Measure your social media efforts with UTM tags

Every company should have a social media strategy. It helps you to increase traffic to your website, it makes it easier to engage with (potential) customers and you’ll increase brand awareness. Of course, you want to see if your efforts pay off. Are you getting closer to the goals that you’ve set up in your strategy? Let’s take a look at how you can measure your social media efforts.

Ways to measure social efforts

If you spend your time writing social posts, creating images and more, you want to know if your social media strategy and your campaigns work. Of course, you can check Twitter Analytics, Facebook Insights, and Instagram Statistics. But the thing is, those show only a limited amount of information, mostly about what happens on that particular platform. If you’re doing fine with just the information that these platforms provide, of course, that’s great.

Perhaps, though, you want information about the relation between social media and the traffic to your site. That’s where UTM tagging comes in. UTM stands for Urchin Tracking Module. Google uses this method to track your URL so you can track custom campaigns in Google Analytics. In other words, it helps you to see whether a post or campaign on social media actually led to more traffic on your website.

Want to make sure your social posts look fabulous? The social preview feature in Yoast SEO Premium helps you with that. It visualizes what your post will look like when shared on Facebook or Twitter!

Using UTM tags

A UTM tag consists of parameters that will help you track back your URL and give you information. The UTM tag will always come after your URL when you share it on a social channel. So, you take the URL of a post and simply paste the UTM tag after the URL. By doing so, for instance, it could look like this:

https://yoast.com/measure-social-media-efforts/#utm_source=twitter.com&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=seo-post-social&utm_content=link&utm_term=measure-social

There are several websites that help you build a UTM tag, but it’s always nice to understand what you’re looking at. The UTM we use when sharing this post on Twitter, for example, is: 

#utm_source=twitter.com&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=seo-post-social&utm_content=link&utm_term=measure-social

The source is mandatory. The other information, such as content and term, gives a more detailed explanation about the type of things you’re sharing on social media platforms. Make sure to be consistent in your tagging. If you mix uppercase and lowercase, Google Analytics will see it as two different types of tags. This means that data gets separated in Google Analytics. At Yoast, we use a # to start off the UTM tag, but most tools use a ?. We use the # because then we know for certain that we are not causing duplicate content since Google ignores anything after the #. So let’s break down this UTM tag, shall we?

The parameters

utm_source=twitter.com
The source explains where visitors are coming from. Because we’re sharing this post on Twitter, we’ll use twitter.com. For Facebook, we’ll use facebook.com. And so forth.

utm_medium=social
The medium explains what kind of medium is used (surprise, surprise). Twitter is a social media platform and Facebook is a social media platform, so we’ll use social. By grouping all social media platforms with the medium=social UTM tag, we can easily see in Google Analytics what all social traffic is doing for our site. This way, we can compare a post that’s been shared on all social media platforms to, for example, the same post shared in newsletters. 

utm_campaign=seo-post-social
Where source and medium tell you more about where your visitors came from, the campaign tag tells you more about the subjects you’re sharing on, in this case, social. For instance, if you have a product launch or a sales campaign, you can use this UTM tag to track in Google Analytics how that specific campaign is doing. Your campaign is something you have to think about really well, as it has to cover everything you want to be covered. The one that we use for this post is the one that we use for all the daily blog posts that we share. If we share something, for example, that has to do with the Yoast Care fund we’ll use ‘utm_campaign=carefund’.

utm_content=link
The content piece describes what kind of content you’re sharing. You’re always sharing a link, that’s true. But if you’re sharing an image, your content will be utm_content=image… As the image will be the central point. (or video, gif, voice memo, whatever you’re planning on sharing!)

utm_term=measure-social
The utm_term tag is mostly used to add keywords for Google ads. That doesn’t mean you can’t use them for other things than ads. This tag can be used to add more information about the post you’re sharing on social platforms. For instance, the topic of the post you’re sharing or the date.

Make your own UTM

Once you get the hang of creating a UTM tag, you’ll do it with your eyes closed. But for now, it might still seem confusing. A good tool to use when you just start building your UTM tags is the Campaign URL Builder tool by Google Analytics. It’s important that you use the UTM tags in such a way that you can understand it and get the correct data from it in Google Analytics. It doesn’t matter if another company or website does it differently, as long as you know what your own UTM tag means. You have to find a way that works for you. In the image below, you’ll notice that the order of the parameters in the generated campaign URL differs from how we did it: This does not matter.

Campaign URL Builder by Google Analytics

Make sure that you save your campaigns somewhere, so that in the future, when you post something that’s related to the campaign, you can make sure you use the same one. Whenever we post a YoastCon 2020 related blog post or page, you’ll see we use &utm_campaign=yoastcon2020. Or for anything that’s related to the Yoast Care fund, we’ll use &utm_campaign=carefund.

Let’s measure your social media efforts!

Now, I can hear you thinking: ‘That’s all nice and stuff, but now what? Who will tell me if my social media posts are working?’ Well… You will! With the help of Google Analytics of course! In the video below, Annelieke, Lead of our Research team, explains how you can interpret your data and where you can find the information that you collected with the use of your UTM tags.


To find the relevant data in Google Analytics, go to Acquisition > Campaigns > All Campaigns. Here, you can find all the campaigns that you’ve set up an UTM tag for. In the search bar, you can search for more specific campaigns. Just type in the campaign name you want to learn more about! You’ll find information about the number of users that clicked on that campaign, the bounce rate and the conversion rate, for instance. Watch the video, for more options and a more detailed explanation.

Note: Facebook likes to mess things up with your self-made UTM tag that you put all your hard work in. Even though that’s not very nice of Facebook, you can still see where people went by looking at the landing page. 

Now, it’s your turn!

Creating and measuring your UTM tags might be a little hard in the beginning. But, believe me, you’ll find a way to make it work for you. Take your time for both creating and measuring, and start with a campaign that you really want to be measured. If you’re still asking yourself: “But why should I… does social media even influence my SEO?” then I suggest you to read this post that’s answering that exact question and come back later. If you’re ready to start, then I wish you the best of luck!

What’s your favorite way to measure your social media efforts?

Read more: Basic SEO: How to use social media »

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Does social media influence your SEO?

Handling your social media is a necessary part of any marketing strategy, but it’s also a vital part of any good SEO strategy. The popularity of social media has risen and probably will keep doing so. That means Google and other search engines can’t ignore them, and you probably shouldn’t either. You even see recent tweets popping up in search results now! So let’s discuss: how does social media influence SEO?

Customers are looking for you

SEO is about being found, so let’s start with the basics. If people are looking for you, make sure they find you! Customers that have heard about your brand might look for you on social media, or even through Google. As a professional company or brand, they expect you to be there. You don’t want them to come up empty, or worse: stumble on another business with a similar name while thinking it’s you. For that reason, it’s a good idea to claim your profiles. Even if you’re not planning on using the platform right now, you might want to in the future.

If you do register on a social platform and are not planning to actively maintain the profile, let your visitors know. Platforms like Twitter and Facebook have the option to pin a tweet or post right at the top of your profile. In that post, explain that while you are not actively present there, they did find the right brand and yes, they can reach you. Point them to other means of communication, like email, make it easy for them! Another plus of claiming profiles: If in the future you do decide to start using a platform, you’re ready to go. Social media is ever-changing, so you never know if you might.

Setting up your social media accounts

When you register with social media platforms, do so seriously. Use a high-quality logo and fill out all the fields offered. If you have physical stores: add them, and their opening hours. A Google My Business account is especially valuable for this! In general, make sure your profiles look professional and up to date. And: be consistent. Use the same brand name across platforms, so people (and search engines!) know it’s you.

Social accounts showing in search results

Did you know that your social accounts can show up when people search for your brand name in search engines? For example, in Google’s Knowledge Panel. Here’s an example of what that looks like:

That looks professional, right? It adds trust as well because users have no doubt that if they click the profile buttons there, they’ll end up on your social account. Learn more: How to add social profiles to Google’s Knowledge Graph.

Latest tweets in search results

What we think is really cool is how Google regularly show an account’s latest tweets, right up there between other search results. Here’s an example of a so-called tweet carousel that shows when you search Google for [yoast].

This is a great way to showcase your business and what you’re all about, while enticing people to visit your profile and follow you for more. 

Claim your space in the search results

What’s also important: content like tweet carousels take up (way) more place in the search results! The same goes for your actual social accounts: they show up too. The more space you claim in the top search results, the more you push down other results. It definitely increases the chances of people clicking through to any of your places on the web!

More traffic to your website

Now you understand the actual benefits of claiming (and preferably regularly updating, but more on that in a later blog post) your social media accounts, how does that tie into your SEO strategy? The idea is quite simple: if people are talking about you, online or offline, you’re relevant. As you might know by now, that is what search engines are looking for: Google wants to present users with the most relevant results. They love serving up search results that they know others find interesting.

So if you offer awesome content on your website, why not spread it even further by referring to it in other places, like on Facebook? It’s your content so it’s yours to share. Help people discover you! By convincing people to click to find out more, read on, etc., your social media posts could seriously increase traffic to your website. 

Brand awareness through social media

Having success in social media also increases brand awareness. If you’re sharing great content, people will connect that positive experience to your brand name and experience. They might share your content or even just ‘like’ it. Either way, they’re helping you reach a new audience. Social media algorithms like content that other people like, they’ll help spread it further. Now, if these new people see and enjoy your content, they might start following you! They’ll get to know you and your products, services, or whatever it is you want them to know about. 

Social media and SEO

Wrapping up: we wouldn’t say that just the fact that you are on social media has a direct impact on rankings. But, as with many ranking factors, it can help indirectly. An increased brand awareness, more traffic, people enjoying your content, all of those could help your website’s success.

So you know that it can pay off to use social media for your brand. But one of the hardest, if not the hardest, things of social media is: what do you ‘do’ on them? What kind of content are you supposed to share? How do you make a social media plan for your business or blog? How much time will it take? Is it worth it? We’ll cover setting up a social media strategy in an upcoming blog post, so stay tuned!

Read more: Social media optimization with Yoast SEO »

The post Does social media influence your SEO? appeared first on Yoast.

Social media for small business owners

You are a small business owner with a local target audience. Of course, your local audience needs to find your shop or office, and you want to use social media for that. But, in the plethora of platforms, you just have no clue where to start. So you post something on Facebook, try a tweet now and then, but nothing happens. To small business owners, social media can feel like a struggle every time. And perhaps that last word sums it all up: you are probably just putting your extra time into social media. Whereas investing actual, accountable time in social media will probably pay off way more.

Investing that time deliberately means you need to figure out some things first. Let us help you with that.

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What platforms should I use?

You need to find the social platforms your target audience uses. Otherwise, you won’t be able to reach the right people. There are (at least) two ways to find out what these platforms are:

  • Ask your customers what social media they use. That might be Twitter or Snapchat, but can also be Yelp or Meetup.com, depending on your type of business. Simply ask your customers and see what response you get. If you have hundreds of customers a week, this is probably not the best course of action.
  • Simply start using a certain social platform. And see what happens. I prefer this option over the alternatives. Try everything, keep track of the results, and stop doing the things that don’t work for your business after a couple of months. Don’t give up the next day, but set a goal for yourself and see if you can achieve that.

Read more: ‘Social media strategy: where to begin?’ »

Factors that influence social media for small business

There are many things to keep in mind when you’re thinking about social media plans as a small business owner. Your results will depend on the platform you’ve chosen, but the three factors below also definitely play a part.

Give it time

Keep your expectations in check: your social following won’t grow overnight. Don’t expect people to follow you right after creating a profile. You need to invest that time we talked about. And creating a profile isn’t investing time, that should be done in a few minutes. The actual time investment starts right after that.

Create relevant content

You need to make sure your messages/mentions/promotions/articles are worth sharing. In other words, your content, in general, must be relevant and worthwhile. At Yoast, we try to publish five articles a week, but only if we have something that deserves publishing. We’d rather skip a day than publish something that could backfire on (for instance) social media, due to lack of relevance.

The need for relevance can hold back certain businesses from using social media. People often say:

“But I have nothing worth sharing.”

That’s nonsense. If you are good at what you do, you’ll have projects, testimonials, pictures, and quotes worth sharing. No need to write new blog posts every day, simply find something you’re proud of and share it. And if you do want to start a blog, Marieke has some tips to get inspiration for you. For those who want to dive into blogging, there is always our ultimate guide to blogging.

Don’t give up

The third factor that influences social media for small business is determination. To work properly, social media for small businesses has to be a continuous process of publishing and engaging. Saying “I have tried social media and it’s just not my thing” doesn’t show determination. You may have tried Snapchat, and it’s not your cup of tea. That’s fine. But perhaps Facebook is. And maybe posting on Facebook isn’t for you, but engaging in Facebook Groups might be. I call bullsh*t on the statement that “social media isn’t your thing.” You probably just haven’t found the right medium or platform.

Social media usage for small businesses

Let me go over some social platforms and give you some ideas on how to use them. This isn’t a blueprint for your own social media strategy: the actual use will depend on your type of business and the time you are willing to invest in social media. Here are some ideas:

Twitter

Twitter is an excellent way to send messages and interact with your local community. Two things come in handy here:

  • Hashtags. Hashtags allow you to connect your tweet to an individual subject, without having to add an extensive introduction. It’s being used to tweet about television shows like #GoT or cities like #Seattle. Especially adding your town’s name to a tweet will get you local attention. We can confirm this works even for #Wijchen, the small town where we’re located.
  • Advanced Search. If you are looking for a way to get involved in relevant, local conversations, you should try the advanced search option on Twitter. It allows you to search for any subject you like, in the area you want. See screenshot below.

Social media for small business: Twitter Advanced Search

Facebook

First things first: is your company already on Facebook? I recommend adding it as a local business or place. Facebook has 1.94 billion monthly active users and 1.28 billion daily active users on average (Source: Facebook). Facebook is huge. That alone should be reason enough to add your business to Facebook. And adding your company to Facebook isn’t that hard. It’s a relatively small effort when it comes to social media for small business owners.

Promote your page to your personal friends, get likes, and share updates and photos. Note that for sales posts (“Buy our product!”), you have a better chance of success if you ‘boost‘ your post just a little bit. Boosting can be done for a specified audience, with the location being one of the filters.

Another reason Facebook is an attractive choice for your social media efforts is Facebook Groups. Facebook Groups can be about just about everything. A quick search for Facebook groups about Milwaukee shows how much variety there is:

Social media for small business: Facebook Groups Milwaukee

Pokemon Go, Refugee supporters, Saab, ukulele, auto modelers, running – you name the subject, and Facebook has a group for you. Usually, there are also networking groups for local business people. Just search and find the group that fits your need. Introduce yourself and your business, and engage in discussions. That’s an easy, time efficient way to promote yourself and your company to a local audience.

Instagram

Do you have product images or photos worth sharing? In that case, Instagram might be the social platform for you. Instagram works with hashtags, much like Twitter. I use hashtag apps like Hashme or Tag o’Matic to find the right ones matching my content. Hashtags on Instagram work like a charm when adding local content. An example:

#seattle #seattlelife #seattleart #seattleartist #seattlelove #downtownseattle #spaceneedle #spaceneedleview #spaceneedles #washington #spaceneedleseattle #washingtonstate #seattlewa #seattleskyline #seattlecenter

It took me 30 seconds to find 15 relevant local hashtags using that last app. Instagram allows you to use up to 30 hashtags a post, by the way. Use these to your advantage!

Of course, there are many more social media platforms for small businesses. But I don’t want to overwhelm you with options right now. One thing I would like to mention is that review sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor are also social sites. They shouldn’t be forgotten if your business is mentioned on these sites. Be sure to monitor your mentions there and act on them if needed. That’s also being social!

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Measure your social media efforts

We have written some articles on the various analytics tools for social media networks, and I’d like to point you to these as well. Keeping track of followers and reach gives you an indication of how well your strategy is working. Focus on the numbers that tell you something about engagement, to see what social networks do indeed help you build your community. Here we go:

  • Facebook Insights: Get 30 likes, and Insights will be available. After 100 likes on your page, you can even compare your numbers to the competition.
  • Twitter Analytics: See who your influencers are: the people that like your tweets and have a nice following of their own. Find local influencers and get acquainted with them: ask them to tweet about you now and then.
  • Iconosquare for Instagram: As there still is no proper analytics for Instagram from Instagram, I rely on Iconosquare for that. Use it to find the best time to post, and see what kind of content works best for your business.

Please check out these tools yourself. Keep a keen eye on trends and engagement, as that is the most important thing in my opinion.

The obvious social media strategy works best

I want to leave you with two final thoughts here:

  • Post engaging content, because that is the best way to build an audience. Sounds simple, but it is pretty hard. Don’t be afraid to experiment here. Usually, personal stories lead to the most and best engagement. Having said that, Yoast office life pictures on social media often lead to questions about the awesome features of Yoast SEO Premium (for instance). Keep an open mind and help any customer with whatever question they have, related or not. The engagement counts, not the subject of your post.
  • Your employees are your brand ambassadors on social media. They love your company, enjoy working there and are most likely to share a lot of your social content if not all. Your employees create that local snowball effect. After all, most of their connections on Facebook are probably/usually living in the same geographical area as you. Acknowledge this, and stay aware of the value of these ‘in-house’ shares.

That’s it for now! I’m sure I’ve convinced you that even as a small business, investing some time and effort into your social media strategy will pay off. So go for it! And feel free to drop any questions or thoughts about social media for small business in the comments!

Keep reading: ‘Ultimate guide to small business SEO’ »

SEO basics: How to use social media

Social media endeavors should be a part of your SEO strategy. As social media usage increased in popularity, Google and other search engines couldn’t ignore them any longer. This means that your site’s popularity on social media ties in with your SEO more and more. The reason for this is simple: if people talk about you, online or offline, you’re relevant to the topic at hand. In addition to that, you’ll want to know about these conversations. In this post, I’ll give you some fundamental tips on how to use social media.

How to use social media

Below are some tips you can use in order to set up or to improve your social media strategy:

1. Keep your account alive

The most crucial advice in the use of social media is that you need to keep your account ‘alive’. Make sure you post on a regular basis. Sharing your new blog posts is a good start, but also let people know what you’re working on or what interests you. If you go on vacation, schedule posts for the time you are away, or at least let people know when you’ll be back. And, after a while, you could repost older content to draw people to your website with existing content.

2. Write captivating excerpts

When you decide to share your blog post on social media, make sure to select or write a short and appealing excerpt in order to draw people in. You could, for instance, choose the most important sentence or the main point of your post. Or you could simply choose to share the introduction of the blog post, if you feel that is captivating enough. You want this piece of text to get people to click on the link and read the whole post. And do ensure that people can easily navigate to other pages on your website, once they are there.

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3. Diversify

You can share different types of posts on your social media account. As mentioned in point 1, you could share your blog posts, but you could also share short news items, videos or simply some (behind-the-scenes) pictures. These kind of posts can make our brand more fun and personal.

In order to decide which posts do well on social media, you should analyze the number of views, shares and likes. Of course, we’d advise to share types of posts that receive a lot of views and likes more often.

4. Handle comments

If you share your posts on social media, you could also receive comments. Don’t forget to monitor this. You should handle these comments swiftly.

Read more: ‘How to handle comments on your blog’ »

5. Use awesome illustrations

For some social media (Pinterest and Instagram) it is all about the illustrations. But also on Facebook visual content is really important. They make your post stand out from all of the other posts in someone’s timeline, and can boost clickthrough.

When you use Yoast SEO Premium you can check what your blog post or product page will look like, before sharing it on Facebook and Twitter. See how easy that is!

6. Be part of the community

If you’re active in a certain community or niche, you’ll soon discover other interesting people in that area that your audience follows. Follow them too and interact with them, this could help your and their audiences grow.

7. Add metadata

Smart use of (hash)tags can also help your growth immensely. For instance if you are at an event, include the hashtag for that event in your post, so everyone searching for that event will come across it. There are also hashtags for certain interests or technology. Some people might even retweet everything that is posted in a certain hashtag, which is a great way to boost your post. But don’t go overboard! Nobody likes a post that is filled with all kinds of random hashtags.

Conclusion

Social media is a key aspect of every SEO strategy. Setting up a decent social media strategy can be hard and will ask for a bit of creativity. And, it’ll definitely consume much of your time. But, it’ll be worth it! And if you think about it, social media and blogging are very similar in many aspects.

Keep reading: ‘Social media strategy: where to begin’ »

Social buttons: How to add and track them on your site

To help your blog gain more readers, you can make use of social buttons which allow your current readers to share interesting posts on their social media accounts. But how should you go about implementing them? In this post, we’ll give you some pointers on how to get started.

Before we dive in, if you want to learn more about social media and other essential SEO skills, you should check out our All-Around SEO training! It doesn’t just tell you about SEO: it makes sure you know how to put these skills into actual practice!

What are social buttons?

For those who don’t know what social buttons are: They’re the buttons that you’ve seen around the internet that are usually placed somewhere below a blog post that allow readers to share articles on various social media platforms. They can help with gaining extra exposure and thus also getting more traffic to your website.

Here’s an example of a few social buttons:

Social Buttons

How did you implement these social buttons in WordPress?

Now you might be wondering about how you can implement these buttons. Your initial thought might be that it’s easiest to add them with some kind of plugin. However, you could also add it to your theme. This gives you extra control over how to style and display things. Of course, you can also decide to add these buttons to a plugin, but the added benefit would be minimal.

An option is to place the code for the social buttons in a template partial. This way, you can easily embed it throughout the website without having to drastically edit template files or having to embed the buttons manually per post.

Here’s a basic example of how you can implement a social button for Facebook. Note that not all the code is actual production code and has been replaced with pseudo-code to make implementation easier to understand.

<?php
// File: <theme_folder>/html_includes/partials/social-share.php
function facebook_social_button() {
	$article_url = get_article_url(); // Psuedo-code method to retrieve the article's URL.
	$article_url .= '#utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=social_buttons';
	$title       = html_entity_decode( get_og_title() ); // Psuedo-code method to retrieve the og_title.
	$description = html_entity_decode( get_og_description() ); // Psuedo-code method to retrieve the og_description.
	$og_image    = get_og_image(); // Psuedo-code method to retrieve the og_image assigned to a post.
	$images      = $og_image->get_images();
	$url         = 'http://www.facebook.com/sharer/sharer.php?s=100';
	$url         .= '&p[url]=' . urlencode( $article_url );
	$url         .= '&p[title]=' . urlencode( $title );
	$url         .= '&p[images][0]=' . urlencode( $images[0] );
	$url         .= '&p[summary]=' . urlencode( $description );
	$url         .= '&u=' . urlencode( $article_url );
	$url         .= '&t=' . urlencode( $title );
	
	echo esc_attr( $url );
}

?>

<div id="social-share">
    <div class="socialbox">
        <a rel="nofollow" target="_blank" data-name="facebook" aria-label="Share on Facebook" data-action="share"
           href="<?php facebook_social_button(); ?>"> <i class="fa fa-facebook-square text-icon--facebook"></i> </a>
    </div>
</div>

The above code could be used similarly for other social media platforms, but it can vary greatly in terms of URL structure. We advise having a look at the documentation of your desired platforms to ensure compatibility.

To include these social buttons in your blog posts, open up single.php in your theme’s folder and paste the following snippet where you want the buttons to appear:

<?php get_template_part( 'html_includes/partials/social-share' ); ?>

That’s it! If you don’t want to collect interaction data from these buttons, then this is all you need. If you want interactions to be tracked, then read on.

Tracking Interaction with Social Buttons

Having nicely styled social buttons on your website is one thing, but tracking the actual interactions with them would be even better. You can use JavaScript to ensure the tracking of social media sharing is done correctly, so you can easily see what social media platforms are popular among your readers.

The code for this is relatively simple and depends on the Google Analytics Tracker being properly implemented into your website. Assuming this is the case, the following code will be of great help:

jQuery( document ).ready( function( $ ) { $( '.socialbox a' ).click( function( e ) { e.preventDefault(); if ( typeof __gaTracker !== "undefined" ) { __gaTracker( 'send', 'social', $( this ).data( 'name' ), $( this ).data( 'action' ), document.querySelector( "link[rel='canonical']" ).getAttribute( "href" ) ); } }); });

The above JavaScript snippet passes in some of the extra information passed along to the anchor tag. This extra information can be identified by the data- prefix and is retrieved by calling $( this ).data( [...] ). This method allows you to extend the social-share div and add more buttons easily.

If you want more information on how Google tracks this information, you can read about it here.

Conclusion

As you can see, it’s not very difficult to add social buttons to your blog. Even tracking them in Google Analytics has become a breeze compared to past implementations.

All that’s left is to go and implement the buttons and allow your readers to help promote your posts. Good luck!

Read more: Social media optimization with Yoast SEO »

The post Social buttons: How to add and track them on your site appeared first on Yoast.

Metadata and SEO part 3: social, internationalization and more

Literally, metadata is data that says something about other data. You can use particular metadata to send information about a webpage to a search engine or a social media channel, and thereby improve your SEO. In the first two posts of this metadata series, we discussed meta tags in headof your site and link rel metadata. In this last episode, we’ll scrutinize on metadata that can improve the sharing experience on social media. And last, but definitely not least, we’ll describe why metadata likehreflang declarations are a necessity if your business serves multiple languages and/or countries.

Posts in this series

Metadata #1: meta tags in the head

Metadata #2: link rel metadata

Metadata #3: Social and international

Social metadata

We have written about Open Graph and Twitter Cards before. These tags, or this information, is definitely metadata. It will help you tell social networks like Facebook and Twitter what the page at hand is about in an orderly, summarized way. It will allow you to control the way your articles or pages are shared.

OpenGraph

OpenGraph is a standard used by a number of social networks like Facebook and Pinterest. If you’re using our Yoast SEO plugin, these tags are added to your page automatically, and of course, you can control the contents of these OpenGraph tags (in the social section in our meta box below on edit pages).

Twitter Cards

The same goes for Twitter Cards. They add metadata to your pages that are convenient for Twitter to read and understand. Our plugin adds Twitter Card metadata as well. If there is no Twitter Card data, Twitter will fallback to OpenGraph data, but you obviously want to make things as simple as possible for that Twitter.

If you’d like a preview of how your page, shared on either Twitter or Facebook would look like, please check our Yoast SEO premium plugin, as that one adds these social previews right in your WordPress backend.

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

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But wait, there is more important metadata!

If you thought that all the things previously mentioned are all the SEO related metadata for your website, think again.

hreflang tags to indicate other languages

For those of you that have multilingual sites, this one is really, really important. If you have a site or page that is served in more than one language, be sure to add hreflang tags to your page.

With hreflang tags, you can indicate the language variations of the page at hand. That looks like this:

<link rel="alternate" href="http://example.com/" 
      hreflang="en" />
<link rel="alternate" href="http://example.com/en-gb/" 
      hreflang="en-gb" />
<link rel="alternate" href="http://example.com/de/" 
      hreflang="de" />

As you can see, these can be used for variations of the ‘same’ language as well, like the British English in the second line. Note that hreflang isn’t a substitute for the rel=canonical we discussed. Be safe, implement both. More information on how to implement hreflang can be found here.

Alt tags

If you think about it, any extra attribute you assign to an image, like the alt or title tag, is metadata. Google uses it to scan the page and see what’s on there, so be sure to add these alt and title tags and optimize ’em.

Microdata for breadcrumbs

For a better understanding of your site’s structure, you should add some kind of microdata to your breadcrumbs. That can be done by adding schema.org data for breadcrumbs, for instance by JSON-LDRDFa is another option to add this type of metadata to your website. Again, install Yoast SEO for WordPress and this is taken care of.

Language declaration for the page at hand

Let’s wrap this long list of metadata up with another language related metadata element. At the very top of your HTML, we find the, indeed, html tag. This one wraps all the code of your <head> and <body> and can contain the language of the page at hand. That is done like this:

<html lang="en">

Makes sense, right. Some might say that adding a meta tag for Content-Language is also an option, but following the W3C guidelines, that meta tag should not be used anymore. Use the lang declaration in the html tag instead.

That concludes this series with a lengthy list of metadata you can use to tweak your SEO. I am confident you can come up with even more metadata, as there is plenty. Feel free to leave your additions in the comments!

Read more: ‘Metadata and SEO part 1: the head section’ »

Social Previews in Yoast SEO Premium

Social previews in Yoast SEO visualize what your post will look like when shared on Facebook or Twitter. You can see right away if your image fits and whether your title and description will display well. It works much like the snippet preview people have come so used to. As the snippet preview does for search rankings, we think social previews will improve your social workflow.

Before we dive in, if you want to learn more about social media and other essential SEO skills, you should check out our All-Around SEO training! It doesn’t just tell you about SEO: it makes sure you know how to put these skills into actual practice!

Which image will Facebook pick?

When you publish a post and you haven’t specifically selected a Facebook image in our plugin, you don’t know which picture Facebook will use. Yoast SEO has a big hand in this process: it determines which images it “gives” Facebook with its metadata. When you specify a Facebook image, it specifies just that image. When you set a featured image for your post, that’s the image it will feed to Facebook. If you have no featured image either, it will grab the images from your post. Our social previews take the guesswork away and show you what Facebook will use.

It looks like this for this post (because I haven’t specified a specific Facebook image yet):

Facebook preview of this social previews article, showing the featured image and the meta description being used
Social image before specifying a specific Facebook image

As you can see this allows me to preview what my post will look like when shared on Facebook. We have a similar preview for Twitter. Both previews also have edit fields below them, allowing you to change the individual Facebook and Twitter metadata. That looks like this:

Social metadata fallbacks in social previews

As you can see in the image above, you can upload a specific Twitter image. The one you’re seeing in the preview is the Facebook image I uploaded. If you only specify a Facebook image, Twitter will use that image too, which often works just fine. The description underneath that actually comes from the meta description.

Social networks all need similar data. All of them seem to fall back to Facebook OpenGraph data when no specific data was specified. Twitter and Pinterest also use Facebook OpenGraph metadata. WhatsApp uses OpenGraph too when sharing URLs in the messaging app. This is why Facebook OpenGraph is such an important part of our plugin. The previews will show you exactly what’s being used and what your post will look like.

Read more: Social media optimization with Yoast SEO »

The post Social Previews in Yoast SEO Premium appeared first on Yoast.

How to optimize your Facebook reach

Social media like Facebook allow you to reach people that might be interested in your stuff. You’ll reach people who like your Facebook page, and you might even reach the friends of people who like your Facebook page. Some posts, however, seem to be much more successful than others. Why do some of your posts on Facebook get many likes, shares and comments, while others are largely ignored by your audience? In this post, I’ll help you optimize your Facebook reach.

How to optimize your Facebook reach

Best practices for increasing Facebook reach

If you want tips to be successful on Facebook make sure to read this blog post by Neil Patel. Neil analyzed 1 billion Facebook posts and his tips are really helpful to start optimizing your own Facebook page. Although we can learn a lot from his best practices, it’s very important to remember that your Facebook page and your audience are unique.

As you are trying out his tips, I would strongly advise you to analyze the reach and the engagement of your own Facebook posts. What posts does your audience like? Which posts reached a lot of people? And which posts were hardly noticed? What seems to work on your own Facebook page? And what can you learn from that?

Start analyzing regularly

If you want to be able to predict which posts will increase your reach and engagement on Facebook, you should start by checking out the Insights tabs on your Facebook page. And make sure to check out these stats regularly.

Look into the reach of each post (the number of people the post was served to) and the number of likes, shares and comments. If you do this on a regular basis, you’ll begin to notice patterns.

Read more about Facebook Insights in Michiel’s post!

Important aspects to consider

Whether or not a post is successful on Facebook could be caused by countless things: the length of the post, the topic of the post, the day of the week. But it could also be caused by world events, the weather or by pure chance. You won’t be able to fully control or predict your success. However, analyzing aspects of previous posts should give you some clues about what works for your audience (and what doesn’t).

Time and day of your post

The timing of your post matters. For some time slots (like at night) competition is low, for other time slots your audience will be more available and engaged. It’s a matter of testing which day and time will be most effective. For Yoast, weekdays are much better than the weekend. This will definitely depend on your audience.

Topic of the post

You’re most likely blogging about various topics and your audience will like some of them more than others. Check what posts do well with your audience; what topics are the most successful? Try writing more posts about those topics. Additionally, you could try to make your other posts look a bit more like the ones that are successful.

Purpose of the post

Closely analyze the purpose of your post. Did you write this post to inform your readers, or to entertain them? Or, were you trying to sell your stuff?  For Yoast, more “salesy” posts seem to get far less reach and engagements. Posts in which we announce a sale or introduce a new product seem to be the least successful ones in our timeline. 

Illustrations or videos?

Make sure to study the reach and engagements of posts with different kinds of illustrations, photos and videos too. Do posts with illustrations differ in their reach compared to posts without illustrations? Do posts with video get more likes or shares compared to the ones without?

Conclusion

To really understand what a successful Facebook post looks like, you really have to dive into your Facebook Insights. We’re currently taking our analysis a step further by doing an extensive research on what works on the Facebook page of Yoast.

For all of you, the ability to predict which posts are going to be successful on Facebook will also be very valuable. So go ahead and check out your Facebook Insights and start analyzing your posts!

Read more: ‘Facebook Page Insights explained’ »

Weekly SEO recap: speed it up!

This week we’ve got to catch up a bit, as I was away on holiday for a while. Luckily Google took it slow in the last few weeks, basically doing nothing really interesting. They did put out a lot of stuff, it just wasn’t all that interesting. Let’s go over the bits that are interesting.

Joost's weekly SEO Recap

AMP it up

At conferences, with demo sites, in forums, in blog posts and even in Google Search Console, Google is working hard to get people to adopt AMP. We’ve written about AMP before and I still don’t like it. It’s very much WAP all over again, it feels like going backwards. At the same time I do see the need to make the web faster for people in low bandwidth countries. We don’t feel that need as much where we are. The office I’m writing this from will soon have 3 separate 500mb (down and up) fiber connections. That’s more bandwidth than most countries in the world have per 1 million inhabitants, according to this list.

So in the next few weeks we’ll be implementing AMP here on Yoast. We’ve already seen that the go to AMP plugin for WordPress works but we need to fix some interaction issues between it and our Yoast SEO plugin.

Read more: ‘Weekly SEO recap: AMPlified spam’ »

Instant Articles for Facebook

In the same trend as AMP for Google, Facebook’s Instant Articles will soon (as in, in April) be available to all. There’s a WordPress plugin for that too, which I’m also looking at to make sure it sends the right data when Yoast SEO is installed.

Amit Singhal leaves Google

In the beginning of this month possibly the most shocking news of all came out. Amit Singhal is about to leave the company (end of next week actually). He was their head of search and very important in recent years in terms of choosing how search works and how rankings works.

Singhal’s replacement will be John Giannandrea, who is one of the most important artificial intelligence engineers in the company. If that doesn’t tell you where Google is going…

That’s it, see you next week!

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What to do if the traffic on your blog is decreasing?

If you maintain a blog, of course you want the traffic to your blog to grow. But what if it doesn’t? What if the traffic to your blog is (slightly) decreasing? What do you do? In this post, I will give 5 tips on how to increase the traffic to your blog once again!

First check: is it a change in your rankings?

If the traffic to your blog is decreasing, you should first check your rankings. It could well be that something happened that changed your ranking in Google. A lower ranking could definitely explain a (sudden) drop in traffic. When you notice a drop in your rankings, you should take action to boost your website’s SEO.

Read more: ‘Tracking your SEO with Google Analytics’ »

When it’s not your rankings

But what if your ranking has stayed (relatively) the same? What strategies can you employ to improve your site’s traffic, besides the SEO stuff? These 5 tips should help you deal with decreasing traffic!

1. Use of social media

Social media are a necessity for the growth and marketing of your blog. As social media become more popular, Google and other search engines can’t ignore them any longer. So your site’s popularity on social media is also getting more and more important for your SEO. The reason for this is simple: if people talk about you, online or offline, you’re relevant to the topic at hand. You’ll want to know about these conversations! Social media is a new kind of marketplace, where people share questions and reviews about products and events. You had better make sure those are your products and events, right? So, partaking in these conversations can be great for your brand and could lead to growth. It depends on your (desired) audience and on your content which social media are best suited for your blog.

Keep reading: ‘Social media strategy: where to begin’ »

2. Commenting on other blogs

Another good way to get more exposure for your blog is by reacting and commenting on other blogs. Make sure to adapt your selection of the blogs to comment on to the audience you would like to address. That way, your comments will attract the kind of visitors you want on your own site.

If you read something interesting on a blog, you should comment. Especially when a post is about something you may have written about yourself as well. In your comment, you can share your view on the matter. You could also place a link to one of your own blogs. Make sure your comments are always nice and polite and comment only if your own post genuinely applies to the piece you are reading. You don’t want to end up in the spam filter!

Our SEO for WordPress eBook guides you through every aspect of Search Engine Optimization »

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3. Write more ‘success’ posts

If you want your audience to grow, check the analytics of your blog regularly. What articles are the ones that people seem to read the most? What are the most important landing pages? These posts are the ones your audience seems to enjoy. Could you write more of these posts? Writing articles that are similar to your successful posts is a good strategy to get more visitors.

4. Send out a newsletter

Email is a great way to increase your customers’ retention. That means that sending emails will increase the amount of visitors that become recurring visitors. By emailing your customers on a regular basis, your brand will stay top of mind. Furthermore, they’ll return more quickly to read another post. Of course, your emails would have to be interesting, enticing and engaging for this to really work!

It’s relatively easy to set up a newsletter through a service like MailChimp. You can even target specific subgroups within your entire audience with a newsletter. Sending a nice email is also a great way to inform your readers that you have written new blogposts and that they should come and visit your blog.

Read on: ‘The basics of email marketing’ »

5. Start advertising

If you have a budget, you could decide to place ads on for instance Facebook or Google to promote your blog. Facebook also has the option to boost your post, making sure it’ll get more exposure. Using Facebook, you can even focus on the demographic you want to reach, with settings for age group, location, and interests, making it quite easy to target your desired audience.

Read more: ‘Facebook Page Insights’ »

Conclusion: stay active

Sometimes, your blog simply doesn’t get the attention and the traffic you want it to get. If neither your ranking nor your SEO has changed, you probably just need to put in a little bit of effort. Be active on social media and other blogs, write posts similar to those that are loved by your audience and do not forget to send out that newsletter. Don’t give up!

Keep reading: ‘Blog SEO: make people stay and read your post ’ »