We’re all ready for a new year of increasing sales, lifting engagement and giving our website the best effort possible. It only seems right to give you a three-step rocket of SEO quick wins, to kick-start your website for 2018. In this post, I will show you three things you can do right now to improve your website for your visitors, and for Google in the process. Let’s dive right in with number one.

#1 Optimize speed

No matter if you want to improve your mobile website or your desktop website, speed is something you want to monitor and improve all the time. These are fast times, and speed is definitely what you want to optimize for.

In a simple breakdown of speed optimization, we have images, browser caching, and script optimization. Google PageSpeed will tell you that, Pingdom will tell you that. Gzip Compression is the fourth one, but that should be enabled by default in my book. More on compression here. Let’s look at the other three.

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File size optimization

Optimizing your file size is an important part of image SEO, so let’s start there. There are a few ways to approach this:

  • Optimize the image file size in Photoshop (or any other image edit program you use). Usually, just exporting the image in a lower quality will already do the trick. I usually check whether reducing the quality to around 80% of the original still gives me a crisp image.
  • Download an application like ImageOptim or any of these applications and further optimize your file size before uploading.
  • Last but not least, make sure that the image dimensions of the image you use, fit the image ‘space’ that you reserved for it on the webpage. Don’t display a 1200×400 pixels photo as a 300×100 pixels image by adding CSS or whatever.

Browser caching

Browser caching is the way your browser stores files of a website, for instance the logo you see at the top of our website, so it doesn’t have to load them from the internet every time you visit another page of our website. This obviously saves time. There are many ways to go about this, but the easiest is probably (if you are using a WordPress site) using a plugin. Most speed optimization plugins support this browser caching and most set them right time for you. Among some of my favorite speed plugins are WP SuperCache, which is free, and WP Rocket, which is a premium plugin. For more on browser caching, visit this page.

Optimize script handling

You can load a gazillion JavaScript (JS) and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) files to enhance your website, but in the end all these extra files just slow your website down. Please focus on these steps to optimize your script handling:

  1. Are you sure you need that enhancement? JS and CSS usually target design and user experience. In some cases, you just don’t need that enhancement. Like JS and CSS loaded for sliders, for instance. There are alternatives to sliders that work better and don’t require extra files.
  2. Is there a way to reduce the file size of these scripts / styles? We call this process ‘minifying’. We have an Ask Yoast about it. Google has some great pointers on how to approach this. Simple scripts and handy websites can help you minify your files, for instance by stripping comments. Most platforms have plugins or extensions that help with this. For instance, Magento has the Fooman Speedster (free and paid) for that.
  3. Is it possible to combine a number of these scripts into one file? That way, there only has to be one call to the server to retrieve all the scripts. Again, there are plugins for that, but if you have small pieces of JS, you might as well combine these yourself. Of course, the advent of HTTP/2 changes some of these optimization practices. Test this!

#2 Mobile optimization

It’s tempting to copy our ultimate guide to mobile SEO here, but let’s focus on the quick wins. You need to focus on mobile SEO these days, to be ready for Google’s mobile-first index. Google will start to determine rankings based on the quality of the mobile version of a site, only taking your desktop site into account after that. So, let’s get that mobile version up and running, right?

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Task-based design

Open your mobile website. Imagine you are a fresh, new user of your website. What would that person want to do here and is your site ready for that? Focus on a task-based design. If we are on a mobile website, we might need opening hours or an address. Just the other day, I purchased tickets for the Nederlands Openluchtmuseum on my mobile phone. Saved a buck and didn’t have to get in line for tickets. I did this, walking from my car to the entrance. One needs to be able to do these basic tasks without any problem. Ask yourself what the four, perhaps five main goals of a visitor on your website are and make sure these can be done on your mobile website.

Performance-based design

Are you loading any huge images on your site? Do people have to scroll for ages to read the good stuff you offer them? On a mobile website, we want to get in and get out as fast as possible – unless it’s, for instance, a news website. Loading time is a factor on a mobile site, especially with mobile connections usually being slower than most desktop connections. Make sure your design and content don’t depend on large images too much. And yes, there are exceptions to that rule. If I visit a photographer’s website, I know beforehand that I am in for longer loading times. I want crisp images and that is the price I pay. Optimize to an acceptable level for your target audience.

Write great content

This goes for mobile and desktop versions of your site: they need great content. A quick win for mobile content is to add a to-the-point first paragraph. If you tell your visitor what’s on your page, they can decide for themselves if they want to scroll down or not. It helps user experience to do this.

And of course, you’ll need to write awesome content after that paragraph as well. You still need to do keyword research, set up a great site structure and decide on cornerstone content. But you can imagine that to be a slightly lengthier process, and we’re talking quick wins here :)

#3 Serve your content in the right format

There are so many ways to serve your content to Google, Facebook and your visitors. Your task for 2018 is definitely to investigate which formats you should invest in. Some take a bit more time to implement; others can be added to your website by the push of a button, like with a plugin. Let’s go over a few important ones.

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Better social sharing: Open Graph

Forget about Twitter Cards for now, as Twitter has a fallback to Open Graph. So add Open Graph to your website if you haven’t done this already. It’s like a social summary of your website. For our homepage, it reads among other things:

<meta property="og:title" content="SEO for everyone • Yoast" />
<meta property="og:description" content="Yoast helps you with your website optimization, whether it be through our widely used SEO software or our online SEO courses: we're here to help." />
<meta property="og:url" content="https://yoast.com/" />
<meta property="og:site_name" content="Yoast" />

There’s a page / site title and summary plus link, which tells Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter all they need to know to create a great post on your visitor’s timeline. You can add an og:image to create a richer experience. Be sure to add this. Again, use a plugin like Yoast SEO for TYPO3 to automate the process (and add these Twitter Cards along with Open Graph in no time).

Quick reads on other platforms: AMP

Facebook links to your AMP article if possible. Ever found yourself reading an article in Google? Might be AMP as well. Accelerated Mobile Pages or AMP, aim to strip your website to the bare necessities to deliver your reader the best mobile experience they can get. If they want to read your article, AMP will give ’em just your article in a basic design. If you want to check a certain product, AMP will strip the store to deliver a focused design. A bad thing? I think not. Every way you can help your visitor get a better experience, increases the chance of them coming back to your content / site. It might increase sales, because it’s so focused. Go read up on AMP and get your site ready. Again: plugins.

Tell Google what your page is about: Schema.org

I will end this list of quick SEO wins with something we have been telling you about quite often in the past year: add schema.org to your website. Structured data, like Open Graph and schema, create a convenient summary of your website for every other site that wants to use your content. Schema.org data is one of the main types of structured data. JSON-LD gives us a convenient way of adding it to our website. Our Local SEO plugin adds the right schema.org so that Google can add your company to Google Maps as well, for instance. Add schema.org data to your website and see your company in the knowledge graph as well.

Serving your content in the right format is essential to deliver it to other ‘places’ on the website. Be sure to use it. And if you are not sure what structured data you should use to optimize your pages, be sure to enroll in our Structured Data Training. How’s that for a New Year’s resolution? Good luck optimizing!

Read more: ‘Search and SEO in 2018’ »

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To work properly, websites contain multiple CSS and JavaScript files. These must be fetched from the server by the visitors’ computer, to fully load a webpage. In the old standard, HTTP/1, only one request at a time could be handled, so minifying and concatenating multiple files was a good idea. Otherwise, visitors would experience a slow website because of too many requests. The new standard, HTTP/2, allows for much easier communication between a visitor and the server.

So, does this increasing move to HTTP/2 mean that it’s no longer necessary to minify and concatenate your CSS and JS files? After all, site speed is still crucial for SEO. Let’s get into that in this Ask Yoast!

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Danny O’Neill emailed us his question:

‘With the increasing move to HTTP/2 should we still minify and concatenate our CSS and JS files?’

Watch the video or read the transcript further down the page for my answer!

Is it still necessary to minify and concatenate your CSS and JS files?

“In the old standard, HTTP/1, the browser could only open so many files at the same time on your server and thus it was smart to combine those files into larger concatenated files. In HTTP/2 that’s not needed anymore, so no, you don’t necessarily have to do that.

What you need to look at is which portion of your traffic already supports HTTP/2. If that’s the large majority then you can stop doing that altogether. Good luck!”

Ask Yoast

In the series Ask Yoast we answer SEO questions from our readers. Have an SEO-related question? Let us help you out! Send an email to ask@yoast.com.

(Note: please check our blog and knowledge base first, the answer to your question may already be out there! For urgent questions, for example about our plugin not working properly, we’d like to refer you to our support page.)

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

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Both the free and the Premium Yoast SEO plugin come with several default settings. We’re all about sensible default settings! So, we’ve put a great deal of thought into setting these defaults, to make sure they’re right for most users. Still, it’s understandable that people get confused, for example when using our awesome configuration wizard, when they see the visibility of the post type ‘media’ set to ‘hidden’.

The last thing you want is to have all the media on your site invisible to your users. Of course, we don’t want that either, and won’t let that happen. So let me explain in this post why the post type ‘media’ is set to noindex in by default and what that means.

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Jez emailed us this question, something we actually get asked more often:

“Yoast SEO sets the post type media to noindex by default in ‘Post Type Visibility’. Why is this? Will my images still display correctly?”

Watch the video or read the transcript further down the page for my answer!

-video staat nu hier, moet wel nog even van private naar public!-

Post type ‘media’ noindex in Yoast SEO

“There’s this weird thing in WordPress where, if you upload an image, not only does it allow you to embed the image in the post, it also automatically creates a page for that image on your site. This is the media post type.

So now that single image has its own page and that page is very thin, because the only thing on that page is that image and maybe the alt text that you put in there, but there’s nothing else on that page. So this is thin content. That’s why we noindex it by default because there is really no reason to have that indexed by Google and to make sure that that thing ranks. So that’s why we do that, we like sensible defaults like that.

Of course, if you have very large media pages that have a lot more than just the image by all means set it to index, that’s why you can. Good luck!”

Ask Yoast

In the series Ask Yoast we answer SEO questions from our readers. Have an SEO-related question? Let us help you out! Send an email to ask@yoast.com.

(Note: please check our blog and knowledge base first, the answer to your question may already be out there! For urgent questions, for example about our plugin not working properly, we’d like to refer you to our support page.)

Read more: ‘The beginner’s guide to Yoast SEO’ »

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Today’s case study is about renting holiday homes. There are a million holiday homes out there in all shapes and sizes. So what about a castle? A reader sent us a link to the site of a beautiful castle, located in France: Chateau de Lastours. The rooms and apartments are for rent. Let’s have a look at their site to see how they can improve it and welcome more visitors!

Speeding up the trip to France

One of the first things you will notice about a site is the speed. How long does it take for a page to fully load? In this case, we used Google’s PageSpeed Insights to get an idea of the site speed. Unfortunately, this site doesn’t do so well. For the homepage on desktop, it scores a poor 33 / 100, and 30 / 100 for the mobile view. But the upside is that this tool immediately gives a lot of suggestions on how to improve your site.

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Improving images

For a site like this, it is important to have great pictures, so visitors can have a look at the location where they may spend their holiday. However, most of the time, quality images have a large file size, which slows down your page. Optimizing these images, for instance, by compressing them using a tool such as Kraken, you can keep the image’s quality, while reducing the file size.

Turn on browser caching and compression

Two technical aspects to improve your site speed are enabling browser caching and compression. Both sound complicated and I’m not going to lie to you, it is kind of technical, but improving these things will speed up your site a lot!

  • Browser caching has to do with all of the web files a browser must load to properly display a site. The first time you do this it can take a bit longer to load a page. But if you have browser caching enabled, the second time a lot of these static files (such as HTML, CSS and images) are stored in the browser’s cache (which means memory) and can, therefore, be accessed much faster.
  • GZIP compression is about compressing your web pages and style sheets before they’re sent to the browser. This makes your page load faster.

Both options can be activated by adding a piece of code to your .htaccess file. A .htaccess file is a configuration file for use on web servers running the Apache Web Server software. In our Yoast SEO plugin, you can easily edit the .htaccess file and put in an extra piece of code. Make sure to create a backup of your site before you do this, in case something goes wrong. But in my experience, following the steps from the Siteground tutorial, is a good way to do this. Here, you can find the tutorial for browser caching and compression.

Pardon my French!

Don’t worry, I’m not planning to curse my way through this review. But I do have some remarks about the different languages on the site. First of all, my compliments for having the ability to switch between several languages. This makes your site usable for a much larger audience. But I also see some aspects which aren’t ideal. When I open the blog page, I see posts in various languages. You should consider translating every post to every language so all your visitors can have the full experience.

Secondly, some pages have elements in various languages, which is kind of confusing. For instance, this wedding page.

Last but not least, a little comment on the menu items on the English version of the site. The ‘restaurant’ menu item is in French (Table d’hôtes). Now, my high school French isn’t what it used to be anymore, so I couldn’t figure out what this meant until clicking on the menu item itself and reading the page. This is not ideal. You want your menu items to be as clear as possible, to entice visitors to click on them.

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Make sure you don’t get lost

Lately, Google is focusing more and more on structured data. Google uses this to understand the content on a certain page. There is some basic data that almost every company can add, such as structured data for contact details. But in this case, I’d also recommend adding structured data for lodging businesses. This way, Google can immediately recognize the purpose of your site and take that into account when potential visitors search for something that you can offer them. In our structured data training, we explain everything you need to know about implementing structured data.

Another important aspect of making sure that potential visitors can find you, is registering on sites like booking.com. You can optimize your site all you want, but a lot of potential visitors will never even search in Google for a vacation rental in France. Instead, they’ll just go to large sites that offer all the the options and information they need. Fortunately, Chateau de Lastours, can be found on booking.com, which makes them findable for a large audience.

Meeting the locals

The Chateau de Lastours’ site is already doing a great job with how their site looks. It has the right ‘look’ and ‘feel’ you want for such a site; it contains lots of pictures but not in a spammy way. And it has a clear menu which shows all the services they have to offer. Yet, I do have one recommendation: adding an ‘about us’ page. This is a small business, in which the owners themselves provide all the services, which can be a unique selling point you want to display on your site. An ‘about us’ page should contain a short introduction of the owners, why they decided to move to France and start this business, and how passionate they are about their work. Don’t forget to add pictures of yourself! Such a page will increase trust among your visitors and could convince them that they want to stay with these people.

Let’s go to the chateau!

All in all, the website of the Chateau de Lastours is already doing well on many aspects. It offers content in several different languages and has a clear menu which leads visitors to the right pages. The imagery on the site evokes the warm atmosphere of Southern France. Doing this case study, I immediately felt like packing my bags and spending a week at the chateau, and that’s exactly the kind of feeling you want your visitors to have. If the site owners improve their site speed, work a bit more on the different languages on their site and add an ‘about us’ page, they’ll surely attract even more guests to stay with them!

Read more: ‘How to avoid common SEO mistakes’ »

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This week, we’ve been showing you how to perform an SEO audit on your website. By regularly auditing your – or your client’s – sites, you can get a good feel for what you still need to do to improve SEO. In part 1, I talked about user experience and content SEO and in part 2, I’ve touched on general SEO issues. Here, I’ll round off this series with a look at site speed and engagement.

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Perform an SEO audit: Site speed

Let’s not forget the speed of your site, not just because we all browse the web a lot more on our mobile devices, over not-so-broadband networks, but also because a fast site makes Google and in most cases your conversion rate happier.

Combine and minify CSS and JS files

The first and easiest check would be to open the source of your website in a browser and do a search for “.js” or “.css”. If the amount of results scares you, you know there’s work to do. I can’t give you an exact number for this, but multiple lines of JavaScript files or CSS files, usually indicate there’s a large change that you can speed up your site by minifying JS or CSS files and combine them. Google Page Speed Insights will also tell you if this is an area you can improve in, and guide you a bit in the process:

SEO Audit: PageSpeed Insights

Click the “Show how to fix links” in there for more information. Another Google tool to help you check your site speed is Google Lighthouse.

Browser caching

Browser caching is about how a browser remembers / stores your website for faster visiting the next time you come to that website. There are plenty of plugins like WP Rocket or WP Super Cache that can help you with this. If you’re not sure if you need to optimize your browser caching, simply check how you are doing in the Google PageSpeed Insights we mentioned earlier, or websites like WebpageTest.org. It will tell you among other things how if your browser caching is optimized. These websites will also tell you if there is room for improvement regarding compression.

Enable compression

Compression is making your files as small as possible before sending them to the user’s browser (where they indeed might/will end up in your browser caching). As Google itself puts it:

Enabling gzip compression can reduce the size of the transferred response by up to 90%, which can significantly reduce the amount of time to download the resource, reduce data usage for the client, and improve the time to first render of your pages.

The same tools as mentioned at browser caching work for compression, but as I feel compression should be on for every website, I really liked to mention it separately. Check your compression yourself. In addition, there’s no need to compress files when your site is on a HTTP/2 connection. Read more about performance optimization in an HTTP/2 world.

Engagement

Google will bring people to your website, but engagement can help return visitors and for instance sales promotions.

Social media

The obvious engagement related thing is social media. Check some social platforms, starting with Facebook and Twitter and Instagram to see if your desired audience is present on these platforms. If you haven’t created a profile there, please do so and start building your audience.

If you are doing this, please check if these social profiles are listed on your website, and how they are listed. Would you subscribe yourself, or do you have to go on a search quest to find these buttons? Monitor clicks on these buttons, because a lot of people just look for your company on Facebook instead of clicking those. If nobody uses these buttons, replace them with a footer link or something like that. How to approach this depends on how popular your social profile is / will become.

Newsletter

We changed our newsletter approach for the better a while back when we switched from two to three newsletters a week. That seems like a lot, I know. Our main goal is to deliver something extra in every newsletter. Of course, we want to keep you up-to-date regarding SEO, our newest articles and promotions, and events. But we keep a keen eye on that newsletter and strive not to repeat ourselves.

If you are ready to start sending that newsletter, please add the subscription option for that newsletter on a nice spot on your website, not hidden from your audience, but in plain sight. Don’t ask you, subscribers, a ton of information about themselves, but simply have them fill out their email address and start sending that newsletter.

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You’ve just done your (first) SEO audit

If you have reached the end of this article series, you have intentionally or unintentionally, done your (first) SEO audit. I am sure that during the reading of this article, you have gone over your site, beit in your mind or actually over your site, and you have found something to work on.

If you perform an SEO audit now and then, you make sure your website’s up-to-date. It should be part of your frequent site maintenance cycle, I think. Good job!

Any additions for quick checks of your site’s SEO health? Love to hear from you!

Read more: ‘WordPress SEO: the Definitive Guide’ »

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In my previous article, part 1 of the How to perform an SEO audit series, I showed you the steps you could take to evaluate the SEO of your own – or someone else’s – site. The first steps were all about content SEO and user experience. In part 2, I’ll dive deeper into the general SEO part of the audit. Later, I’ll conclude the series with part 3, where I’ll look at site speed and engagement. Enjoy auditing!

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General SEO

There are several things that you can check quite easily in your SEO audit, without any effort – if you use the right tools. Keep in mind that tools are here to help, not replace your common sense and your product/brand knowledge. One of my go-to tools is Screaming Frog SEO spider. Yes, there are a lot of alternatives, like Ryte, but for a quick check-up, Screaming Frog SEO spider suffices. It’s a handy tool that can do a lot of relevant checks, even its free version.

Page titles

Page titles should focus on a specific topic and be branded at the end. That’s what I would primarily focus on here. In Screaming Frog:

SEO audit - Screaming frog - page titles

Check for duplicates, missing page titles, and if these are indeed constructed as ‘page title – branding’. Walmart does a nice job at this, as you can see. Read up on page titles here.

Meta description

The meta description is your invite to your website. SEO value? Well, a good meta description will attract more people to your website from Google or Bing, for instance. Now, please note that your meta description is a suggestion for that search engine, not something it will copy every time your site is shown in the search result pages. It has to be focused and clear, and align with the search query. More on meta descriptions here.

SEO Audit: meta description

In Screaming Frog, it’s easy to see if meta descriptions are duplicate, like in this screenshot, or missing. Walmart had only a few duplicate meta descriptions, to be honest, in my quick check. Most pages have a unique description.

Canonical URLs

The canonical URL tells you / Google what the source of a page is. If you copy this page to your website, please set the canonical URL of your copy to this page and Google will understand it has to rank my page, while still very much informing your site’s visitor.

SEO audit: canonicals

Again, Screaming Frog comes in handy. Check for missing canonical URLs and see (if your site has a ‘processable’ number of pages) if the canonical URLs align with the regular URL for a page.

Screaming Frog can do so much more, but let’s leave it at that for now.

Quick Panda & Penguin check

Panda and Penguin are algorithm updates by Google, focused on serving more quality websites in their search result pages. Panda focuses on thin content and banners, among other things, where Penguin checks if the links to your website are natural links that make sense.

In your SEO audit, a quick check for Panda would be to step back from your computer screen and look at your website. Is there a surplus of banners? Is your sale filling up all the space all the time, before any interesting content? Make sure there is a good balance. I’d say four banners above the fold is a lot.

For Penguin, use for instance Majestic’s SEO tool to do a quick check of backlinks, and see if you find any shady websites linking to your website. Disavow these websites in your Google Search Console.

More on Panda and Penguin here. Note that Google says these are ongoing updates these days.

Template code

A lot of SEOs will tell you to fix the foundation of your website, meaning the template. I think content is the foundation of the website and your template(s) should serve that content. I read a comment by someone just last week stating that these template code related things are the only things you need for SEO – think again. As mentioned over and over, we believe in a holistic approach, taking a lot more into consideration. But that doesn’t mean that your template can be crap. Far from it.

Schema.org / JSON-LD

Structured data is essential these days. It’s your page summary in re-usable chunks of content that Google loves. Add schema.org data via JSON-LD, we have written about that before. If you want to check schema.org data for a certain page, use a schema validator. Google that, there is a variety of them. If you want to add structured data, please use JSON-LD as Google prefers that. Google will also inform you about structured data in Google Search Console.

Want to know more about structured data? We have a course on structured data as well – go check it out.

Breadcrumbs

I could have mentioned breadcrumbs when discussing site structure as well, but they are part of your template, right? Add breadcrumbs to make sure people know where in your site structure they ended up, and realize these are also valuable internal links for Google. In your SEO audit, check for breadcrumbs, and see if these are also returned when checking for structured data, so you know they are served to Google the best way possible.

The mobile version of your website

Mobile-first. It’s coming. And I still feel that a responsive website, in addition to all the AMP and so, is essential. One site to maintain. To start off, simply reduce your browser screen’s width and see what happens. Then, open your mobile browser on your phone and visit your website. Click to your main product page, click to your contact form. How does your homepage look? Does everything work like it should? Does it load fast? Make sure you get the mobile experience you want.

We have written a lot about mobile websites, feel free to browse these other articles for more information:

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Heading structure

This might be the least of your worries these days, to be honest. HTML5 allows you to add an H1 to every block element and Google will probably figure out your main heading in the blink of an eye. Nevertheless, a good heading structure helps you structure your page’s content and allows Google and your visitors to scan your page and grasp the general storyline. Check if your heading structure makes sense, both visually and in semantics. More on headings here.

Part 3 is next: Site speed & Engagement

This concludes part two of the SEO audit series. In this part, you’ve learned how to analyze the general SEO of your site using several tools as well as your judgement. If you followed along, you’ve probably found several issues on your site that you could improve on. That’s exactly what an audit is meant to uncover, so all is well. Make a to-do list and start working! In part three, we’ll go over site speed and engagement. Stay tuned!

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

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Branding plays a vital role in the success of your business. We’ve written about branding several times on this site, for instance, the 5 tips on branding and Low-budget branding for small businesses articles. Your domain name should also be a part of your brand. But should you buy one of those fancy new TLDs like .amsterdam or .guru to enhance your branding? Watch Joost answer a readers question about this.

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Andrew emailed us this question:

“Now that there is a wide range of top level domain name options, is it possible to use the TLD as part of your brand? I have a site which focuses on Oakland tourism and oak.land would be cool. Or should I just go for something like visit-oakland.com?”

Watch the video or read the transcript further down the page for my answer!

Can you use a TLD as part of your brand?

“Well yes, of course. We sometimes use Yoast.com instead of just Yoast, because Yoast is actually a last name in the US as well. So, you can definitely do that. You could use .tourism or .land; there are so many options out there. Of course, you can use these in your branding. In fact, I’d encourage that.

But you have to keep in mind that not everyone might realize that they are looking at a domain name. Let’s take oak.land. Would everybody in your target audience realize that’s a domain name? Most people that are slightly older might not realize that’s something they can type in. At that point, it would be a good idea to add www or http:// in the branding when you put it on a poster or show it somewhere so people realize they can type in oak.land. Ok, good luck!”

Ask Yoast

In the series Ask Yoast we answer SEO questions from our readers. Have an SEO-related question? Let us help you out! Send an email to ask@yoast.com.

(note: please check our blog and knowledge base first, the answer to your question may already be out there! For urgent questions, for example about our plugin not working properly, we’d like to refer you to our support page.)

Read more: ‘Why every website needs Yoast SEO’ »

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The redirects manager in Yoast SEO Premium is a real lifesaver. It’s a feature we at Yoast use many times a day. Once you used it for a while, you wonder how you ever lived without it. The redirects manager makes everyday website optimization and maintenance a piece of cake. It takes care of all redirect tasks, so you don’t have to think about that as much. In the end, it will save you lots of time and money. Here, we’ll shed some more light on the invaluable redirects manager in Yoast SEO.

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What is a redirect?

Before we get into the awesomeness of the Yoast SEO redirects manager lets take a brief look at redirects. A redirect happens when a particular URL is deleted or changed and the browser gets served another URL in exchange. If a site owner deletes a page and does not redirect that old page, visitors to that page will see a 404 error message/page. So, to send visitors to a substitute URL or another relevant page, you need a redirect.

There are loads of reasons for why you would need a redirect:

  • When you delete a post or page;
  • When you change an URL structure;
  • If you move from HTTP to HTTPS;
  • Whenever you move a domain;
  • If you edit the slug of a category;
  • Etc.

Historically, deleting a page and making the correct redirect was a nasty chore. You had to do it manually in the .htaccess file or with scripts on the server-side, like Apache’s mod_rewrite or ngix rewrite module. In all cases, there was code involved. Not something anyone was remotely comfortable doing. Today, with Yoast SEO Premium that process is dead easy. If you are in need of a WordPress redirect plugin, give this one a try!

What does Yoast SEO do with redirects?

Using Yoast SEO Premium, making a redirect becomes a straightforward process. It takes just a couple of quick steps. Let’s say you want to delete a post:

  • Open the post that needs to be deleted
  • Move it to trash
  • Choose if it should receive a 410 content deleted redirect or a redirect to another page
  • Hit OK and you’re done!
  • Easy peasy, right?

redirect deleted post redirects manager

As you can see, the redirects manager in Yoast SEO Premium is an incredibly simple tool to work with redirects. It asks you what you want to do with an old URL whenever you change or delete a post or page. This process takes place in the redirects manager or the post editor. The tool asks you if you want to redirect the post to another URL or to serve a 410 content deleted header, for instance.

Correctly redirecting pages keeps your site usable, fresh and healthy. Visitors won’t stumble upon dead links and neither would Google. Google loves sites that are perfectly maintained. The cool thing is that everyone can do this and you won’t even need to call in your developer to fix it for you.

Not sure how the redirects manager in Yoast SEO works? Check this video and it becomes much clearer:

Types of redirects

The redirects manager supports the most essential redirects. Below you can find the supported redirects. If you need more information about these different redirects, please read the Which redirect post. Want to know the difference between a 302 and a 307? We’ve got you covered which this post on HTTP status codes.

  • 301 – Moved permanently
  • 302 – Found
  • 307 – Temporary redirect
  • 410 – Content deleted
  • 451 – Content unavailable for legal reasons

Inside the redirects manager in Yoast SEO

The redirect manager can do a lot more cool stuff. You can bulk edit your existing redirects to, for instance, change them from a 307 to a 301. Or you can filter for redirects to see which ones need changing or you can find a specific redirect on an article and change it to something else.

edit redirect redirects manager

Integrates with Google Search Console

If combined with the power of Google Search Console, you’ll get the ultimate in site maintenance power at your fingertips. Let Yoast SEO Premium access your Search Console account and you’ll see all the crawl errors appear. After that, you can use the redirect manager to create redirects of all 404 errors instantly. Spring cleaning, anyone?

Michiel did an excellent job explaining how you can connect Yoast SEO to Search Console and how to fix crawl errors. Read that if you want to know more about the combined power of these two killer site maintenance tools.

redirects search console yoast seo

edit redirects search console yoast seo

REGEX redirects

Not for the faint-hearted, but for the true redirect kings. That doesn’t mean you can’t learn to use it as well because you should. Making redirects with regular expressions is different because you have to determine what should happen and how it should happen. It is an incredibly powerful tool that can do crazy smart stuff and is your go-to tool if you need to do very specific or large-scale redirects.

Have Team Yoast install and configure Yoast SEO premium for you! »

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WordPress redirect plugin

(The redirects manager in) Yoast SEO Premium is an excellent tool, not just as an SEO tool but as a site maintenance tool as well. But don’t just take our word for it. As writer Jody Lee Cates told us:

“I hesitated to pay for Yoast Premium because I am a new blogger without much income yet. But I’m so, so happy I did! The time the redirect manager is saving me is priceless! And it’s giving me the freedom to change URL’s to improve SEO without worrying about creating redirects on my own.”

How’s that for an endorsement?

Read more: ‘Why every website needs Yoast SEO’ »

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In our plugin, you can connect Google Search Console to Yoast SEO. This verifies your website for your Google Search Console account and allows you to view your crawl errors. Especially when you have a large site, the number of crawl errors might scare you. In this post, I’ll explain a bit more about crawl errors and show you how to fix them, using Yoast SEO Premium.

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

Yoast SEO: the #1 WordPress SEO plugin Info

What are crawl errors?

Google uses so-called Googlebots to crawl and index your page. Crawling, in layman’s language, is the process of Googlebot going over your pages, one link at a time. When crawling, its goal is to get to every important page on your site by following links on pages, in sitemaps, etc. Indexing, on the other hand, is what Googlebot does to take in all the content on your pages, to include it in its search result pages.

There are two types of crawl errors:

  • Site errors that affect your entire site. Think along the lines of connectivity issues with your web server, and problems fetching your robots.txt file.
  • URL errors that affect a specific page on your website. Googlebot tried to crawl the URL but did not succeed somehow. It was able to resolve your DNS, connect to your server, fetch/read your robots.txt file, and then request the URL. But after that, something went wrong.

Viewing crawl errors in Yoast SEO

In our Yoast SEO plugin (free and paid), you can view the crawl errors that Google came across on your website. All you have to do is connect Google Search Console to Yoast SEO. In our plugin, we guide you through that process. Let me explain the steps here as well.

Connect Google Search Console to Yoast SEO

To connect Google Search Console to the Yoast SEO plugin, all you have to do is navigate to this page in WordPress: SEO › Search Console.
Connect Google Search Console to Yoast SEO

The next step is to connect them. In our plugin, just click the ‘Get Google Authorization Code’ button:Search Console - Yoast SEO

It’ll take you to Google Search Console. There, you’ll be asked to confirm that you want to connect Google Search Console to Yoast SEO and let our plugin view and manage the data for your sites. Click ‘allow’:Search Console - Yoast SEO

Lastly, you’ll get a key to include in our plugin:GSC copy paste code

Now simply copy-paste that code and insert it into the box in our plugin, hit ‘Authenticate.’
Google Search Console pick profile

Choose the profile you’d like to connect and save it. Done! Now, you can continue in the first tab of that same section in our plugin (Desktop). Be sure to check the other tabs as well to find specific crawl errors.Yoast SEO crawl errors

Here, you will find the information we collected from your Google Search Console. In this table, you see the URL that gave an error, the date Google crawled it last, the date when Google detected the error first and the response code Google sent. In the screenshot, all response codes are 404 Not Found.

So, if you connect Google Search Console to Yoast SEO, you will have a great overview of how many crawl errors Google finds on your website. Now, you can go and create redirects for these 404s, or simply change them to 410s if that page is of absolutely no use to you anymore. More on status codes in this article. When you have ‘fixed’ the error, hover over the URL in Yoast SEO and click ‘mark as fixed’.

Is there an easy way to create that redirect?

Yes! There is an easier way to complete this process, and it is called Yoast SEO Premium. Besides a lot of extras that plugin has to offer, it allows you to immediately create your redirect in our plugin:create redirect in Yoast SEO Premium

Simply click ‘Create redirect,’ and, unlike in our free plugin (which will prompt that it’s only featured in our premium plugin), you’ll get this screen:
redirect and fix crawl errors in Yoast SEO

Our plugin will give you the option to create a redirect, or add another status code (301, 302, 307, 410, 451 are all possible). In case of a 301 redirect, like in the example, simply insert the URL you’d like that ‘old’ URL to redirect to. If you want to tell Google Search Console about this fix, simply leave the check ‘Mark as fixed’ as is and hit ‘Create Redirect.’ It’s as simple as that. In tomorrow’s article, we’ll shine a light on the redirects manager.

Now go and connect Google Search Console to Yoast SEO!

I hope this sheds some light on why you want to connect Google Search Console to Yoast SEO. You’ll be able to monitor crawl errors in our free plugin, and for a few bucks a year, our premium plugin will even help you fix them!

If you by any chance have already used this feature in our premium plugin, I’d love for you to share your thoughts and experiences in the comments!

Read more: ‘Which redirect should I use?’ »

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2018 is coming soon and people are starting to ask: what’s new? What should we do to keep up with changes in search and specifically in SEO in 2018? In this post, I’ll sum up the biggest changes in our world, and what you should be working on.

The search landscape is changing

Over the last decade(s), our computers have become faster and faster, and our phones have been catching up. The iPhone X is faster than many computers people have at home. The power of the small machines we have in our hands is slowly being utilized by apps and search engines alike.

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Building on that growing power of the devices in our hands, the reliability of voice recognition has been steadily increasing. It’s now at the point where, in languages like English, voice commands can be reliably used to instruct our devices to do something. One of those things we can do, is search.

Voice search changes everything

We cannot tell you how many people search with voice. Most people, for now, will not use voice search as their primary mode of searching. But: the search engines are optimizing for voice search results and have been doing that for a while now. Because the search engines are optimizing for voice results, all of search has already changed because of voice search.

The featured snippets that SEOs have been striving to get are a prime example of how voice search has changed SEO. Optimizing for these snippets requires old school SEO tactics combined with something new. You see, a featured snippet is meant to be read out loud. That’s the context in which Google’s Gary Illyes told people to read their copy out loud, early this year.

Listen to this result from Google Home for the search [what is a meta description?]:

If you’ve listened to the above answer, you’ll know why readability is so important. Answers this long become very hard to listen to if they’re not well written. And even then, we still have to solve things like figure out how we can get Google to pronounce SEO as S-E-O instead of “Seeoo”.

Google changes

Besides voice search and Google’s focus on that, more is changing in and for Google. Specifically: a few new technologies and a profound new way of looking at the web.

Mobile first indexing

We’ve written about mobile first indexing before, but the basic idea is simple: Google is changing how it looks at your site. From ‘judging’ your site as though it’s a desktop site, it’ll switch to judging your site as a mobile site. Every bit of content that can’t be reached on your mobile site, will not count for your ranking.

It’s still unclear when this will roll out and how fast this will roll out. Google says they’re already testing it, but they also say that sites that aren’t ready for it shouldn’t be hurt, for now. Regardless of that, your site should be working well and fast on mobile, so if it isn’t, that’s going to be your priority for SEO in 2018.

AMP

If you haven’t heard about AMP, you’ve missed quite a few posts on this site. I’d suggest you start reading here to learn what AMP is and why it’s important.

Google is focusing a lot of time and effort on AMP. So much that one of the projects we’ve got planned at Yoast for 2018 is to see if we can recreate our single post pages entirely in AMP, completely leaving the non-AMP version. Yes, that’s how important we think AMP will become in the long run. I don’t expect normal sites have to do anything that drastic in 2018, but do make sure you keep up to date with the latest news on AMP.

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Structured data: JSON+LD & Schema.org

Alongside AMP, Google is pushing more and more structured data ‘profiles’. By asking webmasters and SEOs to mark up their content in structured data, according to schema.org data structures, Google is trying to understand the web better.

Yoast SEO does a good chunk of work for websites adding structured data to sites already. For most small business websites and blogs, what it does should be enough.

But if you have a site that has a lot of content that fits one of the schema.org data types (think of recipes, reviews, products, etc.), I’d highly suggest following our Structured Data course. After that you’ll know how to set up a properly structured data strategy for your site.

Content is still king

While all of the technical changes above are important to SEO in 2018, and you should definitely keep an eye on them, content is still the thing that’s going to make you rank. Our recent ultimate guide to content SEO should get you started on the right path there. Good luck optimizing your site in 2018!

Read more: ‘Structured data with schema.org: the ultimate guide’ »

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