Once you finish a Yoast Academy SEO training course, you get a shiny certificate of completion and a badge you can embed on your site or share on social media. In this way, you can let everyone know about your newly acquired SEO expertise. Awesome! But how useful is SEO certification, really? Does it make a real difference? The honest answer: it sure can, but it depends on your needs and what you’re expecting.

Why getting an SEO certification matters

An SEO certification can help in a number of ways. Obviously, the actual proof of certification matters most to those of you who actually work in the fields of SEO or web design. Or are trying to get there! In this case, you can use your SEO certification to build trust among your customers and help advance your business. However, you can also use it to improve your resume if you work in a different field.

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All-in-one SEO training bundle Info

But honestly, the most important reason to get SEO certified isn’t the piece of digital paper you get at the end. It’s the skills you build to get it. These skills are the real value you get from taking an online SEO course. That said, let’s go through the reasons why you may benefit from getting an SEO certification one by one.

#1 Build trust with your customers

If it’s important to you that others know about your SEO skills, you can use your SEO certification to prove this. You can embed your badge on your website and share your certificate on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and other social media. Of course, where you follow a training course makes all the difference, here. Especially within the world of WordPress, Yoast is a well-known, and trusted brand, which stands for quality and world-class SEO knowledge. Embedding a certificate on your website means showing that you’ve learned from the best.

#2 Show that you do SEO the right way

By getting certified, you can show others how they can expect you to tackle SEO. At Yoast, we have very clear ideas about how you should practice SEO. We advocate a holistic and sustainable SEO strategy, built to last. And we’re known for this.

Of course, we think the world would be better off if everyone followed our lead. In our training courses, we preach what we practice. We don’t like tricks. We want sites to rank by being the best result. By taking a Yoast Academy training course, you make clear that you do SEO the right way, and have the tools to do it!

#3 SEO certification can boost your resume

SEO skills are very valuable! Lots of companies depend on good rankings for their revenue. A capable SEO can make a big difference. Employers know this, but how can they be sure you’re up to the task? Precisely because SEO is such a practical field, anyone can claim they’re an expert. I don’t even want to think about the number of people out there claiming to be SEO experts without having so much as a clue about what they’re talking about. With a certificate, you can back up your claims. You’ve put in the hours, you’ve completed a challenging training course. That’s valuable!

#4 You’ll learn a whole lot along the way

All of the previous arguments are aimed at impressing or persuading others. But the best reason to value an SEO certification is that taking a good training course helps you become a better SEO. Your certificate should not be a goal in and of itself, it should be a nice reward. There’s no better feeling than having worked hard to improve your skills, and seeing the confirmation that you’ve finished a training course successfully.

And when it doesn’t…

As I mentioned before, SEO is a very practical field. If you’re depending on our SEO certification to get you hired somewhere as an SEO expert without any previous experience in the field, don’t get your hopes up. Our training courses are the first step towards expertise. You’ll still have to apply the principles you’ve learned in the real world.

Fortunately, Yoast Academy excels at preparing you for this real-life context. Our training courses allow you to practice actual SEO skills. You can practice writing code and apply your knowledge to realistic example cases. Because of this, there’s only a very small bridge to gap between the theory and actual real-life SEO. You’ll be confident in your abilities, and deservedly so. And the results will bear that out!

Conclusion

There are a lot of good reasons to pursue an SEO certification. It helps build trust and, more importantly, you’ll learn a great deal along the way. On the other hand, don’t expect an SEO certification to magically open doors. The real world asks for real skills. Fortunately, our SEO training courses make sure you’re as well-prepared as possible.

Read more: Yoast Academy: Teach yourself SEO »

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You’ve probably come across the term duplicate content quite a lot, but what is it? Duplicate content is content that lives in several locations — i.e., URLs. Duplicate content can harm your rankings and many people say that copious amounts of it can even lead to a penalty by Google. That’s not true, though. There is no duplicate content penalty, but having loads of duplicate or copied content can get Google to influence your rankings negatively.

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What does duplicate content mean?

Duplicate content is all content that is available on multiple locations on or off your site. It often lives on a different URL and sometimes even on a different domain. Most duplicate content happens accidentally or is the result of a sub-par technical implementation. For instance, your site could be available on both www and non-www or HTTP and HTTPS — or both at the same time, the horror! Or maybe your CMS uses excessive dynamic URL parameters that confuse search engines. Even your AMP pages could count as duplicate content if not linked properly. Duplicate content is everywhere.

Google’s definition of duplicate content is as follows:

“Duplicate content generally refers to substantive blocks of content within or across domains that either completely match other content or are appreciably similar. Mostly, this is not deceptive in origin.”

That last part is important. If you scrape, copy and spin existing content — Google calls this copied content — with the intention of deceiving the search engine to get a higher ranking you will be on dangerous ground.

Google says this type of malicious intent might trigger an action:

“Duplicate content on a site is not grounds for action on that site unless it appears that the intent of the duplicate content is to be deceptive and manipulate search engine results”

Michiel has some great tips for discovering duplicate content on your site: DIY Duplicate content check. Google’s documentation is also a goldmine for working with duplicate content.

Duplicate content vs. copied content vs. thin content

The topic of duplicate content confuses a lot of people. For Google, most duplicate content has a technical origin, but it will also look at the content itself. “I have two URLs for the same article, which one should I choose?” While most regular people will probably think of pieces of similar content that appear elsewhere on a site. “I have used this piece of text in several other places, is that bad?” This is all duplicate content, but for determining rankings, search engines make a distinction between duplicate content, copied content and thin content.

Your duplicate content might classify as copied content if you use an existing text and rehash it quickly to reuse it on your site. It doesn’t matter if you give it a little spin or put in a few keywords, this behavior is not acceptable.  Throw in a couple of thin content pages — pages that have little to no quality content — and you’re in dangerous territory. Site quality is an issue and these tactics can bring serious harm to your site. Remember Panda?

Don’t block duplicate content on your site

Google is pretty apt at discovering and handling duplicate content. The search engine is smart enough to figure out what to do with most of the duplicate content it finds. If it finds multiple versions of a page it will fold these into the version it finds best — in most cases, this will be the original article/page. What it does need, though, is complete access to these URLs. If you block Googlebot in your robots.txt from crawling these URLs, it cannot figure these things out by itself and you will run the risk of Google treating these pages as separate instances. Here are a couple of things you should do:

  • Allow robots to crawl these URLs
  • Mark the content as duplicate by using rel=canonical (read more about this below)
  • Use Google’s URL Parameter Handling tool to determine how parameters should be handled
  • Use 301 redirects to send users and crawlers to the canonical URL

There’s more you can do to fight duplicate content on your site as Joost describes in his article on duplicate content: causes and solutions.

Use rel=canonical!

One of the essential tools in your duplicate content fighting toolkit is rel=”canonical” . You can use this piece of code to determine what the original URL is of a piece of content, something we call the canonical URL. We have an excellent ultimate guide to rel=”canonical” that shows you everything there is to know about it.

Focus on original, fresh and authoritative content

Another tool in your arsenal to fight duplicate, copied and unoriginal content are your writing skills. Google is focused on quality. It is always on the lookout for the best possible piece of content that fits the users intent best. Your goal should not be to make a quick buck but to leave a lasting impression. Watch out for thin content and make sure to make it original and of high quality.

The same goes for similar content on your site. We’ve talked about keyword cannibalization before and this is an extension of that. Folding several comparable posts into one can achieve much better results, both in terms of rankings as well as fighting duplicate content.

Here’s Google’s take on similar content:

“Minimize similar content: If you have many pages that are similar, consider expanding each page or consolidating the pages into one. For instance, if you have a travel site with separate pages for two cities, but the same information on both pages, you could either merge the pages into one page about both cities or you could expand each page to contain unique content about each city.”

Duplicate content is everywhere — know what to do about it

Ex-Googler Matt Cutts once famously said that 20% to 30% of the web consists of duplicate content. While I’m not sure these numbers are still accurate; duplicate content continues to pop up on every site. This doesn’t have to be bad news. Fix what you can and don’t try and turn duplicate content and its siblings copied content and thin content into a viable SEO strategy.

Read more: Content maintenance for SEO »

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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. 

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

Basic SEO training Info

Get the New Basic SEO training Now$199 $169 (ex VAT) for course, certificate and badge

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!

Get the New Basic SEO training Now$199 $169 (ex VAT) for course, certificate and badge

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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

Get the New Basic SEO training Now$199 $169 (ex VAT) for course, certificate and badge

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!

Get the New Basic SEO training Now$199 $169 (ex VAT) for course, certificate and badge

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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?

Free course! Learn what makes your site rank with our SEO for beginners training »

Free SEO course: SEO for beginners Info

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!  

Free course! Learn what makes your site rank with our SEO for beginners training »

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! 

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! »

Local SEO for WordPress plugin Info

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’ »

The post What is local SEO? appeared first on Yoast.

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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