Yesterday, Yoast Academy released a new and improved Basic SEO course. But wait, didn’t Yoast release a free SEO for beginners course just a couple of months ago? Yes, we did. So what’s the difference? Doesn’t the SEO for beginners training also cover the basics? Why should you pay for access to the Basic SEO course if you can get all the good stuff for free? Great questions. I’ll tell you exactly what sets the two courses apart and why Basic SEO perfectly complements SEO for beginners. 

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Basic SEO training Info

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What is the key difference between the courses?

Essentially, the SEO for beginners training answers the “what is…” question, and the Basic SEO training answers the “how do I…” question. The free course is theoretical, the Basic SEO course is very practical.

In the SEO for beginners course, for instance, you learn what keywords and keyword research are. In the Basic SEO course, we give you a step-by-step plan for a good keyword research strategy. We also provide a screencast in which we show you exactly how to set up a keyword research sheet.

After completing the SEO for beginners training, you’ll have a clear idea of what every aspect of SEO is and what factors you should take into account. You’ll be able to make some minor changes which will positively affect your rankings. After completing the Basic SEO training, you’ll be able to immediately make a lot of changes to your website and set up a proper SEO strategy. It really is the best way to make sure your SEO efforts are effective!

Are there any other differences between the courses?

Basic SEO contains two more modules and several more lessons. We go into off-page SEO, site speed, conversion and more. SEO for beginners doesn’t cover these topics. In the table below, you can find a breakdown of the differences between the two courses.

Differences Basic SEO course versus free SEO for beginners course

For more information on the exact contents of the Basic SEO course, visit the product information page. There is no difference in the quality of the courses (besides the fact that we’re trying to do better each time we develop a new training, of course). We value our free products as highly as our paid products.

Does the Basic SEO course offer enough exclusive material to justify the cost?

There are 20 new videos, exclusive to the Basic SEO course, as well as fresh reading materials and quizzes. That’s more than most of our other courses have! So you’re definitely getting your money’s worth. Of course, much of the SEO beginners training is great information to work up towards the practical tips in the Basic SEO training. Actually, we’ve added all the relevant materials you find in the SEO for beginners course to the Basic SEO course as well, so you can also take the Basic SEO course if you’re just a beginner.

But isn’t it annoying to have to take those lessons again? Don’t worry, we’ve solved this problem. If you’ve already finished the SEO for beginners course, the lessons you’ve already taken will automatically be completed in your Basic SEO course, as well. You don’t have to take these lessons again.

Conclusion

The Basic SEO course is essential for everyone who wants to get started on optimizing every aspect of their SEO. After taking this training, you’ll have an entirely new set of tools to start optimizing your rankings immediately. It perfectly complements the SEO for beginners training, too. If you’ve already taken the SEO for beginners course, that’s not a problem at all. It’s an advantage!

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Today, Yoast Academy is proud to release an all-new SEO course: Basic SEO. If you want to learn how to make your site rank high in Google, there’s no way around it: Take our Basic SEO training and start working seriously on your SEO. It teaches you exactly how to tackle the key aspects of SEO. The course combines world-class knowledge with practical examples and exercises to put it to practice. At the end of the course, you’ll be able to set up your own SEO strategy from start to finish! The new training replaces the original Basic SEO course we released in 2015.

You can get the course for $169, but only in the first week, so don’t wait too long!

New to SEO? Learn the Basics of SEO in our Basic SEO course »

Basic SEO training Info

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What will I learn?

Do you want your website to rank high and get better results with it? Then our Basic SEO training is what you need! This course has it all: we have modules on keyword research, copywriting, site structure, technical SEO, link building, User eXperience, you name it. We even go into non-traditional SEO topics like accessibility, email marketing and social media use. But most importantly: you learn practical skills. We don’t just tell you how Google works, or how SEO works. We teach you exactly what you should (and shouldn’t) do to be a great SEO. You’ll get clear step-by-step plans to help you set up a keyword research strategy, implement the optimal site structure, make sure your site is speedy and secure, and much more. Knowledge alone isn’t enough. The new Basic SEO training actually teaches you SEO skills you can apply yourself, immediately.

Why did you create a new course if you had one already?

The Basic SEO training was, in fact, the first course we made all the way back in 2015. Now, three years later, we’re so much better equipped to create effective courses. We learned more about education and hired a dedicated team. We improved the quality of our videos. A few months ago, we already updated the existing Basic SEO course with better questions. But we felt like we needed to do more to ensure that you walk away with the best result possible after completing the course. The only way to achieve this was to start from scratch. Make no mistake: this course is completely new. We created all the materials specifically for this new training.

But don’t you already have a free SEO for beginners course?

We do! And that’s a great course to learn more about what SEO is. However, it doesn’t really get practical. It’s not enough for people who actually want to do good SEO day-to-day. That’s what the Basic SEO training is for. It’s all about theory vs. practice. Compare the course content below:

Differences Basic SEO course versus free SEO for beginners course

Want to know more? I wrote an entire blog post about the differences between these two courses to clear things up if necessary. Keep an eye on our SEO blog tomorrow!

Conclusion

If you want to get serious about SEO, the new Basic SEO training is how you do it. It teaches you practical skills and allows you to practice them immediately. It is currently available for $169, so get it before the offer expires!

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A content delivery network (CDN) is a network of servers in different geographic locations working together to get content to load faster by serving it from a location near the visitor. Here, I’ll explain what this all means and what a CDN can do for you and your SEO.

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What does a CDN do?

A CDN caches static content. Static content is files like HTML, CSS, JavaScript and image files that stay the same for every user. These files don’t have to be dynamically generated based on a set of rules — that’s dynamic content; static files are just there and everyone uses these. By making these static files available on a CDN with many servers all around the world, you can get them to your visitors super fast.

Picture this: you’ve hosted your site on a server in San Francisco, California. I hear you asking: “But I have a web host, why would I need a CDN?” Well, whenever you load your site from your house near Oakland, it loads lightning fast. You’re physically close by, right? But do you think someone from Mumbai, India would have the same experience if he or she were to visit your site? Probably not. Why is that? Among other things, latency.

The longer the distance between a server and client — a.k.a. your browser —, the longer the latency will be. Latency is the time needed for the server to respond to a request. In suboptimal conditions that latency will keep getting worse. You can use a content delivery network — or CDN — to move your site closer to your visitor, so to say. The result? Less latency and a fast loading site. But a CDN can do a lot more, and we’ll get to that in a minute.

no cdn vs cdn wikipedia

On the left a typical situation without a cdn. Every visitor requests the site from the same server, no matter how far away they are. Right: with a cdn, every user requests the same site from a location near them. CC image: Wikipedia

What are the benefits of using a CDN?

There are several reasons for using a CDN for your site. Remember, you can do a lot of complicated stuff with a CDN, but most people will use it to get that nasty latency down and speed up the loading times of their sites. Here are several reasons to use a CDN:

  • Speeds up your site
  • Reduces bandwidth costs
  • Adds scalability: improves availability and uptime
  • Improves security

A CDN speeds up your site

For most people, the speed bump a CDN can deliver will be their main focus point. We’ve talked about that first reason already. Everyone wants a fast site and site owners do everything in their power to make their sites as fast as possible. A fast site offers a great experience for everyone. Plus, Google loves fast sites!

A CDN reduces bandwidth

The other reasons might be less obvious. A CDN helps you to get your bandwidth costs down because it serves up static content to users for their servers, not yours. This can have a drastic impact on your costs for web hosting. Often, traffic comes in waves and if the traffic exceeds the limits set by your hosting plan, you have to pay — big time. Of course, you have to pay for a solid CDN so you won’t keep a lot of extra cash in hand, but it does give you a firmer grip on what you’re spending.

A CDN can add a layer of security to your site

Adding a CDN in front of your site is a great way to improve security. The CDN provider has all kinds of tools that help with that. It can serve as a kind of firewall to protect your site from going down during a so-called Distributed Denial of Service attack (DDoS), for instance. It helps you guard against the most common threats out there. There are even specific settings to keep hackers out of your WordPress sites.

A CDN is scalable and improves availability and uptime

By hosting part of your website’s content, a CDN can help you enhance uptime and availability of your site. Also, many CDN providers also use tactics to make sure that your site doesn’t go down, whatever happens. Load balancing, for instance, can help your site stay online whenever you have a sudden, massive spike in your traffic.

Does using a CDN have any implications for SEO?

Your SEO won’t suffer if you activate a CDN. It might even help your rankings a bit because your site speed might get a big boost. In addition, by installing a CDN you can also use state-of-the-art technology like forcing a secure HTTPS connection and using the new HTTP/2 protocol to improve your site speed and uptime. In general, users should be happier if your site is excellent, snappy and secure. You should, however, take care that you implement it correctly. Most providers have specific instructions to set up a CDN without hurting SEO.

What CDN should I use?

There are numerous CDN providers out there. You should try and find one that offers the best mix of performance, features and price for your specific situation. We use Cloudflare at Yoast, but you could also consider some of the other well-known CDN providers like, for instance, Sucuri, MaxCDN, Microsoft Azure or Amazon CloudFront.

Most CDN providers have easy-to-follow setup instructions for WordPress sites, so you should be up and running in a couple of minutes. Some even offer WordPress plugins to improve the process even more. After setting up the account, you can get to work to improve the speed and security of your WordPress site.

Conclusion

A CDN is a great tool to improve the loading speed of your site. Not only that, but it also adds a layer of security to your site and improves uptime and reliability. If you are not using a CDN yet, you might be missing out. Pretty much every site can benefit from a CDN, so please investigate if it might help yours.

Read more: ‘What is SEO?’ »

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We’ve added a free course to our curriculum of online SEO courses. It is an SEO course for beginners. If you’re an SEO-newbie or your SEO skills have become a bit rusty, then this is the course for you! Our free online SEO course offers lots and lots of training videos, reading material and challenging questions. We’ll really make you sweat for those right answers. That sounds amazing, right? Or is it too good to be true? Why do we offer a free SEO course? Is there a catch?

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There really isn’t any catch. I would even say that this course is the best course we’ve created so far. In this post, I’ll explain all about why we offer that free online SEO courses at Yoast.

SEO for everyone

The main reason why we decided to make a free SEO course is because of our mission. We offer a free plugin because we believe that everyone, even that small weblog with no money at all, should stand a chance in the search engines. Our plugin takes care of a lot of the important SEO stuff. But if you want to do more, if you want to understand more, you needed to read about it, for example on this blog. And our many articles will tell you everything you need to know in order to set up a successful SEO strategy. But the journey through these articles, the search to find the information you need to get started can be quite the hassle. Our SEO for beginners course helps you to make sense of all the information. We’ll talk you through the important aspects of SEO, step by step. After following our course, you know what it takes to set up a successful SEO strategy.

Get to know our courses

Another reason for offering a free online SEO course is because we are really proud of Yoast Academy. We want more people to experience our online courses. In the past year, we hired new people, set up our very own studio and really invested in developing the best learning materials. We now offer a very high-quality online training. We have many -mostly rather short- video’s in which a topic is explained and we offer reading material covering the same topic. But most importantly, we test whether or not you really understand the material. You’ll be challenged by our questions at the end of each lesson. In order to get the certificate, you’ll really need to master all of the topics we discuss.

Our free SEO for beginners course will offer you a real Yoast Academy experience. Of course, we hope people will get hooked and buy one of our other online courses as well. Lifelong learning it is ;-).

More free courses?

The SEO for beginners course is the first free online course Yoast offers. However, we are already thinking about making another one. The second free online course is planned to be released at the end of 2018 and will be a course covering the basics of the workings of the internet. We would like to address the question: how does the internet actually work? This might sound basic, but for an SEO it is really important to have a correct understanding of the workings of the internet.

Read more: ‘What is SEO?’ »

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Would you like to learn more about SEO? Do you want to learn from world-renowned experts? But can’t justify spending a lot of money on a training just yet? At Yoast, we understand that. And we want to help. That’s why today, we are releasing our first free course: SEO for beginners!  

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Free SEO course: SEO for beginners Info

What will I learn?

In the Yoast SEO for beginners training, we will teach you what SEO is, what Google does, and how to rank in the search results. Do you know, for example, how Google reads your content and ranks it? Well, after this training you will! We’ll also tell you how to write your copy in such a way that Google knows exactly what you’re talking about. Moreover, we’ll tell you how you can make sure that Google can actually put your pages into the search results. And much more!

Could I benefit from this training?

The SEO for beginners course is valuable for everyone who is not already an SEO expert. Whether you are looking to start a career in SEO or are a small business owner with a website. Maybe you just want to join the discussion with your colleagues. It doesn’t matter. SEO is all about gaining an edge over your competition. You can now take the first step for free!

Do I have to use WordPress or the Yoast SEO plugin?

No, you don’t. The training is valuable for anyone, regardless of whether you use WordPress or the Yoast SEO plugin. Some lessons discuss how the plugin can help you with your SEO. Still, the majority of the information applies to anyone and any situation.

Why is the training free?

We want SEO to be for everyone. That is our company mission. Sure, we need to make some money and we have a collection of great products which helps us do that. But not everyone is able to afford them or justify the investment. We want to be there for you as well. There are more reasons, which Marieke has written an entire article about!

How can I get this course?

Getting a Yoast training has never been easier. If you already have a MyYoast account, the course is already available to you here. If you don’t have a MyYoast account yet, you can just create one here. You will receive an email with a link to the course. Enjoy!

 

Read on: ‘Yoast’s mission: SEO for everyone!’ »

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Want to know what makes your site rank higher in Google? Understand how Google works? This is your chance to learn it… for free! For the first time ever, we’re launching a completely free course: the SEO for beginners training. In this course, you’ll take your first steps in the world of Search Engine Optimization, also known as SEO. The course will be launched on May 7 and is easy, fun and free! So what’s stopping you?

Learn what to do to make your web traffic grow. Create a My Yoast user account now and we’ll give you access to the course on May 7!

Why take this course?

You want to rank higher

Whatever your expertise is, whether you’re a hairdresser, a consultant or a plumber, you probably have a website. And you want it to rank on top in Google. But what if the competition is outranking you? You can beat them through search engine optimization or SEO. SEO is the art of creating a website that search engines and users like. This can give you a head start on the competition that’s still in the dark about SEO. In the SEO for beginners training, you’ll learn why Google likes certain websites more than others. So you’ll know what to improve on your own website.

It’s easy

As this course is for beginners, it doesn’t matter if you know nothing about SEO or not so much about websites yet! We won’t use too many technical terms. We want everyone with a website to be able to understand what makes one website better than the other.

It’s fun and for free!

And on top of that, it’s free and much fun to do! You’ll get access to over two hours of instructional videos, lots of reading material, and challenging quizzes to train what you’ve learned. 

What will you learn?

In this training, you’ll learn which factors make a website rank high in Google’s search results. It will give you a fundamental understanding of how search engines work. You’ll learn about keywords, why they are important and how to choose them well. Also, you’ll get insight in writing SEO-friendly posts and how structuring your site well can improve your rankings.

Why is this course free?

At Yoast we believe in fair changes in the search results for everyone. We think SEO isn’t something only the big companies should be able to do. Small businesses or non-profit organizations, or great ideas in general should get a platform and should be easy to find on the internet as well. That’s why our Yoast SEO plugin is for free, you get a free eBook when you sign up for our newsletter and next week we’ll even add a free course to the list!

How do you get access?

As of May 7 you’ll be able to enroll in this course. It’s completely free. If you don’t want to miss it you can already create a My Yoast account. The course will be automatically added to your account on May 7. We’ll send you an email when it’s available!

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Local SEO is about how to optimize your website to rank better for a local audience. A website gives you the opportunity to target the entire (online) world. But if the target audience for your business is actually located in or near the city you have your office or shop, you’ll need to practice at least some local SEO as well. You need to optimize for your city name, optimize your address details. In short: you need to optimize so people know where you are located and are able to find you offline (if required). In this post, we will try to explain what local SEO is, so you can optimize your local site as well! 

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What is local SEO?

If you have a local business, like a shop, or have people visiting your office frequently, optimizing your website is also about making sure people are able to find you in real life. But even if your not actively getting visitors in your building, but are targeting an audience that is located in the same geographical area as you are, you need to optimize for that area. This is what we call “local SEO”.

Ground-rule these days is that it’s by far the easiest to optimize if you have a proper address in a region/city. The thing is that if you want to optimize for, for instance, a service area that you are not located in physically, your main tool for optimization is content. You should simply write a lot about that area. We found that oftentimes, this leads to forced articles or pages that have little to do with the business at hand, and are clearly there for SEO reasons.

Mentioning all the areas

Just recently, I heard someone say that he just mentioned a number of neighboring towns and that got him visitors from these towns.

What is Local SEO? Local SEO is about optimizing your site for better rankings for a local audience

Depending on the niche you are in, that might have some effect, to be honest. But I wouldn’t call it proper optimization. For the majority of companies, that strategy won’t work that well. It’s not really an optimization, it’s just that no-one else mentions that area and that product on his website. If there is competition, please use other methods as well.

Local SEO explained in detail

In our series on local SEO, David Mihm mentions a number of things you can do to really optimize your website for a certain geographical area:

  1. An introduction to ranking your local business
  2. The importance of Google My Business
  3. How to optimize your website for local search
  4. Why inbound links are so important and how to get them
  5. Citations for local search
  6. The impact of reviews for local ranking
  7. Social media and local SEO
  8. The impact of behavioral signals

That indeed is quite a lot to digest, but if you are serious about optimizing for your local audience, you should read all 8 articles.

Local SEO isn’t just about search engines

Yes, there is a lot you can do online to optimize your website for a local audience. But if you are running a local business, things like word-of-mouth and a print brochure etc also contribute to local SEO.

If you mention your website and social profiles on your offline communication/promotion as well, your Facebook likes might go up, your Twitter followers could increase and the direct traffic on your website will get higher. One way or another, this will be visible to Google as well, beit indirect perhaps.

So, local SEO consists of a number of factors that help you address your local audience by better rankings in search engines. It’s not just optimizing your address or your social media strategy, it’s all these things combined that we call local SEO. Good luck optimizing!

Read more: ‘Ultimate guide to small business SEO’ »

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Whenever you click on a link to visit a site a request gets made to the server. The server answers with a status message (header) and a file list for that website. After viewing that list, the browser asks for the files one at a time. On the ‘old’ HTTP1.1 protocol, this process takes ages as there is only one line available that has to open and close after each file has been sent. HTTP/2 offers a dramatic speed boost as the line can be kept open and a lot of stuff can be sent at once. Meet HTTP/2!

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How does HTTP/2 work?

Let’s say you want a brand-new box of LEGO. First, you go to the store to get a specific box. When you get home, you open the box and see the instructions. The instructions say what you have to do: one brick at a time. Now, you can only get one brick at a time. You have to keep asking the instructions: “Which brick do I need now?” And the instructions will look and give you the right brick. This back-and-forth keeps happening until you have finished the entire LEGO set. Does the set have 3300 bricks? Well, that’ll take a while. This is HTTP1.1.

With HTTP/2 this changes. You go to the store to pick up your box. Open it, find the instructions and you can ask for all the bricks used on a part of the LEGO set. You can keep asking the instructions for more bricks, without having to look at the manual. “These bricks go together, so here they are.” If you want it really fast, you could even get all the bricks at once so you can build the set in an instant.

http1.1 vs http2

HTTP/2 can handle more things at once

HTTP/2 has a lot of cool features that can help speed up your loading times. The most important one, of course, is full multiplexing. This means that multiple requests can happen at the same time over a connection that stays open for the duration of the transfer process. Another cool thing is Server push; this starts as one request but when the server notices the HTML requires several assets, it can send these all at once without asking. This might be a good fit for your site, but that depends on factors too hard to explain here.

Like I said in the intro, with HTTP1.1 a browser requests a site -> server sends a header back -> that header contains a status message and HTML body -> for every file needed to build the site, a single connection has to be opened and closed and opened and closed. Whenever a piece of this puzzle acts up it can hold back the rest, slowing the process down even further. This is called head-of-line blocking and it sucks big time. This is one of the many reasons why HTTP1.1 can use an update.

Why HTTP/2 for SEO? Because site speed is important

We need speed. Site speed has been an SEO ranking factor for years. Now, with the introduction of the mobile-first index Google will take a critical look at the loading speed of your mobile site. Over the past few years, sites have only gotten bigger. Big sites have loads of assets like HTML, JavaScript, CSS, images et cetera and that equals longer loading time.

Another big issues is latency — especially on mobile devices. The longer your latency is, the longer it takes for your request to reach the server and for the server to send back the response. That’s why you should always use a CDN to reduce the time it will take to get your stuff to your readers from a nearby location. While browsers can handle a small amount of multiple connections, which in itself, adds additional time to the whole ordeal, the process of sending stuff back and forth doesn’t really change.

There are some things you can do to improve site speed by fine-tuning how your server handles these things, but at its core, HTTP1.1 isn’t a very efficient process. HTTP/2 makes this process a lot easier to manage for servers and browsers, therefore, drastically speeding things up. Keep in mind that the advent of HTTP/2 does not retire HTTP1.1 as browsers will still use the old protocol as fallback.

Implementing HTTP/2

Implementing HTTP/2 is fairly easy and it could be that your server is already using HTTP/2. Check with your hosting provider what your options are. You can also choose a Content Delivery Network, also known as a CDN, that offers a full HTTP/2 solution. HTTP/2 offers a quick performance win and it even lets you secure your site, because it uses HTTPS connections by default.

Conclusion to what is HTTP/2

HTTP/2 is a newish protocol that will drastically speed up the web. It uses new technologies to take away one of the biggest bottle necks of the web introducing full multiplexing connections. Servers can now open a single connection with a browser and keep sending all the files of a site until everything is done. After that the connection closes and the browser can render the site.

Read more: ‘Performance optimization in an HTTP/2 world’ »

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Keyword research is your first step in optimizing your website for certain keywords. Without keyword research, you might find yourself lost in your own lingo and battling giants in your industry that can’t be beaten in the search result pages just like that. There is a variety of factors you have to take into account when doing keyword research and setting up your keyword strategy. In this article, we’ll discuss your mission, your audience and your competition. 

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What makes your company unique?

Before you do anything, and this is key, you need to know what makes your company unique. You need to have a clear concept of the mission of your company. You need to determine exactly what you have to offer. Because that’s what’s going to make you rank. It’s that simple. SEO is just like regular business. If you’re doing everything on the same or inferior level as your competition, you’re not going to stand out. If you’re not the best result, why should people want to find you? Why should Google rank you? This seems simple, but this factor is often forgotten.

Meaningful keywords

We often hear people say: we can’t come up with meaningful keywords. If you struggle with that too, take a step back and look at your business at large:

  • What do you have to offer?
  • What is your mission?
  • What are your core values and strengths?
  • How can you branch out from your core selling points to very specific bits of information or service? Use these to stand out from the crowd.

You don’t have to be better than your competition at everything, as long as you identify enough things to build a keyword strategy around. For smaller companies, this means that you probably have to be better at the things bigger fish haven’t thought of. Or at the things, these companies aren’t actively looking to do. If you can’t come up with anything, you have a bigger problem than just coming up with keywords…

The role of your audience in your keyword research

Once you’ve determined what you have to offer, it’s time to consider your audience. In the end, SEO is all about making sure your users are able to find you. So the first thing you have to do is find out what words your potential audience uses to find the information they’re looking for.

Let’s consider an example. At Yoast, we think of our courses platform as “Yoast Academy”. So at first sight, it seems very logical for us to optimize for the keyword “Yoast Academy”. However, when we analyze traffic data, it turns out that our audience uses “Yoast courses” way more. So it makes much more sense to optimize for that term instead. Every company has its own internal vocabulary, which often doesn’t match the vocabulary of its audience. Therefore, you should always choose your keywords from the perspective of your audience. You can use Google Trends to research how often search terms are used compared to other terms.

What about your competition?

Lastly, you simply can’t devise a proper keyword research strategy without taking your competition into account. Too often, websites optimize for terms they have absolutely no chance ranking for. So you need to research your competition.

You can go all overboard and make a thorough analysis of all the competitors in your field, and that can certainly be worthwhile. But let’s stick to the basics for now. It’s actually quite easy to get a general idea of your SEO competition. Just google some search terms you would like to rank for! See what companies show up and where you rank. How big are the companies you are competing with for top three rankings? Would your company fit between these results? This is all quite easy to determine using just the Google search results.

But be wary! You can’t just trust the search results because Google tailors them to your search history. So logically, your site is going to come up higher for you than for others that perform the same search. You can use an incognito screen to circumvent this, although there’s still a local search component even in an incognito screen. If that is a problem for you, you should consider using VPNs to mask your location.

Expanding your strategy step-by-step

Big sites can rank for the most general terms. Smaller sites within a very specific niche can do the same. Of course, it’s also easier if you’re writing in a language that is not spoken all over the world. For most smaller sites that are writing in English, however, the general rule of thumb is this: start with a big set of long tail keywords which have little traffic but you can rank for more easily. Then, work yourself up the rankings step-by-step. Once you’ve gained some SEO authority, start optimizing for more general keywords. And in the end, maybe you will even be able to rank for your head keywords!

Read more: ‘Keyword research: the ultimate guide’ »

The post SEO basics: What is keyword research? appeared first on Yoast.

Crawl errors occur when a search engine tries to reach a page on your website but fails at it. Let’s shed some more light on crawling first. Crawling is the process where a search engine tries to visit every page of your website via a bot. A search engine bot finds a link to your website and starts to find all your public pages from there. The bot crawls the pages and indexes all the contents for use in Google, plus adds all the links on these pages to the pile of pages it still has to crawl. Your main goal as a website owner is to make sure the search engine bot can get to all pages on the site. Failing this process returns what we call crawl errors.

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Your goal is to make sure that every link on your website leads to an actual page. That might be via a 301 redirect, but the page at the very end of that link should always return a 200 OK server response.

Google divides crawl errors into two groups:

  1. Site errors. You don’t want these, as they mean your entire site can’t be crawled.
  2. URL errors. You don’t want these either, but since they only relate to one specific URL per error, they are easier to maintain and fix.

Let’s elaborate on that.

Site errors

Site errors are all the crawl errors that prevent the search engine bot from accessing your website. That can have many reasons,  these being the most common:

  • DNS Errors. This means a search engine isn’t able to communicate with your server. It might be down, for instance, meaning your website can’t be visited. This is usually a temporary issue. Google will come back to your website later and crawl your site anyway. If you see notices of this in your Google Search Console at crawl errors, that probably means Google has tried a couple of times and still wasn’t able to.
  • Server errors. If your search console shows server errors, this means the bot wasn’t able to access your website. The request might have timed out. The search engine (f.i.) tried to visit your site, but it took so long to load that the server served an error message. Server errors also occur when there are flaws in your code that prevent a page from loading. It can also mean that your site has so many visitors that the server just couldn’t handle all the requests. A lot of these errors are returned as 5xx status codes, like the 500 and 503 status codes described here.
  • Robots failure. Before crawling, (f.i.) Googlebot tries to crawl your robots.txt file as well, just to see if there are any areas on your website you’d rather not have indexed. If that bot can’t reach the robots.txt file, Google will postpone the crawl until it can reach the robots.txt file. So always make sure it’s available.

That explains a tad bit about crawl errors related to your entire site. Now let’s see what kind of crawl errors might occur for specific pages.

URL errors

As mentioned, URL errors refer to crawl errors that occur when a search engine bot tries to crawl a specific page of your website. When we discuss URL errors, we tend to discuss crawl errors like (soft) 404 Not Found errors first. You should frequently check for these type of errors (useGoogle Search Console or Bing webmaster tools) and fix ’em. If the page/subject of that page indeed is gone never to return to your website, serve a 410 page. If you have similar content on another page, please use a 301 redirect instead. Make sure your sitemap and internal links are up to date as well, obviously.

We found that a lot of these URL errors are caused by internal links, by the way. So a lot of these errors are your fault. If you remove a page from your site at some point, adjust or remove any inbound links to it as well. These links have no use anymore. If that link remains the same, a bot will find it and follow it, only to find a dead end (404 Not found error). On your website. You need to do some maintenance now and then on your internal links!

Among these common errors might be an occasional DNS error or server error for that specific URL. Re-check that URL later and see if the error has vanished. Be sure to use fetch as Google and mark the error as fixed in Google Search Console if that is your main monitoring tool in this. Our plugin can help you with that.

Very specific URL errors

There are some URL errors that apply to certain sites only. That’s why I’d like to list these separately:

  • Mobile-specific URL errors. This refers to page-specific crawl errors that occur on a modern smartphone. If you have a responsive website, these are unlikely to surface. Perhaps just for that piece of Flash content you wanted to replace already. If you maintain a separate mobile subdomain like m.example.com, you might run into more errors. Thing along the lines of faulty redirects from your desktop site to that mobile site. You might even have blocked some of that mobile site with a line in your robots.txt.
  • Malware errors. If you encounter malware errors in your webmaster tools, this means Bing or Google has found malicious software on that URL. That might mean that software is found that is used, for instance, “to gather guarded information, or to disrupt their operation in general.”(Wikipedia). You need to investigate that page and remove the malware.
  • Google News errors. There are some specific Google News errors. There’s quite a list of these possible errors in Google’s documentation, so if your website is in Google News, you might get these crawl errors. They vary from the lack of a title to errors that tell you that your page doesn’t seem to contain a news article at all. Be sure to check for yourself if this applies to your site.

Fix your crawl errors

The bottom line in this article is definitely: if you encounter crawl errors, fix them. It should be part of your site’s maintenance schedule to check for crawl errors now and then. Besides that, if you have installed our premium plugin, you’ll have a convenient way in WordPress and/or TYPO3 to prevent crawl errors when for instance deleting a page. Be sure to check these features yourselves!

Read more: ‘Google Search Console: Crawl’ »

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