Yoast SEO 5.1: Internal linking suggestions in Italian

Our development team is steadily chugging along and today provides you with a new and improved edition of Yoast SEO. This release features mainly enhancements and fixes, plus a slew of updates to our language support. Let us walk you through the new version we know as Yoast SEO 5.1, starting with our main focus point in this release: languages.

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Updated language support in Yoast SEO 5.1

We like to know a language inside and out to be able to offer the best possible content and readability analysis. That’s why we’re continually improving the support we provide for languages and add new languages in the process. This release, we’re doing a lot of work on our language support. The highlight? Thanks to Abramo Tesoro, we’re now offering complete Italian Insights and Linking Suggestions in Yoast SEO 5.1 Premium.

Our Italian friends can now write a couple of hundred words to see the related post tool automatically suggest internal links to add to their posts. It’s a helpful tool that helps you build a solid site structure, and we’re happy that our Italian speaking users can use it now. Additionally, we’ve improved the Internal Linking Suggestions and Insights for Spanish, Dutch, French, English, and German.

Even more language news

In this release, we have a lot of new language additions. For instance, we’ve added additional English and French transition words, that last one thanks to Vianney Andre who also helped us with the Yoast SEO 5.0 release.

Yoast SEO can now filter out plural ordinal numbers for Spanish, Italian, and French. That means we can filter out things like octavo, ventunesimo or zéroième, when we encounter them in illogical places. This way, we can build a clean and useful prominent words list. Also, we’ve added filters for time words for English, Dutch, German, French, and Spanish. Words like afternoon, middag, nachmittag, matin or tarde will no longer influence the link suggestions.

Enhancements & fixes

Since releasing Yoast SEO 5.0 a couple of weeks ago, we’ve been hard at work improving that version and getting things ready for future releases. Besides fixing bugs and enhancing the performance of the plugin, we’ve made some changes that will improve the way the plugin works. In addition to that, we’re also fine-tuning some workflows and thanks to a couple of UX changes you’ll have to guess less what some little things mean. Lastly, we’ve added an importer for Jetpack SEO data.

Conclusion

Yoast SEO 5.1 is a significant step forward in the language department. We now support multiple languages: English, Dutch, German, French, Spanish and Italian, and our understanding of these languages is only increasing. With this knowledge, we can provide you with helpful information that not only helps you to write brilliant content but also to build a solid site structure by suggesting internal links based on what you write.

I hear you thinking:

“Maybe my language is next?”

Could be! Let us know in the comments which language we should look into, and we’ll see what we can do.

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

Link building with Dixon Jones (Majestic)

“If nobody writes about it, then the content is a tree falling in the forest without anyone there to listen.” That’s how Dixon Jones, Marketing Director of Majestic, illustrates the importance of getting the right links to your content. We proudly announce that Dixon will be speaking at YoastCon 2017 on November 2!

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Dixon Jones has worked at the forefront of search marketing since 1999. He became the Marketing Director of the world’s largest link analysis engine, Majestic, in 2009, transforming the SEO industry by providing link intelligence on a scale not previously open to the industry. Here, you can discover what he has to say about link building in 2017.

Majestic is all about links. If you compare links to other ranking factors, like content on a page or technical optimization, how would you rate the importance of links? Any examples to illustrate this?

In March 2016 Google’s Andry Lipattsev revealed that links remained one of Google top three ranking factors. In February 2017 Google’s Gary Illyes confirmed that the PageRank algorithm that made Google what it is today was still part of the algorithm. So yes – links are highly important, but these days there is a big difference between “a link” and “a link that counts”. Most links are hardly worth the screen they are written on.

Over the years link building changed a lot. Obviously, buying links is not the way to go. But what do you advise site owners if they want to get valuable links?

In a white hat world, you really should be considering the nature of the people that will be reading the page that the link is on. Are they real people? Is it a real story that relates to them? Does the link add to the story and is it a continuation of the user’s quest for knowledge? Is your content the END POINT for that quest?

Come see Dixon Jones speak at YoastCon 2017 on November 2 »banner YoastCon

Some site owners might find it easier to get links from Facebook or Twitter than from other websites. How do social links compare to links from other websites? What would you invest in more?

Facebook and Twitter create short term noise, but unless that noise translates into others writing evergreen content that links to your site, the benefits are transitory on social. But I think of Social links as a stepping stone to long term success. They give you a tannoy to broadcast a new message… but if the wrong people listen, then nobody will write about what you have to say. If nobody writes about it, then the content is a tree falling in the forest without anyone there to listen… does it make a sound?

When a site owner analyzes their site with Majestic SEO they’ll get a trust and citation flow score. How can they put these metrics to use to help them optimize their site?

Understanding how we create those metrics really helps. The data is not simply scraping Google or looking for some sort of reverse engineering of Search Visibility. Trust Flow really is a score that relates at scale to the quality of a page. The simple workflow is:

  • Find candidate sites for getting links to your content.
  • Find the influencers on these sites.
  • Convince them of the merits of your business and content.

You can start by just typing in a keyword into Majestic to find the candidate sites or you can look at up to 10 competitors and find the hubs of authority for your niche. Both strategies can work well.

Majestic is often used for competitor analysis. Is there a set workflow in Majestic that you can recommend to a new Majestic user who wants to analyze the competition?

Yes. Many people use the “Clique Hunter” to look at sites that link to three or four or more competitors but not to themselves. For some businesses, this creates quite a list, but re-sorting the list can put the best candidates near the top. To the right of each domain is a little cog. Use the cog to select candidate sites to approach and select the “add to bucket” button. You can do this all day, and when you are ready, click on the bucket icon at the top of the screen and you can export all the sites out as a .csv file to approach the influencers for these sites.

Alternatively (and indeed – in addition) I strongly urge users to set up a campaign dashboard as soon as they have an account on Majestic. This starts tracking their niche and from these dashboards, you can easily analyze the sites in any of Majestic’s tools by using the “Export Sites To…” button.

We assume this interview has convinced people to go see your presentation at YoastCon on November 2! In the unlikely case someone is still in doubt, what’s the main reason they shouldn’t miss it?

The chart below shows how our Gamification system has distributed 1 Million “badges” on Majestic. Only 3% of all badges were for areas of our site related to comparing websites. This tells us that most users are really only scratching the surface of what Majestic can do for them. Yoast’s conference is a chance to go deeper. You’ll find out things about links analysis you never knew was possible.

Read more: ‘YoastCon 2017: Practical SEO’ »

Yoast SEO 5.0: Site-wide SEO with the text link counter

Our mission statement is SEO for Everyone. On many fronts, we’re making good on that promise. In 2016, Yoast SEO added revolutionary checks to content and readability analysis features. Much of that year was spent improving and enhancing the content part of the plugin. In 2017, we’re fixing the site structure problem, by adding, among other things, an internal linking tool and cornerstone content checks. Now, we’re taking the next step: Yoast SEO 5.0 features a brand new, and awesome, text link counter.

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Improving your structure one link at a time

SEOs can probably build solid site structures in their sleep, but for the rest of us, it’s hard work. We need every kind of help we can get. This process requires a lot of work. That’s why we’re starting to make Yoast SEO a tool that can not just help you with improving your content and different kinds of on-page optimizations but transcend that to a site-wide level.

Yoast SEO 5.0 kicks things off with the introduction of the text link counter. It’s the first tool that looks at your site from a site-wide SEO perspective. We all know how important – internal and external – links are. The web is based on links. We all form connections that lead us from one place to another. Links build a site structure. We, however, often encounter sites that hardly use links to form connections between different parts of the site. Without a well-thought-out linking structure, there will be no site structure. But how do I link correctly? Is there a way to check the links I have on my site and how do I know which articles link back? Well, now there is.

yoast seo 5.0 text link counter

New icons in Yoast SEO 5.0. The arrow pointing out is the number of internal links in an article. The arrow pointing in is the number of internal links to this article. The traffic light is the SEO score, while the feather represents the readability score.

 

text links counter

Hover over the icons to see more information.

Yoast SEO text link counter

The text link counter in Yoast SEO 5.0 analyzes every part of your site and presents all the internal links found on your WordPress site in two new columns. The first one – the icon with an arrow pointing out – shows the number of internal links an article has, while the second column – arrow pointing in – shows the number of internal links pointing to this post. By browsing the overview, you can easily see which posts and pages are linked. You can also discover which posts don’t have enough links or which links could be improved. You might even find pages that have just one or no links at all. This way, you can prioritize the posts and pages you need to fix to build up your site structure. Read Marieke’s post on why you should use the text link counter.

We’re making this tool available to every user of Yoast SEO because we think everyone can use a little help in building a solid site structure. The absence of a strong structure is one of the main reasons many sites fail to live up to expectations. Let us help you fix it. We want to improve your site from a holistic SEO perspective and lower the barriers to do so. Every part of your site has to be perfect to be the best possible result.

To keep track of your linking structure, we have to add a table to your database. If you are running into problems with this, you can get more information in this entry on our Knowledge Base.

Enhancement for Italian and French

New features are cool, but we’re also still focussing on expanding Yoast SEO’s language abilities. In the past releases, Yoast SEO received initial Italian support: transition word and sentence beginning assessments. In Yoast SEO 5.0, we can now calculate the Flesch Reading Ease score for Italian. This way, you can see exactly what the perceptive level of the text is. We’re continuously researching better ways of implementing language support. In this case, after much deliberation, we’ve upped the maximum sentence length from 20 to 25 based on in-depth research into the use of the Italian language.

The second supported language we’ve enhanced in this release is French. Thanks to Sylvain Perret and Vianney Andre we can now offer full insights and linking suggestion in French. Full support for French is expected soon.

Upwards and onwards

Yoast SEO 5.0 is another milestone release that makes SEO a bit easier for everyone. We’re offering you a new way to look at your site and the content within. We’ve made links visible and usable, so you have to spend less time figuring out how everything is connected. Now, hit that update button and go work on your site structure!

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

New online SEO training: Structured data

If you want your search results to stand out from your competition’s, you’ll need rich snippets. You’ll want to pimp your results with 5 star reviews, stock information or location, for example. To get a rich snippet, you have to learn to implement structured data. Our latest SEO course will teach you exactly how to do just that! If you buy the online structured data course now, you’ll receive a major discount. You’ll only pay $119 instead of $149.

Want rich snippets for your site? Try our Structured data training »

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Practical course

The structured data course is a very practical course. We’ll first teach you some theory about SEO and why structured data is important, but then we’ll quickly dive into the practical implementation. If you buy our course, you’ll receive lots of screencasts and step-by-step examples on how to implement structured data on your own site. We’ll teach you the fancy (but hard way) to do it, but also the less elegant, quick-and-easy way. Everyone – you don’t have to be a developer! – will be able to get going with structured data after they’ve completed this course.

Watch the first video of the structured data training if you really want to know what this course has to offer:

What does the Structured data training contain?

The Structured data training consists of three modules. In the first module, we explain what structured data is and why it’s important. The second module is by far the largest and most important module. In this module, we explain exactly how to implement structured data on your site. The third module teaches you how to evaluate structured data and provides you with some useful tips.

The online course contains 6 training videos, lots of reading material and challenging questions after every lesson. The questions will test whether you really understood the material. We estimate that you’ll spend 8 hours (on average) on our course. You’ll really need to dive into the subject to fully understand this SEO topic. At the end of the course, you’ll receive a certificate and a badge to put on your site!

Coming soon: Structured data training!

Do you want to increase chances people click on your page in the search results? Want to learn how to get those awesome rich snippets? Next week, we’ll launch our Structured data training. In this new training, you’ll learn how structured data can influence the appearance of your pages in the search results. After completing this course, you’ll be able to add structured data yourself, so Google can show a rich snippet.

Why take our structured data training?

A normal snippet of a recipe looks like this:

You see a title, a URL and a description of a page. If you add structured data to your page, Google (or another search engine) can transform your snippet into this:

So the structured data you add can show up in the snippet. For recipes you can add ratings and reviews, cooking time, calories and an awesome picture. Not only for recipes, but also for books, movies, articles, products etc. structured data exists.

Rich snippets let your page stand out from the other search results in Google. And if your page stands out in the search results, chances are much higher people will click on it.

Is adding structured data hard?

Adding structured data is not very hard, but you do need to know what you’re doing. After some training, everyone should be able to add structured data and get rewarded with those desired rich snippets!

We’ve created a very practical online training in which we take you through all the steps of adding structured data to a site. We’ll first explain the theory and then we’ll show you screencasts that will guide you through the steps you need to take. We’ll discuss multiple strategies you can use to add structured data to a website. Some strategies are more advanced (and more daunting) than others. At the end of the course, you’ll be able to add structured data in multiple ways. Just choose which strategy fits you best and start working on those awesome rich snippets yourself!

Want to buy our course?

The structured data training will be available as of June 29. You can purchase the course for the introductory price of $119 until July 2. You’ll get access to over 75 minutes of training videos, lots and lots of reading material and challenging quiz questions. If you finish our course, you’ll receive a certificate and a badge to put on your site. If you buy one of our courses, you’ll also get access to the Yoast Updates. These updates keep you in the loop about new trends in SEO and WordPress every 3 months.

Want to know more?

Check out the Structured data training and make sure you won’t miss the launch by subscribing to our newsletter!

Not the right training for you? We offer lots of other SEO courses. See which one fits your needs best!

Interview with Marcus Tandler, OnPage.org – YoastCon speaker

We proudly introduce you to yet another pre-eminent speaker at YoastCon 2017: Marcus Tandler! Marcus, also known as Mediadonis, is co-founder and managing director at OnPage.org. This award-winning SaaS Tech-StartUp helps webmasters make better websites. Marcus started working in the SEO industry about 20 years ago, so he gained a lot of experience over the years. Read in this interview why you should not focus on Google or SEO when optimizing your site!

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You’ve been in the business for a very long time (since 1998). Do you think SEO changed a lot during this time? If so, what are the main lessons we can learn from those changes?

SEO has changed a lot from its early years to where we are now. When I started with SEO, keyword stuffing was the way to go. It was only about putting as many instances of a particular keyword on your page, preferably using a white font on white background to not bother the user 😉

When Google introduced its link-based ranking algorithm, the link spam games began. People were grabbing low hanging fruit via open guestbooks, forums and comments or simply buying links on high Pagerank domains. SEOs were addicted to Pagerank. For a long time acquiring links was pretty much the only thing you’d have to worry about when trying to rank a website for juicy keywords.

Brand and authority have continued to become more important throughout the years, which all started with Google’s Vince update in 2009. On-page SEO and UX have become more important as well, with Google becoming less dependent on ranking signals which can be gamed from the outside, like backlinks.

Google’s goal is to create happy users. Google has become exceptional in anticipating search intent and delivering a satisfying result.

These days, links will get you into the top 10 at best; it’s user behavior that will make it rise to the top or vanish to page two. Last year, Google Principal Engineer Paul Haahr said at SMX West:

„We run a lot of experiments, it is very rare if you do a search on Google and you’re not in at least one experiment.“

Of course, those are not all ranking experiments. Google famously tested 42 different shades of blue to find the optimal blue for their search result links.

So the main lesson is: Only try to rank for keywords, where you can deliver the best possible result – or at least the best among the top 10 😉

Come see Marcus Tandler speak at YoastCon 2017 on November 2 »banner YoastCon

You must have seen lots of websites in your career. What’s the biggest mistake you think website owners make when it comes to SEO?

Often people think of SEO as a tactical approach, which gets applied only after the website is up and running. It makes a lot of sense to include an SEOs opinion right from the start when conceptualizing the website or planning a relaunch.

The biggest mistake I see quite a lot is failing at indexation control and poor crawl budget management. Most webmasters are feeding Google all available pages, not thinking about whether Google should index those pages. For example, online shops with x different color variations of the same product on x different pages. Same goes for feeding a blog’s category- and/or tag-pages to Google, while most of the time these pages cannibalize other pages from the blog and provide a subpar result for the user. So basically compulsive hoarding of pages.

Ever since Google introduced the Panda, webmasters should try to cut the fat, only feeding pages to Google which provide value to a potential searcher.
With every page you should ask yourself three questions:

  • Do I need it for my users?
  • Does it need to be indexed?
  • Does it need to rank?

Although Google has almost limitless crawl capabilities, they still want to manage it most effectively. It’s all about avoiding waste of resources. Don’t become a digital compulsive hoarder.

As the co-founder of OnPage.org, the SEO tool that analyzes all kinds of on-page elements that influence your ranking, do you believe focusing on on-page SEO is the best SEO strategy?

Absolutely! Of course, you will need a couple of good links to convince Google of your site’s legitimacy and get a shot at the top 10, but only thorough on-page SEO will make your site stay there.

On-page SEO is the foundation. Your ambition should be creating a 100% perfect website. Fast loading, omni-device friendly, no broken links, broken assets or anything else that can go wrong. There are also various best practices for international websites (hreflang), handling internal duplicate content (canonical), pagination issues (rel prev / next) as well as controlling indexation with the help of robots.txt directives or the noindex-tag. The better Google can understand your website structure and content, the better you will end up ranking.

I’d aim much higher, though. Not focusing specifically on SEO but rather website quality and user experience as a whole. Users want fast loading websites that work properly on all desktop and mobile devices. Of course, Google also likes fast loading websites, because it makes their users happy. So Google should not be your focus, always focus on the user, and you’ll be fine.

SEO of the future: what should website owners focus on if they want to rank now AND in the future? Are there any important changes coming up that we should know about?

If you focus on your users, you will be fine and won’t have to worry all too much about potential updates and changes. Google cares a lot about its users, so you should, too. Google is getting better and better at determining which result is the best result for the user, so you should always aim at being the best possible resource for the keywords and topics you’re trying to rank for.

It helps to be honest with yourself up front, so is your website a good resource for these keywords and topics? Do you offer anything unique over the websites which are already ranking in the top 10? Constantly ask yourself: If your website would disappear from the web, would anyone miss it?

Why shouldn’t people miss your talk at YoastCon?

I have a pretty unique form of storytelling racing through hundreds of slides. So besides getting up to speed on what’s happening at Google, you will hopefully have a great time getting slidestormed 😉

Follow Marcus on Twitter: Twitter.com/mediadonis

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Read more: ‘YoastCon 2017: Practical SEO’ »

Yoast SEO 4.9: fixing bugs

Today, we’re releasing new versions of all our plugins, including Yoast SEO 4.9. This release brings loads of bug fixes and multiple enhancements to Yoast SEO and the News, Video, Local and WooCommerce add-ons. In this post, we’ll describe what you can expect when you hit that update button. Read on if you want to know more.

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Fixing bugs and enhancing flows

Yoast SEO received the most attention this time around. In Yoast SEO 4.9, we fixed a bug that caused certain assessments to go missing after the switch to cornerstone content. There was also an instance where certain users without sufficient rights to access the configuration wizard could see the configuration wizard button. In addition to that, we also fixed a bug with an ambiguous column ID that caused an SQL error. The last one was a bug where the category URL in the sitemap was encoded twice.  As of today, we only load the translations when the configuration wizard endpoint is called, instead of every time rest_api_init is called.

Removing noodp

Some time ago, DMOZ ceased to exist. And with it, the noodp tag died. This tag was necessary to block search engines from using the description for a page in DMOZ as the snippet for your page in the search results. Recently, Google announced that it would stop using the tag as a source for search snippet information. This prompted us to remove the deprecated advanced robots meta value.

More fixes for other plugins

Several other plugins also received bug fixes, like Yoast SEO News for example. In this plugin, we fixed a bug where sticky posts show up in the editors’ pick RSS feed without marking it as an editors’ pick and one where the date format was invalid in the editors’ pick RSS feed. In Yoast SEO for WooCommerce, we added a filter to set the primary category in the permalink and fallbacks for several deprecated warnings. We also fixed a bug where not all Yoast SEO columns were hidden when the columns output by Yoast were removed. As usual, you can find all the changes to the plugins in their respective changelog files.

Hit that update button!

The new releases of all the plugins are now live and waiting for you to download. So, please update as soon as possible and enjoy the latest and greatest of Yoast SEO. As always, thanks for your support and we hope this release makes your work a little more streamlined.

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

Yoast SEO 4.8: Cornerstone content analysis

In this release, we’re fine tuning our algorithms to give cornerstone content articles the analysis they deserve. Articles you’ve marked as cornerstone content will now be judged on a different level, so we can make sure they have the quality and authority an article like that should have. Yoast SEO 4.8 helps you write better cornerstone content articles.

Cornerstone content analysis

For some time now, Yoast SEO checks your articles and gives you feedback so you can fix readability and SEO issues. This analysis has always been one-size-fits-all, but that’s about to change. These last couple of weeks, we’ve been investing heavily in site structure. One of the most important parts of a solid site structure is cornerstone content: authoritative articles based on the keywords you most definitely want to rank. These should form the basis of your site.

In Yoast SEO 4.6, we added the possibility to mark a certain article as cornerstone content. This way, it is given a higher value in Yoast SEO, which causes this article to show on top sooner in the suggestions the internal linking tool provides.

Starting from Yoast SEO 4.8, we can now analyze your cornerstone content following a particular, stricter set of specifications. These checks will help you build killer cornerstone articles. Among other things, we now check if a cornerstone article has 900+ words and if the keyword is in at least two subheadings:

yoast seo 4.8 cornerstone analysis

But wait, there’s more

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While the rest of this release mostly consists of bug fixes and enhancements, there’s also a couple of other changes. We now remove the prominent words option for unsupported languages and change the string ‘current url’ to ‘old url’ in the Search Console Redirect to match the language in the Redirect Manager. We’ve also made several improvements to the Local SEO plugin.

As always, we hope you enjoy this new release. Don’t forget to update!

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

Interview with Karl Gilis, AGConsult – YoastCon speaker

We’re thrilled to announce that CRO expert Karl Gilis will be speaking at YoastCon on November 2! Karl Gilis from AGConsult is one of the most influential usability and conversion optimization specialists in the world, and our personal go-to-guy if we need advice on these matters for Yoast.com. We’ve asked him 5 questions, or actually 6, to warm you up for his talk on YoastCon. Read on if you want to find out which trends annoy Karl the most and what the most unexpected improvement was he ever saw on a website.

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AGConsult is specialized in optimizing website conversion and usability. If you could give people only one advice to improve their site’s conversion, what would it be?

That’s a very easy question to start with 🙂 No, it’s an incredible difficult one. On a more generic level I would say: listen to your clients and visitors.

  • What words are they using?
  • What questions do they have?
  • What do they really like about your product or service?
  • How did it help to make their life better / easier / …?

Use these insights to rewrite your copy. Because your copy is probably written from your point of view: you talk about what you think is important. Don’t do that. Focus on what your clients think and say. Use their words. Don’t sell the way you want to sell, sell the way people want to buy.

If you want a more practical hands-on tip, I would say: get rid of all the clutter. Print a typical and important page from your website, such as a product detail page or your order form. Take a red marker and draw a big red cross on all the things that you make you wonder ‘Why is that here, isn’t this a distraction from my main message’? Remove all those things.

Less clutter will result in:

  • Faster loading times, especially when you have lots of fluffy stuff or stock photos that don’t add to your message.
  • A cleaner look. And yes: the less elements you have, the clearer your message will be. 
A great example of this is the top part of the homepage of Airbnb, especially now they finally removed the sliders and the video background.
  • More room to add things that will result in more sales. Things like social proof or a sense of urgency.

Come see Karl Gilis speak at YoastCon 2017 on November 2 »banner YoastCon

Scientific evidence is what drives you. Do you have an example where your research wiped the floor with design trends and hypes?

Don’t get me started about design trends and hypes. Most of them don’t increase sales or conversions. They only help design agencies and designers make more money. When a design change is not driven by a business or user need, it’s a big gamble to change something.

3 examples:

  1. Sliders with different messages
    They’re part of almost every theme for WordPress and other platforms, because they’re fun to make and beautiful to look at. But they don’t convert.
Your website is not a piece of art. It’s a tool. A sales tool.
 When we removed the slider on the Suzuki homepage and showed 2 static images instead, this resulted in 55% more clicks in the same screen real estate.
  2. Flat design and ghost buttons
    A few years ago designers decided that buttons shouldn’t look like buttons anymore. They introduced so-called ghost buttons. Where a button is just a square line around some words. So it’s more inline with the design and it doesn’t attract attention.
 Excuse me: your call-to-action should attract attention. That’s what it’s there for!
 What we’ve seen is when a site went from a normal button to a ghost button, the number of clicks on non-clickable elements increased with 600%. Because users had no clue where to click.
  3. Video background
    They’re the new Flash and the new sliders rolled into one. So please avoid them.
 A moving background is always a distraction from your message. And visitors should focus on your message. 
We’ve done several tests where we replaced a video-background with a static background and saw an uplift. 
It’s no coincidence even AirBnB ditched their video background for -euhm- nothing. Yep, there’s nothing wrong with a white background.

As a consultant you must have seen changes on dozens of websites over the years. What was the most unexpected improvement that you’ve ever seen happen on a website?

Another difficult one. What probably surprises me the most is that I’m still often surprised. That’s the most important thing I’ve learned thanks to AB-testing. There are always exceptions to the rules and guidelines. Don’t get me wrong: there are best practices. But they do not always work on every website.

When you’re asking for a specific case, I think of the shopping cart of an online shop selling watches and sunglasses. We took away all friction, made delivery time and shipping costs extra clear and everything that is in the classical usability book. But the results were still disappointing.

Then we added the message ‘You’ve made an excellent choice’. And whoppa: sales went up by a huge margin. Why? Because we supported the user in his choice. We took away their biggest fear: will this watch or sunglass suit me? So, don’t only focus on taking away the imperfections of your site. Give compliments too!

Your specialization is conversion and usability, ours is SEO. Do you feel these two are interconnected, or would you rather see them as two separate areas?

They are interconnected. And more people need to realize that. On a generic level this is pretty obvious. When you attract lots of people to your site but they don’t do anything (buy, subscribe, …), you’ll be out of business soon. When you have a website that converts like crazy but you don’t have any visitors, you have a problem too.

But also on a deeper level SEO and Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) are very connected. When we do AB-tests the big changes almost always come from changes in words. And I’m not talking about random changes, but using the right words that tickle the human brain. As I said earlier: if you use the same words as your clients, they’ll have the feeling you understand them. When you relate to their problems, dreams and hopes, they will more likely convert than when you use corporate lingo and only talk about features. And I guess your readers know that those things are also important for SEO. Use the same word as your audience.

In all these years I’ve never had big conflicts with good SEO specialists. I only have fights with black hat SEO people or those who use the old tricks that don’t work anymore (keyword stuffing, anyone?). Never forget: you’re optimizing for people. Not only for Google. And not for the sake of usability as such either. You’re optimizing your website for your audience.

Failure is an important part of finding out how to make things work in the best possible way. What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned while working for any of the big brands you’ve worked for?

Most big brands are afraid of failure. They don’t want to take risks. But that means you’ll reach a status quo. You have to take calculated risks. Based on user research and past experience you identify the weak points of site of page. And then you start making changes.

Small changes will mostly result in small results. Big, bold changes will result in big changes. Hopefully an uplift, but sometimes a drop in sales. But that’s why you test. And you learn something from those failures. What we often see is that our 2nd or 3rd test after a big failure, results in a big winner. And if you implement that winner, the gains of that will be so much bigger than that temporarily loss in sales or leads during the test. Big (and smaller) brands who understand this, will often choose to test more. And the more you test, the more you learn, and the more winners you’ll have.

Conversion optimization is not a project. Not something you do once. It’s a continuous process. And when you keep doing it, it will result in big wins. 
Just as it is with SEO. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Come see Karl Gilis speak at YoastCon 2017 on November 2 »banner YoastCon

We assume this interview has convinced people to go see your talk at YoastCon on November 2! In the unlikely case someone is still in doubt, what’s the main reason they shouldn’t miss your talk?

Who am I to answer why people need to see me? If you insist, I think there are 3 reasons:
· My talk will be full of practical hands-on tips. Little tricks you can apply yourself and will result in more sales and conversions.
· There’s also a more strategic layer that focuses on techniques and methods that you can also apply yourself.
· You will laugh a lot. People call me the conversion comedian and I do my best to put a smile on everybody’s face.

Read more: ‘YoastCon 2017: Practical SEO’ »

Yoast SEO 4.7: Introducing Italian

Yoast SEO now supports transition words for the Italian language so the content analysis feature can give you more detailed information about the readability of your post. This is the first step in providing full support for Italian. The Insights and Internal Linking Suggestion features will soon follow. We’ve also added a new check to see if your post has at least one internal link. Find out what else we’ve done in Yoast SEO 4.7.

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First Italian addition: transition words

Transition words – or signal words – are words that guide your readers in a text. These words show that you are summarizing, comparing or concluding something. Words like because, as a result, and most of all are the cement in your text. Use these to create a pleasant, easy to read article. Yoast SEO’s readability analysis checks the use of transition words in a variety of languages, and we’re adding a new one in Yoast SEO 4.7: Italian.

It is the first step in supporting Italian for our other helpful features, like Insights and Internal Linking Suggestions. These two features use Yoast SEO’s knowledge and command of a language to give you more information on how often you use certain words. These insights are used to suggest internal links that would be an excellent fit for the article you are currently writing. With these tools, working on your site structure becomes as easy as pie. Full support for Italian will arrive in the coming months.

A brand-new check: internal links

Building a solid site structure should be an essential part of your SEO strategy. One way of building a site structure is by creating relevant internal links to other parts of your site. In Yoast SEO 4.6, we added a checkbox to determine if a certain article is a cornerstone article. These articles should form the basis of your site. All other, relevant posts should link to these articles.

Our newest addition to the site structure checks is the internal link checker: this check appears in the regular list of bullets and will warn you if your new post doesn’t seem to have any internal links.

We’d like to speak more languages

Yoast SEO is gradually speaking more languages, but we’re not ready yet. Not by a long shot. If your mother tongue is missing or has incomplete support and you’d like to help us understand it better, please contact us at the following address:

Bugfixing

In Yoast SEO 4.7, we’ve also fixed numerous bugs and made several enhancements. As always, you can find the full changelog on WordPress.org. We hope you enjoy this new release. Hit that update button!

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