SEO Ideas

What makes a good website?

People often ask us to explain what makes a good website. Whether we have a list of elements that a great site should have. Unfortunately, there isn’t an easy, one-size-fits-all answer to this. As in many things SEO, the answer is: it depends. What kind of site do you have and what do you want to achieve? Who do you want to target? There are, however, a few best practices that help you get underway. In this post, we’ll list 7 elements that can help every site become a good site and a better search result.

Table of contents

Holistic SEO7 elements of a good website1. Your website satisfies user intent and has a clear goal2. Your website has technical prowess3. Your website is trustworthy, safe and secure4. Your website has a great design and stellar UX5. Your site has awesome, user-centered content6. Your site is mobile-friendly (or rather, designed mobile-first)7. Your site can ‘talk’ directly to search enginesSo what makes a good website?

Holistic SEO

The number one thing to keep in mind is something that we at Yoast advocate a lot: holistic SEO. Essentially, holistic SEO helps you strive to be the best result. This comes down to optimizing every part of your site on all levels, from satisfying user intent with your content to offering a stellar user experience. If you combine all these things in a solid SEO strategy, implement the enhancements and keep an eye on the results, you’re on the right track!

7 elements of a good website

Many things we deem important for a good website are hard to quantify. There’s a lot of talk about quality in SEO, for instance. Even Google has been saying for years that you should focus on the quality of your site and content. After every algorithmic update that Google implements, the answer for those who lost rankings is the same: it might not be your fault, because other sites might seem to be a better fit for this specific query. Nonetheless, you should work on the overall quality of your content. 

People flock to the Search Quality Raters Guidelines for input on how to do that, looking for any guidance at all. Now, you shouldn’t take everything that Google says as gospel, but in this case, they are right. You should improve your content — always! Make sure to look at user intent and the behavior of your potential customers. Periodically redo your keyword research. And check your niche, what’s happening in your part of the market? By continually evaluating your SEO strategy, you’ll get a grip on the changing market and find new opportunities.

1. Your website satisfies user intent and has a clear goal

Do you know your audience? Do you know your business and what it is you contribute to this world? Why should anyone come to your site and do business with you? It’s not because you think you have an awesome product — that just doesn’t fly anymore. “Build it and they will come?” Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. You need to have a clear mission and goal for your website.

If you want to succeed, you need to know your audience. You have to uncover everything about them. You can probably find out what they say they want, but is that the same as what they really need? Does your product or service merely offer a possible solution to a problem or does it make your customer’s life genuinely better? Are you selling a drill or a hole in the wall? 

Your story has to be right. It has to align with what people want and need. This means you should nail search intent for your site. Uncover all the different ways of how people can end up on your pages and tailor these to answer their questions. Map out your user journey from A to Z and place your content in strategic spots. Also keep a close eye on the way you formulate your answers. More often than not, a conversational style will turn out to be what you are looking for. 

2. Your website has technical prowess

A good website is easily crawlable and shows search engines what they can and can’t index. Good sites don’t have a huge amount of errors. A good website loads super fast, from anywhere in the world. Make sure you do everything you can to get those pages to load as fast as possible.

Technical SEO is incredibly important, but you can get ahead of the curve by getting the basics right. Thoroughly think about which CMS you’re going for and how you’re going to run it. We may be a bit biased, but WordPress has given us everything we need. It’s solid, flexible and has a huge following. WordPress is pretty SEO-friendly, but with a bit of help from Yoast SEO, you can get your WordPress SEO going in no time. Also make sure to pick a reputable hosting company, one that’s flexible and helpful.

3. Your website is trustworthy, safe and secure

Both search engines and users are looking for signals that signify trust. Why should your site and content be trusted? Things like regular downtime might be an indication of sloppy maintenance. A missing green lock icon can mean you don’t take security seriously. There are a lot of hints that they look for. 

Search engines like Google want to give searchers the best possible result. Increasingly, if a search engine doubts the claims you make or if you use sketchy ‘experts’ to validate your content, they will not show your content. Instead, they will pick a result that has proven to be a good and trustworthy result. That’s why you need to work on your trustworthiness on all levels, both technical as well as in content.

In addition, your site should be a safe haven for visitors. You need to have your security in order. A hacked site isn’t getting you anywhere! And a hacked site is easier to prevent than it is to fix. Use up-to-date software, have your SSL in order, create strong passwords and use tools such as Cloudflare to protect your site from DDoS attacks. 

4. Your website has a great design and stellar UX

Does your website need to be beautiful? Let’s be honest, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The design of your website needs to help fulfill the goals you set. Your message should come across loud and clear. The design should be on-brand and well-thought-out. But more importantly, your site should be clear and easy to use for everyone. Accessibility is not something you should scrimp on. 

You also need to consider user experience. Which is not only how something looks, but also how it feels. It’s about giving users an enjoyable experience, something they will remember. UX is also not letting users wait long for your pages to load, getting them frustrated because they can’t read the text on your site thanks to your color scheme or because they can’t hit the buttons on your mobile site. Think to yourself: how can I turn any possible frustration on my website into happiness? 

And happy users might just have higher buyer intent, so get those CTAs in order!

5. Your site has awesome, user-centered content

Be user-centered, not company-centered. Good content helps your users accomplish their goals and you want to offer this content at the right moment while keeping the business goals firmly in sight. To do so, you need to know your user inside out, as I mentioned earlier. Understand them, understand their behavior and focus your content on that. The content you offer should be clear and easy to understand by using language your users know well. Try to bring something unique to the table. Do the research and present original reporting.

6. Your site is mobile-friendly (or rather, designed mobile-first)

For the last couple of years, mobile traffic has kept growing and growing. If your site is not mobile-friendly by now, you should really get to it and work on your mobile SEO. But if your site has been mobile-friendly for a while, it is time to start looking at building your next site mobile-first. 

It’s not a new concept, but most sites are still being developed desktop-first. After designing the desktop view, the designer crams it down to mobile size, often losing its authenticity and freshness along the way. Adopting a mobile-first mindset helps you focus on the tasks users should be able to perform on your mobile site. It helps to clean up the clutter and, more often than not, lets you come up with a minimal and fully focused design. Less is more, remember? 

7. Your site can ‘talk’ directly to search engines

For years, search engines tried to read content on pages to determine what that page is about. They need that content to be able to match the search query with the indexed pages that give the best answers to this query. Turns out that truly understanding what something on a page is or means, is harder than it seems, especially for machines. Search engines need a little guidance to discover the true meaning of elements on a page. Enter, structured data in Schema format. 

Schema is kind of like a translator for search engines. It describes elements on a page, so search engines can now say with certainty that a review is a review and a recipe is a recipe. In return, because Google is so certain about the content, marking up these elements can lead to rich results in the search results pages. This includes carousels, nutritional information for recipes, star ratings, FAQ dropdowns, swipeable How-To boxes on mobile and much, much more. Structured data is one of the areas search engines spend a lot of resources on these days, so make sure to get on board.

We noticed this and built a complete and fully extendable Schema framework inside Yoast SEO. This structured data implementation builds a complete graph for your site, so search engines not only know what everything means but also how everything is connected to the bigger picture. In addition, Yoast SEO comes with a few structured data blocks and we’re working on adding more in the future.

So what makes a good website?

There’s a lot that goes into building a good website. It’s not simply buying a domain, getting some random host, installing WordPress and picking a theme that looks cool. When you leave it at that, you’re setting yourself up for failure. You need to plan to get things right. You need a strategy — which is probably the most important element of a good website.

These are some of the most important elements you should focus on while developing or improving your site. Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list, so I’d like to ask you: What is your number one focal point for building a good website?

Read more: 4 tips to quickly improve your site in the current situation »

The post What makes a good website? appeared first on Yoast.

SEO Ideas

Four Google SERP features for ecommerce SEO

30-second summary:

Holiday season shopping is on and your ecommerce store whether a local shop or an international ecommerce brand needs visibility for salesHow do you jump right in front of your potential customers and drive sales in a highly competitive space?SEO pioneer, former Pepperjam founder, and serial entrepreneur, Kris Jones shares a practical ecommerce SEO guide

There is perhaps no type of business that is more primed for SEO than ecommerce companies. Think about it: where a local law firm can put up a billboard or buy ad space in a regional newspaper in addition to doing SEO, ecommerce businesses essentially have one resource available to them, the internet.

That’s where they do 100 percent of their business, and it’s where they’re going to reach the customers they want. So, ecommerce companies should spend a lot of time getting their SEO just right. One crucial way of doing that is to optimize your site to appear in Google’s various SERP features.

There are so many ways you can tell users about your business just from the SERP even before they get onto your website. And the information you present could mean all the difference between capturing your ideal traffic and losing it to competition.

Therefore, to market yourself in the best light to all potential customers searching for your products, you have to optimize your website specifically for the SERP features that drive conversions.

How do you do it? Here are four of the most vital Google SERP features for which you should be optimizing your ecommerce business’ SEO

1. Rich cards

Back in 2016, Google introduced a new mobile SERP feature called rich cards. By using structured data, SEOs could make a business’s results “richer,” that is, more visually appealing, clickable, and therefore more likely to generate an organic click.

If you search for a certain type of product, results marked up with the proper language tell Google to show the product along with an image that can help users know if they want to explore more. Users simply swipe to see more items.

Now, why am I recommending a SERP feature from 2016?

It’s because in the first quarter of 2021, mobile traffic accounted for almost 55 percent of online traffic worldwide, and that number is only going to increase. Basically, mobile search results are even more relevant today than they were in 2016.

With that in mind, how can you optimize your ecommerce products for rich cards?

You need to use the JSON-LD method of marking up your products. You can then test your work with the various free rich results tools on offer from Google.

2. Google Images results

Somewhat related to rich cards is the need for ecommerce businesses to optimize their content for Google Images results. Relevant images will appear at the top of a SERP, before any organic results.

A good product description does indeed go a long way, but don’t forget to think simply, as well: if customers can see clear, high-quality images of your products, that will help your credibility along, and hence drive conversions.

How do optimize for Google Images results? Well, Google doesn’t read images like it reads text, so it’s all going to come down to how you prepare your images on the back end.

First of all, ensure your images are originally yours. You don’t stand much of a chance trying to rank for stock photos.

Next, give your photos descriptive file names that tie into the pages where they will be placed. In the case of ecommerce, since you’ll probably have a series of photos for each product, give the image files titles that reflect the product, with words separated by hyphens.

Here’s an example: unisex-sneakers-blue-brandname-yoursitename

And don’t forget to provide descriptive alt text to each image in case it can’t load and be seen.

Finally, be sure you’re not uploading huge image files that will weigh down a website. Compress them down as small as you can to give your site enough breathing room while still ensuring the images show what you need them to show. Check out this comprehensive guide on image optimization.

3. Rich snippets

Wait a minute, you might say, why are you talking about both rich cards and rich snippets?

With ecommerce products, rich cards will stop you at the images. You can choose to go a step further for appropriate products by optimizing for rich snippets

Rich snippets add in extra details about your products. These get placed inside your search results, under the meta title, and above the meta description.

To get rich snippets on your product results, you’ll use structured data just like you did for rich cards. You can choose which information to enter based on what specifically can grab your potential customer’s attention and satisfy their search query.

For ecommerce companies, it makes the most sense to optimize your rich-snippet products for prices, in-stock status, sales, different brands, customer reviews, and star ratings.

Think about each of these features. Doesn’t it make sense that a customer searching for this type of product would want to see this information from your online store?

Rich snippets are one great way of reaching users with extra information without the need for the users actually to click on your result. You’re taking the most concentrated bits of data about your product offerings and jumping right out onto the SERPs at the user.

Sure, you can choose not to do this for your products. But if your competitors are, who do you think stands the better chance of getting a click and making a sale?

Rich snippets are just good ecommerce SEO, plain and simple.

4. Sitelinks

Finally, you should attempt to optimize your site for SERP sitelinks.

I say “attempt” to optimize because this isn’t a SERP feature you can just click on and off, like alt text or structured data.

So we’re all on the same page here, sitelinks are the clickable buttons below your result’s metadata on a SERP. They typically offer opportunities for users to navigate directly to sections of your website.

In the case of ecommerce, the most logical sitelinks you would want to get listed in your result would be for your most popular product categories.

But again, I’m saying “would want” because sitelinks are chosen by Google’s algorithm. That doesn’t mean you can’t influence which sitelinks Google places there. Which pages Google links in your results is based primarily on your site’s navigation.

As SEOs, we always recommend having a direct and easy-to-navigate website structure. It helps the user experience, supports navigation, and prompts Google to crawl your pages.

Other things that help Google crawl your site include keyword-optimized content, smart internal linking, and simple, intuitive menus.

It is through these elements that you stand your best chance of defining what your SERP sitelinks will be. When you tell Google which pages are most important to you and your customers, the search engine will respond in kind by generating helpful sitelinks.

This is yet another example of having your SEO jump right to the SERP at users without them having to do anything.

And when you’re in the competitive ecommerce space, that really matters.

Go forth and optimize

Businesses always have it tough when going up against the competition. Whether you’re a local shop or an international ecommerce brand, there’s always someone else trying to beat you at your own game.

While SEO can never make anyone do anything, we put ourselves on the best possible footing when we take the above steps to optimize our websites for the SERP features.

If you’re not doing these things already, you’ll want to get started as soon as you can! And then sit back and watch what happens.

Kris Jones is the founder and former CEO of digital marketing and affiliate network Pepperjam, which he sold to eBay Enterprises in 2009. Most recently Kris founded SEO services and software company and has previously invested in numerous successful technology companies. Kris is an experienced public speaker and is the author of one of the best-selling SEO books of all time called, ‘Search-Engine Optimization – Your Visual Blueprint to Effective Internet Marketing’, which has sold nearly 100,000 copies.

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The post Four Google SERP features for ecommerce SEO appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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Best practices for SEO-friendly URLs

It’s a topic that remains up for discussion: SEO-friendly URLs. Should you include the category? Do you want to keep the URL as short as possible or is there room for extras? Is it smart to stuff your URL with keywords? First of all, it’s good to know that the best practices for SEO-friendly URLs can differ per website type. There are, however, a few ground rules that you can keep in mind when setting up your URLs. In this post, we’ll explain our take on URLs and elaborate on why we think that this is the best option for your links.

URL is an acronym for Uniform Resource Locator, but you won’t have to remember that. It’s simply the address of a unique resource on the web that you can also use to navigate to that resource right away. A simple example is the URL that takes you to Google’s search page. URLs are not exactly the same as slugs. The slug is actually the part of a URL that identifies a particular page on a website. An example is the URL where the slug is ‘keyword-research’.

few ground rules for SEO-friendly URLs

Although best practices can depend on the kind of website you have, there are a few ground rules when it comes to creating SEO-friendly URLs:

Make sure that your URLs are focused. They shouldn’t contain function words like ‘a’, ‘of’, ‘the’ etc. In 99% of the cases, these words add nothing of value to your URL. If possible, strip your URLs of verbs as well. Words like ‘are’ or ‘have’ are not needed in your URL to make clear what the page is about.Although you want to keep your URL focused, try to keep it readable enough to give people an idea of what they can expect when they click on your link.Use hyphens to separate words in your slug. Don’t use spaces, underscores or other characters of your choice to do this.There isn’t really an ideal length for your URL, but we do recommend to keep your URLs as short as possible. It’s not that Google doesn’t like lengthy URLs, but shorter URLs are more focused and easier to recall. In addition, they will be less likely to be cut off when shown in Google. It’s also good to keep in mind that if you use breadcrumbs on your site, as we do, these could appear in Google’s results instead of the full URL:

Now that you’re aware of the ground rules, let’s look into the best practices per type of website. Because there are different factors to consider, depending on your website. We’ll discuss how to create SEO-friendly URLs for:

Company websitesOnline shopsBlogs or news sites

SEO-friendly URLs for company websites

If you have a static website that provides people with information on your company and services (without an online shop or blog page on it), we would recommend going with the shortest URL possible. For all of your pages. This makes it easy for people to revisit these pages and keeps your URLs clean and clear. When you have a company website, it’s best to keep it simple and not create unnecessary long URLs.

SEO-friendly URLs for online shops

If your website is or has an online shop, you have two options when it comes to the URLs of your product pages:

There are actually a few content management systems (like Magento) that automatically create both URLs when you create a product page. If that’s the case on your website, you can use rel=canonical to point Google to the one you want to appear in their search results.

However, the question still remains what URL structure you should use. When it comes to an online shop, you can use your URLs to tell visitors more about your product range. For example, if your shop contains categories that make your visitor’s life easier, by all means, include these categories in your URL as well. That way your URL, breadcrumbs, and menu will tell the visitor where they are on your website and what else they can expect to find:

As you can see from the example above, the categories included in the URL give an idea of the other products that someone can find on that particular website. Of course, you need to decide for yourself whether you feel that your categories add that value to the URL. If so, it’s also better for SEO to include the category, as category and product are very much related and this will help Google understand your pages even more.

SEO-friendly URLs for blogs or news sites

When your website is a blog or news website, there are a number of ways to construct your URLs. Let’s go over them one by one:
If your site as a whole has one central and strong theme, you could consider focusing on the post title alone to create an SEO-friendly URL. The coherence of your content will indicate the main topic of your website to Google, so there will be no need to add that to the URL.
When your website is a news website on which you’re writing about different topics, adding the topic (for instance as a category name) is a good idea. This will help site visitors and Google understand what the page is about. The logic behind that is similar to the logic behind product page URLs (as explained above). The category name gives people more context and an idea of other news that they can expect on your website.
If your website features daily news and the news is related to a date, you can choose to include that date in the URL as well. If someone is looking for the latest news on Apple’s products, the date in the URL will show someone if the page is about this year’s iPhone or not. However, it is good to note that the URL is often not shown in the search results and that Google can sometimes show a original publish date (regardless of when you’ve done the last update). So, although a date in your URL will likely not impact your SEO, you should consider whether it serves your site visitors.

To conclude

Although there are a few ground rules, there is not one correct way to create the best SEO-friendly URL. It depends on your website and content. Especially with a blog or news site, there are multiple options to consider. The main takeaway is to keep your URLs focused and to keep your audience in mind. Besides that, make sure to include all the information that’s important to make clear what the page is about.

If you’d like to learn more about best practices in SEO, our all-around SEO training course can help you with that. In this course, you’ll get practical tips on how to rank higher and get more visitors to your website!

Read more: What is a slug and how to optimize it? »

The post Best practices for SEO-friendly URLs appeared first on Yoast.

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Does readability rank? On ease of reading and SEO

Is it worth your while making your text easy to read? Will it lead to higher rankings and more traffic? In simpler terms: Does readability rank? At Yoast, we’re convinced that writing in plain and understandable language can and will get you more visitors. We’ve even developed a tool to help people write readable text. In this post, we’ll explain why search engines love easy-to-understand copy and we’ll give tips on how to create it.

Tip: Join our free readability workshop on September 23!

You’ll leave the workshop with a new or improved blog. Together with our CEO Marieke, you’ll do a 30 min session, working on making your content readable. Plus get all your questions ready for the Q&A!
Save your spot now

Well-written copy improves user experience

At the risk of stating the obvious: unintelligible copy makes for a bad user experience. Nobody likes to read something that’s difficult to follow, boring or stuffed with keywords. All your online copy should be aimed and focused on your audience. It should be providing them with the information they need, a solution to their problem, or an answer to their question.

To get your pages high in Google, your instinct may be to write a text that the search engines will easily understand. Which isn’t necessarily wrong. But, first and foremost, you should create pages that provide great copy (and a great experience) for your visitors. This fits in nicely with our vision of holistic SEO. If you write a text that’s hard to understand, people won’t find what they need. What’s more, you’ll end up with unsatisfied visitors that bounce back to Google right when they hit your site. Google analyzes user signals like that to determine how visitors experience your site.

Search engines mimic humans

There used to be a time when stuffing keywords in your copy would work. If you’d just mention your keywords enough times in your text, Google would rank it high for those keywords. Those times are long gone. Nowadays, you need to be more mindful when it comes to the keyword density of your text.

Google has gotten much better at recognizing quality content. For instance, Google now recognizes synonyms. It also understands which words, entities, and content are related to each other. In addition to that, search engines are becoming better at predicting what people want to read. From the keywords in someone’s search query, they can make an estimated guess of their search intent.

Overall, Google’s algorithm is trying to mimic a human. It tries to read text like a human being would. As Google becomes more capable of understanding and scanning texts in a human-like way, readability will become more important for your rankings.

Voice search & accessibility

A lot of people use voice search, so Google and other search engines are also very much focused on voice. Imagine a long paragraph consisting of meandering sentences and containing lots of difficult words. Now imagine that paragraph read out loud. The voice result would become impossible to understand. Google wouldn’t want to use an answer like that. Neither in voice search or in normal results. That’s another reason why readability will help your rankings. Google prefers texts that are easy to follow, also when they’re read out loud using voice search.

But readability is also important when it comes to accessibility. You need to keep in mind that not everyone who visits your page will experience it in the same way. Some people with a visual impairment might use a screen reader to go through your content. You don’t want them to leave your page because your text is just way too long. But that’s not all. Much like Google itself, they rely on the proper use of headings to understand what your text is about. Remember that accessibility matters, and not just for SEO.

What makes a text easy to read?

How do people read online text? Of course, we all want to write that text that site visitors will gladly read from beginning to end. Unfortunately, that’s often not the case. Most of the time, people scan through texts, read subheadings and the first sentences of the paragraphs they deem relevant. They look for transition words in order to quickly abstract what the main conclusion of an article will be.

All the things people do while reading your text are things Google will do. That means that the structure of your text, the way you write your paragraphs, becomes increasingly important. Core sentences – the first sentence of every paragraph – will need to contain the most important message of that paragraph. And having a clear and logical structure in your text will be invaluable.

Tips to keep your text readable

Let’s talk about how we can create easy reads. Before you start writing your text, think about the structure. What do you want to tell your audience and in what order? Is that a logical order of topics? Will your audience be able to follow your arguments, your examples and main message? Maybe you should try writing content with the inverted pyramid style?

Try to use short sentences where you can, as lengthy sentences are much harder to process. Avoid or limit the number of difficult words in a text. Try not to use complicated sentences and try to avoid the use of passive voice. Also, make sure to write in an appealing style. That can be really hard; not everyone has a talent for creative writing. It helps to mix it up a bit! Try to alternate long sentences with shorter ones. Use synonyms. Avoid starting sentences with the same word. And check out our 5 tips to write a readable blog post.

We know writing readable copy is hard. Writing an unreadable text is a mistake that we see pretty often. That’s why we developed a readability analysis in Yoast SEO. It checks, for instance, if your sentences aren’t too long, if you don’t use passive voice too often and if the length of your paragraphs is okay. The analysis gives you tips about what you can improve on and you can even see which sentences need a second look. We’re continuously tweaking it, adding new checks and translating it into as many different languages as possible. We’re up to 18 languages right now! The analysis is available in our free and Premium Yoast SEO plugin.

One last tip: read it out loud!

Google’s Gary Illyes once tweeted that you should read your text out loud. If it doesn’t read nicely or sounds strange, it probably won’t rank either.

Let’s be clear: your rankings won’t immediately soar when you improve the readability of your texts. But, writing a readable blog post is an essential part of every SEO strategy. If you want your readers to read your entire blog post or page, your copy should be easy to read. Posts that are readable will definitely result in more returning visitors and a higher conversion rate. So in the long run: readability ranks.

Keep on reading: SEO copywriting: the complete guide »

The post Does readability rank? On ease of reading and SEO appeared first on Yoast.

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Content maintenance strategy: 6 tips for a cleaner website

If you’ve been working on your website for a couple of years, chances are that your website has become a giant collection of posts and pages. When writing a post you might find out you’ve already written a similar article (maybe even twice) or you might get a feeling that you’ve written something related that you can’t find anymore. This can become even more complex when you’re not the only one writing for this website. Cleaning up your older content can be overwhelming, that’s why regular content maintenance is key. In this post, we’ll give you some tips to create a good content maintenance strategy!

1. Reserve time for content maintenance

It might be tempting, especially if you love writing, to keep on producing new content and never look back. But if you do this you might be shooting yourself in the foot. Your articles that are very similar to each other can start competing with each other in the search results. Having too much content that isn’t structured can also confuse site visitors, they might not know where to go on your website. And the more content you get, the more overwhelming cleaning up your content becomes. So, don’t wait too long with the implementation of a proper content maintenance strategy.

It’s a good idea to plan regular content audits and reserve some time to review older content. How often you should do that, depends on a few factors. Like the amount of content you already have, how often you publish new articles and how many people you have in your editorial team.

At Yoast, we plan team sessions with our blog team, every month or two, to improve existing content in a structured way. We create lists or do an audit (more on that later) and start cleaning up. But in addition to these team sessions, we also improve and update blog content in our usual publication flow. When we encounter articles that need updates we add them to our backlog, assign them to a team member and update or even republish it on our blog.

2. What does the data say?

When you sit down to actually go through your content and tidy up, it’s sensible to base your decisions on data. Apart from looking at the content on the page itself, you should answer the following questions:

Does the page get any traffic? Does it have a page value (meaning that the visitor completed one of your goals during the same session on your site)? How high is the bounce rate? How long do people stay on this page?

This kind of data can all be found in Google Analytics. If you go to Behaviour –> Site content –> All pages in the left-hand menu, you’ll get a nice overview of the traffic on your pages. You can even export this to a spreadsheet to keep track of what you did or decided to do with a page.

If you want to know how your articles perform in the search results, Google Search Console is a great help. Especially the performance tab tells you a lot about how your pages perform in Google. It tells you the average position you hold for a keyword, but also how many impressions and clicks your pages get. Check out our beginner’s guide to Google Search Console.

There are a number of tools that make this process easier by providing a list of your content and how it performs. This makes it easier to compare how certain (related) articles rank and get their traffic. One tool we like to use at Yoast is the content audit template by ahrefs. This gives you insights into which content is still of value to your site and which low-quality content is dragging you down. It will give you advice (leave as is/manually review/redirect or update/delete) per URL. Of course, we wouldn’t recommend blindly following such automated advice, but it gives you a lot of insight and is a great starting point to take a critical look at your content.

3. Always keep an eye on your most important content

While it’s not harmful if some older posts escape your attention while working on new content, there are posts and pages that you always need to keep an eye on. You’re probably already monitoring pages that convert; whether that’s in terms of sales, newsletter subscriptions, or a contact or reservation page. But you might also have pages that do (or could do) really well in the search engines. For instance, some evergreen, complete and informative posts or pages about topics you’re really an expert on. This is the content you want to keep fresh and relevant, and regularly link to. These are the posts and pages that should end up high in the search results.

In Yoast SEO Premium you can mark these types of guides as cornerstone content. This will trigger some specific actions in Yoast SEO. For instance, if you haven’t updated a cornerstone post in six months it gets added to the stale cornerstone content filter. You’ll find that filter in your post overview. It helps you stay on top of your SEO game by telling you whether any important content needs an update. Ideally, your score should be 0 there. If you do find some articles in this filter, it’s time to review those. Make sure all the information is still correct, add new insights and perhaps check competitors’ posts on the same topic to see if you’re not missing anything.

The stale cornerstone content filter in Yoast SEO for WordPress

4. Improve your internal linking

A content maintenance activity that is often highly underrated is working on your internal linking. Why invest time in internal linking? Well, first and foremost because the content you link to is of interest to your readers and helps you keep them on your site. But these links help search engines, such as Google, crawl your content and determine its importance. An article that gets a lot of links (internally or externally) is deemed important by Google. It also helps Google understand what content is related to each other. Therefore, internal linking is an important part of a cornerstone content strategy. All your pages, but especially the evergreen guides we discussed above need attention, regular updates, and lots of links!

So it’s good to link to your other posts while writing a new one. The internal linking suggestions tool in Yoast SEO Premium makes this super easy for you. But while it’s quite common to link to existing content from our new articles, don’t forget that those new articles also need links pointing to them. At Yoast, we do a weekly check whether our new posts – especially if we want them to rank! – have enough links pointing to them.

Implementing a cornerstone strategy

But what about the cornerstone content we discussed above? How do you make sure your most valuable content gets enough links? If you want to focus on these articles, Yoast SEO Premium has an awesome tool for you in store: the Cornerstone workout. In a few steps, it lets you select your most important articles and mark them as cornerstones. Then, it shows you how many internal links there are pointing to this post. Do you feel this isn’t in line with the number of links it should have? We’ll give you suggestions on which related posts to link from. And in just a few clicks, you can add the link from the right spot in the related post:

The cornerstone workout in Yoast SEO Premium

As you probably (hopefully!) don’t change your cornerstone strategy every month, it’s not necessary to do this workout every month. If you have a vast amount of content that performs quite well, checking this, let’s say every 3 or 6 months, you should be fine. However, if you’re starting out, publishing a lot of new content, or making big changes to your site, you should probably do this workout more often. As your site grows your focal point might change and this workout will help you make sure you stay focused on the content you really want to rank.

5. Clean up the attic once in a while

We mostly discussed your best and most important content until now. But on the other side of the spectrum, we have your older (and more lonely) content that you haven’t touched in a while. Announcements of events that took place years ago, new product launches from when you just started, and blog posts that simply aren’t relevant anymore. These posts keep filling up your attic and at one point you should clean your attic up thoroughly. You don’t want people or Google to find low-quality pages or pages showing outdated or irrelevant information and get lost up there.

There are some ways to go about this. You can, of course, go to your blog post archive and clean up while going through your oldest post. Never just delete something though! Take a closer look at the content and always check whether a post still gets traffic in Google Analytics. In doubt whether you should keep it? Read our blog on updating or deleting old content to help you with that choice. And, if you think a post is irrelevant and you want to delete it, you should either redirect it to a good equivalent URL or have it show a 410 page, indicating that it’s deleted on purpose. You can read all about properly deleting a post here.

Cleaning up orphaned content

Yoast SEO Premium also has an SEO workout to help you maintain old and forgotten content: the Orphaned content workout. It lists all of your unlinked content for you. Because you never or hardly linked to these pages, we can assume they’re pages you’ve once created but never looked back at. Or, they don’t fit into your current content strategy anymore. That’s why this is a good place to start cleaning up! With the workout, you can go through the post and pages one by one and consider: is this post not relevant anymore? Then delete and redirect the URL to a better destination in a few clicks! Is it still relevant but outdated? Then update it and start adding links to it from related posts. Did you just forget to link to this post? Then start adding some links! The workout takes you by the hand through all these steps so it’s easy to keep track of your progress.

content maintenance orphaned content workout yoast seo
The orphaned content workout in Yoast SEO Premium

How often should you do this workout? It’s hard to make a general statement about this because it very much depends on the amount of old content you have, how good your internal linking is, and how much new content you’re creating. If you have a bigger site, it will probably be quite a time investment when you do it the first time. But if you maintain it and do this workout regularly, on a monthly basis, for instance, you will get it done faster every time!

6. Check your content per topic/tag

When you have a lot of similar articles, they can start competing with each other in the search engines. We call that content or keyword cannibalization. That’s why it’s good to look at all the articles you have on a certain topic from time to time. Do they differ enough? Are they right below each other in Google’s search results on page 2? Then you might have to merge two articles into one to make that one perform better. Depending on the size of your site you can look at this on a category or tag level or even on smaller subtopics.

In the post on how to find and fix keyword cannibalization, we describe in detail how to go about this content maintenance process. In short, you’ll have to create an overview of the posts on that topic. Then look at how all of these articles perform with help of Google Search Console and Google Analytics. This will help you decide what to keep, merge or delete!

Content maintenance: you need time and tools!

As you might have already noticed, content maintenance can be quite a task. But if you do it regularly and use the right tools it gets easier over time. And the easier it gets the more fun! Who doesn’t want a tidied-up website? It will make you, your site visitors and Google very happy. So, don’t wait too long with a good content maintenance strategy and use the right tools to make your life easier!

Unlock our SEO workouts with Yoast SEO Premium

Get Yoast SEO Premium and enjoy access to all our best SEO tools, training and SEO workouts!

Get Yoast SEO Premium Only 89 GBP/ per year (ex VAT) for 1 siteRead more: What is site structure and why is it important? »

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SEO Ideas

What is a keyword?

When looking for information about keywords in relation to SEO, you get bombarded with information about keyword research. And of course, this is crucial if you’d like your page to rank. But it’s also important to understand what the basic principle of a keyword is. And that’s the thing I’ll explain here. I’ll also share some suggestions about how and where to add keywords for SEO.

In this post:

What are keywords?Why are keywords important?How to use keywords

What are keywords?

A keyword, or a focus keyword as some call it, is a word that describes the content on your page or post best. It’s the search term that you want to rank for with a certain page. So when people search for that keyword or phrase in Google or other search engines, they should find that page on your website.

Let’s say you’ve got a website about pianos: you sell all sorts and types of pianos. You blog about what to look at when buying a piano and you share reviews about the pianos you offer on your online shop. You sell digital pianos so you’ve created a product category page about digital pianos. Ask yourself this:

What kind of search term do you want to be found for?Which words do you think people will use in search engines to find you?What would the search query look like?

Probably [digital piano], right? Because this keyword reflects what’s on the page best. If you’d have to explain the bottom line of your content, how would that look? What words would you use? That’s your keyword or keyphrase – if it consists of multiple words.

We use the word ‘keyword’ all the time; this does not mean it consists of only one word. A lot of times it consists of multiple words. So when talking about keywords, a lot of times we mean a phrase instead of just one word.

Read more: Keyword research for your online shop »

Why are keywords important?

One of the things Google looks at when ranking a page is the content on that page. It looks at the words on the page. Now picture this, if every word on, for instance, a blog post about a digital piano is used 2 times, then all words are of equal importance. Google won’t have a clue which of those words are important and which aren’t. The words you’re using are clues for Google; it tells Google and other search engines what the page or post is about. So if you want to make Google understand what your page is about, you need to use it fairly often.

But Google isn’t the only reason why keyphrases are important. Actually, it’s less important, because you should always focus on the user: on your visitors and potential clients. With SEO you want people to land on your website when using a certain search term or keyphrase. You need to get into the heads of your audience and use the words they use when they are searching.

If you use the wrong keyphrase, you’ll never get the visitors you want or need, because your text doesn’t match what your potential audience is searching for. But if you do use the words people are searching for, your business can thrive. So if you see it like that, your keywords should reflect what your audience is searching for. With the wrong keyphrase, you’ll end up with the wrong audience, or none at all. That’s why having the right keywords is really important.

How to use keywords

There used to be a time where you could add a lot of keywords to your pages and posts, do some old-fashioned keyword stuffing, and you’d rank in search engines. But a text with a lot of the same words in it is not a pleasant read. And because users find this kind of copy terrible to read, Google finds it terrible too. That’s why ranking in Google by doing keyphrase stuffing, fortunately, became hard to do. Nowadays, you’ll need to add your keyphrase in a natural way by writing focused content.

Use them in moderation

Getting the right amount of keywords onto your page is a balancing act. If you don’t use your keyword enough, you will find it hard to rank for that phrase. But if you use your keyphrase too much, your page will become spammy and unreadable, and that will also make it hard to rank.

You need to find that sweet spot where you’re using your keyword enough, but not excessively. Make sure you don’t stuff it into almost every sentence. In general, if your keyphrase makes up 1 or 2% of all words of your copy, then you’re not overdoing it.

Use them naturally

Aside from trying to add enough-but-not-too-many keywords, you need to make sure you include them in a natural way. Your keywords should be part of logical, coherent sentences that tell users something about that topic. Don’t force keyphrases into text (or headings) where they don’t make sense, or where they’re not adding any value for your readers.

And, that’s not all. Make sure your keywords are all well-distributed throughout your text. Don’t put all your keywords in the first paragraph thinking you’re done with that part of the optimization. Naturally spread them throughout your page or post.

Where to add your keyword

As well as distributing your keyphrase throughout your text, there are some other places that you should also add your keyword. Remember, always add keywords in moderation and put readability first!

Page title and SEO title
You should always add your keyword in your page title. Ideally you want to add it at the start of your title, especially if your title is long. The same goes for your SEO title, or meta title.
You should add your keyword to some of your subheadings (H2 and H3), but not all. It’s just the same as with the keyphrases in your main text. Use your keyword in a heading or a couple of subheadings, depending on the length of your page or post.
The introduction is the first paragraph of normal text on the page. Your introduction should get straight to the point, so Google and your readers know what you’ll be talking about. This is a great opportunity to include your keyphrase!
Image alt text
Hopefully, your page or post includes an image related to the topic you’re writing about. Add some alt text to your images and see if you can find a natural way to include your keyword.
Meta description
Your meta description is part of the text Google displays in its search results. It should contain a short description of what users can find on your page. It’s another great place to add your keyphrase, too!
URL slug
The slug is the second part of a URL (web address) that identifies a specific page. For instance, the URL for this post is The slug is the ‘what-is-a-keyword‘ part. You should try to create clear, descriptive slugs for each page you make, and if possible you should include your keyphrase in them too.

The Yoast SEO plugin checks all this for you

Want to get the right amount of keywords in all the right places? The Yoast SEO plugin makes it much easier! Simply add your focus keyphrase and the plugin will automatically check the points listed above — including whether you’re using it too much, too little, and whether it’s distributed well throughout your text.

These super helpful features are available in both the free and Premium versions. However if you upgrade to Premium you’ll be able to add more related keyphrases in addition to your focus keyphrase, too!

Up next: doing keyword research

Now you have a common understanding of what a keyword or keyphrase is. This knowledge will really help you with your keyword research, which of course is the next and vital step!

Keep reading: Keyword research: the ultimate guide »

The post What is a keyword? appeared first on Yoast.

SEO Services

How to improve the accessibility of your website

Accessibility matters. And making sure that your website is accessible for everyone shouldn’t be an afterthought. It plays a big part in the usability of your website and that’s why Google is also focusing more on how accessible your content is. Fortunately, awareness is growing and platforms such as WordPress offer lots of possibilities to make your website more accessible. We’re well on our way, but there’s still lots of work to be done. In this blog post, we’ll tell you why you should focus on accessibility and which tools can help you!

What is accessibility?

Accessibility is about how well your software or website can be used by everyone, including people with disabilities. Wikipedia puts it like this:

Accessibility refers to the design of products, devices, services, or environments so as to be usable by people with disabilities. The concept of accessible design and practice of accessible development ensures both “direct access” (i.e. unassisted) and “indirect access” meaning compatibility with a person’s assistive technology (for example, computer screen readers).

It’s the ability for someone to access and benefit from a system or other entity, such as your website. To ensure this, accessibility focuses on enabling this access for people with disabilities.

In their webmaster guidelines, Google mentions the importance of making your content accessible. And although it’s not mentioned in so many words, they also have the following statement on their website: “Everyone should be able to access and enjoy the web. We’re committed to making that a reality.” Meaning that Google also sees that accessibility matters.

ccessibility matters

Even though the internet isn’t that old, most of us can’t imagine what life without it would look like. The web connects billions of people worldwide, regardless of where or who they are. The great thing about the internet is that it provides loads of information on pretty much any topic you can think of.

However, our worldwide population is made out of lots of different people. And every one of those people should have access to all the information that is freely available online. That’s why accessibility matters. Take, for example, everyone with a vision impairment. Globally, at least 2.2 billion people have a near or distance vision impairment. In addition, color blindness affects approximately 1 in 12 men (8%) and 1 in 200 women (0.5%). That’s quite a lot of people you’re missing out on when you’re not making your website accessible for them.

But there’s more!

Visual impairment is one of the things you need to consider, but definitely not the only one. Think of dyslexia and other reading difficulties or dexterity difficulties. Users with severe dexterity difficulties are unlikely to use a mouse and often rely on the keyboard instead. Have you ever tried to use your website, or our plugin for that matter, without using a mouse? It’s a tough job.

To give another example, a few years ago, we had a customer with hearing difficulties that wanted to take our all-around SEO training. He was faced with over two hours of videos without subtitles. It’s quite easy to add these and so we did.

We know it sounds like there’s a lot that you need to work on, that you might not have thought about before. But luckily there are lots of great tools that can help you figure out what you can still improve on. And if you have a website on WordPress, you’ll be glad to know that there’s actually an accessibility team that dedicates their time to making WordPress more accessible with every release. But that’s not the only platform that sees the importance, for example, Drupal is also working on its accessibility.

ccessibility tools

Do you want to make your website more accessible? That’s great! There are a few things you can do right away. The obvious things that are easily changed are your use of headings, contrast and descriptive links.

Use of headings

Headings help both search engines and users understand your text. It makes it easier for them to find out what a post or page is about. As Web Accessibility initiative W3C puts it: headings tell you more about the organization of content on a page, and web browsers or assistive technologies can use them to provide in-page navigation.

Headings help every one of your visitors figure out what your text is about. So make sure that they’re descriptive and nested the right way. Don’t just use them as a design element (“it’s the only way I know how to enlarge my text”) or to impact SEO (“I use all H1 headings, that makes it all very important to Google”). Both might seem like an easy solution, but they are bad practices as your headings should have a clear structure.

A tool that you can use to test the heading structure on your site is HeadingsMap. This extension for Chrome and Firefox allows you to view the heading structure of a page. It’s good to know that you should only use one H1 heading on your page, which should be the title of your page or post. After that, you can use H2 and H3 subheadings (or even H4 headings and beyond) to define sections in your text. Read more in our article on how to use headings on your website.

Color contrast

Color contrast is the difference in light (technically, luminance) between anything in the foreground, like text, and its background. If you pick a black background for your menu and use text that is very dark, this text will become very hard to read. And choosing two colors that look very contrasting to you, does not mean that this contrast is good enough for everyone. That’s why there are a few tools out there that you can use to audit the contrast on your page. For example, that checks contrast levels and gives information on the accessibility levels:

Example of two colors that get a bad score on contrast and readability

It also gives you a contrast ratio score based upon the W3C contrast guidelines, which consider 4.5:1 to be OK. As you can see in this example, the colors I’ve picked are nowhere near this minimum score.

The contrast checker is pretty straightforward. If you want to play around with contrast to find how this affects visits by for instance people that are colorblind, you might want to check the Color Contrast Analyser that comes with a color blindness simulator. Allowing you to preview designs as they might be seen by users with colorblindness.

If you’re a Mac user, Sim Daltonism is also a great tool. Like the Color Contrast Analyzer, it allows you to hover a website and test a number of colorblindness variations:

Accessibility tool Sim Daltonism

Descriptive links, alt text etc.

The last accessibility tool we’d like to highlight is one that tests how well your content holds up when a screen reader is being used. For a lot of people with visual impairment, this assistive technology helps them make sense of a page. A screen reader converts text, images, links and other elements into speech or braille. On a Mac, you can use VoiceOver (which is already on your computer) to test this. On a Windows computer, you can download NVDA for free.

Now, why would you want to ‘listen’ to how your content is being presented through a screen reader? Because it helps you experience your content from the perspective of someone who’s not able to see it. This helps you identify problems with reading order, table markup, images and other form elements and links on your page. Images without any alt text will not be described to this site visitor. And non-descriptive links with a text like ‘read more’ or ‘click here’ give no information whatsoever on where this link is taking you. These may seem like small things, but for someone who is experiencing these issues, it’s enough reason to leave your page straight away.

One more thing

The people at WAVE Web Accessibility created a tool to quickly identify a lot more rights and wrongs on your page. This is done completely automatically and will need a human eye to evaluate what improvements are realistic and which are not. We wouldn’t recommend using this as a replacement for the accessibility tools mentioned above, but it is definitely worth looking into!

All of the tools mentioned above and more can be found in the WordPress Accessibility Handbook.

It’s a continous process

All of this may feel a tad overwhelming, but you don’t have to fix everything today. Being aware of the importance is the first step. Now you can determine how accessible your pages are and what you still need to work on. Just don’t consider accessibility as an ‘extra’. If your website is not accessible, it will feel very unwelcoming for a considerable part of your audience. Also, following accessibility guidelines will improve your website for all of your visitors.

We at Yoast also work hard on making our website and Yoast SEO plugin more accessible. It’s an ongoing process that requires you to reevaluate every piece of software or content you’re putting out there. The important thing is to keep accessibility in mind and work on improving it where you can. If you want to learn more about accessibility and other essential SEO skills, make sure to check out our all-around SEO training.

The post How to improve the accessibility of your website appeared first on Yoast.

SEO Services

How to craft great page titles for SEO

Writing great page titles is an essential skill for anyone doing SEO. Why? Because the title tag can be the first thing a user sees in the search results and it’s also one of the most important factors that Google uses to determine the topic of a page. This makes page titles essential to SEO and this article covers both why you need great page titles and how to create them.

Table of contents

What is a page title? What’s the (SEO) purpose of a page title?What does the SEO title check in Yoast SEO do?How to write a title with an optimal width for SEOWhat does the keyphrase in title assessment in Yoast SEO do?How to use your keyphrase in the SEO titleShould you add your brand to the SEO title? Optimizing page titles after publicationTitles for social mediaConclusion: Page titles – craft them well!

Yoast SEO also checks if you’ve used your keyphrase in the SEO title. Read about how that check works, and how to use your keyphrase in the title.

What is a page title? 

Let’s start with the basics. If you look at the source of a page (right-click on the page, then choose View Page Source), you find a title in the head section. It looks like this:

This is an example page title –

This is the HTML title tag, which we also call the page title or SEO title. When you look something up in a search engine, you get a list of results that appear as snippets. Often, the SEO title is part of the snippet together with at least a URL and a meta description. Of course, some rich results also display ratings and other additional information.

An example of a snippet with an URL, meta description and title in the largest font

In most cases, the first thing people see, even before they get on your site, is the SEO title. Just to be clear, you should not confuse the SEO title with the main heading of the page. The main heading is what users see after they click on the SEO title and get on the page itself.

In tabbed browsers, you will usually also see the SEO title in the page tab, as shown in the image below.

A page title in a browser tab

But, Google won’t always use your page title

In August 2021, Google announced an update on how they generate web page titles. This means that sometimes they will show a different title in their search results than the one you set. Before we get into that, it’s good to note that in most cases (more than 80% of the time) the HTML title tag that your page outputs is still the most likely used.

Although we’re talking about an update here, Google deciding on how to display your page title in the search results is nothing new. They’ve been doing this for a while now. What is new is that they now want to use one title only, and won’t change it up anymore for different search queries. And that they will use different elements on your page to decide on what this title displayed in the search results will be. Elements such as your title tag, headings, prominent text on the page, and even how you link internally to this page.

So what does this mean for you? Right now these changes don’t require you to do anything different. The page title you set is still very likely to be used, and more importantly, your page title helps you rank for a keyword. These changes don’t impact your page rankings. The title you give is what Google will look at when deciding how your page ranks. Just like before.

But, with all these changes, it doesn’t hurt to keep an eye on how Google displays the titles of your most important pages! So we recommend you monitor the situation with your site for the time being. Keep an eye on Google Search Console, spot-check your search results, and look out for changes in the click-through and bounce rates for your key pages. If you find anything problematic (or just really, really wrong) you can let Google know in this feedback thread.

What’s the (SEO) purpose of a page title?

The purpose of your SEO title is to make people click on it, visit your website and read your post or buy your product. If your title is not good enough, people will ignore it and move on to other results. Essentially, there are two goals that you want to achieve with a title:

It must help you rank for a keyword;it must make the user want to click through to your page.

Google uses various signals when deciding how relevant you are for a specific keyword. Even if you’re initially ranking well, but nobody is clicking on your result, your rankings might deteriorate over time. The opposite is also true. At first, you may be positioned lower in the search results. But, if your title gets people to click on it, Google will notice. Consequently, over time, your rankings may improve.

Also, as mentioned before, Google uses what has been specified as your page title as ranking input. So it’s not just about those clicks, you also need to make sure that your page title reflects the topic being discussed on your page and the keyword that you’re focusing on. The page title you use has a direct influence on your ranking.

Now that you know about the importance of SEO titles, you’ll be pleased to know that Yoast SEO can help you craft them. In its SEO analysis, the plugin checks two crucial aspects of the SEO title: the width of your title and whether you use your keyword. 

What does the SEO title check in Yoast SEO do?

You find this assessment in the SEO tab of the Yoast SEO sidebar or meta box. If you haven’t written a title yet, the assessment will remind you to do so. In addition, Yoast SEO checks the width of your title. When it is too long, you will get a warning. We used to give you a warning if your title was too short as well, but we’ve changed that since our Yoast 17.1 release. A title with an optimal width gets you a green bullet in the analysis.

You can find the SEO title width check in the Yoast SEO sidebar or the meta box

How to write a title with an optimal width for SEO

If your title doesn’t have the right width, parts of it may be cut off in Google’s search results. How the result looks may vary, depending on the device you’re using. That’s why you can also check how your SEO title will look in the mobile and desktop search results in the Google preview in Yoast SEO. The tool uses the mobile version as a default, but you can also switch to view it in the desktop version.

Here’s a desktop result:

The Google preview in Yoast SEO lets you switch between the mobile and desktop results

And here’s the mobile result for the same URL:

example of mobile google preview
A mobile preview for this particular page

Width vs. length

Have you noticed that we talk about width rather than length? Why is that? Rather than using a character count, Google has a fixed width for the titles counted in pixels. While your title tags can be long and Google doesn’t have a set limit on the number of characters you can use, there is a limit on what’s visible in the search results. If your title is too wide, Google will cut it off visually. That might not be what you want. Also, you should avoid wasting valuable space by making the title too short. Not only that, the title often informs other title-like elements, such as the og:title , which also have display constraints.

Luckily our Google preview can help you out! You can fill in your SEO title and our plugin will give you feedback straight away. The green line underneath the SEO title turns red when your title is too long. So keep an eye on that, and use the feedback to create great titles.

Google preview in Yoast SEO
The Yoast SEO Google preview modal in the WordPress block editor

What does the keyphrase in title assessment in Yoast SEO do?

This assessment also appears in the SEO tab of the Yoast SEO sidebar and meta box. It checks if you’re using your keyphrase in the SEO title of your post or page. The plugin check for this is quite strict. Since Google uses the title to figure out your page’s topic, not having the focus keyphrase in the title may harm your rankings. In addition, potential visitors are much more likely to click on a search result that exactly matches what they were looking for. For the best results, you should try to add your keyphrase at the beginning of the SEO title.

This check finds out if you’ve used your focus keyphrase in your title

How to use your keyphrase in the SEO title

Sometimes, when you’re optimizing for a high-competition keyword, everyone will have the keyword at the beginning of the page title. In that case, you can try making it stand out by putting one or two words in front of your focus keyword, thereby slightly “indenting” your result. In Yoast SEO, if you start your SEO title with “the”, “a”, “who” or another function word followed by your keyphrase, you’ll still get a green bullet.

Other times, like when you have a very long keyphrase, adding the complete keyphrase at the beginning doesn’t make sense. If your SEO title looks weird with the keyphrase at the beginning, try to add as much of the keyphrase as you can, as early in the SEO title as possible. But always keep an eye on the natural flow and readability of your title.

Want to learn all about how to write a text that’s pleasant to read and optimized for search engines? Our SEO copywriting course can help you with that. You can get access to this course, and all of our other SEO courses, with Yoast SEO Premium. This also gives you access to extra features in the Yoast SEO plugin.

Go Premium and get access to this feature!

Get access to lots of features and all of our SEO courses with the Yoast SEO Premium plugin:

Get Yoast SEO Premium Only 89 GBP(ex VAT) for 1 site

Should you add your brand to the SEO title?

For quite some time it was a fashion among some SEOs to leave the site name out of the page title. The idea was that the “density” of the title mattered, and the site name wouldn’t help with that. Don’t do this. Your page title needs to have your brand in it, preferably in a recognizable way. If people search for a topic and see your brand several times, even if they don’t click on it the first time, they might click when they see you again on their next page of results.

If you don’t include your site name in your title tag, you’ll also run the risk of Google automatically changing the title for you. As explained in our article on why isn’t Google showing my page title, Google thinks it needs to be there too. If you want to read more about branding, be sure to read this post by Marieke: 5 tips on branding.

Optimizing page titles after publication

A while ago, while looking at our Google Search Analytics data for, I noticed that, while we ranked well for [wordpress security], we weren’t getting a lot of traffic for it. I optimized the page title and meta description for our WordPress security article and this increased traffic by over 30%. My changes to the title were done around the same time as the update – indicated by the vertical line in the graph below:

search analytics showing increase in clicks to page

The change was fairly simple. Instead of the title being:

WordPress Security • Yoast

I changed it to:

WordPress Security in a few easy steps! • Yoast

As you can see, this doesn’t necessarily improve the rankings of this page at all. From a keyword perspective, the title isn’t much better, but it is more enticing, and it did lead to many more clicks, which, of course, was the desired result.

Titles for social media

What might be a good title tag for SEO isn’t necessarily a good title for social media. In social media, keyword optimization is less important than creating a title that entices people to click. You often don’t need to include the brand name in the title. This is especially true for Facebook and Twitter if you include some form of branding in your post image. Our social previews in Yoast SEO Premium can help you with that.

If you’re using Yoast SEO, you can have a separate title for Facebook, Twitter, and Google. Just enter the Google title in the Yoast SEO snippet editor. The Facebook and Twitter title can be entered on the social tab in their respective fields. If you don’t enter a specific Twitter title, Twitter will use the Facebook title instead.

Conclusion: Page titles – craft them well!

In conclusion, the main point of this article is to encourage you to invest a little more time in writing good page titles. It really is worth it. Going back and optimizing some of your page titles after publication might also be worthwhile. This is especially true if you’re already ranking well, but aren’t getting very many clicks.

Read more: How to create the right meta description »

The post How to craft great page titles for SEO appeared first on Yoast.

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SEO Services

Online audience research: how to analyze your audience

To write appealing copy for your online audience, you need to know them. Who are those people that read your stories? Who are the people that search for the terms you want to be found for? Where do they come from? How old are they? What are they interested in? And how will you be able to reach those people again? In this post, I’ll help you with researching and analyzing your audience, as this is essential for SEO.

Why it’s important to analyze your audience

If you don’t know much about your audience, it can be quite hard to write texts for them. Should you write texts that are difficult or very easy to read? Which topics will interest them the most? Which search terms do they use? What blog post will make them come back to your site? These questions are especially important if you want your audience to become regular visitors of your website or if you want them to buy something in your online shop. And that’s when audience analysis comes in handy! If you know a lot about your audience, it will be much easier to adapt your texts to fit their needs. As a result, you’ll become more successful in selling your stuff and gaining those return visitors. 

What kind of people are your online audience?

A good place to start researching your online audience is in your website or social media user data. This can help you find out all kinds of helpful information about your audience. Or audiences. You may not have considered it before, but there could be different groups of users visiting your site for different purposes! You should analyze your audience to find out what kind of people are visiting your site, and use that information to adapt your content.

udience analysis in Google Analytics

The best way to start analyzing your audience is by using Google Analytics. Google Analytics will tell you at what time a day your audience is on your site; where they’re from (at least from which country); which pages they like most and whether they use a desktop or a mobile device. That’s all valuable and usable information.

Closely monitor which pages and blog post generate much traffic and investigate possible patterns. Perhaps posts about a certain topic generate a lot of traffic, while posts about other topics don’t get many visitors. Use that information when choosing the topic of your next blog post.

A sample of the kind of data you can find in Google Analytics

Social media audience analysis

Google Analytics can tell you a lot about the visitors on your website, but if you want to know more about the people you reach on Facebook you’ll need to use Facebook Insights. Check which posts get many views and which posts don’t get attention from your audience. Experiment with buying ads on Facebook too.

Of course, every social media platform has its own analytics (we’ve also written about YouTube Analytics, Twitter Analytics and Pinterest Analytics). Monitor the analytics of the channels you use on a regular basis.

Not the audience you were hoping for?

If you find yourself surprised by the kind of people in your online audience, there are two things you can do with that information:

Firstly, you could ask yourself why your website isn’t reaching your target audience, or why your content isn’t appealing to them when they see it in the search results or on social media. Are you using the same keywords those people will be searching in Google? Do your SEO title and meta description match with their search intent (and does the content on the page live up to that promise)? These kinds of things can help you reach your intended audience and keep them coming back.

Alternatively, you might not have the online audience you were expecting, but it is an audience, and they came to your site for a reason! So another option is to learn more about your actual audience, and make more content with them in mind.

Finding out more about your online audience

Regardless whether you choose to grow your existing online audience(s), adapt your content to target a different audience, or both, the next step in analyzing your audience is the same. You need to find out more about these people and what they want!

Do surveys

A great way of getting to know your audience is to have them fill out an online questionnaire. In a survey, you can ask them anything you want.  You can, for instance, set up a survey that pops up when someone enters your site or you can send a survey invitation to your newsletter subscribers or to the buyers of your products. There are lots of packages that allow for online questionnaires. Many services offer a free account, which will suffice for most small companies.

Remember that most people do not participate in online surveys. Still, if your audience is large, you’ll easily get a decent amount of people to fill out your questionnaire. To get more participants you can always try to win them over by raffling a nice incentive among the respondents.

Please note that it’s always a certain group of people that’ll be willing to fill out a survey. That group is highly selective and not representative for your entire online audience.

Talk to your audience

Analyzing your audience doesn’t always need to be a desk activity! Just having a conversation with a part of your audience also remains a great way to find out more about them. In an online questionnaire, you can ask a lot of people about your product, but their answers will probably remain shallow. If you’re able to really talk to some of the people from your audience in person, that could help you to get a better idea about who your audience are. Ask them what they like best about your website, your products, or your blog posts. Ask them why they come back to your website. Invite them to talk about their experience and don’t be scared of some criticism.

For instance, if I’m at a WordCamp or a congress somewhere and I encounter people using our Yoast SEO plugin, I always like to ask them what they appreciate most about our product. It helps me to understand our users. And, by understanding our users, we’re better able to anticipate their needs. If we know which features in Yoast SEO they like best, we should optimize or expand those features for sure.

Read comments and discussions

If you want to analyze your audience and find out what kind of people it consists of, you should look at the comments on your blog post. What are people saying about you or about your post in the comments below your articles? Which aspects of your blog post are they talking about in their comments? Which topics are so important to them, that they are willing to engage? Analyze audience comments on your website, and don’t forget to monitor comments on social media too!

Aside from the comments your audience are leaving on your website and social media, you could also take a look at what they’re talking about on other websites too. Sites like Reddit and online discussion forums can be a treasure-trove of information. If you can find out where your audience are hanging out online, be sure to take a look and see what they’re talking about!

nalyzing online audiences is hard, but valuable

In conclusion, researching your audience can be a tough nut to crack. Google Analytics and the analytic tools of the numerous social media platforms are useful, but they don’t tell you much about the intentions or desires of your audiences. Surveys are great, but as most people won’t fill out an online questionnaire, the data aren’t that valid and representative for your entire audience. Talking to your audience can bring useful insights, but you won’t be able to have a conversation with all of them either.

All the different ways of analyzing your audience do add value in their own way though. However, by using them all you will get a clear impression of your audience. So don’t just sit there wondering who’s behind those clicks. Get to know them!

Read on: An introduction to user research »

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SEO Blogging

How to add your website to Google Search Console

Google Search Console is a must-have tool for all site owners as it gives you an incredible amount of information about how your site is doing in search. We strongly advise you to add your website to Google Search Console to fully benefit from all the insights. Yoast SEO can help you verify your site so you can make the most of it. It only takes a couple of steps to connect your site to Google Search Console with a little help from Yoast SEO. Let’s see how that works!

What is Search Console and why should you use it?

Google’s free tool Search Console gives site owners loads of tools to check how their site performs. Not only does it show how your site is doing under the hood, but also how searchers see your site in the search results. You’ll get information on keywords and queries that bring traffic, find out which rich results your content has earned, and discover how your mobile site is doing. Also, you can check if Google can access your content. In short, use it! Here’s our beginner’s guide to Google Search Console to get you started.

How to verify your site in Google Search Console with Yoast SEO

It is straightforward to add your website to Google Search Console — it just takes a couple of steps. Here, we’ll guide you through the process. First, you need to have a Google Search Console account. Don’t have an account? Sign up now for Google Search Console. Once you’ve done that, you can follow the steps below:

Go to Google Search Console. Login or click ‘Start Now’, if needed.

Click ‘Add a property’ under the search drop-down.You can add up to 1000 properties to your Google Search Console account.

Select property type, enter your website URL, and click ‘Continue’.Which option you pick is up to you. The Domain option is more flexible, but harder to verify as it needs to do that with DNS. In this example, we use the URL prefix option. Please make sure you enter your complete URL. For example, if your site is it needs to be that exact URL. Don’t forget the / at the end of the URL. If your site uses WWW or HTTP you need to add properties for those as well. Google provides multiple ways of getting your site verified and they even suggest adding multiple ways because of security. If you are not sure what your site has, please speak with your host provider.

Click the arrow next to ‘HTML tag’ to expand the option.There are several ways to verify your site, but we’ve made it easy for you. We only need to get the authorization code so we can paste it in Yoast SEO.

Copy the meta tag.Highlight the entire meta tag code. Right-click on the highlighted tag and click on ‘Copy’ or use the copy shortcuts ctrl-c on Windows or cmd-c on Mac. We only need the long line of characters inside the content part to add your site to Google Search Console.

Log in to your WordPress websiteWhen you’re logged in, you will be in your ‘Dashboard’.

Click on ‘SEO’ > ‘General’.On the left-hand side, you will see a menu. In that menu, click on ‘SEO’. After that, click on ‘General’ for additional options.

Click on the ‘Webmaster Tools’ tab.This page has all the fields to pass the verification codes for the various webmaster tools from Baidu, Google, Yandex and Bing.

Paste the code in the Google field.You only have to put in the range of random letters and numbers. After filling in the code, hit the ‘Save changes’ button.

Go back to Google Search Console and click ‘Verify’.Congratulations! You’ve connected your website to Google Search Console! Now that you’ve verified and linked your site, you can submit your sitemap. Not to mention all the other cool stuff that’s Search Console capable of!

It’s easy to connect your website to Google Search Console

We’ve made it very easy to connect your site to Search Console, and we strongly recommend you do so. Search Console gives you a wealth of information on the performance of your site. Not only does it show you what goes right, but, more importantly, what goes wrong. The advice you get is very actionable, and most things are easy to follow up on.

PS: How to check your verification tag in Search Console

If you need to check your verification, you can do so easily by following the steps below:

1. Go to the top-left and select your domain

2. Select Settings in the menu bar. After that, click on Ownership Verification

3. Click on HTML Tag and see if the verification tag matches.

Use it to your advantage

Once you’ve got this all figured out, your Google Search Console should be primed and ready to go! Google Search Console is a must-have tool for all site owners as it gives you an incredible amount of information about how your site is doing in search. We strongly advise you to connect your website to Google Search Console to fully benefit from all the insights. For more help fixing your site, Yoast SEO Premium comes highly recommended.

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