Headings play an important role in structuring text, whether it’s on paper or online. Since reading from a screen is already quite difficult, you should make sure you make proper use of headings. There’s a hierarchy in heading tags, with <h1> being the most important, and <h6> the least important. This will help both your visitors (whether they’re reading or using a screen reader!) and search engines understand what’s most essential on a page. But what if your theme only allows the use of one type of heading? Is that bad for your SEO, and what does it mean for your visitors? In this Ask Yoast, I’ll get into that.

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Nikola emailed us her question on WordPress themes and heading structure:

My theme has no H1 headings on the homepage (or category and archive pages). All headings are H2. My developer says it isn’t bad for SEO, it’s worse to use multiple H1s on a single page. Is he right?

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

A logical order in your heading structure

Is he right? Well he is and he isn’t…it really depends. If you’re using HTML 5, you can have multiple H1s, depending on how your page is structured. At the same time, not having an H1 at all in your page sounds very weird.

On a post page the title of that post should be in the H1. On an archive page the title of that archive should be in the H1. On your homepage your brand name should probably be in the H1. So, I’m not entirely sure that he’s right. I would prefer that he does it right in terms of using one H1, then some H2s, etc.

This is more of an accessibility issue than it is a specific SEO issue. But it’s important for people who are blind, or otherwise have a hard time reading your page, because they can actually follow the structure of the headings on your page. So do think about the headings on your page and make them follow a logical order. 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: ‘SEO Basics: How to use headings on your site’ »

 

The post Ask Yoast: WordPress themes and heading structure appeared first on Yoast.

When I go to WordCamps, I get this question a lot: “Why do you have the PHP Code Widget still in the directory?”

There’s a good answer for that, but first let me explain why I made the thing in the first place.

If you examine the history of that plugin, you’ll find that it was submitted almost 10 years ago. Back then, widgets were new. Most people using WordPress had hardcoded sidebars in their themes. Changing the sidebar meant changing the theme. Widgets aimed to replace that with draggable objects. The Widget plugin was still a plugin, and not in core, but headed there.

The PHP Code Widget was created to make it easy and simple and fast to migrate from a hardcoded sidebar to a widget based one. You could take your existing code in the sidebar file, paste it into the widget, and then you had a movable widget that you could easily use.

Obviously, this was not meant for long term usage. The goal was to get widget support rapidly in your theme, with the expectation that as new widgets came out, you could replace your old code with newer, shinier, well supported, widgets.

The reason the plugin is still in the directory is because it still fills a need for some people. If I removed it, then they would fulfill that need in worse ways. It does not take much searching to find snippets of code, with bad advice saying to just pop it into your theme’s functions.php file, and voila, now all your Text Widgets run PHP code. That snippet actually exists. It’s a terrible idea, for obvious reasons.

The PHP Code Widget is less terrible than the alternatives.

But it’s still terrible.

And yes, it bothers me that it is one of the top 150 plugins. Storing PHP code in your database and then running it is just dumb. Don’t do that. Code should live in the right place, and that place is not the database.

So, in an effort to reduce the usage of the PHP Code Widget, here’s one way to stop using it, if you still are.

Getting rid of the PHP Code Widget

Step 1:

Get the PHP Code that you are using from the Widget, copy it into a text editor, save it somewhere for safe keeping.

Step 2:

You’re going to make a new plugin. You can call it whatever you like, but I recommend naming it specific to the site you’re making it for. If I was making a plugin for this site to hold widgets, then I’d call it “Ottopress Widgets” or something to that effect.

How to make a new plugin:

(Note: You can use Pluginception for this instead, if you like. That one I’m not ashamed of, it’s a very handy tool.)

a. Make a directory in /wp-content/plugins named after your plugin, like /wp-content/plugins/ottopress-widgets

b. Make a PHP file in there named the same. Like ottopress-widgets.php.

c. Edit that file, and add this header to the top of it:

<?php
/*
Plugin Name: Ottopress Widgets
*/

Lovely. We’ve made a new plugin. It doesn’t do anything, yet, but here’s some more code to add to the plugin. This is largely copy-paste, and then you edit it to fit your specific circumstances

Step 3:

add_action( 'widgets_init', 'ottopress_widget_register' );
function ottopress_widget_register() {
	register_widget( 'Ottopress_Widget' );
}
class Ottopress_Widget extends WP_Widget {
	function __construct() {
	
		$class = 'widget_ottopress';
		$name = 'Ottopress Widget';
		
		$widget_ops = array('classname' => $class, 'description' => $name);
		$control_ops = array('width' => 400, 'height' => 350);
		parent::__construct('', $name, $widget_ops, $control_ops);
	}

	function widget( $args, $instance ) {
		extract($args);
		echo $before_widget;

		echo '<h2 class="widget-title">Ottopress Widget</h2>';
		echo "<div>Here's my custom stuff.</div>";

		echo $after_widget;
	}
}

I named this widget “Ottopress Widget” by way of example. In the first few lines of code, you’ll want to change these to your own naming scheme. It’s important that names be unique, which is why I recommend naming things using your site’s name. Unlikely for there to be interference that way.

The $class and $name variables you should also change. The class is used in the HTML that the widget produces, so you can refer to it via CSS. The name is simply used for display purposes on the widgets editing screens.

Step 4:

Finally, the meat of the code you want to edit is here. I’ll point it out specifically.

function widget( $args, $instance ) {
	extract($args);
	echo $before_widget;

	echo '<h2 class="widget-title">Ottopress Widget</h2>';
	echo "<div>Here's my custom stuff.</div>";
	
	echo $after_widget;
}

This is the code that shows the widget on your site itself. Now, this one is just hardcoded to show the normal before and after code (these are set by the theme, so these should always be there), and then it has a little hardcoded bit there where it echo’s out a title and a div that says “Here’s my Custom Stuff”.

If you’re migrating from the PHP code widget, well, here’s where you migrate it to. You can drop your code from the PHP Code widget here and, you know, do whatever you were doing in the widget before, just now in an actual custom widget, in your own custom plugin. No more storing the code in the database. Just activate the plugin and replace the PHP Code widget with this one.

If you need more widgets because you were using it in multiple places, then simply repeat the process. Paste that whole class in there, only give it a different class name and other info, then put in your other code. You can have as many widgets as you like, they just have to all be named differently. Simple.

Note that this widget has no settings screen of any kind. Why would it? You’re controlling the code directly, no need for settings, presumably. If you want to go on and make your widget smarter and more complex and have settings, well, there’s other tutorials for that.

If this reduces the usage of the PHP Code Widget, well, I’ll be a happier person.

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! »

Let us configure Yoast SEO for you Info

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’ »

The post What does the redirects manager in Yoast SEO do? appeared first on Yoast.

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?’ »

The post How to connect Google Search Console to Yoast SEO and fix errors appeared first on Yoast.

If you started your website as a newbie to all things internet, chances are that your site’s URLs aren’t pretty. Perhaps the URLs contain the post-ID, or the date when it was first published. URLs like that don’t say much about the content of a page and look cluttered. If you want to change your URL structure for this reason, or whatever other reason, it could affect your rankings. In this Ask Yoast, I discuss to what extent changing your URL structure will have an impact on your rankings, and if it’s still worth the effort.

Chris asked us a question on this subject:

We are changing our URL structure to make it look cleaner (by leaving out numbers etc.). When we launch our new site, will this new URL structure negatively affect our existing Google rankings?

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

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

Yoast SEO: the #1 WordPress SEO plugin Info

The impact of changing your URL structure on rankings

Well, if you launch a new site and you have new URLs, you’ll need to redirect all the old URLs to the new URLs and it’ll take some time for Google to pick up that those URLs have changed. If you’re staying on the same domain name, your traffic will probably stay the same, but you will need to redirect all those URLs and it might take some time.

You might lose some traffic for a while, up to even six months and then after that everything should be fine. It’s probably worth it if your URLs look really bad though, so it’s a trade-off but I’d probably still go for it. 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 perfect WordPress SEO permalink structure’ »

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As a site owner, you want to come across as an authoritative result, as well as stand out in the search results. Even if you’re already ranking nr. 1. Sitelinks can help you achieve that. These links appear under the main search result, highlighting subpages of a website. Sitelinks can push down the pages of your competitors on the results pages, and provide potential visitors more options to navigate to your site and find what they’re looking for. Of course, this could be beneficial to your traffic. You’ve probably seen sitelinks in the search result pages at some point, but how do you get Google to add them to your site? As it happens, getting sitelinks isn’t for just anyone. In this Ask Yoast, we’ll get into that.

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

Yoast SEO: the #1 WordPress SEO plugin Info

Sergiu Tere sent us this question:

I see that some sites have sitelinks, but not from Google AdWords. How do they do that?

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

Getting sitelinks

 Well, it’s very easy. Sitelinks are given to you. It’s not something that you can put in somewhere. Google will give you site links if it thinks you are very ‘authoritative’ for that query, so if you’re a very important result for that query. In that case, it will add site links from your site, based on how people browse your site and how they use your site.

So, it’s not something that you can change; it’s not something that you can opt in for, it’s not something that you can do specific SEO for. You just have to become very important for that specific query.
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: ‘Google’s sitelinks searchbox & Yoast’ »

The post Ask Yoast: how to get sitelinks appeared first on Yoast.

Gutenberg is the new editing experience coming to WordPress. We’ve talked about it before. While we have some hesitations, we do see Gutenberg as a major step forward and are thinking about how we will integrate Yoast SEO into Gutenberg. In this post, we’ll share some of the ideas we’re excited about.

Gutenberg introduces new concepts, like blocks, and new places where we could potentially integrate. The premise behind our integration is that we need to give you feedback as soon as we can, in the right spot. Feedback is most helpful when you can actually do something with it immediately.

Inline is where it’s happening

We started by breaking down all our features, and seeing where we could integrate them into Gutenberg. We don’t think holding on to a single, massive box below the editor will best serve our customers. We’d much rather integrate right where the action happens, and Gutenberg offers us that chance. Let’s take a closer look at what we mean.

For instance, if you don’t fill out an alt text for an image you included, we don’t want to show that bullet point way down below in our metabox, in a long list of possible improvements. No, we want to show it to you right below the field where you can input the alt text.

Same for the featured image. Say you upload an image that is too small for Facebook to accept – you don’t want to have to find out about that when the whole post is finished, and you happen to wander into our social media preview editor. No, we tell you right then and there.

Connecting cause and effect

By working inline as much as we can, we’ll create a tighter connection between what you do and what effect that has on SEO. You’ll get actionable feedback in context. You don’t have to scroll down to a meta box to see the advice and scroll up again to the place where you should implement it. If we give feedback per block, you will get a better understanding of all the factors that influence SEO. And you’ll be able to anticipate them in advance once you’ve been working this way for a while.

Here’s another example: our primary category selection, of course, will be right there in the categories meta box.

The primary category, from Yoast SEO, integrated into Gutenberg

And another: the readability analysis, at the block level – just another section in the paragraph block settings, naturally.


The concept of blocks, in general, will allow us to give much more fine-grained feedback. For instance, you won’t have to look for the best place to add a link; we can scan all the blocks for you and let you know exactly which one is best for a certain link. Link suggestions don’t even have to live in a separate meta box. We can just insert them in the inline suggestions that the link UI offers.

Internal linking suggestion in the link popup

But what if we dream a little bigger?

Some people are working on bringing collaboration to Gutenberg. If it pans out, you won’t need Google Docs or something else to draft articles and leave editorial feedback; you can do it all from within WordPress. Of course, an essential part of a collaborative workflow is a commenting system. But we’d like to think that not all comments have to come from humans, per se.

Something we’ve been exploring is adding our SEO and readability feedback as comments to text. That would put our biggest feature inline as well, right where you need it. You can immediately identify problem areas, respond to feedback with your own comments, or dismiss the ones you don’t want to fix. It becomes an interactive and fun process. We won’t have to use sweeping statements like “50% of your sentences are too long”, no, we can break it down for you block per block.

We know you may not always want instant feedback on every word you type, so you could filter out the comments that Yoast SEO generates. This way, you can keep the writing and editing processes separate.

Working off of that idea, we might even build a full SEO mode into Gutenberg. What it will do exactly is something we are still thinking about, but it could take the shape of a site-wide wizard that guides you through all the relevant SEO optimization steps in an actionable and customizable way. More on that soon.

Yoast SEO + Gutenberg = ?

Gutenberg offers lots of opportunities to take our plugins to the next level. The great thing is: all WordPress plugin developers will be able to do that too. It’s a brave new frontier for all of us, and we’re very much looking forward to it!

What sort of features would you love to see us make for Gutenberg, or for an SEO mode in general? Let us know in the comments.

The post Gutenberg: Concepts for integrating Yoast SEO appeared first on Yoast.

Suppose you know nothing about SEO but have heard about this little gem called Yoast SEO. People told you that it is a very convenient tool to optimize your site and its pages for Google, Bing, and Yandex. It’s effortless. You want to use it. You install the Yoast SEO plugin or the Yoast SEO extension and simply follow the advice given in that plugin. Within a week, your website will be topping the charts in Google. Or not? No, to be honest. It’s not that simple.

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

Yoast SEO: the #1 WordPress SEO plugin Info

Our plugin helps you to optimize your website for search engines. And it does that well, but it needs your input. In this beginner’s guide to Yoast SEO, I’ll try to explain the basics of SEO that our plugin guides you in. I’ll take you through the steps that every user, who tries our plugin for the first time takes, and help you optimize your site in the process.

It’s a beginner‘s guide to Yoast SEO

Before we start, I should point out that this isn’t a beginner’s guide to every single detail of our plugin. I’d just like to show you some things I think you should use or configure. As our plugin has quite some settings, it’s good to know which features to configure first.

The Yoast SEO configuration wizard

Our Yoast SEO configuration wizard is a great place to start. You can find the configuration wizard at SEO > Dashboard > General:

Beginner's guide to Yoast SEO: Where to find the Yoast SEO configuration wizard

In that configuration wizard, we will guide you through twelve steps that help you configure our plugin, specifically for your site. Even if you have a website that is already a year or so old, I encourage you to use the wizard and see if there are some things that you might have missed. Each step includes some questions; your answers will determine specific settings. In the wizard, we have also included video material to show you even more options.

Read more: ‘The Yoast SEO configuration wizard and why you should use it’ »

But there is so much more in this SEO section of Yoast SEO!?

Unquestionably, as there are many aspects to SEO. With the help of your answers in the configuration wizard and our own SEO knowledge, we can configure most of the general settings of our plugin for you. As a result of this, you can focus on your content!

SEO analysis

When you start writing a post or page, you will find our analyses. In WordPress, our so-called meta box is right below the larger text area where you write your content:

Beginner's guide to Yoast SEO: the meta box

For you, as a user, this Yoast SEO box will prove very valuable. As you can see, there are a couple of tabs here.

  • One tab where you can insert the keyword you want to optimize the page for (focus keyword), in this case: “beginner’s guide to Yoast SEO.”
  • One tab that says Readability and I’ll get into that one later.

On the tab where you can insert that focus keyword, we’ll tell you if you have used that focus keyword the right way in that specific post.

What we analyze in our SEO analysis

At present, we perform these checks in our SEO analysis:

A beginner's guide to Yoast SEO: SEO analysis

Following the image, as shown above, we analyze these characteristics of your text (from top to bottom):

  • If you want your page to rank for a specific keyword, you must write at least 300 words about it. Otherwise, it may be considered a ‘thin content’ page by Google, and you want to avoid that.
  • Add a meta description; it will invite visitors in Google to your website.
  • You want to make clear right from the start what the page is about, so start adding the focus keyword from the beginning.
  • Add images to create a vivid experience for your users. Use the focus keyword in the ALT text so that Google can relate that image to the keyword.
  • To set up a proper site structure, link to at least one other related page on your site. It keeps visitors on your site and shows them more (background) information.
  • We want sites to link to other websites as well, as this opens up the web. Point people to the websites where you get your information. It’ll tell Google what websites relate to each other on what subjects.
  • A short page title allows you to add a trigger for a visitor in Google to click to your website.
  • If you add that focus keyword at the beginning of your title, it will have the most value. Also, it will immediately stand out when your post is shared
  • Repeat your focus keyword in your URL. As a result, even without context, it will be clear what clicking that link will bring you. Furthermore, Google also likes having it in there.
  • You optimize a page for a certain keyword – not a website. Prevent competing pages! Yoast SEO will warn you if you write more than one post about the same keyword. When this happens, use a variation, or a long tail keyword.

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

    Basic SEO training Info

What’s more: Cornerstone content and snippet preview

If your page is the main page for a topic/keyword in a group of pages you plan to write, you could mark it as cornerstone content here. Not sure if that is a subject for a beginner’s guide to Yoast SEO, by the way. It might be wise to take our basic SEO course first :)

Besides all the checks, we provide an editable snippet preview, which tells you how our plugin displays your website to Google and other search engines.

Readability analysis

Since SEO is one of those areas where content is indeed king, we also provide a convenient readability analysis for you. The thing is: not all people have the same skills to process certain texts. I laughed out loud when I found out someone thought it would be wise to use our readability analysis to analyze the readability of books like Hamlet’s First Soliloquy by William Shakespeare. Oh, the time wasted! If Hemingway would have a blog, he’d probably love our readability analysis. It would allow him to translate his offline writing to a nice readable online text.

Online vs. offline

Please understand that online and offline writing are two different stories. While we take the time to read, digest and daydream about all the great stories we read in books, we tend to scan, process and use (in any way) the things we read online. Where we follow the old man on his journey over sea, struggling with that marlin for days, feel his frustration, motivation, you probably scanned this beginner’s guide to Yoast SEO to see if there’s something here you didn’t know already.

This post isn’t a page in a book. It’s information for you to process like most online pages are. With that purpose in mind, we wrote our readability analysis.

Government rulings

Our Dutch government has ruled that the text on all government websites should be at B2: Upper intermediate level. It’s a rule that makes sure that every citizen, regardless of the level of education, can read and understand the information on these websites. We aim to help them with that. Our readability analysis works for websites in English, Spanish, Dutch, French, and German, by the way.

The readability analysis itself

Let’s see what’s in our readability analysis:

A beginner's guide to Yoast SEO: Readability analysis

We analyze these things:

  • Use subheadings so that people can scan your pages faster. It helps you group topics, which makes it easier to process them.
  • The Flesh Reading Ease test makes sure every reader can understand your texts. If you are writing for a more educated audience, a lower score is acceptable – it’s a guideline, you decide how strict to follow it.
  • Transition words help to improve the ‘flow’ of your page. To put it another way, they send a signal to your visitors that something is coming up, prepare them for the next sentence. You’ll find that the recommendation of using transition words in 30% of your sentences isn’t that hard to achieve.
  • Long paragraphs in an online article are more difficult to understand. You’ll find yourself lost in all the words. Bite-sized chunks are easier to process.
  • While in a book you can stretch a sentence over half a page, shorter sentences are that much easier to read online. We use 20 words as a target length.
  • Passive voice results in distant writing. Active voice is much more engaging. It’s almost impossible to write a ‘natural’ text without any passive voice at all (IMHO), and we ‘allow’ 10% passive voice in our analysis.

If you want more insight into how we decided on all these target numbers, please read the article Content analysis: methodological choices explained.

The last step of this beginner’s guide to Yoast SEO is an advanced one

When you first install Yoast SEO, we hide all advanced settings. We don’t want to bother you with these and have set them up to our standards. But I’d like you to check just two of the settings in there. Go to SEO > Dashboard > Features. Toggle the switch as in the image below to enable the advanced settings. Don’t worry; we’ll close these advanced settings right after this section.

beginner's guide to Yoast SEO: advanced settings pages

Titles and Metas

If you set that switch to “enable” and click the “Save settings” button, your menu, which used to look like the menu on the left, (this example is in WordPress) will expand to the one on the right. You’ll now have access to the way we set up, for instance, your titles and metas for you. I want you to check that section for me. No need to alter anything, by the way. I just want you to know it’s there and realize what you can configure here.

Become a technical SEO expert with our Technical SEO 1 training! »

Technical SEO 1 training Info

At “post types,” you will find the default template we use for your post titles:
%%title%% %%page%% %%sep%% %%sitename%%

This simply means we will use the page/post title you use when writing posts, and add the page number if your post is divided over multiple pages. Then we add a separator, like a dash, and then the site name you have set when creating your site. The outcome for this Beginner’s guide to Yoast SEO could be:
Beginner's guide to Yoast SEO: page titlesNote that this example doesn’t include a page number after the page title, as this post is just one page. This is the setup we recommend. It’s focused on the page title (“Beginner’s guide to Yoast SEO”) and has proper branding at the end (“Yoast”).

The purpose of me showing you this is that I want you to know it’s there, so you don’t have to look for it in the future. It explains why your titles are shown this way in Google.

Keep reading: ‘Titles and meta variables in Yoast SEO’ »

Google Search Console

You can find the search console settings a bit further down the SEO menu. Now if you have completed our configuration wizard, you most probably connected Google Search Console to our plugin already. If you haven’t done that yet, you can do it at any time using the Search Console section here.

If you’re happy with the way these two are set up, please go back to the features tab in our dashboard and disable the advanced setting pages again.

That concludes our beginner’s guide to Yoast SEO. I trust your website is ready for Google now, so please add awesome content!

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

The post The beginner’s guide to Yoast SEO appeared first on Yoast.

Have you ever done a fresh Yoast SEO for WordPress install on your WordPress website? Have you ever found yourself wondering what’s hidden in the general SEO section of Yoast SEO? In the SEO section, in the bottom half of the WordPress menu on the left of the page? Perhaps the better question would be: have you ever tried our Yoast SEO configuration wizard? Our wizard takes care of all the little things that you should configure. Things that you might forget in your eagerness to get started with your newly set up website.

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

Yoast SEO: the #1 WordPress SEO plugin Info

Where can I find the Yoast SEO configuration wizard?

Of course, you want to jump right in and configure our plugin, using that Yoast SEO configuration wizard. Once you have installed our plugin, you’ll see a notification on your Yoast SEO dashboard:

The configuration wizard helps you to easily configure your site to have the optimal SEO settings.
We have detected that you have not finished this wizard yet, so we recommend you to start the configuration wizard to configure Yoast SEO.

There is a link in this message, leading you to a tab that’s located next to your SEO dashboard: “General”. You can set a number of things here, but you’ll also find a button that takes you to the Yoast SEO configuration wizard:

Where to find the Yoast SEO configuration wizard

The wizard

Once you’ve opened the wizard, we’ll guide you through the steps via a few questions. If you answer these, we’ll implement the right settings for your website, based specifically on your answers.

Step 1: Welcome to the Yoast SEO configuration Wizard

Let’s look at the first screen of the configuration wizard:
Yoast SEO configuration wizard: Welcome

You have two options here. You can start the wizard by clicking the purple button in the left box. This will continue the process as described below in this article.

The other option, on the right, will take you to our shop. Because we can do the configuration process for you, if you feel that there’s more to configure, and want to be sure it is done right for your particular site. We’ll check all the things in the wizard, but first, we will have a quick look at your website to see how you implemented things. And how we can optimize these settings for your specific business. Especially the technical side of things may feel challenging for the average site owner. This is where the configuration service is of great help. For the best result, you can also purchase our configuration package, which also includes our Yoast SEO Premium plugin, and the installation of that plugin.

For this post, let’s assume you want to use the Yoast SEO configuration wizard first.

Step 2: Is your site ready to be indexed?

The first question determines whether you want your site to be indexed or not. Perhaps you are working on a development site, on a staging server or just don’t want the public to see your site yet:
Yoast SEO configuration wizard

The reason we ask, is that one of the most important checks in our plugin determines whether Google can index your site or not. Google needs to be able to reach your website and index it unless you don’t want that. If you don’t want that, we merely need to know. You can set your preference for this in the second step of our wizard.

Step 3: What kind of site do you have?

In the next step, we will ask you about the type of site you have. It could be a blog or an online shop, but might as well be a news site or a portfolio.
Yoast SEO configuration wizard

One of the reasons we ask this question is because it’s essential you take a moment and think about this. What is your site about? Let’s take yoast.com, for example. We have two different sections on our website yoast.com:

  • Our blogs: an SEO blog and a dev blog. In these blogs, we share knowledge about both SEO and software development in all its facets.
  • Our online shop. We run an online shop and you’ll find our premium plugins and online courses in there.

What makes this question hard for ourselves, is the fact that following our mission “SEO for everyone”, both are equally important. Sharing knowledge is our main goal. Making sure all companies large and small and all individuals rich and poor, wherever on this planet, can optimize their websites and have an equal chance to rank in the search result pages. We use our products to provide even more insights or to deliver our knowledge to you in a structured package. That is also the reason we charge prices for our software that fit well into the offers of most online agencies. Charging $5,000 for a website, and including a mere $89 for our Yoast SEO Premium plugin seems like a no-brainer. Especially since it just makes your work / the work of your client so much easier. But enough with the promotional talk.

Think for yourself what your answer to this question should be. That’ll make it easier to configure several features of our plugin and, in fact, of your website later on.

For us, as plugin developers, the information we get from this question is also useful for future improvements. For instance, it can help us to prioritize future additions to our plugin for specific types of sites.

Step 4: Is it you or your company?

For the right metadata, we ask you to choose between company and person here. Is your website about you, or the company you represent? If you are a person, we would like to include your name. If you are a company, please add the name and logo.
Yoast SEO configuration wizard

This information will be included in the metadata of your website, with the goal to provide Google with the right information for their Knowledge Graph. The Knowledge Graph is the block of information you see on the right-hand side of the search results, for instance when you do a company search for Sony or Apple. My search for “Apple” actually returned details for our local Apple premium reseller, with a sort of ‘footer’ about the global Apple company details.

To make sure you give Google proper suggestions for that Knowledge Graph, we have added this question.

Step 5: Tell us your social profiles

In addition to your name or company name, we also ask you to let us know which social profiles you have. Again, so we can provide Google with the right information for their Knowledge Graph. Google seems keen on delivering answers to their visitors right away, so you’d better make sure your information is on Google.
Yoast SEO configuration wizard

With social being a part of the Knowledge Graph, and your website being linked on all your social profile pages, be sure to fill this out as completely as possible.

Step 6: To show or not show certain post types

The description in the image below is pretty clear: this is where you can set posts and pages to hidden or visible. Besides that, you can also choose to hide the Media post type.
Yoast SEO configuration wizard

If you set your Media post type to ‘visible’, WordPress will generate separate pages for your images, and we will generate an XML sitemap for your images as well. Now, unless you have a very specific reason to generate these pages, we recommend setting this to ‘hidden’ instead. That way, most websites prevent the generation of a ton of pages that just contain an image and no further content. Google will spend time indexing all these pages, but they add little value to your content. Keep in mind that when an image is on your page, post, or a specific gallery, Google will find it anyway.

Step 7: How many people are publishing content on your site?

We absolutely want to know if your website has multiple authors. There’s a reason for that: when your site only has one author, WordPress will still generate author pages. But if you write all the content on your blog yourself, your blog page will show the exact same collection of posts as your author page. And that, indeed, is duplicate content.
Yoast SEO configuration wizard

We call something duplicate content when the majority of a page is the same as the content on another page. Google will notice this, get confused, won’t know what page to rank first, and might decide to rank both a bit less. You obviously want to prevent that from happening. As we can guide you in this case, we added this check to our Yoast SEO configuration wizard.

Step 8: Google Search Console integration

There is a ton of information about your website in Google Search Console. We have written many posts about webmaster tools like Google Search Console, but did you know we also have an integration for it in our plugin? It connects your website to Google Search Console and allows you to keep a keen eye on your 404 Not Found errors. In our Yoast SEO Premium plugin, we’ll even guide you in preventing these 404 errors by helping you change them to for instance a 301 (so redirect the page to another page), or a 410 status code (which tells Google the page is gone forever).
Yoast SEO configuration wizard

In this step of the Yoast SEO configuration wizard, we guide you in connecting Google Search Console to our plugin. After that, we’ll start showing you your 404s so you can monitor and fix them!

Step 9: Optimizing your page title

At the title settings step in the wizard, we ask you to think about your branding. The website name you enter here is the name that our default page title template will use to put at the end of each page title. The default page title template looks like this:
%%title%% %%page%% %%sep%% %%sitename%%

The last part of that template is %%sitename%% and that’s what you fill out here. Be sure to add it, but keep it short, so the focus will be on the page or post title. It’s nice to have some of your branding in here so people will recognize your pages in the search result pages. If they already know you and your site, they’re more likely to click on one of your links.
Yoast SEO configuration wizard

The third part of the page template is %%sep%%, which stands for separator. A page title that follows our template can be “Some title of a post – Yoast”. The hyphen in there is the separator you can set at this step in the Yoast SEO configuration wizard. Using another separator than the average person might make you stand out from your competitors in the search result pages. But beside that, you can also pick the smallest separator, which could mean you can squeeze in another character or two.

Read more: ‘Titles and meta variables in Yoast SEO’ »

Step 10: Awesome tips and new products in your inbox

As SEO is an ongoing process, our goal is to keep you up-to-date on any changes in Google’s search result pages or Google’s algorithm. We do that by posting on our SEO blog, but also with our newsletter. In the newsletter, we highlight new developments in search, in WordPress and in our company – if relevant.
Yoast SEO configuration wizard

Simply insert your email address, and we’ll keep you in the loop on all things SEO!

Step 11: Upsell: buy our Premium plugin

Call it whatever you want (upsell, spam, useful information), but we have to tell you about our premium plugin in our configuration. Because we deliver incredibly useful SEO extras with that premium plugin, for a reasonable price. To name but a few:

  • What about a redirect manager? We’ll not only show you your 404s, but will also make it very easy to redirect, and thereby fix ’em.
  • An internal linking tool that will help you optimize your site structure to the max. Link suggestions and an easy way to copy these into your text. Optimize your cornerstone content even further.
  • Social previews, so you’ll know exactly what your website will show on Facebook and Twitter, and the option to tweak that.
  • A year of updates for all premium features, so your entire plugin will always be 100% up-to-date.
  • Email support for as long as you have Premium. This means you can email our 24/7 support team with any questions you have about the plugin.

Yoast SEO configuration wizard

Next to that, we offer some hands-on online courses to improve your SEO game even more. Be sure to check them out; you can always decide later if they add value for you, right? We think they do :)

Step 12: Even more free information about the plugin: then you’re ready to get started!

All the steps above have one goal: prepare you and your website for SEO. These steps are focused on the general settings of our plugin.

If you have used our plugin before, you’ll know it also provides a thorough SEO analysis in real time, while you write your posts or pages. On the page/post edit screen, where you write your content, you’ll find a so-called meta box with our SEO and readability analysis. For more insights on both, we finish our Yoast SEO configuration wizard with a helpful video, which tells you more about that specific part of the plugin. Be sure to watch that video!
Yoast SEO configuration wizard: finished

The configuration wizard makes things easier for all of us

All in all, I trust this article gives you a pretty good insight in why you should give our Yoast SEO configuration wizard a spin. And why we ask what we ask in there!

And again, if you want us to configure the plugin for you, feel free to use our Yoast SEO configuration service instead.

Keep reading: ‘Why every website needs Yoast SEO’ »

The post The Yoast SEO Configuration Wizard appeared first on Yoast.

November 2, 2017. This date has been etched in the collective Yoast agenda’s for some time now. If you haven’t guessed, it’s when the second edition of the YoastCon SEO conference takes place. This practical conference is aimed at every site owner, business manager, content editor or anyone remotely making money with a site and trying to improve their results. In this interview, you’ll hear from our own Marieke van de Rakt and Michiel Heijmans – who will also MC the event – on why you should visit YoastCon.

Don’t want to miss this epic SEO event? Get your ticket now for YoastCon 2017!

Get your ticket NOW »

Why YoastCon?

The first edition of YoastCon was all about celebrating the fifth anniversary of Yoast as a company. It was a small, down to earth SEO conference focussed as much on sharing SEO knowledge as it was a meeting of new friends and a rekindling of old ones. YoastCon was put together by a small team and it resulted in a great maiden voyage for the conference.

Come see Marieke and Michiel speak at YoastCon 2017 on November 2 »banner YoastCon

Michiel remembers how much work it was: “We wanted to celebrate five years of Yoast and we thought a conference was the best way to do this. It was an awful lot of work, but it paid off. It was a great ride! This was such a cool experience that we wanted to do it again but on a grander scale.”

Marieke concurs: “We probably won’t do this every year, because of the amount of work involved. However, we do have a lot more helping hands now, so never say never. The first YoastCon was one of the best days ever, so I’m really looking forward to the second edition!”

“YoastCon offers us a brilliant opportunity to not just talk about what we mean by holistic SEO, but show it as well. In that sense, it’s the perfect combination of sharing information and sharing knowledge that’s immediately applicable to any site. When you get home from the conference, you can take action that really helps you to achieve success,” Michiel says.

YoastCon is all about practical SEO, why exactly is that?

“People have a great need for practical insights. Something they can apply immediately. However, they find it hard to determine how to start. The Yoast SEO plugin is very practical as it helps you to improve your site by signaling when something could be improved. It’s a tool that you can start using at a moment’s notice. During the first YoastCon, we introduced our holistic SEO vision and now we’re going to make that abstract concept practical for people to apply, ” says Marieke.

What are the hot SEO issues at this event?

At a good SEO conference, you get both a taste of the now and the future. While the future of search is hard to predict, there are things site-owners can prepare for. Marieke is quick to mention the incredible power of content: “Content is the cornerstone of a good SEO strategy. Writing SEO-proof articles is a skill that takes work. Plus, these days you have to keep voice search in mind when writing content. Also, mobile and local SEO keep getting more important. All these things will be discussed at YoastCon.”

Michiel mentions that SEO is no longer seen as a trick, but that it has acquired a special status in projects: “These days, SEO is seen as something that delivers results. It’s accepted because it works. YoastCon is a place to learn how to use SEO to your advantage. Not just SEOs, but every site-owner, web developer, business owner or content strategist will learn something. Plus, it’s an excellent opportunity to extend your network. And you get to dance with all the cool people at the party. It’s going to be an awesome day!”

What are you looking forward to most?

“I’m really looking forward to MC’ing with Michiel,” Marieke blurts out. “But also my SEO copywriting workshop, that is going to be epic. I’m going to let the people write so much they’ll never forget the lessons learned. It’s great to be able to get direct feedback from people. It’s good to be reminded of how people perceive your work. We often miss that human touch since we work online all the time.”

Michiel is looking forward to seeing people interact with each other and with team Yoast as well: “We don’t often get this close to our audience. Now, we have to chance to share knowledge directly with a group of people that is eager to learn.”

How does YoastCon differ from other SEO conferences and WordCamps?

“We’re trying to combine the matter of SEO conferences with the openness and inclusiveness of WordCamps. We’re not just aiming at WordPress since there will be workshops on TYPO3 and Magento 2 as well,” Michiel says.

“I agree,” Marieke says: “We’re looking for a particular atmosphere. We don’t just let you listen to talks, but you can participate in workshops and we even offer you the chance to speak your mind on the future of WordPress, for instance. The talks are pretty exclusive if I may say so. You’ll get a lot of bang for your buck!”

Why should people visit the YoastCon SEO conference?

“You can’t miss this event if you are really serious about achieving success with your site. There’s a lot happening at the moment and this event gives you the chance to get up to speed and that may even turn out to give you the lead over your competitor. Besides that, it’s going to be an amazing day!” Marieke says.

According to Michiel, the event is aimed at everyone: “You can visit YoastCon if you own the bakery around the corner or if you manage a company of 40,000 strong. You have to go to YoastCon if you want to take your site to the next level. We have developed YoastCon from a very different mindset than your everyday SEO conference. It’s not just a conference, it’s a party for anyone making money with their site. And it’s in Nijmegen, the oldest city in The Netherlands, how cool is that! Go buy your ticket now, because they are selling like hot cakes. When they’re gone, they’re gone!”

Read more: ‘YoastCon 2017: a practical SEO conference’ »

The post YoastCon interview with Michiel and Marieke appeared first on Yoast.