If you own a local business, you want to dominate the local search results of your niche. But how do you write content that’ll pop up in those local search results? On what aspects should you focus? In this post, I’ll give tips you can use in order to set up your very own local SEO content strategy.

Local SEO is for local businesses

When you’re aiming to rank for local search results, you want people in a specific neighborhood, village or town to find and visit your website. In most cases, your goal is not to sell directly through your website. Instead, your website probably invites people to come to your store, to your practice or to hire you for your skills. Websites focusing on a local audience are different from those focusing on a national or global audience. In most cases, when visitors are interested in your services, you’ll have a face-to-face interaction with them. Your competitors are the other local entrepreneurs in your specific niche. Perhaps you actually know your competitors.

Keyword research

Which local queries do your audience use when searching for your type of business? You should get inside the heads of your audience and figure out what they’re searching for. For most local search queries, people will actually use the name of the town or village when searching for something. For instance, they’ll type in [hairdresser Amsterdam] or [therapist New Hampshire]. But even if people do not use a local term in their search query, Google will probably recognize their query as a local search intent. Searching for [dentist] in my hometown Wijchen will give me similar (but not identical) results as searching for [dentist Wijchen]. Google will give search results based on your location, if they recognize a query as a local search intent. This also counts for near me searches.

Keyword research can be hard. But since you, as a local entrepreneur, regularly meet with your audience, you have a big advantage. Ask them about their search behavior! Ask your favorite customers what they were searching for when they first visited your website. Or what they would be searching for if they’d be looking for your type of business. That’s valuable information. Don’t stop there, though! Think about other search terms as well (as you might be missing out on an audience).

Read more: ‘Ultimate guide to keyword research’ »

Write ‘local’ headlines

Make sure that the snippet of your web page that Google shows in the search results is optimized for local SEO. You want to do that because Google will know you’re focusing on a local audience, but you also want to do that because your audience will recognize you as a local business.

Your audience is searching for that hairdresser nearby, the bakery around the corner, or that carpenter that’ll come to their house. They’ll click on those results that indicate that they are situated in their proximity. That’s important for local search. Make sure your snippet is clear about where your business is. Make sure the title of your posts and pages is clear about that. Use the Yoast SEO snippet preview to see what your snippet will (probably) look like in the search results.

Make an awesome first impression

Once you’ve convinced people to click on your snippet in the search results, you should convince them to stay on your website (and to not click away). A high bounce rate will eventually result in lower rankings, so you want to make an awesome first impression. When you’re a therapist, a doctor, a hairdresser or a carpenter, you basically have to sell yourself. People want to know who they are dealing with. A good picture is key in making a strong first impression. Your website should reflect your business. If you have a practice or a physical shop, make sure to publish some high quality optimized photos of your business – and perhaps your employees – on your website. Videos are also a great way to present your business to the audience.

Write about your business!

To rank in the local search results, you want to write content related to your local business. A blog is a great content strategy, also for local SEO. Write about what you know! If you’re a carpenter, you should write about your projects. If you’re a dentist, you should write about the most common problems concerning teeth. If you’re a florist, write about your beautiful bouquets! Write about your customers too! If people are exceptionally satisfied, they should surely be able to leave a review on your website. But perhaps their story could also be told in a blog post. Writing about local events is also a great content strategy for local SEO.

In any local SEO content strategy, you should make sure that your blog posts relate to your local community. And of course, optimize your post for the keywords you came up with in your keyword research.

Keep reading: ‘5 tips to get inspiration for your blog’ »

Facebook

Facebook should definitely be part of your local SEO content strategy. People connect with others from all over the world but are most prone to connect with people in close proximity. We interact most with people we also see in real life. If you have a local business, you can benefit from this.

Make sure to keep your local audience informed with lots of Facebook posts. If you can write about your customers (of course check with them first!) that’ll increase chances your audience will share and engage with your posts.

Advertising on Facebook could also be truly profitable. You can narrow down your advertisements to a specific (local) audience. That could be a great method, as costs for local advertisements on Facebook aren’t very high.

Read on: ‘How to optimize your Facebook reach’ »

And: the Yoast Local SEO plugin

Last, but not least: the Yoast Local SEO plugin makes implementing your SEO strategy easier. The local SEO plugin covers all kinds of technical things, like schema.org for local business, you need to be doing in order to rank in the local search results. On top of that, it will help you set up excellent local landing pages, and will allow you to add functionalities you’ll need as a local business, like a store locator, to your website.

Read more: ‘Improve your small business SEO today!’ »

In our quest to speak more of the world’s languages, we’ve now added our mother tongue: Yoast SEO 4.2 premium supports Dutch in its entirety. Our Dutch users can now use all of our innovative features, like Insights and Internal linking suggestions, in their own language. More languages will follow soon.

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Insights into more languages

As you might know, the release of Yoast SEO 4.0 saw the introduction of our new Internal linking feature. At that time, this revolutionary tool that helps you build an effective site structure quickly was only available in the English language. Just a couple of weeks ago, we added support for the language of our neighbors to the east: German. Now it’s time for Dutch, the language we know so well.

The text analysis tools of Yoast SEO checks the content of your posts and pages. It actively gives you advice on what to improve. The readability analysis gives you an idea how readable your post is for a regular person. Following the green bullet paradigm, you can see directly if your text is too hard to read. Or if it is littered with passive voice or uses too many words in a paragraph.

To give you correct insights into your writings, we need to fully understand a language. This process takes time, and we’re slowly, but surely adding new languages. After Dutch in Yoast SEO 4.2 premium, it is time to work on support for prominent words and link suggestions in Spanish. Looking past that, we’d like to add support for French.

If you’d like to read up on how we developed the internal linking suggestions tool and the big part language plays, we’d like to recommend this post by our linguist Irene. You can read more about the philosophy behind it in this post by our CTO Omar.

What else is new

Besides adding a new language, we’ve fixed a couple of bugs and made some necessary enhancements. We’ve moved the translations from translate.yoast.com to translate.wordpress.org. To tighten things up, we’ve made sure the settings page and left sidebar are more responsive, so they should accurately scale. In addition to that, we’ve cleaned up the meta box a little and enhanced the styling of the featured image warning screen.

As always, we hope you enjoy this new release. If you need more information, please find the complete changelog on wordpress.org.

Read more: ‘Why you should use Yoast internal linking’ »

Every WordPress website owner occasionally stumbles upon a problem that could probably be fixed in a heartbeat with a handy WordPress plugin. That’s what makes WordPress great, right? I recall a friend of mine asking about the possibility of an answering machine on his website. There’s a plugin for that. Need to add testimonials in an orderly way? There’s a plugin for that as well.

Plugins range from large, like our Yoast SEO plugin (which every website needs) to really small, with almost Hello Dolly-like impact. No matter what the size, plugins can come in really handy, especially when you’re not a developer or you lack the capacity. In this post, I’ll go over a number of plugins that really saved my day in the past!

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Auto Post Thumb Pro

Especially webmasters that have had their sites for ages will recognize this issue: a lot of themes you can find in the WordPress theme repo just look a lot better with a post thumbnail, but not all of your posts have that thumbnail. It doesn’t matter if your theme allows for a list of recent posts or if it includes excerpts on your archive pages, chances are that they will include post thumbnails. That just looks so nice, right?

The legacy of your old posts without a thumbnail makes that the alignment of a collection of posts (f.i. in a widget) looks off. It looks messy. In comes Auto Post Thumb Pro. When I wanted to repost Instagram images on a website, this plugin made sure there was a thumbnail for every post. And (re)generated thumbnails for every older post. After installing this plugin, I can use any theme I wanted to use that displayed these thumbnails on (almost) every page.

By the way, if you are looking for a new theme for your blog, I can recommend Anders Noren’s themes. I’ve used a few and really like the clean designs and easy-to-use setup.

Easy Custom Auto Excerpt

One of the things we come across in our SEO consultancy is duplicate content caused by displaying entire posts on taxonomy pages (like category pages). WordPress has plenty of ways to display excerpts instead of full posts. Usually, one of the requirements is using a <!-- more --> tag in your posts. Include that tag by clicking the icon in the Insert More tag | Handy WordPress pluginsimage, located at the styling options on the Edit pages in WordPress. If you feel that that’s too much of a hassle, the Easy Custom Auto Excerpt plugin will help you out. It’s one of those plugins that you install, configure and forget about, simply because it works.

The Easy Custom Auto Excerpt plugin allows you to automate that more tag by, for instance, adding it after a number of characters or after the first (or first two) paragraphs. It allows you to do some basic tweaking of how that excerpt looks like (alignment of the thumbnail for instance). In the premium version, you can also fine tune the Read more button – a feature that convinced me to purchase a license – and disable excerpts for certain post types (like posts that just contain an awesome photo). Of course, this depends on the type of blog/site that you have. Go see for yourself how this handy WordPress plugin can help you out.

Responsive Lightbox

What to say about this handy WordPress plugin? If you’re a bit like me, you installed, removed and re-installed your share of lightbox plugins. The horror! They either don’t work out of the box, add fancy stuff to that pop-up or simply ignore your galleries. And how about those previous/next buttons that are too small to click. Not to start about how crappy things look on a mobile device, right?

Responsive Lightbox | Handy WordPress plugin

I found Responsive Lightbox to be a nice solution. If you are sick and tired of your current lightbox plugin, install this plugin and see for yourself.

Simple Custom CSS

Sometimes you want to do just a little design tweak and not worry about it being overwritten the next time you update your theme. You have two options:

  • Create a child theme, which might be a bit of a hassle for that tiny little tweak, or
  • simply add some lines of CSS code via this little plugin: Simple Custom CSS.

It does just that. I really like it. There are more handy WordPress plugins that do this, but I found this one to be both the less bloated (I just want to add CSS, not learn CSS) and the one that works without the constant need to add !important to my declarations.

Yoast Comment Hacks

Last but not least, I’d like to add this little gem Joost developed: Yoast Comment Hacks. If you have a WordPress blog and receive a lot of comments, use this plugin to add some smart extras to your comment maintenance toolkit. Among others, it allows you to thank first-time commenters by redirecting them to a thank you page. It also allows you to set a minimum comment length, for instance. Go check for yourself how this little handy WordPress plugin can make maintaining your comments just a bit easier!

I’d love to hear about your favorite handy WordPress plugins in the comments!

Imagine, you created a website a few years ago. It’s still out there, but you didn’t make any changes or updates ever since. So, your site probably needs a major – SEO – update. If you have a static website, you might consider to move your site to a CMS, like WordPress. What’s the best choice? I’ll help you out and explain in which case it would be better to start all over using WordPress.

In this Ask Yoast, we’ll answer a question from Richard Millstein:

“My website was created 10 years ago in HTML, it needs a major SEO update and has other issues. I think it would be better to start over using WordPress. What do you think?”

Check out the video or read the answer below!

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Major SEO update

Read this transcript to learn more about choosing a CMS or not, when your website needs a major SEO update:

“Well, you get plus points for using WordPress, of course, no questions asked. Also, if your website was created 10 years ago and not much has happened to it since, then, you really need to think about, “Okay, what will I do once I re-create it? “Will I not do anything with it again for 10 years or will I keep updating it?”

If you want to keep updating it, then yes, you should really go for WordPress, because that makes that an awful lot easier. Of course, with WordPress you also get Yoast SEO and a lot of other advantages or things that you don’t have to build, that will work automatically for you. So, yes, you should probably do that.

The funny thing is, the output from WordPress will still be HTML, so you could probably get your theme of your site to look like your old site very easily. If you just hire someone to copy that into a WordPress theme and maybe do some optimizations as they do that. So, it could be a very simple job on Upwork or some other rental site, where you just go in and say “Hey I want you to change this theme to a WordPress theme and then input my content in it.” That could be a very simple job for someone and might save you an awful lot of time.

Good luck!”

Ask Yoast

In the series Ask Yoast we answer SEO questions from followers! Need help with SEO? Let us help you out! Send your question to ask@yoast.com.

Read more: ‘WordPress SEO’ »

A few weeks ago, we added Yoast internal linking to Yoast SEO Premium for English. We released the same feature for German earlier this week. In this post, I’ll explain how the earlier released Insights laid the groundwork for this feature, how we compose the list of linking suggestions, and why Yoast internal linking is currently only available for a limited set of languages.

So what does the internal linking tool do? While working on your post, our internal linking tool will give you suggestions on which posts you could consider linking to because they are about related topics. Linking to these posts will help you create a better site structure.

Insights

To know which posts we should show in the Yoast internal linking meta box, we first need to find out what all your posts are about. For this, we use the data we’ve already gathered for the Insights box, that you’ll find beneath the content analysis:

insights in yoast seo premium

But how do we get to this list of five words and word combinations? Let’s take a look at the steps we take when we analyze a post for its most prominent words.

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Step 1: Getting all relevant single words

First, we want to know which relevant 100 single words are most frequently used in the post. We therefore start by making a list with all words from the text. Next, we remove words like ‘the’, ‘you’ and ‘to’ from this list. Articles, pronouns, prepositions and other function words are simply too widely used to be truly relevant to a text. If we wouldn’t filter out words like these, all posts would end up with roughly the same prominent words. Once we’ve removed all function words, we save the 100 most frequent single words and move on to the word combinations.

Step 2: Getting all relevant word combinations

Combinations of two or more words are often more relevant and information-rich than single words, because they are more specific. That is why we also look for the most relevant two to five-word combinations. We filter these combinations as well, because combinations like ‘headlines to be’ and ‘to rank and your’ are useless. We only want to keep meaningful combinations like ‘optimize your site structure’ and ‘writing clickbait titles’.

Step 3: Filtering on word density

Once we’ve retrieved and filtered all one to five-word combinations, we filter out everything with a word density of over 0.03. This means we remove all combinations from the list that comprise over 3% of the entire text. The rationale behind this is that words that are too frequent are seldom genuinely relevant, because they tend to be non-specific. This also serves as an extra safety net to catch all function words that we might have forgotten to remove during the previous steps.

Step 4: Calculating relevance scores

The final step is calculating which words and word combinations are most relevant to the post. Based on trial and error, we came up with a formula that uses the frequency, length and percentage of relevant words of the word combinations that does just this.

Length bonus

We start with determining the length bonus. As shown in the table below, the longer a combination is, the higher is the length bonus it receives. This means longer, more specific word combinations will eventually get a higher relevance score than shorter, less specific combinations.

Word combination length Length bonus
Single word 0
Two-word combination 3
Three-word combination 7
Four-word combination 12
Five-word combination 15

Relevant word proportion

We also calculate which proportion of each word combination is on the list of the 100 most frequent words. This is the list we drew up during Step 1. For example, if one word of a four-word combination is also in the top 100 frequent words, the calculated proportion would be 0.25. The idea behind this is that the more relevant words a combination contains, the more relevant the combination probably is.

Multiplier

Next, we calculate the so-called multiplier using the following formula: 1 + relevant word proportion * length bonus. For a four-word combination with a relevant word proportion of 0.25, this would result in a multiplier of  1 + 0.25 * 12 = 4.

Relevance score

Finally, we calculate the actual relevance score by multiplying the number of occurrences of each word combination by its multiplier. If the four-word combination of the above example would have a frequency of 3, its relevance score would be 3 * 4 = 12. Once we’ve calculated all relevance scores, we sort the words and word combinations from the highest to the lowest relevance. To keep the Insights box clear of clutter, we only show the top 5. However, we save a maximum of 100 words and word combinations for further use. 

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Yoast internal linking

Once we have collected the most prominent words for all your posts, it’s time to compare them. To do this we take the top 20 prominent words of each post. However, for the sake of simplicity, I will illustrate the process with only five prominent words per blog.

Imagine you’re writing a post about Twitter Analytics. You’ve also written posts about Twitter Cards, homepage SEO and Instagram Analytics. You can find the top 5 prominent words from these blogs in the table below.

Twitter Analytics Twitter cards homepage SEO Instagram Analytics
Twitter Analytics Twitter cards homepage SEO Instagram Analytics
Twitter Twitter business name or brand Instagram
analytics Twitter account homepage followers
Twitter analytics dashboard account optimize your homepage analytics
Twitter cards data site name engagement rate

The more overlapping prominent words a post has with the current post, the higher its position will be in the list. Because the post about Instagram Analytics shares the prominent word ‘analytics’ with your post about Twitter Analytics, that post will show up in the linking suggestions. However, the blogs about Twitter Analytics and Twitter Cards have two overlapping prominent words: ‘Twitter Cards’ and ‘Twitter’. As a result, the post about Twitter Cards will end up higher in the list. Lastly, the post about homepage SEO doesn’t have any prominent words in common with the post about Twitter Analytics. For that reason we won’t suggest it to you.

We’ve decided to limit the number of suggested posts to twenty, because we don’t want to overwhelm you. Only the twenty posts that share the most prominent words with your post will be shown in the meta box. Check out what the result looks like in this video!

Language support

Now that we’ve built the above framework, we stand before the time-consuming task of making the linking suggestions available for languages other than English and German. Not only do we have to compose lists of function words for each individual language, but we also need to adjust the filtering for each of them. This has to do with word order differences. In English, for example, one describes an action with a verb followed by an object: eating cookies. However, in German, the object comes before the verb: Kekse essen (literally: cookies eat). As a result, we want to filter out English word combinations ending with a verb (he eats), but German combinations beginning with a verb (isst Kekse, literally: eats cookies).

The future of link suggestions

We’re happy to announce that we’ve released internal linking for German. But, maybe more importantly, we’d also like to let you know that you can help to make Yoast internal linking available for your own language! Please contact us if you’d like to help.



Read more: ‘Why you should use Yoast internal linking’ »

There are several reasons to move your website to a new domain. Maybe you’ve gained access to a much stronger domain. Perhaps you’re changing direction or you’re rebranding. Or you’d like to start over with a new name and a new site. Assuming you have a good reason for moving your site to a new domain – other then “this name just sounds catchier” – there are some things to consider concerning security and SEO when moving your website to a new domain.

In this Ask Yoast, we’ll answer a question from Anbu Devilhunter:

“If I move to a new domain are there any security measures I should take?

Check out the video or read the answer below!

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Security measures new domain

Read this transcript to learn more about SEO and security measures when you’re moving your site to a new domain:

“Well, yes. You should make sure that you have your old domain and keep it forever, so that you can keep the redirects from that old domain to your new domain. Because otherwise, at some point, someone else is going to use that old domain and you’ll lose your redirects. So you’ll lose a lot of links pointing to your site.

Any other security measures? Well, yes, everything that you need to do to a good domain. But I’d suggest talking to our friends at Sucuri, and see what they can do for you. We run their web application firewall in front of everything we do and I would suggest you do too.

Good luck!”

Ask Yoast

In the series Ask Yoast we answer SEO questions from followers! Need help with SEO? Let us help you out! Send your question to ask@yoast.com.

Read more: ‘WordPress Security’ »

After creating a redirect, it might happen you’d like to use the URL of that post or page again. Or perhaps you decide that you’d like to cancel that redirect after some time. Reasons for this could be that redirecting that post or page was a mistake, or the post or page contains valuable content again. In this case you might ask yourself: is it possible to use this URL again, while it has been redirected? I’ll explain whether that’s possible and what’s important to consider when doing so!

In this Ask Yoast we received a question from Ahmed M Hassan:

“If I want to use a link that had been 301 or 410 redirected before, can I cancel the redirection and use it again?”

Check out the video or read the answer below!

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Can I cancel redirects?

Read this transcript to learn more about cancelling redirects:

“Yes, you can. What I would do, when canceling a redirect, is a Fetch and Render from Google Search Console to that URL and then submit to index, so Google knows that that URL now has content again. Otherwise, it can take months or even years for Google to come back to that URL, because it assumes you’ve redirected or deleted it. So use Fetch and Render for that and get those old URLs back in if you really need to. If you need to do this a lot, you need to think about your redirection strategy and whether you’re redirecting too quickly though.

Good luck!”

Example of Fetch and Render in Google Search Console:
search_console_-_fetch_as_google_-_https___yoast_com_

Ask Yoast

In the series Ask Yoast we answer SEO questions from followers! Need help with SEO? Let us help you out! Send your question to ask@yoast.com.

Read on: ‘Google Search Console: crawl’ »

A revolution is currently going on in the underpinnings of the web. HTTP, the protocol your browser uses to connect to your site, has a new version: HTTP/2. This is not something that should concern the average user, but for web developers, it changes how we do performance optimization entirely. In this short article, I want to explain what performance optimization best practices you can do away with, and why.

What changed?

The most important thing you should know about the new HTTP/2 is that it no longer requires a new request for each file. This is the modification that makes our performance optimization guidelines change so drastically. In the HTTP1 / HTTP/1.1 world, it’d be faster to combine JS & CSS files and even images, so there would be fewer requests between browser and server. In the HTTP/2 world, this type of optimization is no longer needed and can even become counterproductive.

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Can I use this already?

The answer is, fairly simply: yes. If your site is running on HTTPS, then all major current browsers support HTTP/2. You or your hosting company might have to change your server configuration to make sure it supports HTTP/2, but that’s it. Some older browsers might not be able to use it, but your site would still work for them.

So I can use HTTP/2, but should I?

Yes, you should use HTTP/2! It’s a lot faster than old fashioned HTTP1, and when you set it up well, most of your visitors will benefit hugely.

Does HTTP/2 mean I don’t need a CDN?

Even with HTTP/2 you still need a CDN. A CDN delivers content a lot faster than your average server ever will, so your site would still benefit enormously from having one. Every proper CDN will already support HTTP/2.

Performance best practices that changed

The following performance best practices are no longer needed with HTTP/2 and should be done away with:

  • Concatenating CSS and JS files
    As reducing the number of requests is no longer an issue, there’s no reason to do this anymore.
  • Image spriting
    Image spriting is the practice of combining several small images into a larger image so as to reduce the number of requests. This is a cumbersome process with quite a bit of overhead, and HTTP/2 entirely removes the need for it.
  • Domain sharding
    Though this was slightly less common, some heavy sites used multiple CDN domains to serve their files. This because a browser could only open eight parallel connections to a server in the world of HTTP/1 and they’d want to serve more files in parallel. Because HTTP/2 removes the need for parallel connections as there can be parallel downloads within one connection, this best practice becomes counterproductive. The use of multiple CDN domains actually means multiple DNS requests, which slows the site down instead of speeding it up. (Steve Souders, the godfather of web performance, already predicted in 2013 that when HTTP/2 becomes ubiquitous, domain sharding will go away.)
  • Inlining CSS and JS
    Inlining small bits of CSS and JS is a practice that was aggressively pushed by Google. Because the CSS and JS are inline, it cannot be cached properly. As a request for a small file now has no extra overhead, we can do away with this best practice.

Google PageSpeed and HTTP/2

Unfortunately, Google’s PageSpeed tool and many other web performance testing tools are rather slow in their adoption of HTTP/2. They should be changing their guidelines. If a simple HTTP/2 test shows you that a site is capable of using HTTP/2, quite a few of the site speed suggestions are moot. Their documentation speaks of “networking round trips” that simply, in an HTTP/2 environment, don’t happen.

There are people at Google that understand this, of course. This presentation by Ilya Gregorik in 2015 already shows all of that.

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

Yesterday we released our new internal linking tool in Yoast SEO Premium. The internal linking tool will help you to link to related content. It will find related posts for you, and it will become much easier to link from your post to these related articles. Using our tool systematically will help you improve the structure of your website.

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Why is internal linking important?

Internal linking is important for SEO. In order to make sure your content is findable, content just needs to be linked to. In the original PageRank algorithm, internal and external links were both equally important. This algorithm will probably have changed over time. Nevertheless, internal links are still an important ranking factor.

In addition, linking related content also serves another goal. It shows Google that that certain content on your site is related. You can even tell Google what’s the most important article, on this particular topic, that you have on your site. You can do so by linking to this main article from all your other articles on the same topic. We call this main article cornerstone content, and we also wrote about how to incorporate it on your site. Smart internal linking can push this article up in the search results.

On top of that – or perhaps in the first place – linking related content simply makes sense to do for your visitor. If they’re interested in a particular topic, chances are that they’d like to read more about the same topic on your site.

Why every writer will benefit from our tool

While writing one of my previous post, I literally stumbled upon our new tool in the WordPress backend. The suggestions of the internal link tool really surprised me. I know the importance of links, but I usually link to my own articles (as I know these articles best). I also tend to link to the most recent articles, and often forget about articles I wrote some time ago.

The internal linking feature of Yoast SEO Premium gave me the suggestion to link to one of Michiel’s articles and to one of my own articles I almost forgot about. Both of these articles were better matches to the blog post I was writing, than the posts I would have linked to if I had not used our new tool.

If your website becomes large, it’s just not possible to remember everything you and your colleagues wrote. The internal linking tool is a great help in picking those articles that fit your new post best. In the end, it’ll help you to set up a great site structure by connecting related content to each other.

In my case, it’ll help me to link to those articles written by Joost or Michiel. It’ll remind me of a related blog post I wrote some time ago. It’ll improve the structure of the website, which will have it’s impact on the ranking of our site. And, it’ll improve the User eXperience, because our audience will easily find the most relevant content to them!

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How does it work?

In the sidebar of your WordPress backend, you’ll find our suggestions for internal links:

Yoast internal linking tool

You either click on these links and check out the article (it’ll open in a new tab), but you can also easily copy and paste these links into your text. In most browsers, you’ll even be able to drag and drop as well. Check out our screencast if you want to see for yourself how easy it is:

 

So go ahead and start interlinking your posts!

Do you want to make sure you’re linking your posts well, and that your complete site structure is optimized for search engines and users? Then our Site structure training is what you need!

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

When we say “related posts for WordPress“, we say “bad performance”. Without using an external service like ElasticSearch, it’s practically impossible to have related posts work fast in WordPress. That’s why we’ve always stayed away from including any related posts plugin on our site. It’s also the reason we haven’t tried to come up with a solution ourselves before. In the upcoming release of Yoast SEO Premium, this will change. We found a way to have blazing fast related posts! Let me explain how we did that.

The fastest related posts ever

Our solution has a frontend and an admin component. Let me start by asking a very simple question:

On a content page, what would be the fastest implementation of related posts you could think of?

The (somewhat dull) answer:

Simple, old-fashioned links.

You simply don’t need to generate related posts, if you already link to your related content in your text. Not only is this better for frontend performance, it also benefits SEO. It’s simply better to link directly to your related content in a meaningful context, than to use a generic related posts box somewhere else on your page.

Of course this is easier said than done. The real problem related posts widgets solve is that you no longer have to think about related content yourself. So yes, we still need an algorithm to suggest related content, we just don’t need it on the frontend. Instead, we need to bring this functionality to the editor. This way, we can suggest the writer of an article which related posts he/she might want to link to in their text. We call these *internal linking suggestions*.

Why suggesting related content is costly

So, I guess we haven’t gotten rid of the problem of generating related content in a performant way. The thing we can’t seem to get around, is that we’ll have to do one, or more, very heavy queries to the database at some point. To suggest related links, we need to compare the content of one post with that of all the other posts on our site. The WordPress database isn’t optimized for such queries though. To do this in one operation is costly, and in case your site has a lot of content, that may slow things down substantially.

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Indexing content, one post at a time

About a year ago, we moved our content analysis from the server side to the browser. This had a lot of advantages, but a slight inconvenience was that we could no longer calculate the SEO score for a post on the server. This calculation now has to be done in the browser for each post separately. This way we’ve already managed to dramatically improve server side performance with regard to our content analysis tool. When we started thinking about our prominent words algorithm, we realized this would also allow us to easily index content. Saving the most prominent words of every post to the server would make it very easy and cheap to query related content.

Continuous improvement

By leveraging our content analysis tool and utilizing the processing power of the browser to index content, one post at a time, we’ve managed to drastically reduce the heaviness of the queries needed to find related content. Now, we haven’t run any benchmarks yet, but it’s clear that this solution is much faster and easier to scale, without taking any serious performance hits.

In Yoast SEO Premium 4.0 – launching soon! – we’re shipping the first version of our internal linking suggestions tool. We’ll continue tweaking the algorithm to make sure our internal linking tool is the best and most performant related content tool available for WordPress.

Read more: ‘Related posts need to make sense, not just be there’ »