywords. Long tail keywords are keywords that include specifications or features of a certain product. The search volume for these terms is lower, but there’s less competition for them too, which makes it easier to rank.

Let’s go back to the example of medical gloves. Although a niche market, it is quite competitive. Ranking for the keyword [medical gloves] therefore will be difficult. Luckily there’s enough opportunity to specify your product. What if you would optimize your copy for [blue non-latex surgical gloves] and [pink nitrile exam gloves]. There will be less web content on these search terms, so it will be easier to make it rank. On top of that, you could write copy that goes deeper into certain specifications of your product, like why a hospital should choose for [non-latex surgical gloves].

The next step would be to create an awesome site structure, that shows Google the connection between all the content you’ve created. You can do so by internally linking related content and defining and linking to your cornerstone content.

Keep reading: ‘The ultimate guide to site structure’ »

5. Scale

The last characteristic of B2B trading I’ll discuss is the scale. Order quantity usually is much higher for businesses than consumers. Therefore, total costs are higher for businesses. Often, they like or even expect to negotiate their own price or, at least, get scale discounts. This means you should either present scale discounts on your website or clearly show how they can easily contact a sales person, so they can get a quote or negotiate their own discount. Preferably, you would do both.

Conclusion

Building a good B2B website is hard work. When working on it, keep the following things in mind:

  • Think thoroughly about the goal of your B2B site and translate this into features on your website.
  • Write content that addresses all the stakeholders that are involved in the buying process, and speak the same language as they do. You really need to get to know your audience to do so!
  • Explain and show explicitly how your products work.
  • Do your keyword research and write awesome content on the keywords your audience uses. Don’t forget to focus on those long tail keywords first.

Good luck! Did I miss something? Let me know in the comments!

Read on: ‘The ultimate guide to keyword research’ »

Content writing should be a key element of every SEO strategy. How do you make sure your blog posts have the highest chance to rank well in Google? What are the successive steps you’ll need to take? In this post, I’ll take you back to the very basics of SEO. How do you optimize a blog post?

Find that keyword

The very first step of every content SEO strategy should be keyword research. You should figure out for what search terms you want to be found. Figuring out the right keyword can be quite daunting though. You really have to get into the heads of your audience.

Read more: ‘Why every content SEO strategy should start with keyword research’ »

A word is not a topic, though. Besides a keyword (or keyphrase), you’ll need an angle, a specific story around that keyword. Read our tips on how to come up with ideas for your blog if you would like to know more about that.

Yoast is most famous for the Yoast SEO plugin, of course. Our plugin will really help you in the optimizing process. The first step is to fill out the keyword you want your post to be found for (the focus keyword). After that, the plugin will give you feedback on how to improve the SEO of your blog post. It will, for instance, check your post for these things:

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Use that keyword

If you want to rank high for a certain term, you should definitely use that term quite often in your text. That way, Google will know that your text is about that specific keyword. But don’t overdo it. Google doesn’t like over-optimized text at all. A keyword density of 2 % ( in which one in fifty words is your keyword) is great. It’s best to create a text that’s rather lengthly, we recommend a text of at least 300 words. That way, you’ll be able to use your keyword quite a number of times.

Optimize your headings

Check if your focus keyword is in your headings. The title of your post is really important. You should definitely use your keyword there. Try to use your keyword in at least one of your subheadings as well.

How about that snippet?

The snippet is the thing Google shows in the search results. It’s the title of your post and a short description. Yoast SEO will help you optimize your snippet: it shows you a preview of the snippet and allows you to easily edit the content. This is very important, as it’s the first thing your audience will read. So this piece of text will have to convince them to go to your site.

Unfortunately, we’re never sure whether Google will show that specific snippet. However, creating a kick-ass snippet preview should be part of your SEO strategy. Of course, don’t forget to use that focus keyword again!

Keep reading: ‘The snippet preview: what it means and how to use it’ »

Don’t forget: write an awesome post!

Optimizing your post for the search engines is something you should definitely do. But more importantly, you should make sure you write an awesome post. The topic of your post should be original, the message of your text should be appealing to your audience. On top of that, your text should be pleasant and not too difficult to read. Without making concessions to the readability of your post, you should use the tips described to optimize your blog post and make it stand out a little bit more!

Read on: ‘10 steps to an awesome and SEO-friendly blog post’ »