The article you are about to read is probably one of the easiest posts I have written in a long time, as its subject is right there next to the edit screen in WordPress: the internal linking tool, which is a part of Yoast SEO Premium. I have only written three lines right now, but I already have some general suggestions of posts to link to, like the one with our 12 most read posts of 2017. Makes sense. As I continue to write this article, the suggested posts will change to match what I am writing about.

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Internal linking is one of the most important ways to optimize your pages. Internal links contribute to a better site structure, easier crawling, and indexing of your pages, and might increase your time-on-site in Google Analytics. It’s a way to point Google to your main pages about a topic (cornerstone content).

Getting started with the internal linking tool

First things first, as always. We need to determine what your posts are about, and we do that by scanning your content. We would like you to help us a bit here, by starting that process for us in the settings of Yoast SEO:

Click the Analyze button to start analyzing and building these internal linking suggestions. That’s step one. No need to do that again, unless you have a specific reason for it. We will learn from each newly published posts what it is about.

What does the internal linking tool look like?

Now that we have analyzed your content, we can give you internal linking suggestions. It’s a convenient sidebar item in WordPress. It looks a bit like this, depending on your WordPress setup:

Internal linking tool yoast seo

On the left, you see “me” writing this article in WordPress, on the right you see a nice long list of articles we have written before. It’s divided into two sections:

  1. Cornerstone content
  2. Regular content

In our plugin, you can mark a specific article as cornerstone content right below the spot where you have been inserting the focus keyword for years:

Mark as cornerstone content

Checking that box will add it to the cornerstone content articles in our linking tool. These are the articles you want to link to most. These are the articles you want to rank for more general topics, like our Ultimate guide to content SEO. It makes sense to use these the most in your internal linking.

You have probably guessed that the other section contains all your related posts. To calculate these related posts, we use what we call a prominent words algorithm. No need to elaborate here, but trust me: it works. We will suggest the appropriate articles to link to in the current post you are writing.

The ease of adding internal links

In the internal linking tool, we use two icons:

  1. A checkmark for all the posts you have already linked to in your article
  2. A copy/paste icon. Click that icon, and we’ll add the link to your clipboard.

Now, how easy is that? That’s not all. There is a drag-and-drop functionality in there as well, which makes internal linking even easier. Simply click a link and hold your mouse button. Move to the spot where you want the link and release the button. Done!

Internal linking tool: drag & drop link

With this drag-and-drop option, you can create a related post block on the fly, just to name one of the possibilities. Now go and have fun with it, because this is all you need to create better internal links!

Oh, and just so there’s no confusion: the internal linking tool is indeed a feature of our paid plugin. It’s one of those extra features of our Yoast SEO Premium plugin that make it worth your while.

Read more: ‘Site structure: The ultimate guide’ »

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Your focus keyword is the keyword you want your post or page to rank for. Some people like to use the same focus keyword over and over again. But, that’s not what a focus keyword is for! You should use a focus keyword only once. But why? And what should you do if you desperately want to rank for that one specific keyword? Don’t despair: I’ll tell you all about it in this post.

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Not competing with your own articles

The main reason why you should not use your focus keyword more than once is that you do not want to compete with your own content for a position in Google. If you optimize two different articles for the same focus keyword, you would like to have both posts to turn up in Google. You’ll be telling Google: these two are both suitable for people searching for my keyword. You would like both of them to turn up. That’s hard to do, not impossible though, but very hard.

You need to have a site with quite a bit of authority to rank with two articles in the top ten search results. If you’re already ranking with one of your articles in the search results, you’ll probably have enough authority to try and rank with a second one. If you’re not yet ranking on a focus keyword, never use it twice! Update and improve your original article and write another post surrounding a slightly different keyword.

Ranking for your most desired keyword

What should you do if you want to rank for that specific keyword you’ve set your mind to? Imagine yourself starting a webshop selling clothes for dogs. You probably want to rank for ‘dog clothes,’ but as you are a starter, that’ll be rather hard. Optimizing all of your posts for ‘dog clothes’ is not the right strategy. So what should you do? Your keyword research has given you some ideas what other terms to target.

Your most precious keyword ‘dog clothes’ is a so-called ‘head’ keyword. It’ll be competitive and rather hard to rank for. You should write an awesome, lengthy cornerstone article about dog clothes and optimize it for the term ‘dog clothes’ using our Yoast SEO plugin. Make sure to indicate in our plugin that this specific article is a cornerstone article.

focus keyword input field Yoast SEO

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Improve your site structure

The next step you’ll need to take to rank for your most desired keyword is to make sure your site structure is flawless. You’ll need to write a lot of posts each surrounding a specific aspect of your ‘head’ keyword. You could write an article and optimize it for focus keywords like ‘clothes for small dogs,’ ‘clothes for big dogs,’ ‘dog clothes for rainy days’ and so on. These focus keywords are called long tail keywords. If you link from these long tail articles to your ‘head term’ article, you’ll be telling Google which one of your articles is the most important one. That’ll help with the ranking of your most precious article. At the same time, you’ll be attracting traffic for those long tail articles as well.

Should I use a keyword more than once?

Unless you’re a high authority site and you’re already ranking for a specific keyword, you should NOT use a focus keyword more than once. Ranking for that one specific focus keyword is possible if you write an awesome cornerstone article about that focus keyword. On top of that, you’ll need a kickass site structure to make sure that article will start ranking!

Read more: ‘The ultimate guide to content SEO’ »

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Site structure is a vital aspect of your SEO strategy. After all, the structure of your website shows Google what articles and pages are most important. You can influence which articles will rank highest in the search engines, with your site’s structure. So, it’s important to get it right! It also is a very actionable part of your SEO strategy. You can all start improving your site structure today! In this SEO basics post, I’ll explain the importance of site structure for your site’s SEO and I’ll give three quick tips on how to start improving your site’s structure.

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As your site grows, it’ll get cluttered

As you’re writing more and more blog posts, or add more product pages, your site will get cluttered. You need to organize it neatly, to make sure you, your visitor AND Google will be able to find what they’re looking for.

Why is that? Let me tell you a little story. Once upon a time, there was this young woman. Her name is Alice. Alice gets up every morning, sits down at her desk and starts to write a beautiful story. She writes one story every day. Alice types all her stories on this beautiful old-fashioned typewriter. Whenever she’s done writing, she pulls the paper out of the machine and puts her lovely new story on her desk. As you can imagine, her desk will slowly get cluttered with all these sheets of paper. After a year of writing, she’ll have 365 sheets of paper on it. After three years of writing, she’ll have more than a thousand. Alice will not be able to find her favorite story, because of the abundance of stories on her desk.

If you do not structure your stuff neatly, your stories, your blogposts, your product pages will get lost. Your visitors will not be able to find what they are looking for, and, important for your SEO: Google will also get lost.

Why is site structure important for Google?

There are two reasons why site structure is important for Google and, therefore, for your chances to rank in the search engines.

1. Structure is a guide for Google

The way your site is structured will give Google clues about where to find the most important content. Your site’s structure determines whether a search engine can understand what your site is about and what you’re selling.

Google crawls websites by following links, internal and external, using a bot called Googlebot. And by following those links, Google determines the relationship between the various pages. The structure of your site is a guide to Google and therefore very crucial.

2. Not competing with your content

The second reason why site structure is essential for Google is because, without a decent structure, you’ll be competing with yourself for a high ranking in the search engines. You probably have blogposts or articles on your site that are on the same topic. At Yoast, for example, we write a lot about SEO. We have multiple posts about site structure, each covering a different aspect. But Google won’t know which of these is most important unless we ‘tell’ Google.

Importance should order your content. Think about Alice’s cluttered desk. Alice could clean up by making piles of her sheets of papers. She could order her stories by topic: stories about bumble bees, stories about flowers, stories about fairies. But, if Alice were to make piles of paper, without ordering them, without putting the most beautiful stories on the top of the pile, no one would ever know which story is the most important to her.

If you don’t tell Google which posts are most important, all of your posts will be competing for attention. You’d be competing with your pages for a high ranking in Google. The solution is rather simple: you let Google know which page you consider most important. You tell Google which story you want on top of your pile. To do this, you need a good internal linking structure.

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Read more: ‘Why is site structure important?’ »

How to get started with site structure?

What are the things you need to do to improve your site’s structure? What can you do to avoid your site structure becoming an issue?  I’ll give three basic tips on how to quickly improve your site structure.

Remove old content

Lots of shops will sell a different collection of products (clothes; shoes) every season. If you don’t expect to sell the same product again, you should remove the page. However, you may have had some links to the page you want to remove. And you know, links to your page are valuable for your SEO!  You want to make sure you benefit from these links, even though the page does not exist anymore. That’s why you should redirect the URL.

Evaluate your categories

You should ensure that categories are about equally large. Think of Alice and her stories. Alice could categorize her stories by making piles of these categories. Imagine one pile becoming huge, while the others remain much smaller. It would be hard to find a specific story in that big pile, while it would be much easier to search through a small pile. At the same time, that big heap is probably very important, because Alice wrote a lot of stories about that specific topic.

Categories become too large when you write a lot about one specific subject and less about others. At one point, you should divide that one category into two categories. A good rule of thumb for the size of categories is to make sure that no category is more than twice the size of any other category. When one category is significantly larger than other ones, your site becomes unbalanced. You’ll have a hard time ranking with blog posts within a huge category. The pile has become too large to search through.

3. Improve your internal linking structure

You should make sure that you’re linking to your most important articles. A great internal linking structure is crucial. We’ve built Yoast Internal Linking to help you achieve such an internal structure. But you should do some reading and research to get the hang of it. Read Meike’s blogpost about Internal linking for SEO to improve your internal linking structure.

Keep reading: ‘Avoid these site structure mistakes!’ »

Conclusion: get started with improving your site structure

It’s important to remember that site structure is part of a bigger, ongoing process. Your site will grow and therefore, the structure will require maintenance. Improving and maintaining the structure of a site should be a core aspect of every SEO strategy. It’s a very actionable part of SEO; it’s something you can control and improve rather quickly. So, let’s get started!

Read on: ‘Site structure: the Ultimate guide’ »

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

Why set SEO goals at all?

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

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

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Not meeting your goals isn’t that bad…

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

Are all technical SEO aspects taken care of?

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

Read more: ‘Technical pointers’ »

Evaluate your keyword research

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

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

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

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

Evaluate your content

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

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

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

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Update that site structure

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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Filling the website with content

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

Keyword research

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

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

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

Setting up the menu and site structure

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

As Marieke put it:

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

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

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

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

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One page per topic

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

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

Small step back to keyword research

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

Make a website - Google Trends

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

Title tags

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

Optimize the title page according to these guidelines » 

Optimize your content

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

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

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

Yoast SEO analysis

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

How about meta descriptions?

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

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

Go make a website!

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

Now go start that website!

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

 

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If you want content to rank in Google, Google needs to know about the existence of that content. That means that you (or another site) should link to this content. Google will follow links and saves every post or page it finds through these links to in the index. So you’ll understand that it’s important you make sure you link to all of your content. That sounds ridiculously simple, but if you’re creating and publishing a lot of content, your linking structure might not be a top priority. That’s why we’ve added a new functionality to Yoast SEO premium, which will warn you about posts that aren’t linked to at all: the orphaned content feature.

Learn how to structure your site well with our Site structure training! »

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What is orphaned content?

The term ‘orphaned content’ refers to articles that don’t get any links from other articles or posts. As a result of that, these articles are hard to find, both by Google and by users of your site.

If you create a new post, it’ll appear on your homepage. That does create a link, of course. If you add categories or tags to your post, it’ll have a few more links. Orphaned content can have these kinds of links, but lacks text links.

Why is orphaned content important for SEO?

To rank with content in Google, Google obviously needs to know about it. Google and other search engines follow links and save all the content of pages in their index. Orphaned content has few internal links from other pages or posts linking to it. Google will consider this type of content less important. So, if an article is important to you, you should make that clear to Google (and your visitors). Link to that specific article from other (similar) content.

How is orphaned content created?

If you write a new blog post, publish it and then forget about it, you probably won’t link to it anymore in your new posts and pages. Is this a bad thing? Well, that depends on the quality of the blog post. It is definitely a bad thing if you want people and Google to find your post because it’s important. In that case: make sure Google and your audience can find that orphaned blog post. Linking to it from articles that generate a lot of traffic in the search engines will help Google and your audience get to your blog post.

How do I use the orphaned content check?

You can find the orphaned content filter in your post overview. If you’ve installed Yoast SEO premium, your post overview will look like this:

orphaned posts Yoast SEO 5.6

Clicking on the orphaned content filter will give an overview of all the posts without text links linking to them. At Yoast, we have quite a few orphaned articles as well (content-team are you reading this? We have some work to do here ;-)).

Scrolling through our own orphaned articles, made me very aware of the fact that recent articles are often orphaned. We just don’t get around to adding links to these articles in our existing blog posts. Still, for articles that are important to our SEO strategy or to our brand, we should make sure to add links in posts that generate a lot of traffic. That’ll help Google and our audience to find those important posts.

You’ll receive a notification in your SEO dashboard if your site has orphaned content.

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Should you always ‘solve’ orphaned content?

For some articles, it isn’t that important to solve an orphaned content status. Some blog posts are only important for a short period of time. At Yoast, we’re writing a lot about YoastCon at the moment, because that’s a big event coming up. Announcing such an event makes for a great blog post, but such a blog post probably has less value next year. It’s no problem for such a post to remain orphaned. In fact, perhaps you should consider deleting these pages (properly of course!) altogether. That’ll clean up your site a bit.

Conclusion: keep an eye on that orphaned content!

As I have shown, it’s easy to unwittingly create orphaned content, if you’re writing a lot of posts. From now on, you can use the orphaned content feature of Yoast SEO premium to stay on top of things. You can easily check which posts and pages are orphaned, and add links to important content, so both Google and your users can find it!

Read more: ‘Site structure: the ultimate guide’ »

 

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At Yoast, we think SEO only works when you use a holistic approach. Just optimizing your page titles isn’t enough. It’s also about site speed and user experience (UX), and great content is obviously a huge part of it. In a holistic approach, SEO has a lot of “teammates” that have to work together. In this post, we’ll go into a number of areas where SEO and UX meet. Come to think of it, in a lot of ways, SEO simply targets the search engines and UX targets the visitor, both with a shared goal: to provide the best experience possible.

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

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Common page elements that influence both SEO and UX

If you just look at the basic elements on a page that influence your SEO, you’ll find a close relation between SEO and UX. I’ll list a few elements that are important for both SEO and UX below.

Page titles and (sub)headings

An optimized page title and related, visible <h1> element will tell Google what your page is about. That page title also informs the visitor what that page is about, already on Google’s result page. So does that <h1> element, obviously. Subheadings like <h2> help both Google and your visitors to scan a page and grasp the general idea of that page.

Read more: ‘How to use headings on your site’ »

External links

An external link in your content tells Google that you respect your sources. It can also increase the odds that your sources will link back to you in their content. For your users, external links will provide a way to access background information, for instance.

Great content

If you provide quality content, people want to link to you, and visitors want to read you. And stay on your pages to finish reading. These incoming links and the time-on-page is something Google will notice. Google could start to consider your content as the main source of information on a certain topic. Just like we are for WordPress SEO. Images and videos create rich content, which both Google and your users enjoy. All in all, it’s clear that there are many areas where SEO and UX meet, right there on your pages.

Keep reading: ‘The importance of quality content for SEO’ »

Site structure

When a visitor ends up on any one of your pages, you want to make sure they know where they are on your website. It should be clear to them that there’s more to explore on your site. If you initially fail to answer the user’s question in Google, at least be so polite as to direct them to it. You want to prevent that click back to the search result pages. That click back to the search result pages is called a bounce. And a high bounce rate can have a negative influence on your SEO. It indicates to Google that you may not be answering your visitors’ search query.

One way to prevent a bounce is to make sure your site structure is clearly reflected on your page. That has to do with an optimized menu, but I think even more with just making sure your website has a good structure. Do keyword research, and set up that site structure the right way. Take our site structure course for more in-depth information on that. Setting up the right site structure, means, for starters, that you make sure that your structure is clear from your breadcrumbs and, at least, reflected your menu. You can also think along the lines of related posts and products, for instance.

By building a nice, hierarchical site structure, you make sure that Google can efficiently crawl your pages and visitors can easily find what they are looking for. SEO and UX are naturally influenced by this.

Site speed

Yes, we also have to address site speed, again and again. It’s one of the things that heavily influences both SEO and UX. Google wants to spend only a certain amount of time each time it’s on your site to crawl it. Visitors don’t like waiting for your content to load. When an SEO recommends lazy loading of images, this improves the experience of both users and Google. If you defer parsing of JS and CSS files where possible, you make sure there is something to see on your page as soon as possible. Again, for both Google and the visitor. It’s not rocket science, right?

Read on: ‘Site speed: tools and suggestions’ »

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Mobile experience

What goes for site speed, goes for your mobile website as a whole. Yes, it should be fast, but it should also be well-designed and have a killer navigation, so users and Google can find what they are looking for in a heartbeat. That doesn’t involve cramming everything you have into your website menu. But it could mean that you have to think hard about your mobile homepage. Does it cover the main areas of your website, for your user? Does it set a mood and lure or invite your visitors, and any search engine, into the rest of the website as well?

Even button sizes on your mobile website could be of influence here. I’ve written a post a while back on mobile UX you should read. Every one of those recommendations influences mobile SEO as well, directly or indirectly. And feel free to ask Google’s opinion on your mobile website via their Mobile-friendliness test, for instance.

Conclusion: SEO and UX go hand in hand

As you can see, there are many areas where SEO and UX meet. When you keep in mind that Google is becoming more and more human, or at least mimics human behavior more accurately, it’s only logical to see all the overlap SEO and UX have, right?
I think it’s fair to say that almost all optimization you do for your users (UX) has a positive effect on your SEO. This applies the other way around as well: if you deliver a poor user experience, you might see this reflected in the search result pages! Obviously, the impact of that effect may differ from optimization to optimization. But SEO and UX are clearly a great match in our larger concept of holistic SEO!

Read more: ‘What is on-page SEO’ »

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In an ideal world, every single page of your website would be accessible from that one, site-wide website menu. But as you, as a web developer or website owner, undoubtedly know, the real world of websites is far from ideal. We struggle with multiple devices, fixed-width websites, themes that can hardly be changed without creating new problems, and so on and so forth. Nevertheless, the website menu is the most common aid for navigation on your website and you want to make the best possible use of it. Here, I’ll address a number of useful best practices that allow you to optimize your website menu for both your users and SEO.

Learn how to structure your site well with our Site structure training! »

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Website menus

First of all, I think we should forget the assumption that a website can only have one menu. I think we have become used to the small links in the upper bar on a website.

Website menu: greenday.com

Like so many other websites, Greenday.com has a first menu in the black bar, whereas the red bar also contains a number of links to internal or external pages. Social profiles, Apple Music and Spotify links, but also a newsletter subscription.

Website menu: Manhattan College

Manhattan College has a clear second menu leading to internal pages, aimed at specific audiences. It just goes to show that these extra menus are everywhere.

My point here? Don’t put everything in one menu. Doing that clutters your website and makes your main menu a poor reflection of your site structure. Focus on the most important content. For instance: I do like a ‘Contact’ link in a menu. But only add one if your main goal is that your visitors contact you. Otherwise, that link can be placed in a second website menu without a problem.

The downsides of too many links in your website menu

Too many links, anywhere on your page, isn’t recommended. Yes, Google may allow up to 250 links and perhaps even more on a page without any problems. But your website’s goal’s probably not to make sure your visitors can’t see the wood for the trees. We recommend against:

  • Tag clouds (what’s the use, really?)
  • Long lists of monthly links to your blog archive (don’t use date archives!)
  • Infinitely scrollable archive pages with links to articles (at least add excerpts and load more articles on scroll)
  • A hundred categories in a list (why so many!)
  • Menus with submenus and sub-submenus and so on

Why do we recommend against this? Having too many links on a page messes up your link value, for one. With so many links on a page, every link from that page is just a little less valuable for the page it links to. Besides that, it messes up the focus of your visitor. With every link, you add a diversion from the main goal of your website.

In my opinion, you do need to have a solid reason to add more than one submenu. And if you feel you need that extra level in your menu, monitor the number of clicks that menu gets and adjust if needed. I think you are much better off creating good landing pages for your submenu items, in many cases.

Read on: ‘How to clean up your site structure’ »

The perfect menu

Of course, there is no template for ‘the perfect menu’. Much of it depends on your site and on what your goals are. In any case, there are two important questions you should ask yourself when optimizing your menu:

  • What is the best menu structure for my site?
  • What menu items should at least be in my menu?

Two more tips we can give you is to use a drop-down menu for important sub items. And don’t add too many links to your menu, or they will lose their value. Do you have other tips for a good site menu? Let us know in the comments!

Read more: ‘The Ultimate guide to site structure’ »

The post Optimizing your website menu for SEO appeared first on Yoast.

It’s important to have breadcrumbs on your website. They show users how a page fits into the structure of a site, and allow search engines to determine the site’s structure. But how do you go about implementing breadcrumbs when you have many products that fit into more than one category? In this Ask Yoast, I’ll discuss the best way to handle breadcrumbs for products in multiple categories.

Niall Diamond emailed us an interesting question:

“When you have a product within multiple categories each page will have a canonical URL that is the same, but what about the breadcrumb for the canonical URL page?”

Watch the video or read the transcript further down the page!

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Handling breadcrumbs for products in multiple categories

“Well Niall, there is one primary category for that product and if you use our Yoast SEO breadcrumbs then it will always show that primary category in the breadcrumbs. If you use another system of using breadcrumbs……well, don’t. Because most systems can’t handle this in a proper way. So switch to using Yoast SEO breadcrumbs and this will be fixed for you. Good luck!”

Read on: ‘What are breadcrumbs and why are they important for SEO?’ »

Ask Yoast

In the series Ask Yoast we answer SEO questions from followers. Need some advice about SEO? Let us help you out! Send your question to ask@yoast.com.
(note: please check our knowledge base first, the answer to your question may already be there! For urgent questions, for example about our plugin not working properly, we’d like to refer you to our support page.)

 

The post Ask Yoast: Breadcrumbs for products in multiple categories appeared first on Yoast.

Optimizing your site structure should be an important aspect of your SEO strategy. Structuring your site is of crucial importance for your SEO. But how does one improve a site’s structure? Where do you start and how do you keep an eye on the structure of your site if your site is growing? In this post, I’ll teach you to improve your site’s structure in 4 simple steps. 

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Yoast SEO site structure features

We spent the past year thinking about how to translate the advice we give on improving your site’s structure into useful features for our plugin. This resulted in three new features (and we’re already thinking about new ones). The first feature we released was the internal linking feature. The internal linking tool helps you to figure out which articles you should be linking to. Our second feature on site structure, the cornerstone content analysis, will help you write awesome cornerstone content articles and get those articles in a central position in your linking structure. And the third feature, the text link counter allows you to check which articles need more internal links. Combined, these three site structure features are a powerful toolset for improving your site structure.

Step 1: Update and improve your Cornerstones

Your cornerstone content consists of the most important articles on your site. The ones you want people to read. The ones you want to rank with in Google. For all cornerstones, you should check the box in the snippet preview meta box.

Once you’ve checked that box, your content will be assessed more strictly by our readability analysis. You may wonder why we’re being so fussy about cornerstone content. The answer to that question is this: for cornerstone articles you should raise the bar, because they’re very important! They should be better than your other articles and therefore, demand more of your writing skills. Our cornerstone analysis will help you to raise your standards (and stick to them). It will be harder to score that green bullet. You have to do all important things right!

Step 2: Link to those cornerstones!

The second step to improving your site’s structure is to ensure that blogposts surrounding a certain topic all link to your most important article about that topic. Use the text link counter to see whether your cornerstones have enough links. In your post-overview, you can select your cornerstone articles.

In our example, the Ultimate guide to small business SEO has fewer links than our other two ultimate guides. You should open the cornerstone post with few links and check the Yoast internal linking feature.

The articles our internal linking tool suggests are great suggestions to link from to your cornerstones. You should go to these articles one by one and add links to your cornerstones (that’s a bit of work!).

If you aren’t using Yoast SEO premium (and do not have access to our internal linking feature), use your internal search function and search for the keyword of your cornerstone article. The post that’ll come up in this search query should be linking to your cornerstones.

Step 3: Improve the structure of orphaned articles

Once you’ve improved your cornerstone articles and made sure you’ve added links from all of your posts to those cornerstones, it’s time to make sure that there are no orphaned articles on your site. Orphaned articles are posts or pages that hardly any other posts link to. They are hard to find on your site, both by your audience and by Google. In order to identify orphaned articles, you can use our text link counter. Sort the posts by the number of internal links linking to the post.

Posts with fewest links will appear at the top of the list. Open these posts and (again, if you use Yoast SEO Premium) check the suggestions of the internal linking tool. Using the tool, you can make a list of posts that should be linking to your orphaned posts. After that, you can open those similar posts and add links to your orphaned posts. You can also use the search function to find posts to link to your orphaned article.

Step 4: Improve those dead ends!

Every post should have suggestions for further reading. After all, you want people to stay on your website. Suggestions should always be on topic. People reading about ballet shoes are probably interested in ballet shoes. So, offer them more reading material on ballet or on ballet shoes, but don’t bore them with karate.

Open your post overview and sort your posts by the number of internal links in the post, using our text link counter.

Open the posts with fewest internal links. Add links to similar posts using our internal linking tool, in the same way as described above. It’s so easy and it will increase the time people spend on your site considerably.

Read more: ‘Internal linking for SEO: why and how’ »

Conclusion

Agreed, it is a bit of work. But if you set to mind to it, follow these 4 steps and use the Yoast SEO site structure features, you’ll be able to improve your site’s structure significantly. And that is most definitely going to result in longer visits by your readers and in higher rankings in Google.

Keep reading: ‘Site structure: the ultimate guide’ »