On our popular SEO blog, you can find articles on how to use our plugins, plus posts on content SEO, technical SEO, WordPress, social media, and much more. Yoast writes about several topics like General SEO, Usability & Conversion Rate Optimization, Analytics, eCommerce, Social Media and, of course, WordPress.
Rich search results are everywhere. Years ago, search engines presented search results without much adornment. Today, the search results look very different, especially on mobile. We see extra information beneath the links, plus a couple of big blocks of rich — often visual or action-oriented — content, depending on what you look for. In this article, we’ll briefly go over some of the different rich results and what they mean for SEO.
Update: Since the 11.0 release, Yoast SEO builds a full structured data graph for every post or page on your site! A graph is a complete piece of structured data with well-defined connections to all the different parts. Search engines now not only know what all the parts mean but also how they fit together. Want to know what it does for your website? Read all about Yoast SEO 11.0!
What are rich results?
First, let’s look at what regular search results a.k.a snippets are. A snippet is an individual search result with black lines of text beneath the title. Here you’ll read a piece of text introducing the search result. Rich search results are the the results that stand out due to formatting or on-screen location. Rich results is a catch-all term search engines use to describe parts of the search results that have a highlighted presentation.
There are a lot of them, and new ones keep popping up. Search engines are looking for the best and fastest possible way to get an answer to a user. For instance, if you search for a product, you get product-oriented rich results like reviews and availability. While if you search for a particular recent movie, you see where it’s playing and it even lets you book tickets right away.
Here’s an example of a full desktop US search result for a specific product, namely a Fender American Professional Precision Bass. It’s got a lot of stuff going on (image is cropped, click the image for the whole enchilada):
Video overviews and reviews
A sponsored shopping panel to order it online
Rich snippets for product listings in the organic search part
A local pack showing where you can buy it locally
An overview with similar products
Searching for a product leads to a very rich presentation nowadays
A rich result with a lot extras
There are a couple of other enhancements to the search results pages. Especially on mobile, for instance, you’ll find an incredible amount of rich results. These results provide a lot more actionable information, directly from the search results page. Rich results are available for almost all verticals, from movies — you can see an example of that below — and recipes, to local restaurants and online courses. You can check the results of your rich results in Google Search Console.
There’s a lot of stuff going on on mobile. Here’s a collection of rich results for the movie ‘Us’
Now there are also featured snippets and answer boxes — the latter will show when Google itself knows the answer to a question itself, often directly coming from the knowledge graph. These boxes will show at the top of the page to answer a query directly. Last but not least, there’s the knowledge graph card; this is the big block of information on the right-hand side.
A featured snippet for the search term [what is a meta description]
Asking who our CEO is gets you this answer box
Building blocks for rich results
Our Yoast SEO plugin uses JSON-LD to add automatically add a lot of structured data information about your site. Plus, it marks up articles and FAQs among other things. We stitch everything together in a neat graph. A graph is an interconnected overview of your site and how all its entities — company, authors, etc. — are connected to that. Read our Schema documentation to get up to speed.
What do rich results do?
In addition to telling the search engine what all the pieces of your site mean, the main goal of rich results is to inform the searcher. A rich result might entice the searcher to click on the link. Users can now judge directly from the search results if a certain result is the one they are looking for.
Let’s say you have a business delivering flowers. You have done a lot of work to rank well in the search engines for the term [flower delivery], appended with your location. You rank pretty well, but your competitor has rich snippets, and you don’t. He shows his reviews directly in the search results and his flower shop rates 4,5 out of 5 stars. His stars just naturally catch your eye. With his high rating, he might attract more clicks from searchers, just because he has a more ‘trustworthy’ profile. You know what you have to do.
Looks pretty trustworthy, right?
Do rich results have benefits for SEO?
Adding structured data does not directly result in better rankings. Sometimes, you might get a rich result without having any structured data on your site. It does, however, make you more visible in the search results. Search engines understand your pages better and can, therefore, give you a better presentation. This, in turn, might lead to more focused traffic, extra sales, links and in the end; better results from your site.
If your listings get rich results, searchers will notice you better because you stand out from the crowd. This might lead to a higher click-through rate (CTR). In addition to that, if you’re snippets are really good, your bounce rate may potentially go down. The reason for this is that searchers can make a better judgment directly from the results. If your listing is not up to scratch, searchers might skip you. If it is, they know your listing should promise what it says. All you have to do is deliver the result it promises.
Keep in mind that it’s up to the search engines to determine if your listings get rich results. There are no guarantees you’ll get them.
What types are there?
There are different types of rich results. Here are some prominent examples. You can see some of these in action in Google’s Search Gallery.
Do customers give your business or product ratings? Then you could collect them on a review page and mark these up as ratings or reviews with Schema.org/Review. This way search engines recognize the reviews and might show them in the search results. We’ve written a post on reviews and ratings as well. Remember, reviews must be present and visible for visitors of the page.
Businesses and organizations
Your local business should present the correct structured data to search engines (Schema.org/LocalBusiness). If you use this data, search engines will pick it up and might highlight your business in the results. If you want to mark up your local business, you should read the article on local business listings. Don’t have the time or knowledge to add all this information yourself? Our Local SEO plugin can do it for you.
You can now see recipes directly in the search results. If you are searching for a recipe for cheesecake, you can now find it without leaving the search engine. To activate this on your cooking site, you need to add Schema.org/Recipe data.
Event listings have been around for quite a while. If correctly implemented clubs, venues or other social and cultural entities can show multiple upcoming events directly in search results. Check out Schema.org/Event.
By adding Schema.org/Course data you can highlight your course in the search results. Among other things, you can show a description, tutor, price and the institute that facilitates the course. You can find a couple of example sites, including markup at W3.org.
New: FAQ & How-to
There’s a lot going on at the moment, with Google adopting new rich result formats. The latest additions to the roster are FAQs and How-tos.
How can I add them myself?
It used to be fairly hard to add the data needed for rich results, but times have changed. Yoast SEO has now stepped in to help you add valid structured data by automatically generate the most important data in the background. In addition to that, we have built our Schema structured data implementation to be as extensible as possible. If you or your developer has built your own structured data it’s possible to add this to the graph. Our Schema integration documentation has examples on how to do that.
Having said that, you should always be careful when adding structured data for rich results. If you markup hidden content, or don’t follow the rules one way or the other, you could receive a penalty.
While adding structured data for rich results doesn’t directly lead to better rankings, it will lead to a better understanding of your site by search engines and visitors alike. As with a lot of SEO related things, you are still in the hands of search engines. They will determine if a site gets rich results or not.
Don’t let this stop you, though. Adding structured data to your site is always a good thing because you are making your site clearer to search engines and thus creating a bigger chance of them presenting your site in the best possible way.
Writing a blog post can be a challenge. It is hard work, but afterwards, you’re probably proud of what you have created. No way you are ever going to throw those beautiful articles away, right? But what should you do with blog posts that are really, really old? Should you keep all of those?
In this blog post, I’ll explain why you cannot keep all of your old content. Also, I’ll explain what types of content you should keep on your site and which kinds of articles should be deleted.
Why you cannot keep all your content
Even if your content is really awesome, you need to do some cleaning. Otherwise, you’ll be hurting your own chances of ranking in Google. You see, there are only a limited number of places in Google’s search results pages. Google will only show 1 or 2 results from the same domain in the search results for any specific query. If you’re a high authority domain, you might get away with three results.
If you have written 3 articles focussing on the same – or very similar – keywords, you are competing with yourself for those limited spaces in the search results. You’ll be confusing Google. That’s why you cannot blog endlessly about the same content and leave it be. You need to do some content management.
There are three things you can do with old content. You can keep it, you can delete it or you can merge it. Not sure what to do? It all depends upon your content.
1. Update valuable content
Is an article still very valuable? Does it get a lot of traffic from Google? Is the post still in line with your site and your company? Old content that is still very valuable should, of course, be kept on your website. Do make sure that this content is updated on a regular basis. Your most important articles should never contain any outdated information. Setting reminders for yourself to update those evergreens every now and then is a great way to make sure your content is always up to date.
Solve it with site structure
Keeping content on your website does come with a price, especially if you write a lot about similar topics. Make sure you add some structure and hierarchy to your website. If one of your pages or posts is much more important than the other one, you should treat it as such. Place that important page higher in your hierarchy. Link from less important pages to your most important page. that way you’ll be telling Google which article you want to rank highest with and you can keep both articles.
Is an article outdated? Does it contain invalid information? Does it contain information that’s no longer informative? Every now and then you write about an upcoming event or you announce something new. After some time, these articles are pretty much useless. These types of articles should be deleted. Do make sure to redirect the article to something similar (or to the homepage if you cannot find an alternative).
3. Merge content
Have you written multiple articles about the same topic? Are they pretty much the same? Are they ranking for the same topics? These types of articles should be merged. Make one really awesome article out of the two (or three) you have written. Then delete (but do not forget to redirect) the old articles. I would write the new merged article on the URL that attracted the most traffic from Google.
Conclusion: continue to clean up
Checking, updating, structuring and deleting old content should be part of a process. Just like you need to clean up your kitchen closet every now and then, you also need to clean up your old content. As your site grows, you need to clean out the content and maintain the structure. This really needs to be a core element in every SEO strategy.
I often get a request from our Blog team about one of their pages. Sometimes they want to know if the page has gotten more pageviews or they notice something weird and they want me to find out what’s going on. And this time they wanted more insight in the performance of one particular page. I want to share with you how I deal with this request.
So the other day I got a request to check the performance of our Blog homepage. We want to optimize that page so it fits better with the need of our audience. If you have an idea about that, you can leave your feedback in the comments section below this post.
Page level analysis
The first thing I had a look at is how ‘popular’ the page is and if it’s worth the effort to spend time and resources on this page. I went to the All pages report in Google Analytics, which you can find under Behavior –> Site content and did a cmd+F or ctrl+F search for the page https://yoast.com/seo-blog/. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for; it’s because it probably isn’t within the first ten results. So you need to expand your table first; you can do this on the right bottom of the table.
I notice it’s at position 32 if you look at the number of pageviews, which is a reasonably high position and thus worthy of further investigation. I also notice that in 6,327 of the cases it’s an entrance page, this means it’s in 35,3% of the cases the first page of the session (6,327 / 17,931 * 100).
You can also search for a specific post in the search bar to see just the metrics of that page but sometimes other pages show up as well.
If the page is in blue letters, it means you can specify even further when clicking on it because it’s a link. Or you can use regex; regex stands for “regular expression”. Lunametrics made this fun regex guide that shows you how you can use regex in Google Analytics. It may sound a bit scary, but if you know the basics, it’s quite doable and will make your Google Analytics life a whole lot easier. Here’s how a regex would look if I just wanted the SEO blog homepage:
But in this case, you can just as well click on the page to see just the metrics of that page. Try to understand what the metrics are saying and how it compares to the site’s average. In this case, for a page that’s built to guide people to blog posts of their interests, a bounce rate of 50.48% is fairly high. That means that in half of the cases, people didn’t do anything on that page! That’s not what the page is designed for.
I was also curious to see if this page gets a lot of mobile traffic, so I added a secondary dimension with the Device category. I then checked what the metrics told me.
About 10% of the page views come from a mobile device. You can see it has a higher bounce rate so checking the mobile experience is a good idea.
And, I was curious to see how the page developed over time, so I added a wider timeframe to check if I saw something unusual. You can adjust the graph you’re seeing. Perhaps you’re interested if Bounce rate declined or not. You can select this metric and you’ll see the trend of the bounce rate of that page.
Session level analysis
I then looked at this page from a page level. But, I had more questions about this page. If people are entering our site through this page, where are they coming from? So, I had a look from a session level perspective. I went to landing pages and did the same search as in the All pages report.
It’s at position 65 and obviously has 6,327 sessions since we saw that in the All pages report at entrances. I once again looked at the metrics and tried to understand what they’re telling me. The number of pages per session, the bounce rate and the number of ‘new’ users. And I had a look at conversions.
I then dove in further, clicked on the page and added a secondary dimension: medium, so I could quickly see where traffic is coming from. I noticed that we have a lot of traffic that we don’t know the source of. So that’s something to explore further. In second position comes our plugin and third is organic search traffic. Which is interesting to see because I’m curious with what keywords people end up on that page and if we rank properly on that keyword or keyphrase. With that information, we can improve the SEO of that page even further.
Again, I had a look at bounce rates, pages per session, number of new users and possible conversions. Thinking about if the page is doing what it’s supposed to do.
You now see the queries and position of that page. Take a look at the metrics and try to understand what’s going on. It’s especially interesting if you have a lot of impressions but a low clickthrough rate (CTR).
What can we learn from this analysis? For one is that it’s worth the while to put some time and effort into this page. I learned that we can optimize the SEO of that page even further and that we can put some more effort into ranking for the keyword SEO blog.
I also noticed that it’s quite a popular page, but the bounce rate is too high for my taste. Especially when the goal of the page is to guide people to a blog post of their interest. So, there needs to be interaction with this page. We need to find out what people expect to find on this page. So, therefore, extra information is needed. That’s why we added a simple poll on this page, using Hotjar. We also created a heatmap with this tool to get a better understanding of how people behave on the page.
Combining data gives you a far more holistic view and will make sure you can draw more reliable conclusions. Data we can use to optimize the blog homepage even further. The perfect dataset doesn’t exist but we can try to get as far near perfection as possible.
WordPress, as a CMS, is great for people who are just starting with their first website. It doesn’t require users to write code, it’s SEO friendly and easy to manage. Still, there are a few mistakes many beginners make in WordPress. Actually, to be honest, these mistakes are not only made by beginners. That’s is why it’s time I shared a couple of common (beginner) mistakes in WordPress here.
1. Not changing your permalinks properly
It’s good to think about your permalinks before you actually start using WordPress. (the name already gives it away) are meant to be permanent. So, once you’ve set them, you really shouldn’t change them again.
If you, however, do decide to change your permalinks, the URLs of your posts will change. This means search engines can no longer find your posts, as they’ve indexed the old permalink. Visitors coming to your site via search engines will end up on your site with an error message saying the post could not be found. The infamous 404 error message. You want to avoid those at all cost.
Between WordPress, all the plugins and themes, it can be hard to keep track of all the updates a website needs. Especially if everything is working smoothly, it can be hard to see the immediate value in taking the time to process those updates.
But keeping plugins, themes and WordPress itself updated is one of the most important tasks you have as a site owner. Updates not only bring new features but often times fix bugs and security issues. The absolute last thing you want to see happen is to end up with a hacked site, right?
There are more than fifty thousand plugins available in the WordPress repository, so you have a lot of options to choose from. Which makes it very tempting to install a plugin for every little thing you can think of. But that doesn’t come without a cost.
Not only will you have to keep all these plugins up to date, but there are other risks as well. Too many plugins doing fancy stuff can possibly slow your site down, which means you may end up with a slow website. So, evaluate carefully before you install a new plugin.
Technically, a single plugin can screw up your entire site. So it isn’t just about the number of plugins, but also about being careful about what you add to your site.
4. Not creating a child theme when making changes
When installing your WordPress website for the first time, you get one of the default WordPress themes. And perhaps this theme doesn’t suit your needs. So you’re on the lookout for a new theme.
You’ve found a new theme, installed it and it’s working fine. But, after a little while, you realize you want to change a few things. Before you dive into how to change your theme, you should create a child theme and make your changes in the child theme. By doing this, you’ll be sure that when your initial theme sees some updates, you won’t lose all your modifications.
If you follow the links in the previous paragraph, you can learn how to create your child theme yourself. But, as with many things within WordPress, there’s also a plugin that does it for you.
By the way, there’s a big chance you only want to do some CSS changes and the Customizer should suffice for this. That’s also a future proof way to change things about your theme.
5. Deleting content the wrong way
One of the most common mistakes occurs once you have your site up and running. You may want to delete posts or pages. They may no longer serve the purpose they used to and it makes good sense to remove those.
When you first install WordPress, WordPress will create a ‘Sample Page’ and a ‘Hello World’ post for you. Make sure you delete the default sample page via the pages menu and the ‘Hello World’ post via the posts menu. Don’t be like any of these websites .
Don’t make these mistakes!
There you have it. These are the most common (beginner) mistakes made in WordPress. Although you may have noticed a few things listed here that are not just mistakes beginners make. Make sure you avoid these and you’re well under way working on your WordPress site.
As soon as WordPress 5.3 comes out, Yoast will only support WordPress 5.2 and WordPress 5.3, and not versions before that. This means we’ll end our support for WordPress 4.9, which we’d kept alive for a little bit longer than usual to allow people to transition to WordPress 5.0 and the classic editor. I’d like to explain why we have this policy and why we’re deciding to go back to it.
Building software for WordPress can be incredibly complex. We work in a world where there are always a couple of versions of WordPress around. Next to that, plugins can do almost anything (which they do), which also means they can interfere with each other. Every site has a different combination of plugins, leading to tens of thousands of different combinations.
At Yoast we pride ourselves in using the best tools available to build solutions for our users. With WordPress 5.2, the WordPress core team upped the minimum PHP requirement for WordPress from PHP 5.2 to PHP 5.6. We always want our software to work on the minimum requirements for WordPress, which means we could only use functionality from PHP 5.2 up until then.
Note: I know these version numbers and the fact that they’re so alike can become confusing. We’ve certainly had some confusion around that internally. I apologize for that in advance, but as you’ll understand, I can’t change these version numbers.
PHP is the language that most of the WordPress backend is built in. PHP 5.2 was released in 2006, while PHP 5.6 was released in 2014. As you can see, that’s 8 years apart, and 8 years is an incredibly long time on the internet.
By going back to our policy of only supporting the current and previous version, and thus only supporting WordPress 5.2 and 5.3, we allow ourselves to develop using PHP 5.6. Because we can use PHP 5.6 now, we can develop faster and more securely.
What does “support” mean?
When we say we don’t support an older version of WordPress it means we’ve stopped testing with it, and things are likely to break. It also means you won’t see Yoast SEO updates until you’ve updated your WordPress to a supported version.
My site doesn’t work with the classic editor
For a small portion of sites, I know this leaves them in limbo, which we hate. If you have a custom WordPress solution, built with old versions of plugins like Advanced Custom Fields (ACF), you might be “stuck”. Even though ACF has done an incredibly good job of migrating to Gutenberg, that might not “save” you.
While we think that sucks, we don’t really have any option for you other than to go to your website developer and explain them that this isn’t a state you want to stay in. You really should move to newer versions of WordPress. We will keep on supporting the Classic Editor for a few more years, so if they make it work with that, you’re good.
I don’t see any Yoast SEO updates
There are a couple of different reasons why you can’t see Yoast SEO updates. As said above: if you’re on an old version of WordPress, you will not see them. So update your WordPress first. If that’s not the case, please reinstall the plugin, simply delete it and install the latest version manually. That won’t delete any of your data, don’t worry.
Go and update your site!
So, if you’re on an old version of WordPress, go and update. Of course, before doing anything like updating plugins or WordPress, always make sure to test and back up your site!
Today, we’re releasing Yoast SEO 11.2 into the wild. This release contains several enhancements to our Schema structured data implementation, plus a number of community contributions and general bug fixes. In this post, you’ll find everything you need to know about Yoast SEO 11.2, so dive in!
More Schema improvements
These past couple of weeks saw quite a bit of development in the structured data department. In Yoast SEO 11.0, we launched a structured data implementation that automatically generates a graph for any given website and its pages. In Yoast SEO 11.1, we improved the way we handle images in structured data, among other things. We said we wouldn’t be done on the Schema front for some time. Well, Yoast SEO 11.2 brings even more structured data goodness.
As mentioned in the release post of Yoast SEO 11.1, we’ve been working on a better way to pick images correctly for use in the generated structured data. In this release, we’re introducing a new way to make sure we always include an image in the structured data. Now, we pick the first image in the content for the Schema output if you haven’t set a featured image.
Tailor the Schema output
Of course, it’s possible that you’d like to incorporate your own Schema pieces into our graph. We already have the wpseo_schema_graph_piecesfilter to help you extend the Yoast SEO Schema. This way, you can tailor the implementation to your own needs. In addition, we’re now introducing a new filter that will help you control what Yoast SEO outputs. The new wpseo_schema_needs_<class_name> filter helps you disable or enable specific pieces of the graph.
Last but not least, we’ve also added a filter called wpseo_schema_person_social_profiles for adding or deleting social profiles to show. Read our Schema API documentation to find out how our Schema implementation works and how you can tailor it to your needs.
Yoast SEO 11.2 is a community-driven effort. We love getting outside help, so thanks everybody. In this release, David Tolnem and Saša Todorović came up with a filter for adding posts with a custom post statuses to the sitemap: wpseo_sitemap_post_statuses. This means you can now use the custom post statuses made in tools such as Edit Flow and add these to the sitemap. Saša also helped fix a bug together with Jessica Zehavi. This one was a bug where URLs with a non-Yoast SEO related xsl query string parameter would result in a blank page.
Rami Yushuvaev helped us make translating the plugin easier by merging near identical strings and he fixed a bug concerning an incorrect URL leading to Pinterest’s claim page.
Better sitemap debugging
To help you debug your sitemaps, we’ve decoupled the sitemap debug information from the general WP_DEBUG flag. Instead, we now offer the YOAST_SEO_DEBUG_SITEMAPS flag to better control this functionality. Now, we can output more specific debug information on the sitemap pages.
Yoast SEO 11.2 fixes several bugs and enhances the Schema implementation. Thanks to our highly valued community, we have a number of fixes and improvements. We always enjoy seeing so many people contribute to our open source plugin. Interested in contributing? Please read our contribution guidelines on GitHub.
Today’s roundup contains information about the WordPress 5.2 release. And, yet again, some ACF news. I’m also highlighting the launch of the new Translate WordPress site editor and some very cool WPMU DEV news. Let’s dive in!
WordPress 5.2 is here!
You may have noticed in your WordPress Dashboard already, but WordPress 5.2 is here!
We’ve covered the most important features here before, but as a reminder, WordPress 5.2 introduces the Site Health check, PHP Error Protection along with Accessibility Updates, New Dashboard Icons, and Plugin Compatibility Checks.
As much as I love nice and shiny new features, the one thing I’m most excited about in WordPress 5.2 is the PHP version bump. It will not only push WordPress to a faster and more secure PHP version – though, truth be told, you should really already want to be on the 7.2 or 7.3 version even – but it will allow for many “new” functions and functionalities to be used in WordPress itself. On to a better and brighter future!
Translating WordPress just got a lot smoother
If you’ve ever helped out translating WordPress into your own language on translate.wordpress.org, you were greeted by an interface powered by GlotPress. This interface recently saw an update over the Translate WordPress site and I’m liking this new and smoother experience a lot. I’m pretty sure all the people helping out translating WordPress last Saturday at the WP Translations day got a kick out of it!
WPMU DEV releases 90% of their plugins for free
James Farmer of WPMU DEV fame published a blog post on their site where he explained that 90% of their premium plugins were going to be released for free. This is actually quite a big turn around for the company as James states:
But today marks perhaps the most significant change we’ve made as a company, because as of today, we’re embracing and focusing on what the vast vast majority of our members care about and saying farewell and good luck to the over 90% of our plugin catalogue, which you can now find freely available on our GitHub.
Check out his full post on why they’re being released on Github instead of the WordPress.org repository and more in-depth reasoning behind this big switch.
As you might know, Yoast SEO isn’t exclusive to WordPress. Together with our partners, we’re looking to bring our popular SEO plugin to more open source platforms. After releasing Yoast SEO for Magento 2 and TYPO3, together with MaxServ, we’re now launching a new integration: Yoast SEO for Neos CMS! Sebastian Helzle, core developer in the Neos team and freelance consultant, built it with help from us.
Neos: a flexible, innovative content management system
Neos began many years ago as a proposed follow-up to TYPO3, but has been moving in its own direction since 2015. It is a fully React based CMS offering many innovative features to manage content. The system is highly flexible and allows for some impressive options to custom build high-profile sites.
For content managers, working with Neos is a dream. Due to this flexibility, there are many ways to work with and maintain content. One of these options is to let content managers edit content directly from the front-end or use the writer mode to focus on getting those articles written in the first place. In addition, you’ll also find a fully customizable, personal workspace. The workspace is a copy of the website you’re working on and lets multiple editors work on a part of the site or a piece of content at once. It can also be used to draft and fine-tune pages before publishing them.
In that workspace, users will now find the Yoast SEO analysis to help them improve the SEO-friendliness of their content.
You can find Yoast SEO for Neos right where you need it most — in the Inspector
What can you expect from Yoast SEO for Neos CMS
Neos recently received a powerful native SEO module called Neos.SEO 3.0, which handles the most important SEO options, like XML sitemaps, canonicals and hreflang natively. The integration of Yoast SEO in Neos, therefore, focusses mainly on the content analysis part. It will also help users visualize how their content will appear in the search results and on social media channels. Together, these tools help site owners and editors publish awesome content on a well-optimized site powered by Neos.
In Yoast SEO for Neos 1.0, you can expect the following features:
Top-notch SEO tools right inside the Neos Inspector: helping you improve your posts and pages.
Readability analysis: making sure that content is easy to understand for your audience.
SEO analysis: by entering your focus keyphrase, this helps you to improve the overall quality of your content.
Snippet preview for Google search results: see how your post appears in the search results and make it stand out.
Social previews for Facebook and Google: this is how social media will see your post.
Available in workspaces: Yoast SEO for Neos will work inside your workspace, giving you everything you need at your fingertips.
Yoast SEO for Neos also features a welcome overview page that shows all feedback in one go
Supporting open source platforms
For years, we’ve been big fans of the open source community. Yoast SEO itself is open source and we owe a lot to this way of thinking and working. We want to support open source wherever we can, by giving back to the community. This also means that we’re actively looking for partners who can bring the incredible value of Yoast SEO to other platforms and communities.
Everybody needs to stand a chance in the search results — SEO for everyone, remember?
The first version of Yoast SEO for Neos gives editors everything they need to improve their content for both readers as well as search engines. We’re looking forward to seeing the platform and our integration with it evolve. As always, your feedback is welcome.
An SEO Basics post about technical SEO might seem like a contradiction in terms. Nevertheless, some basic knowledge about the more technical side of SEO can mean the difference between a high ranking site and a site that doesn’t rank at all. Technical SEO isn’t easy, but here we’ll explain – in layman’s language – which aspects you should (ask your developer to) pay attention to when working on the technical foundation of your website.
What is technical SEO?
Technical SEO refers to improving the technical aspects of a website in order to increase the ranking of its pages in the search engines. Making a website faster, easier to crawl and understandable for search engines are the pillars of technical optimization. Technical SEO is part of on-page SEO, which focuses on improving elements on your website to get higher rankings. It’s the opposite of off-page SEO, which is about generating exposure for a website through other channels.
Why should you optimize your site technically?
Google and other search engines want to present their users with the best possible results for their query. Therefore, Google’s robots crawl and evaluate web pages on a multitude of factors. Some factors are based on the user’s experience, like how fast a page loads. Other factors help search engine robots grasp what your pages are about. This is what, amongst others, structured data does. So, by improving technical aspects you help search engines crawl and understand your site. If you do this well, you might be rewarded with higher rankings or even rich results.
It also works the other way around: if you make serious technical mistakes on your site, they can cost you. You wouldn’t be the first to block search engines entirely from crawling your site by accidentally adding a trailing slash in the wrong place in your robots.txt file.
But it’s a misconception you should focus on technical details of a website just to please search engines. A website should work well – be fast, clear and easy to use – for your users in the first place. Fortunately, creating a strong technical foundation often coincides with a better experience for both users and search engines.
What are the characteristics of a technically optimized website?
A technically sound website is fast for users and easy to crawl for search engine robots. A proper technical setup helps search engines to understand what a site is about and it prevents confusion caused by, for instance, duplicate content. Moreover, it doesn’t send visitors, nor search engines, into dead-end streets by non-working links. Here, we’ll shortly go into some important characteristics of a technically optimized website.
1. It’s fast
Nowadays, web pages need to load fast. People are impatient and don’t want to wait for a page to open. In 2016 already, research showed that 53% of mobile website visitors will leave if a webpage doesn’t open within three seconds. So if your website is slow, people get frustrated and move on to another website, and you’ll miss out on all that traffic.
Google knows slow web pages offer a less than optimal experience. Therefore they prefer web pages that load faster. So, a slow web page also ends up further down the search results than its faster equivalent, resulting in even less traffic.
Search engines use robots to crawl or spider your website. The robots follow links to discover content on your site. A great internal linking structure will make sure that they’ll understand what the most important content on your site is.
But there are more ways to guide robots. You can, for instance, block them from crawling certain content if you don’t want them to go there. You can also let them crawl a page, but tell them not to show this page in the search results or not to follow the links on that page.
You can give robots directions on your site by using the robots.txt file. It’s a powerful tool, which should be handled carefully. As we mentioned in the beginning, a small mistake might prevent robots from crawling (important parts of) your site. Sometimes, people unintentionally block their site’s CSS and JS files in the robot.txt file. These files contain code that tells browsers what your site should look like and how it works. If those files are blocked, search engines can’t find out if your site works properly.
All in all, we recommend to really dive into robots.txt if you want to learn how it works. Or, perhaps even better, let a developer handle it for you!
The meta robots tag
The robots meta tag is a piece of code that you won’t see on the page as a visitor. It’s in the source code in the so-called head section of a page. Robots read this section when finding a page. In it, they’ll find information about what they’ll find on the page or what they need to do with it.
If you want search engine robots to crawl a page, but to keep it out of the search results for some reason, you can tell them with the robots meta tag. With the robots meta tag, you can also instruct them to crawl a page, but not to follow the links on the page. With Yoast SEO it’s easy to noindex or nofollow a post or page. Learn for which pages you’d want to do that.
We’ve discussed that slow websites are frustrating. What might be even more annoying for visitors than a slow page, is landing on a page that doesn’t exist at all. If a link leads to a non-existing page on your site, people will encounter a 404 error page. There goes your carefully crafted user experience!
What’s more, search engines don’t like to find these error pages either. And, they tend to find even more dead links than visitors encounter because they follow every link they bump into, even if it’s hidden.
Unfortunately, most sites have (at least) some dead links, because a website is a continuous work in progress: people make things and break things. Fortunately, there are tools that can help you retrieve dead links on your site. Read about those tools and how to solve 404 errors.
To prevent unnecessary dead links, you should always redirect the URL of a page when you delete it or move it. Ideally, you’d redirect it to a page that replaces the old page. With Yoast SEO Premium, you can easily make redirects yourself. No need for a developer!
4. It doesn’t confuse search engines with duplicate content
If you have the same content on multiple pages of your site – or even on other sites – search engines might get confused. Because, if these pages show the same content, which one should they rank highest? As a result, they might rank all pages with the same content lower.
Unfortunately, you might have a duplicate content issue without even knowing it. Because of technical reasons, different URLs can show the same content. For a visitor, this doesn’t make any difference, but for a search engine it does; it’ll see the same content on a different URL.
Luckily, there’s a technical solution to this issue. With the so-called, canonical link element you can indicate what the original page – or the page you’d like to rank in the search engines – is. In Yoast SEO you can easily set a canonical URL for a page. And, to make it easy for you, Yoast SEO adds self-referencing canonical links to all your pages. This will help prevent duplicate content issues that you’d might not even be aware of.
HTTPS makes sure that no-one can intercept the data that’s sent over between the browser and the site. So, for instance, if people log in to your site, their credentials are safe. You’ll need a so-called SSL certificate to implement HTTPS on your site. Google acknowledges the importance of security and therefore made HTTPS a ranking signal: secure websites rank higher than unsafe equivalents.
You can easily check if your website is HTTPS in most browsers. On the left hand side of the search bar of your browser, you’ll see a lock if it’s safe. If you see the words “not secure” you (or your developer) have some work to do!
Structured data helps search engines understand your website, content or even your business better. With structured data you can tell search engines, what kind of product you sell or which recipes you have on your site. Plus, it will give you the opportunity to provide all kinds of details about those products or recipes.
Because there’s a fixed format (described on Schema.org) in which you should provide this information, search engines can easily find and understand it. It helps them to place your content in a bigger picture. Here, you can read a story about how it works and how Yoast SEO helps you with that.
Implementing structured data can bring you more than just a better understanding by search engines. It also makes your content eligible for rich results; those shiny results with stars or details that stand out in the search results.
7. Plus: It has an XML sitemap
Simply put, an XML sitemap is a list of all pages of your site. It serves as a roadmap for search engines on your site. With it, you’ll make sure search engines won’t miss any important content on your site. The XML sitemap is often categorized in posts, pages, tags or other custom post types and includes the number of images and the last modified date for every page.
Ideally, a website doesn’t need an XML sitemap. If it has an internal linking structure which connects all content nicely, robots won’t need it. However, not all sites have a great structure, and having an XML sitemap won’t do any harm. So we’d always advise having an XML site map on your site.
8. Plus: International websites use hreflang
If your site targets more than one country or countries where the same language is spoken, search engines need a little help to understand which countries or language you’re trying to reach. If you help them, they can show people the right website for their area in the search results.
Hreflang tags help you do just that. You can define for a page which country and language it is meant for. This also solves a possible duplicate content problem: even if your US and UK site show the same content, Google will know it’s written for a different region.
Optimizing international websites is quite a specialism. If you’d like to learn how to make your international sites rank, we’d advise taking a look at our Multilingual SEO training.
Want to learn more about this?
So this is technical SEO in a nutshell. It’s quite a lot already, while we’ve only scratched the surface here. There’s so much more to tell about the technical side of SEO! If you want to take a deep-dive into technical SEO, we’d advise our Technical SEO training or Structured data training. With these courses, you’ll learn how to create a solid technical foundation for your own website.
As of today, you can get your hands on a completely overhauled version of the SEO copywriting training. We’re very proud to present a much more hands-on training, which will really take you by the hand, and guide you through every step of writing an SEO-friendly blog post. It’s chock-full of real-life examples and practical exercises, so you can get the skills and confidence to write excellent content yourself!
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What will I learn?
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Get personal feedback on your blog post
The assignments in this course offer you a step-by-step template to write the optimal SEO blog post. When you’ve completed your blog post, you may want to confirm you’re on the right track. If so, you can look to our experts for advice. If you choose the feedback package, a Yoast expert will check your blog post and provide feedback on your copy. We’ll point out missed opportunities and give you ideas to improve your text!
Start writing copy that ranks before the offer expires!
The SEO copywriting training teaches you how to write awesome copy that ranks, so you’ll attract more visitors. And like every other Yoast Academy training course, the SEO copywriting training is online and on-demand. This means you can do this course whenever you want, wherever you want. It’s all up to you!
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