The reviews are on sale! And more news

Do you need to improve the SEO of your website? Do you want our Yoast SEO experts to thoroughly analyze the SEO of your website? You should definitely order a website review now! Our Gold SEO reviews are on sale until May 18 and will cost only $599 instead of $799.

Sale on our SEO reviews

Change in types of SEO reviews

We’ve decided to simplify our assortment of SEO reviews a bit. Up until now you could choose between four types of reviews: Silver, Gold, Diamond and Platinum. As of today, we’ll offer two types of reviews. You can choose our Gold SEO review in which we give lots of practical advice. Or, you can choose our Platinum SEO review, which is a full audit of your website. The Gold SEO review is on sale and costs only $599 (instead of $799). Our Platinum SEO review costs $2999.

Upcoming: Yoast Consulting project

As of next month, we’ll offer a new type of review. At Yoast, we regularly get questions from people who need more guidance in SEO than our reviews can give them. Also, our SEO team likes to carry out more in-depth SEO projects. They love to really dive into a website and give high quality and personal advice. That’s why, as of next month, we’ll start offering Yoast Consulting projects.

In a Yoast Consulting project, we’ll look at every aspect of your website with our complete SEO team! This team consists of Joost, Michiel, Annelieke, Judith, Jaro, Michelle, Patrick and Meike. You’ll receive a complete analysis and many practical tips. We’ll start with an intake meeting by Skype (or you can come by our office in the Netherlands). And we’ll also have a Skype follow-up meeting, to make sure you’re completely satisfied. A Yoast Consulting project will cost $10.000. We’ll only carry out one Yoast Consulting project a month, as it will take much of our time. If you’re interested in purchasing a Yoast Consulting project, make sure to contact us.

Read more: ‘What our website reviews can do for you’ »

What happened to my rankings!?

One of the most asked questions in our site reviews is “What happened to my rankings!?”. Although we have the possibility of using all kind of great tools to analyze your website, this questions remains one of the toughest ones to answer.

Google isn’t always clear about why some sites rank better than others. In this article, I’d like to illustrate how we go about found drops in rankings or traffic, by using an example from our Platinum SEO reviews.

we'll check what happened to your site's ranking

Analyzing the drop

Perhaps something happened to your website at a certain point that caused your rankings to drop or traffic to plummet. Using for instance Google Analytics, you should try to pinpoint the date of the change. The tool we usually use for that, is Searchmetrics.com. Based upon collected data, so not that useful for newer sites, Searchmetrics tells you at what point things changed. Here’s a real life example:

searchmetrics-rankings-drop

That simply hurts. This website took a hit around May 18, perhaps a bit earlier already. Luckily, they were able to gain back a lot of their traffic, but things haven’t been quite like before.

What caused the drop

What we do in this case, is align the graphs in Searchmetrics with Google’s algorithm updates. Usually we turn to Moz, as their overview is accurate and has some convenient links to articles about that drop.

Panda 4.0 (#26) — May 19, 2014
Google confirmed a major Panda update that likely included both an algorithm update and a data refresh. Officially, about 7.5% of English-language queries were affected. While Matt Cutts said it began rolling out on 5/20, our data strongly suggests it started earlier.

Hm, that sounds about right. Right? There was a Payday Loan update on the 16th as well, so let’s not jump to conclusions. What could have triggered a Panda penalty in this case?
majestic-exampleThe website at hand is packed with news, has built up quite some authority over the years and its link profile looks awesome (see image on the right). In MajesticSEO, which we use alongside Searchmetrics for deeper insights on backlinks, that deep purple color indicates loads of linking domains. One might argue on the trust flow of these sites, but a lot of these circle around 20-30 and that seems alright (there is always room for improvement, right). This  shouldn’t have anything to do with that drop.

Panda is about quality. So we checked a number of things, like content quality, design quality, code quality. All seemed right. At that moment, we were tearing our hair out and drinking heavily, as we just could not figure out what happened.

Ghost banners

Ghost banner exampleJust the other day, I was at Conversion Hotel and an obvious subject was ghost buttons. Don’t use these, they’re scary. The website we were analyzing might have had a penalty because of another bad spirit, being ghost banners. Google is a machine. Google recognizes certain sized elements on your website, that have a link and might perhaps be a banner. Think along the lines of a popular posts section, a list of product images or (and even worse) links to related articles on other websites. If your website is packed with these, Google could quite easily mistake these for banners.

Does this mean changing something like a sidebar would help you get rid of that possible Panda penalty? That isn’t guaranteed. Too many factors we can’t influence might play a part in this. What we do in our Platinum SEO review, to our best knowledge and using our combined experience, is analyze your website and identify every possible issue your website might have. The review leaves you with an extensive to-do list. If you follow-up on that list, or have someone follow-up on that list, you will be able to serve your website the best way possible to Google and other search engines.

There is no number one ranking guarantee. You have a part in that optimization, and Google has a part in picking up on changes. But you’ll be able to give it your very best go, using loads of know-how we provide and loads of market knowledge you already have.

Our Platinum SEO review gives you a complete overview of all the things you can do SEO wise to improve your website for search engines.

And it is available now (until December 11) for a mere $1,799 instead of the usual $2,499. So if you have experienced any strange drops in your rankings or traffic, we’d be happy to have a look!

Your website review contains what?

In this article, I’ll explain more about what we address in our website review. That requires a bit of history. For the last 3.5 to 4 years, Joost and I have been sculpting the website reviews into what they are now. We started out writing reports that were focused on both technical and general SEO, and site speed, but found out pretty soon that this just didn’t cover all bases. When we started hiring more and more consultants, every one of those contributed to the recommendations we give our customers today. In this post, I’ll go over all sections of our current Gold SEO reviews.

Yoast website reviews help you optimize your site

UX and conversion

One of the first things that were clear pretty much immediately when we started writing website reviews, was that ugly sites almost never rank well. You can quote me on that. Design, and perhaps even more user experience, are an important part of the holistic SEO approach we recommend.

In this section of our website reviews, we address the general appeal of a website. Our consultants have seen their share of websites (we’ve done over a 1.000 reviews, none of those was automated) and we review this from experience and knowledge gathered over the years. This includes checking things like call-to-action, tone of voice and a number of possible accessibility issues like the contrast. But we’ll also see if your 404 page can be improved, for instance. And we’ll obviously recommend against using that slider you still think is useful.

Site content

If you have been following our website for a certain time now, you’ll have noticed we’re very keen on quality content. With the vast diversity of devices we use to browse websites, the importance of content for any search engine is obvious. It’s the central part of your website, and the rest is decoration (but not too be forgotten, as highlighted among others in the section above).

The quality of the main content is determined by how much time, effort, expertise, and talent/skill have gone into the creation of the page.
Google Quality Guidelines

Site content isn’t just about keyword strategy, but also about the content a site uses in a broader spectrum. We take the amount of content per page into account, for instance, and see if we can find any duplicate content. We’ll also try to provide some insights on site structure and use of taxonomies. With our Gold SEO review, we’ll either confirm you’re on the right track, or explain what can be improved and how.

More insights and examples in the Platinum SEO review

There is one remark to be made: we won’t go into sentence-detail when analyzing your content. We have priced our website reviews so we can give the best value for money (Gold $799 and Silver $699). The Platinum review (normally priced at $2499) provides even more insights! We use more tools to analyze your website and go into more details using screenshots as well. Read on to the end of this post, as we have an offer for you :)

Social media marketing

We’ve had our share of website review customers that told us their type of business didn’t need social media. It’s simple: if nobody talks about you, you can’t be an authority. Posting stuff about you on Twitter and Facebook is how people talk about you online. This is a vital part of your online marketing these days and every website review should at least mention the use of social media.

In our website reviews, we check both your community pages (like your Facebook page) and how you’re using these, and also how you’re using social media on your website. Are share buttons in an obvious spot? Are social buttons easy to find? Just some of the things we check. The main goal is to make you aware of the possibilities and the way you’re leveraging social media marketing for your website.

Template code

If you’re serious about your website, you’re serious about your template code. Messing this up could literally influence every one of the other sections mentioned in this article. It could mean design can’t be changed that easy, it could mess up perfectly structured content, and it could seriously reduce speed.

In the website review, we check the inclusion of CSS and JavaScript. We check the use of schema.org and how breadcrumbs are included. We obviously check your mobile website (remember Mobilegeddon?) for errors and user-friendliness.

The template code chapter is mainly about technical optimization. The part we address next is what we call general seo.

General SEO

SEO is dead, right? Well, part of that could be true. I sometimes feel we SEO consultants put the discussion on hold as we have no clue what to call ourselves if SEO is really dead. Website consultant? Digital marketeer? Joost did an awesome presentation on the subject during WordCampNL earlier this year. But there are still some basics that I would call SEO. For now.

One of the main ranking factors has always been and perhaps still is the title of a page. You obviously want that branded. You still want canonical URLs to be used in the correct way and your links (backlinks, permalinks and internal links) to be the best they can be.

The general SEO section is also where we check sitemaps and meta descriptions, and tell you to stop using those meta keywords.

Site speed

For our Silver SEO reviews, this is the final section. For most of our customers, this is something they’re dying to start with. This is also the section they’re less confident about. “I combined CSS files and my site broke.” You probably heard that one before. Things like compression and browser cache are hard to understand or do for an average website owner. We know a bunch of people that can help you, but also try to explain in layman’s language what these things do and how you, or your host/developer should go about this.

Note that some parts of speed optimization are a lot easier when you are using WordPress.

WordPress

If you are that lucky customer that found a decent WordPress developer and are now using the CMS that powers 25% of the web, the Gold SEO review has an extra section for you.

In this WordPress section, first we check security. After that, we see what plugins you have installed and what plugins we are missing that could be useful for you. Of course, we don’t know all 40,000+ plugins in the plugin directory at wordpress.org, but we’ve used our share of these and are continuously testing new ones (have you tried WP Rocket? It’s awesome).

After our website review

One very important addition to all the sections listed above, is that we only mention what is relevant for your website. We could easily create a tool that would scrape your website and give you a 300+ checks containing report. But that would be of no use as most of that report would simply not apply to your website. We want to focus on what’s relevant.

In that process, we have written recommendations over and over again and found that a lot of these recommendations applied to more than one website. To further reduce our prices for the Silver and Gold SEO reviews, we have templated some of the recommendations. Besides that, we left plenty of room for additional, handwritten recommendations. Sometimes you just want to emphasize certain issues mentioned in the review, or explain where that recommendation is coming from.

The end result of all of this is a website review tailored to your website, highlighting all the things you are doing right, and all of the things that can be improved.

Why am I telling you all of this?

Two reasons. We are often asked what a Gold SEO review can do for a website. What it contains, and if we can just analyze the technical stuff instead of everything. I hope this post tells you we do not believe in just optimizing one aspect of your website. Use a holistic approach.

The second reason is that our website reviews are currently on sale until December 11.

There is a $100 discount on the Silver (non-WordPress) and Gold (WordPress) reviews.

There is also a whopping $700 discount on our Platinum SEO review (now only $1799), that contains both the Silver or Gold review and a tailor-made analysis of for instance your site’s history and a lot more insights coming from Google Analytics and Google Search Console.

Bully Max“We decided to have our website reviewed by team Yoast after using their SEO plugin for WordPress. So far we found the information they provided extremely helpful and it put our website right on track to where it needs to be. If you have an online store, getting a review done by Team Yoast is an absolute must.”
Matthew Kinneman, owner of Bully Max Dog Supplements

Having ranking/Panda/content/Penguin/indexability issues? We’d be happy to have a look.

Website SEO reviews: now on sale!

Our website reviews are on sale! For the next two and a half weeks you’ll get a $100 discount on our Silver SEO review  and Gold SEO review and a $700 discount on our Platinum SEO review. That’s almost 30% off!

Check out our website reviews »

Yoast SEO website reviews are on sale

Silver SEO review

The Silver SEO review is the least expensive review. Nevertheless we’ll check all essential SEO aspects of your site. The review will be done by our SEO experts, and we’ll check everything from your site’s content, speed, code, design and usability to your site’s conversion.

Gold SEO review

The Gold SEO review is basically the same thing as our Silver SEO review, but tailored to WordPress sites. With it, you’ll get a Yoast SEO Premium license, and we’ll also set up your Yoast SEO plugin ourselves. That way you know for sure you’ve set everything in our plugin the right way.

Platinum SEO review

The Platinum SEO review is our most elaborate review. We’ll do all the checks of the Silver and Gold SEO review, but we’ll also check your site’s Google Analytics, Google Search Console and ranking history. So in this review we are no longer limited to things we find on your site, but we’ll also analyze your site’s performance. This means you’ll get a very complete idea of what you could improve and how your site is doing.

All reviews come with 6 weeks of email support

A Silver or Gold SEO review?

The Silver and Gold SEO review include the same type of analysis. We will manually check your site for approximately 200 issues (depending on the type of site) using a variety of tools. The issues could be design or user experience related, content issues or general/technical SEO suggestions and much more.

The review will give you a nice to do list, telling you what you are doing right and what you should improve. You, your developer or your copywriter can go over this list and fix issue-by-issue. This will make sure your website is served to Google in the best way possible.

For WordPress sites, we have added some extras in the Gold SEO review. We’ll not only check your website, but you’ll also get a premium plugin of your choice and our eBook bundle! In the Gold SEO review, we will also go over the general settings of your Yoast SEO for WordPress plugin, so you know everything is set up right for your type of website, so you won’t have any worries about that ever again.

Take it one step further: the Platinum SEO review

If you think you have all the basics covered and want us to do a deeper analysis of your website, you should really order the Platinum SEO review now. We have never done a discount like this before: you’ll save yourself $700 on a Platinum review! Its original price is $2499, but now you’ll get this review for only $1799!

We want your website to be ready for 2016 as much as you do. But perhaps ghosts from the past are bugging your rankings… We will analyze your website’s historic data in  Searchmetrics.com. We’ll check your backlinks in MajesticSEO. And we’ll use Google Search Console and Google Analytics to see what else could be wrong – or improved.

In the Platinum review we’ll also dig a bit more into your site itself. Using screenshot where applicable and examples from your website itself, we’ll illustrate what and how things can be improved. If you are serious about your website and your online business, this is the review for you.

The last day of this sale will be December 10. Make sure to order your review before that date!

Due to an expected increase in workload because of this sale, we might need some weeks extra to finish the discounted reviews (usually the delivery time is 2 weeks for Silver/Gold and 3 weeks for a Platinum SEO review).

Live website reviews: lessons learned

Live website reviews: lessons learnedJust the other day, I was at this local event where we did some live reviews for small business owners. It’s always a lot of fun to experience live reactions to some of the statements we make. People start frowning, most of the times.

In this post, I will share the things that caught my attention during the live website reviews. The things that were so obvious that made the live website review ‘customer’ facepalm the most.

What’s the purpose of your website?

It’s amazing to see how little small business owners have thought about the main purpose of their website. “My website is to inform potential customers of all the things I can do for them.” I call BS on that. We have Wikipedia for that. As a small business owner, the sole purpose of 99% of the websites is to get people to contact you or directly order your products. It has to do with some kind of online interaction that leads to a delivery of goods or services.

During a live website review, we try to tell the person across the table as much as possible, in a way that they understand what we mean. No difficult technical stuff, no to-do list for a web developer, but things they can do themselves within WordPress (most of the times). In this particular live website review, the business owner sold Cesar Therapy. Cesar Therapy is a therapy to improve posture and movement, most commonly known to help with chronic lower back pain. It’s a matter of trust, of course. The purpose of the website is to establish trust and get the visitor to contact the website owner. My advice:

  • Add a picture of yourself to the homepage. There were nice, friendly photos on other pages, but not on the homepage. This increases the feeling of being welcome, and trust.
  • Add your phone number in the header of your website. This makes it easy to contact you. People will be delighted that they don’t have to search for your contact details in the footer or on a contact page. Make it easy to contact you.
  • Add a contact form. Contact forms allow for easy contact via email without the need for an email application. Although most of us carry our email with us on our phones, I still very much like filling out a form instead of being redirected to my email app. Show your email address in a visible place as well though, for users who prefer that.

Evaluate your current pages and menu items

One of the sites we did a live website review for, had a menu item stating ‘When’. So my statement was, that this was clearly for opening hours. It was the third of eight menu items, so I knew it wouldn’t be that simple. The person across the table sighed and said: “I get what you mean.” The page was about ‘when to contact me and what I can do for you’. “When” just wasn’t the right menu item name for that. It should be something like ‘products’, ‘treatments’ or ‘services’, and preferably even more specific.

We clicked that link and found a page that had a list of all kinds of things that this company could help a customer with. It was a bullet list containing 15 items, and the customer told me that they were currently not in Google for any of these items. To rank for a keyword, you need to optimize a page for that. We have told you that before, and will keep on telling you that. All of the 15 keywords on that page were only listed on that page. I gave the customer 15 ideas for new pages that would help them rank better :)

Why you shouldn’t use large headers

One of the websites we did a live website review for, was a site for a health coach. It was clearly about food and exercise, but a huge header image with raspberries (actually a slider,) blocked all information on my 13″ MacBook. Just showing these things helps a lot. Back in the old days, when I built websites myself, I always took a step back from my desk and stared at the design I just set up. Just for a minute. It should be obvious and immediately clear what the website is about and preferably what you can do for your customer.

A large header could prevent the user from seeing all the good information that is right below it. If you insist on using a header image, be sure to set the height to a number of pixels that will allow the visitor to see the information.

How long are your reading lines?

Another thing to consider when it comes to readability is the length of your text lines. You can find a couple of studies about this online, but there doesn’t seem to be a default solution for this. It all depends on the font type used, and the size of your font.

In Readability: the Optimal Line Length, Christian Holt mentions multiple suggested text line lengths, stating these should be 50 to 65 or 75 characters. We prefer to talk about a certain number of words per line. Ilene Strizver even takes text alignment into account in her article Line Length & Column Width. She states that non-justified text should be 9 to 12 words per line, and justified text should be 12 to 15 words. From our experience, 10 to 15 words is indeed a good read. Is that exact science? No, definitely not. It’s our experience from reading and reviewing over 1,000 websites.

Now over to you

For me, the issues mentioned in this article are some of the first things that come to mind when (re)viewing a website:

  • a website should have a clear purpose;
  • the main pages and menu have to be valuable for a visitor;
  • you shouldn’t use large headers, but present the main content immediately;
  • keep your reading lines short for better on-screen reading.

These are my pet peeves. What are the things you find most annoying when visiting a website? Looking forward to your comments!

This post first appeared as Live website reviews: lessons learned on Yoast. Whoopity Doo!

SEO changes, and so do our site reviews

SEO changes, and so do our site reviewsYoast has three main product lines. You all know our plugins, which are the main part of our business. Next to that, we have written a number of eBooks (the third one is actually coming out soon!) and we perform website reviews on a daily basis.

All three product lines are related: they’re all about optimizing your website for both Google and your visitors. From our site reviews, we learn the issues webmasters or website owners are struggling with. Both from the intake forms that we send before the review, as from the six weeks of email support we provide with our reviews. The things we learn provide valuable input to improve our plugins, and provide ideas for our eBooks and the upcoming Yoast Academy we’ll be launching later this year.

This coherence in our products makes that we can stay on top of our game.

Ever changing website reviews

Our website reviews help you to optimize your website the best way possible. In our Gold Review, we check your website for over 300 possible issues, depending on the type of website you have. Obviously, we focus on the issues that matter most.

These checks sometimes change on a weekly basis, and a lot of these changes are triggered by market developments or Google algorithm changes. Sometimes new checks are ‘inspired’ by the blog posts or the eBooks we write. Let me give you an example. Over the last year, the importance of headings for SEO has decreased a lot. It’s more and more a user-friendly way to mark up your articles, instead of headings having any SEO value for your page. In our reviews, we do a number of checks for headings, but with more and more UX focus. I can imagine we will eventually check for instance the design and how font sizes of H2 and H3 relate to each other, as Google is better and better at analyzing the design of a website, regardless of the markup itself.

Another example. Authorship markup isn’t important anymore for your rankings. That doesn’t mean the author isn’t either. In our reviews, we removed the check for authorship, but there should still be attention for the author, so we do check for that.

All kinds of customers

Our Gold Reviews consist of a number of checks that apply to all websites, but a number of checks is tailored to specific types of sites.

If a site for instance is an online shop, we check how customer support is integrated into the website. If you want to increase trust, and thus lower the barriers to purchase a product in your web store, you want to make sure there is an obvious way to contact you. That could be by displaying a phone number in your header. With more and more live chats on eCommerce websites, this might become a substitute for that phone number. But as long as not all your customers are used to live chat, you really need that phone number.

We also encounter photography websites on a regular basis. These websites are usually about photos, photos and nothing but photos. You really want text to go along with these, and you also want to use schema.org data to make sure Google can ‘read’ these images as good as possible as well.

Magazine websites or blogs require a different focus than purely informative websites. There is more user interaction and archives play a huge role. In our reviews, we will pay extra attention to these specific issues, where we might focus more on a menu and search option for the informative websites.

User experience is related to all kind of things, one of them being theme color. We have seen dentist websites that were going against the stream with green and orange color schemes. If you Google ‘dentist website’ in image search, your screen will turn blue. Only a few, specialized dentist websites can pull off a different color scheme than that. In our reviews, we try to take the business type and branding into account when advising on user experience.

That’s just a tip of the iceberg. Our Gold Reviews help all kind of websites, from large, well-known sites to the grocery next door.

Gold review: value for money

We have to adjust our reviews on a regular basis to match up to latest developments in the SEO world. As our reviews change, we always keep a keen eye on the value for money as well. It’s a combination of time spent, euro-dollar rate and capacity. We have hired more consultants, have upgraded our tools and accordingly, permanently lowered the price for our Gold Review.

If you have ever considered ordering a Gold Review, but decided not to at that time, you might want to reconsider now. Our Gold Review is now available for only $899 $799. Go and order your review. Or visit that same page for more information, of course.

Marita Meegan Fundraisingip.com“If you need in-depth on-page and off-page SEO analysis, their customized Website Review analyses about 200 factors on your website. In other words, Yoast stays on top of not just Google’s updates but also new opportunities for SEO in order to provide a first class review.”
Marita Meegan, founder of FundraisingIP.com

We’re happy to help you improve your website!

This post first appeared as SEO changes, and so do our site reviews on Yoast. Whoopity Doo!

What our website reviews can do for you

“Can you make us rank #1 for our keyword?” “How much more traffic can you promise us?” “Can you make us rank higher, and if so, what spot?” These are just a few examples of questions we often get from people interested in our website reviews. Unfortunately, SEO doesn’t work this way, at all. We can’t guarantee a #1 position, or more traffic, or higher rankings. We can give you the tools to make it a lot more likely that you will rank higher. And oftentimes, this really helps customers with their rankings and their website in general.

Reviews_FI

 

Today we’re going to show you an example of one of our review customers and what our website reviews did for her. The customer we’re referring to is Lisa League, who’s running the website of Qpractice.

Ranking and traffic results

Lisa maintains the aforementioned website called Qpractice, which helps students pass the NCIDQ (National Council for Interior Design Qualification) exam the first time. We delivered Lisa’s Gold review in september of 2014. Since then she’s been working really hard at improving as much as she could of what we mentioned in the review.

Before we get to the results of this, we need to explain that Qpractice’s business is very cyclical. This means that during January through April it has high peaks of traffic (and sales) and then drops down until July through October, after which it drops down again. And so on. So the drop you see right after our review is a natural one.

Here’s what Lisa’s optimization based on our website review did for her traffic:

Qpractice: compare 2014-2015

As you can see, her traffic’s increased quite a lot. In fact, her traffic increased over 60% compared to the year before. And that’s not all that changed:

Qpractice: percentages 2014-2015

So not only has she had more sessions to her site, but also did the amount of pageviews and pageviews per visit increase a lot. Since the first time we published these results (June 17, 2015), the average session duration actually increased to the whopping 16.6% increase in this overview. Next to that, the bounce rate, which had already decreased by 20% in June, kept dropping to the current 30% decrease now. That’s pretty amazing!

At the moment of writing, we can also conclude that rankings for the website are excellent as well. For the main keyword NCIDQ, Lisa ranks #3, right after the official NCIDQ website and Wikipedia. That’s simply great! If you are a regular visitor of our blog, you know we always focus on content a lot. Our review provides tools to set that content up the right way, but after that it’s still up to the customer to follow up on our recommendations. Lisa did an awesome job on that.

This is also illustrated by the data Searchmetrics provides. Qpractice ranks for a number of keywords, including long-tail keywords:

Qpractice: rankings

This is just the tip of the iceberg. The site ranks for a lot more related keywords. Lisa had this to say about her rankings:

Lisa League avatar 400x400“My rankings have been good, I’m regularly in the top 3 for my head keywords, and regularly 1 or 2 for some important ones.”

Lisa League – Owner of Qpractice

Sale results

So that ranking and traffic are looking pretty good, right? However, traffic usually doesn’t pay the bills, especially when that traffic doesn’t convert. So that’s why we were thrilled to get this quote from Lisa this week (January 18, 2016):

“In the past 2 weeks I’ve done more business than the first several months last season, and the results continue to build.”

As you can imagine, Lisa is very happy with the results :) And so are we. It does have to be said: none of these results would’ve happened if Lisa wasn’t so tenacious in implementing any changes we recommended. And that’ll be true for you as well: the reviews won’t do anything if you don’t put in the time to walk through them and implement our recommendations. So start optimizing your site today!

Read more: ‘Live website reviews’ »

Five things you are doing wrong

time for reviewThe more reviews we do, the more we feel there is a serious problem with the website owners’ perception of their websites and the content on these website.

In this post, we will give our recommendations for the top five issues most websites have and probably do not know they have.

Call-to-action on your homepage

I’m not referring to the call-to-action on your product page. Neither am I referring to the call-to-action on your contact page. The one call-to-action that goes wrong on 90% of all the sites we review, is the call-to-action on the homepage. And most of the times, this isn’t due to a wrong design of a button, to be honest. If a website owner has been reading just a tad bit about call-to-actions, there is a huge button present on the homepage. This will make clear exactly what the owner wants the visitor to do. But there is more to a proper call-to-action:

  1. A call-to-action should stand out. Not just by being huge, but also by using for instance a color that isn’t used in the theme. If your website has mainly blue elements, make sure the call-to-action is for instance green or red. Not blue, even though that might ‘looks so nice in the design’. Forgive me for saying this, but screw the theme design when it comes to call-to-actions. Make them stand out.
    Next to that, make sure the call-to-action has a great text. Refrain from button texts like “Send”, “Submit”, “Read more”. Use texts like “Get your free sample »” or “More on [this subject] »”.
  2. Make sure it’s the right one. What? Yes, in a lot of cases we find that the main purpose of the website is to get people to call for more information, yet the call-to-action goes to a contact form on a hidden contact page that will merely send an email instead of allowing for immediate one-on-one communication.
    One of the last sites I checked myself had that very problem. There were two (?) phone numbers listed rather small in the header. The introductory content had a huge button to a contact form. Explain what phone number to use when – or rather use just one main number – and make that the main call-to-action. In conclusion: think about the main purpose of your website and make sure the call-to-action on your homepage is related.

There is a lot more to a call-to-action. If you want to read more about that call-to-action on other pages than the homepage, please read my post on Calling to the Next Action.

What the visitor is looking for

Sometimes you are telling your visitors what you think is valuable for them, where they are actually looking for something else. Compare what you feel your users are looking for to what they are actually looking for.

We dealt with this issue ourselves on this website. In the initial page for the site reviews, we told the potential client everything we felt they wanted us to check. We told them what we would analyze, instead of what they would learn as a result of that. Currently, our Gold Review page is set up just for the visitor and tells you less about the technical details of the checks we will be performing. Most customers don’t really care. They want to be able to present the web developer and copywriter with a clear to-do list. The end goal is to optimize the entire website for better user experience, better SEO and better conversion, of course. That’s a different story than telling people about schema.org and mobile menus, which might be a bit too much details for a sales page.

The same happened with the page about our Local SEO plugin. Focus is on what it does for the visitor and for the website as such. The technical details, that only are of interest for a smaller number of customers, are moved all the way down. For us developers, these technical details are the things we have been focusing on the entire development time, so it seems obvious to start with these on the page about the plugin.

Note that that doesn’t mean we don’t provide details. Usually people email us for more details, at which point we tell them “our reviews cover all areas of a website. These are just a few things, the list is much larger, but this will give you a good impression:

  • User experience: design, call-to-actions, 404s, your menu
  • Content: insights on keywords, structure, internal search, taxonomies
  • Social Media: use and implementation on websites
  • Template code: schema.org, responsiveness, template files
  • General seo: site titles, meta tags, internal links
  • Site speed: caching, compression, image optimization
  • And more!”

Textexpander is our best friend in this.

Using banners

We review quite a lot of websites that sell a product or service, but also leverage their website to push a number of banners. Not like we do, for their own products, but using services like Google Adwords or other affiliate programs. There are a number of things that you want to make sure of:

  1. Focus should be on your content at all times. If your web page has three banners and an equal number of text lines, Google Panda could be your worst enemy. Stop being bamboo. Make sure the amount of text on a page makes sure that main text is the absolute main element of that page.
  2. Banners and affiliate links are of use. If your website is about recipes, and your banners are about mortgages, chances are your audience will either ignore the banner or even find it annoying. If the banner is about kitchen tools and equipment, your visitor might find that appealing, and might actually thank you for bringing the product to their attention by clicking the banner and perhaps eventually buying the product.
  3. Affiliate links should be cloaked. Following the previous section, I’ll try to use layman language: hide the fact that you are using affiliate links. We did an article on that: How to cloak your affiliate links. Both redirect these links and use robots.txt to disallow these redirects for Google. Only the combination works. Oftentimes, we see the redirect, but the robots.txt part is left out. Do both.

One small remark on call-to-action here. Most banner designers understand the power of a great call-to-action. For that reason, most banners contain a call-to-action as well. If you are serving banners on your website, make sure these don’t interfere with your own call-to-action. Just saying.

Mobilegeddon

Really, I don’t care if you like the name or not. Fact is that mobile traffic is rapidly taking over desktop traffic, and that mobilegeddon is an actual thing you should pay attention to. There is a simple reason why Google likes responsive websites: more and more Google searches are on mobile devices. It’s as simple as that.

What does that mean for your mobile website? Quite a lot, actually. A mobile website should list the main tasks first. In the reviews, a very common recommendation is to list the phone number in the first view of the website. And make it clickable. Nothing more annoying than a phone number on a mobile website that can’t be clicked. It’s a simple adjustment, really.

Besides that, mobile menus and links should be usable. It the menu is crammed with links to your pages, it’s not user friendly. Really focus on the main pages, even if that for instance means disabling the submenu. What we have also seen a number of times, is that the page is optimized for a mobile phone, and the mobile design is also used for the tablet version of the website. In most cases, that means poor user experience. The desktop site would be more appropriate on a tablet.

These are just a few things. I did a post a while back that can help you identify flaws in your mobile design. Read that one and visit your own website on a mobile phone.

One last remark. If your website is responsive, that doesn’t per se mean all images are. If your stylesheet (CSS) has a section for the mobile website, be sure to add something like img {max-width:100%;} (ask your developer), just to make sure all images fit the screen.

Links to your website

Our Gold and Silver reviews mainly focus on the website as is. Most of the recommendations can be addressed by a copywriter or a web developer. We can simply tell you what to do and if performed right, it will help your website. There is one thing in these reviews that we can not control and have little influence on: backlinks.

Using tools like Majesticseo.com and Searchmetrics.com, we are able to check how many backlinks your website has, how important the websites linking your website are and if you have over-optimized the anchor texts.
The number of backlinks tells us and Google something about the authority your website has. If lots of sites link your website, you must have something interesting to say, right? The website linking yourself preferably also holds that authority. Majesticseo sheds some light on this by comparing trust flow and citation flow. For more background on that I’d like to refer to my article Cleaning up bad backlinks.
lastly, the anchor text of the links to your website needs to be right. Normally, the most used anchor for a website is the URL or the brand / site name. If the most used anchor is a product name, or something else completely, that will set of alarms for over-optimization.

For more background on link building, please read Paddy Moogan’s The Link Building Book.

Our site reviews

All of the five sections above highlight things you most probably have heard of. Things you probably have been dealing with for your own website. And our website reviews show that these things are done wrong in a lot of cases.

It’s really the tip of the iceberg. These are five things we wanted to share with you upfront. And we’d be more than happy to tell you even more in one of our site reviews, of course. Let me give you a very brief summary of the review variations we have:

  • The Silver review is for non-WordPress websites and contains an analysis of your website from from to back, dealing with things from user experience and design to speed and template code. More on that review here.
  • The Gold review deals with the same subjects, but has the added benefit that we know our way around .WordPress. We will advise on plugins and where possible, will tell you how to solve things in WordPress. Besides that, the Gold review comes with a 1-year license for WordPress SEO Premium and our eBooks.
  • The Platinum review contains the Gold review, but has an additional report on the specific issues we found on your website and digs a lot more into the history of the website. We will go over Google Analytics and Google Search Console (formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools) much more and trends in Searchmetrics.com are checked by default.
  • The Diamond review is for those that want to go all out. It’s the Platinum review, containing the Gold review, but has a separate Conversion review included as well. Especially for webshops, this is a really valuable way to make sure you have all bases covered.

It’s up to you!

Stop wasting time optimizing your website by trial and error. If none of the five things mentioned in the article above make you scratch your head, optimize on writing great content. If any of these do make you doubt yourself, please don’t waste precious time and order one of our reviews as soon as possible!

All reviews and all checks are done manually. This only allows for a number of reviews per week, so be sure to order your review in time!

This post first appeared as Five things you are doing wrong on Yoast. Whoopity Doo!

The power of our reviews

We’ve been doing our website reviews for quite some time now. Over the past years, we have reviewed more than 1,700 websites (!) and counting. In this article, I’d like to show you how our reviews can help your website by highlighting some of the recommendations and how the follow-up on that resulted in increased traffic and sales. Bully Max is a very loyal customer of ours, that is using a lot of our products (far more than just the website audits). Let me demonstrate how our reviews have helped them grow their business.

If you order a review for your webshop now, you’ll get $50 off! Just use SHOP2016REVIEW in the checkout. Go optimize your webshop today! »

The website review

It all started when our friends over at Bully Max ordered a website review from us in June 2013. Their website homepage looked something like this (this is a screenshot directly from our review):

Bully Max Dog Supplements Pitbull Food Dog Vitamins 710 7

The website had a lot of potential, with the company being in a clear niche market and having a very passionate team that was willing to go the extra mile. As there is always room for improvement, they asked us to do a website review for them.

Some of the things that just had to be improved

The website had a slider, which we disliked then as much as we do now. Sliders often cause distraction from the main element of your (home)page. This could lead to a very noticeable lack of focus. There was simply too much going on.
At the moment, Bully Max’s homepage looks like this:

Bully Max, official website

Create trust, great call-to-action. Remember that these vitamins for pitbulls are a rather emotional product. We’re talking about your pet here and you only want the best for your pet! Once the website has convinced you about the products, there is a clear call-to-action to go shop for your dog’s vitamins. No doubt about what the visitors should do here. Much improvement when it comes to focus.

Please note that Bully Max shifted the main product area to bullymax.com, where we reviewed the original domain of vitaminsforpitbulls.com. That website still exists, but links to the brand domain for products and more. Activities shifted from one to another website, visibility still increased for the old domain (nice job).

Of course we found more on the initial website. Looking at their product pages, we found the product descriptions were all duplicate. If you own a webshop and you’re selling products that others are selling as well, here’s an invaluable tip: write your own content. No matter how awesome your website is, you just won’t rank for your product descriptions if there are 500 other webshops with an exact copy of that description. Webshop owners often simply use a manufacturer’s description, for instance. This inevitably leads to duplicate content.

As I bet some of you know, we are unforgiving in our review. The final report consisted of almost 6000 words of critique. And Bully Max was ecstatic. They simply understood the value of all that we had to say and got to work. You just got to love customers like that!

The results in ranking

Bully Max considers their website an ongoing work in progress, and have told us multiple times they’re using our reviews almost on a daily basis. So, to us, the results they’re seeing isn’t much of a surprise. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t make us proud. I mean, just look at it:

The traffic on their website almost tripled over that period! And that’s just traffic. Look at this Searchmetrics.com visibility chart I took today (vitaminsforpitbulls.com):

SEO visibility for vitaminsforpitbulls.com (chart)

An extra to that is the chart for the new website bullymax.com (launched around the second quarter of 2015):

SEO Visibility for bullymaxcom

The increasing visibility for both websites, and the extra traffic that comes along with that, is the result of hard work on the side of Bully Max. And the willingness to take on our advice and trust what we had to say.

Buy one of our Website reviews »

The Conversion review

Back in 2014, we felt we could share more knowledge about conversion as well. Before releasing the Conversion review, we held a trial among our website review customers. That way, we could perfect our product before making it available to the masses.

Literally within 10 minutes of sending the mail, Bully Max replied that they wanted to buy the Conversion review. They were very eager to try out this new product. We obviously were very happy to have such enthusiastic and hard-working customers for our first Conversion review.

Here’s what their website looked like then, after a number of initial changes they did following our first review:

power of our reviews

Bully Max added loads of content. They did a great job improving the website, and we noticed. As I mentioned earlier, there is always room for improvement, there are always some things that can be better. Their main conversion issue, which was most probably costing them sales, was their website’s responsiveness. Their website was less suited for a mobile device and to be honest, their mobile website just didn’t work at all. And that’s a big flaw, if you consider the fact that almost 50% of their traffic came from mobile.

These days, with Accelerated Mobile Pages being a hot topic, most website owners understand the need for a great mobile/responsive website. That has changed a lot over the past two years. Having said that, we still see our share of websites that are just not optimized (enough) for mobile users. If a theme is responsive, that doesn’t mean all your content is. Videos or images that just don’t scale are rather common. Don’t just believe your web developer created a mobile website, but visit your website from a mobile device from time to time, to check if all of your content nicely scales as well.

As I said, Bully Max continues to improve their website. The current design is already a lot different from the orange and black improvements they made back then, but just look at what their homepage looked like in April of 2014:

vitaminsforpitbulls.com design (April 2014)

What I really like about Bully Max, is that while a design improvement is rather easy to do (switch theme, change some CSS and images, things like that), the Searchmetrics.com chart above shows that Bully Max continued to focus on content as well.

Looking at their long tail keywords, I found that vitaminsforpitbulls.com is ranking very well for specific long tail keywords:

Rankings long tail; keywords - vitaminsforpitbulls.com - Searchmetrics.com table

That just means they kept a lot of focus on (new) content, while continuously testing and improving their design as well. Meanwhile, bullymax.com nails the brand-related keywords:

brand related keywords

The homepage ranks for these keywords, but well, that is just what we mentioned in our post about branding.

The results in sales

Of course we won’t be publishing any hard numbers, but we do have approval to show you some nice percentages (March 2014). Let me show you why BullyMax is so happy with our review:

ecommerce_overview_-_google_analytics_2014-03-11_11-31-49_2014-03-11_11-31-52 2014-03-14 15-40-06 2014-03-14 15-42-58

These are the increases and decreases in percentages. I’m already hearing you say: “but the average order value went down!”. Yes, it did. And that’s the only thing that went down, and not even significantly so. For the non-believers out there: the sales weren’t low to begin with, so these percentages really do mean something.

The conclusion

“As you can see your reviews have paid off big-time for us. Your reviews continue to inspire us daily at Bully Max. Also, your blog is now what I consider written by the dream team of SEO and internet marketing. You guys have sure put together a great team of which we read every chance we can. Sometimes I see a new awesome educating article and have to email it to Matt.”

Todd Jirecek, Director of SEO, Bully Max Inc.

As we’ve tried to show you in this post, both our website reviews and our conversion reviews can have a major impact on your business. Note that our current Diamond review combines all of this.
Please note this doesn’t just happen like that. We can’t emphasize this enough: you have to work really hard at it. These audits will do nothing for you if you’re not willing to sit down and get cracking on your website. If you really put some effort in it, our reviews will have a lasting effect, as this Bully Max case shows.

By the way, please don’t make the mistake of thinking that SEO, or Conversion Rate Optimization, is a ‘trick’. There are no settings you need to tick or untick to make your website rank or sell better. It requires genuine effort. And the payoff will taste all the sweeter for it, so go optimize!

What do you think? Are you ready to optimize?

Read more: ‘Planning and checking your Conversion Rate Optimization’ »

Site reviews: new setup, new pricing!

site reviewsToday we’ll be releasing a renewed setup for our site reviews.

For the past year, we have been limiting the slots for our site review orders to a fixed number per week. The demand for the service is overwhelming, and we would like to thank all customers for the trust you have in our expertise. And for the great responses you gave us after receiving the reviews:

Yoast, I have to say, that this was one of the best thousand bucks I’ve spent in IT – ever. What a phenomenal amount of insight and advise you’ve given us. Thanks, and I’m sure we’ll use you again on future projects.
Henry Meyne, CTO of Hoozon

We are very keen on serving you quality information that will help you improve your website, both for visitors and Google.

Over the last number of months, we realized that customers want to know everything. Not just what’s wrong, but also all that is right. We’ve had a number of responses saying ‘have you checked this or that?’. That is why we decided to open up the entire scope of things we check during a review.

Silver Review

We have set up a huge list of over 200 checks we perform for a review, and have written clear and to-the-point right and wrong chapters per check, like this:

breadcrumbs check

This means we will be able to do a more time-efficient review for your website, in which it will be very clear what we have checked and what areas need attention, in our expert opinion. Note that while the chapters in this checklist are templates, our team of experts will manually go over your website to see what’s right and wrong.

The Yoast Website Review team, from left to right: Michiel, Joost and Thijs. Annelieke is not on this picture - yet.

The reason for still doing this manually is simple: automatic checks should only be done when you are absolutely right that the check result is correct. We check the things that we feel are important for improving your website, and your rankings or user experience along with that.

WordPress websites

Yes. We do around 30 extra checks for WordPress websites. Simply because we know WordPress, publish a lot of plugins that will help you improve your website and know a lot of plugins that actually work. And of course we will also check the use and settings of the WordPress SEO plugin as well. This all as a free bonus, just because you are running WordPress.

More information about our Silver Reviews and ordering here!

Gold Review

Since e-commerce websites have more specified issues to take in account for SEO and user experience, we added quite a few extra checks (50+) in our e-commerce checklist.

These checks include specific URL structure and for instance have an extra focus on duplicate content. Conversion is also a larger part of these checks than in the regular checklist. Of course there also are a number of extra, valuable pages on e-commerce sites like product pages.

It will not be as extensive as our Conversion Review, but will give you some great insights on usual suspects for your website.

More information about our Gold Reviews and ordering here!

Platinum Review

We will also be offering an improved version of our current review: the Platinum Review. We will take more time to do that review and test more aspects of your website. We’ll be digging into SearchMetrics data much more and will not only be checking your website itself (as it was), but will be looking into for instance your link profile as well.

We will also ask for Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools access, for instance to check crawl errors and to see how your main landing pages compare to your preferred keywords.

More information about our Platinum Reviews and ordering here!

This is a major change

We hope this setup will allow our review team to help more customers, by reviewing a website in a more time efficient way. With all the Yoast knowledge we also share on this website and more.

One more thing

There is one more change. As the vast majority of our clients is from abroad (not from The Netherlands), and the euro-dollar exchange rate is more steady than it has been over the last two years, we have decided to switch back to US dollars for the reviews. As we had already done for our plugins.

Find out more or order your review now!

This post first appeared on Yoast. Whoopity Doo!