Yoast SEO’s hidden features that secretly level up our SEO

Yoast SEO’s hidden features that secretly level up our SEO

If you use Yoast SEO on your website, you’re probably familiar with features like the SEO analysis or the snippet preview. You might even know that you can easily link to related posts or create redirects in the premium version of the plugin. But there’s (much) more. For instance, the Yoast SEO plugin has so-called hidden features. You won’t find them in your settings, but they do great work. Today, we’ll dive into these hidden features: which ones do we have and how do they lighten your load?

Why hidden features?

There are many choices on how to optimize your site. When developing our Yoast SEO plugin, we don’t translate all these choices into settings. In fact, we try to make as few settings as possible. If we believe something is beneficial for every Yoast SEO user, it’s on. We call these features hidden features because as a user you’re not necessarily aware of their existence. You might even think we don’t have certain features because there’s no setting for it. While in fact we just take care of things for you.

The hidden features of Yoast SEO

To help you understand what Yoast SEO does for your website in the background, we’ve listed some of the hidden features for you below. Let’s go through them one by one!

1. A structured data graph

Yoast SEO outputs a fully-integrated structured data graph for your posts and pages. What’s that? And how does that help you optimize your site?

Some years ago, search engines came up with something called Schema.org to better understand the content they crawl. Schema is a bit like a glossary of terms for search engine robots. This structured data markup will help them understand whether something is a blog post, a local shop, a product, an organization or a book, just to name a few possibilities. Or, whether someone is an author, an actor, associated with a certain organization, alive or even a fictional character, for instance.

For all these items there’s a set of properties that specifically belongs to that item. If you provide information about these items in a structured way – with structured data – search engines can make sense of your site and the things you talk about. As a reward, they might even give you those eye-catching rich results.

Hence, adding structured data to your site’s content is a smart thing to do. But, as the number of structured data items grows, all these loose pieces of code can end up on a big pile of Schema markup on your site’s pages. Yoast SEO helps you prevent building this unorganized pile of code. For every page or post, it creates a neat structured data graph. In this graph, it connects the loose pieces of structured data with each other. Therefore, a search engine can understand, for instance, that a post is written by author X, working for organization Y, selling brand Z.

A structured data graph: Yoast SEO connects blobs of Schema markup in one single graph, so search engines understand the bigger picture.

If you want to learn more about this, we’d advise reading Edwin’s story on how Yoast SEO helps search engine robots connect the dots.

2. Self-referencing canonicals

Canonicals were introduced quite some years ago as an answer to duplicate content. Duplicate content means that the same or very similar content is available on multiple URLs. This confuses search engines: If the same content is shown on various URLs, which URL should they show in the search results?

Duplicate content can exist without you being aware of it. In an online store, for instance, one product might belong to more than one categories. If the category is included in the URL, the product page can be found on multiple URLs. Or perhaps you add campaign tags to your URLs if you share them on social or in your newsletter? This means the same page is available on a URL with and without a campaign tag. And there are more technical causes for duplicate content such as these.

The solution for this type of duplicate content issues is a self-referencing canonical. A canonical URL lets you say to search engines: “Of all the options available for this URL, this URL is the one you should show in the search results”. You can do so by adding a rel=canonical tag on a page, pointing to the page that you’d like to rank. In this case, you’d need the canonical tag to point to the URL of the original page.

So, should you go through all your posts now and add it? Not if you’re using Yoast SEO. The plugin does this for you, everywhere on your site: single posts and pages, homepages, category archives, tag archives, date archives, author archives, etc. If you’re not such a techy person, the canonical isn’t easy to wrap your head around. Or, perhaps, you just don’t have the time to focus on it. So let Yoast SEO take care of it and move on to more exciting stuff!

Read more: rel=canonical: the ultimate guide »

3. Paginated archives with rel=next / rel=prev

Another hidden feature in Yoast SEO is rel=next / rel=prev. It’s a method of telling search engines that certain pages belong to an archive: a so-called paginated archive. A rel=next / prev tag in the header of your site lets search engines know what the previous and the next page in that archive is. Nobody else than people looking at the source code of your site and search engines see this piece of code.

Not so long ago, Google announced that it isn’t using rel=next/prev anymore. Does this mean we should do away with this feature? No, certainly not! Bing and other search engines still use it, so Yoast SEO will keep on adding rel=next / prev tags to paginated archives.

Keep reading: Pagination and SEO: best practices »

4. Nofollow login & registration links

If you have a WordPress site, you most likely have a login link and a registration link somewhere on your site. But the login or registration page of your WordPress site are places visitors, nor search engines will ever have to be.

Therefore, Yoast SEO tells search engines not to follow links for login and registration pages. Yoast SEO makes sure that search engines will never follow these links. It’s a tiny tweak, but it saves a lot of unneeded Google action. 

5. Noindex your internal search results

This hidden feature is based on Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. Google wants to prevent users from going from a search result in Google to a search result page on a website site. Google, justly, considers that bad user experience.

You can tell search engines not to include a certain page in their search results by adding a noindex tag to a page. Because of Google’s guidelines, Yoast SEO tells search engines that they should not display your internal search results pages in their search results with a noindex tag. They just tell them not to show these pages in the search results; the links on these pages can still be followed and counted which is better for SEO.

Read on: Which pages should I noindex or nofollow on my site »

6. Removal of replytocom variables

This last hidden feature is quite a technical one. In short, it prevents your site from creating lots of URLs with no added value. WordPress has a replytocom feature that lets you reply to comments without activating JavaScript in your browser. But this means that for every comment, it creates a separate URL with ?replytocom variables.

The disadvantage of this is that if you get a lot of comments search engines have to index all those URLs, which is a waste of your crawl budget. Therefore we remove these variables by default.

Keep on reading: Why you should buy Yoast SEO Premium »

The post Yoast SEO’s hidden features that secretly level up our SEO appeared first on Yoast.

Video Marketing Crash Course

Video Marketing Crash Course

Video Marketing Crash Course

Need help getting started with video marketing? One of the hardest things for many businesses to start learning is video marketing, but it isn‘t as hard as it sounds! You can do it. We have seven quick videos that can help you begin today!

Don’t underestimate the power of video

Don’t underestimate the power of video

Video content impacts organic performance more than any other asset that can be displayed on a web page. In today’s online marketing world, videos have become an integral step in the user journey.

Yet for the large enterprises, video optimization is still not an essential part of their website optimization plan. Video content is still battling for recognition among the B2B marketer. Other industries, on the other hand, have already harnessed this power of video.

In the recent Google Marketing Live, Google mentioned that 80% of all online searches are followed by a video search. Some other stats to take into consideration,  according to Smallbiztrends by 2019, global consumer Internet video traffic will account for 80% of all consumer Internet traffic. Furthermore, pages with videos are 53 times more likely to rank on Google’s first page.

I took a deeper look into video content and its impact on organic performance. My analysis started in the fall of 2018. Google had already started to display video thumbnails in the SERPs. According to research from BrightEdge, Google is now showing video thumbnails in 26% of search results.


graph on video content and its impact on organic performance for mobiles


graph on video content and its impact on organic performance for desktops

Source: BrightEdge

Understanding the true influence of video SEO for your business will require some testing. I did four different sets of tests to arrive at the sweet spot for our pages.

The first test was to gauge if having video content on the page made any significant changes. I identified a page that ranked on page four of the SERP’s in spite of being well optimized. The team placed video content relevant to the textual content to the page. And the test result was loud and clear, having a video on the page increased relevance, resulting in increased rankings, and visibility in universal search. The Page started to rank on page one and the video thumbnail in the SERPs displayed the desired video and linked back to the page.

The next test was to understand the impact of the method of delivery. I measured what was the level of user engagement and organic performance when video contents are displayed/delivered on the page via different formats. The page was set up wherein users could get access to the video content either via a link that would take the user to YouTube or as a pop-up or as an embedded file that actually plays the video on the page itself. Results were very evident – every time the video was embedded on the page the user engagement increased, which decreased the bounce rate, and improved page ranking.

Taking a step further in our testing journey, I conducted a follow-up test to evaluate which category of video content performs better? Like any other SEO strategy, video optimization isn’t different. Skip the marketing fluff and go for product feature videos, “how-to” videos, or “what is” videos. We tested assorted video contents on the same page. Whenever the content of the video addressed a user need and was relevant to the page textual content the page rankings improved.

Lastly, I tested if Google prefers YouTube videos or domain hosted videos. On this subject, several of my business colleagues and I have budded heads. There is no universal truth. Google does display both YouTube and domain hosted videos in the thumbnails on the SERPs. Different sites will see different results. I tested the impacts of an embedded YouTube video on the page.  What I found was something I had not even considered in my hypothesis. When the video was already present on YouTube and then embedded on the page, the URL improved in rankings and at the same time the thumbnails on the SERPs showed the YouTube video but when the user clicked on the video it took them to the product page and not to the YouTube video.

Key takeaway

Many enterprise SEO strategists failed to leverage the video content because they feel their products are not that B2C in nature. Remember that search engines like videos because searchers like videos.

Videos take the static image or textual content to experience content, wherein the user can actually view how to use the information. This brings in a much higher and stronger level of engagement that in turn improving the brand reputation.

What video content should you consider?

I recommend starting at square one – what is the user intend/need you are trying to address. Define the goals you want to achieve from this video marketing. Are you looking to drive conversions or spread brand awareness? Put some thought into whether the video is informative and engaging and whether it is relevant to the page that it is displayed in.

Don’t overlook how that message is conveyed as well. Take into account personas as that establishes your intended target audience, the overall tone that the video should take. What stage of the user journey is being targeted? Understanding the areas where video results are high can help provide insight and guidance for additional content strategy ideas.

Things to remember when starting to incorporate video content

More and more people are searching and viewing content on their handheld devices. Therefore, you have to optimize this content with a mobile-first approach.

The basic SEO principle still applies. Optimize title, description, tags, transcript. Matching these to the user intent can encourage click-throughs

  • Ensure its page placement. Always surround your video with relevant content to tie it all together.
  • Videos up to two minutes long get the most engagement. Keep them short and let your brand shine through.

Don’t just link to it, embed it onto your site and make sure the video image is compelling.

This is the critical time to incorporate video content and optimization into your content strategy for 2019. When quality videos are added to web pages, it gets recognized as rich content, a step up from the regular text-filled pages. Video content will only help your optimization strategy in expanding your reach to driving engaged site visits.

Tanu Javeri is Senior Global SEO Strategist at IBM.

The post Don’t underestimate the power of video appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

How to set up Google Analytics annotations to show Google updates

How to set up Google Analytics annotations to show Google updates

With Google releasing more information of when updates take place, you should see it as a good practice to highlight this information in your Google Analytics account.

With the use of annotations, you will now have a visual guide in Google Analytic’s reports to help understand if you have been affected negatively or positively from the updates made to Google algorithm. But you can also use this to mark other important events for when changes have been applied to your website.

how to set up annotations in google analytics for google updates

Source: Google Analytics 

A four-step guide to creating an annotation

  1. Click on the small down arrow pointing triangle of any graph type of report.

set up annotations in google analytics

Source: Google Analytics

2) Click on the “+Create new annotation”.

create new annotation in google analytics

Source: Google Analytics

3) Complete the small form, select the date of the Google update and a small note that makes it clear what update/change took place.

4) And last but not least hit “Save”.

You can set your annotations to be private or shared (only if you have collaboration-level access the Google Analytics account can you select shared annotations).

twitter announcement from google search liaison team about core update

Source: Twitter.com

When Google released the June core update in 2019, Google’s search liaison team pre-announced the update via Twitter, this is the first time they have ever done this. You can take advantage of this in the future by adding google annotations in advance so that you can see if there was a negative or positive effect on your organic traffic from google.

Having the ability to add annotations with a date set in the future can come in particularly handy if you know that there is an update about to go live from Google, or if your development team is about to upload their weekly change at 4.59 pm on a Friday.

How to add annotations for future Google updates

  1. Go to the admin section of your Google Analytics account
  2. Select the correct view in the far left-hand column
  3. Under “Personal tools & Assets”, select “Annotations”
  4. Click on “+ New Annotation” at the top of the table
  5. Enter the date of the Google update/change you will see that you are now able to select a date in the future
  6. Add some descriptive text about the change/update
  7. Chose the type of visibility – private or shared
  8. Click “Create Annotation”

set up google analytics annotation

Source: Google Analytics

List of Google updates to add Google Analytics annotations

Site Diversity Update  —  June 6, 2019

June 2019 Core Update  —  June 3, 2019

Indexing Bugs  —  May 23, 2019

Deindexing Bug  —  April 5, 2019

March 2019 Core Update  —  March 12, 2019

19-result SERPs  —  March 1, 2019

March 1st Google Search Algorithm Ranking Update – Unconfirmed (SER)

Unnamed Update  —  November 29, 2018

Unnamed Update  —  October 15, 2018

Unnamed Update  —  September 10, 2018

Medic Core Update  —  August 1, 2018

Chrome Security Warnings (Full Site)  —  July 24, 2018

Unnamed Update  —  July 21, 2018

Mobile Speed Update  —  July 9, 2018

Video Carousels  —  June 14, 2018

Unnamed Update  —  May 23, 2018

Snippet Length Drop  —  May 13, 2018

Unnamed Core Update  —  April 17, 2018

Mobile-First Index Roll-out  —  March 26, 2018

Zero-result SERP Test  —  March 14, 2018

Brackets Core Update  —  March 8, 2018

Unnamed Update  —  February 20, 2018

Maccabees Update  —  December 14, 2017

Snippet Length Increase  —  November 30, 2017

Unnamed Update  —  November 14, 2017

Featured Snippet Drop  —  October 27, 2017

Chrome Security Warnings (Forms)  —  October 17, 2017

Unnamed Update  —  September 27, 2017

Google Jobs  —  June 20, 2017

Unnamed Update  —  May 17, 2017

Google Tops 50% HTTPS  —  April 16, 2017

Fred (Unconfirmed)  —  March 8, 2017

Unnamed Update  —  February 6, 2017

Unnamed Update  —  February 1, 2017

Intrusive Interstitial Penalty  —  January 10, 2017

Unnamed Update  —  December 14, 2016

Unnamed Update  —  November 10, 2016

Penguin 4.0, Phase 2  —  October 6, 2016

Penguin 4.0, Phase 1  —  September 27, 2016

Penguin 4.0 Announcement  —  September 23, 2016

Image/Universal Drop  —  September 13, 2016

Possum  —  September 1, 2016

Mobile-friendly 2  —  May 12, 2016

Unnamed Update  —  May 10, 2016

AdWords Shake-up  —  February 23, 2016

Unnamed Update  —  January 8, 2016

RankBrain*  —  October 26, 2015

Panda 4.2 (#28)  —  July 17, 2015

The Quality Update  —  May 3, 2015

Mobile Update AKA “Mobilegeddon”  —  April 22, 2015

Unnamed Update  —  February 4, 2015

Pigeon Expands (UK, CA, AU)  —  December 22, 2014

Penguin Everflux  —  December 10, 2014

Pirate 2.0  —  October 21, 2014

Penguin 3.0  —  October 17, 2014

In The News Box  —  October 1, 2014

Panda 4.1 (#27)  —  September 23, 2014

Authorship Removed  —  August 28, 2014

HTTPS/SSL Update  —  August 6, 2014

Pigeon  —  July 24, 2014

Authorship Photo Drop  —  June 28, 2014

Payday Loan 3.0  —  June 12, 2014

Panda 4.0 (#26)  —  May 19, 2014

Payday Loan 2.0  —  May 16, 2014

Unnamed Update  —  March 24, 2014

Page Layout #3  —  February 6, 2014

Authorship Shake-up  —  December 19, 2013

Unnamed Update  —  December 17, 2013

Unnamed Update  —  November 14, 2013

Penguin 2.1 (#5)  —  October 4, 2013

Hummingbird  —  August 20, 2013

In-depth Articles  —  August 6, 2013

Unnamed Update  —  July 26, 2013

Knowledge Graph Expansion  —  July 19, 2013

Panda Recovery  —  July 18, 2013

Multi-Week Update  —  June 27, 2013

Panda Dance  —  June 11, 2013

Penguin 2.0 (#4)  —  May 22, 2013

Domain Crowding  —  May 21, 2013

Phantom  —  May 9, 2013

Panda #25  —  March 14, 2013

Panda #24  —  January 22, 2013

Panda #23  —  December 21, 2012

Knowledge Graph Expansion  —  December 4, 2012

Panda #22  —  November 21, 2012

Panda #21  —  November 5, 2012

Page Layout #2  —  October 9, 2012

Penguin #3  —  October 5, 2012

August/September 65-Pack  —  October 4, 2012

Panda #20  —  September 27, 2012

Exact-Match Domain (EMD) Update  —  September 27, 2012

Panda 3.9.2 (#19)  —  September 18, 2012

Panda 3.9.1 (#18)  —  August 20, 2012

7-Result SERPs  —  August 14, 2012

June/July 86-Pack  —  August 10, 2012

DMCA Penalty (“Pirate”)  —  August 10, 2012

Panda 3.9 (#17)  —  July 24, 2012

Link Warnings  —  July 19, 2012

Panda 3.8 (#16)  —  June 25, 2012

Panda 3.7 (#15)  —  June 8, 2012

May 39-Pack  —  June 7, 2012

Penguin 1.1 (#2)  —  May 25, 2012

Knowledge Graph  —  May 16, 2012

April 52-Pack  —  May 4, 2012

Panda 3.6 (#14)  —  April 27, 2012

Penguin  —  April 24, 2012

Panda 3.5 (#13)  —  April 19, 2012

Parked Domain Bug  —  April 16, 2012

March 50-Pack  —  April 3, 2012

Panda 3.4 (#12)  —  March 23, 2012

Search Quality Video  —  March 12, 2012

Venice  —  February 27, 2012

February 40-Pack (2)  —  February 27, 2012

Panda 3.3 (#11)  —  February 27, 2012

February 17-Pack  —  February 3, 2012

Ads Above The Fold  —  January 19, 2012

Panda 3.2 (#10)  —  January 18, 2012

Search + Your World  —  January 10, 2012

January 30-Pack  —  January 5, 2012

December 10-Pack  —  December 1, 2011

Panda 3.1 (#9)  —  November 18, 2011

10-Pack of Updates  —  November 14, 2011

Freshness Update  —  November 3, 2011

Query Encryption  —  October 18, 2011

Panda “Flux” (#8)  —  October 5, 2011

“Minor” Google Panda Update On November 18th (SEL)

Panda 2.5 (#7)  —  September 28, 2011

516 Algo Updates  —  September 21, 2011

Pagination Elements  —  September 15, 2011

Expanded Sitelinks  —  August 16, 2011

Panda 2.4 (#6)  —  August 12, 2011

Panda 2.3 (#5)  —  July 23, 2011

Google+  —  June 28, 2011

Panda 2.2 (#4)  —  June 21, 2011

Schema.org  —  June 2, 2011

Panda 2.1 (#3)  —  May 9, 2011

Panda 2.0 (#2)  —  April 11, 2011

The +1 Button  —  March 30, 2011

Panda/Farmer  —  February 23, 2011

Attribution Update  —  January 28, 2011

Overstock.com Penalty  —  January 1, 2011

Negative Reviews  —  December 1, 2010

Social Signals  —  December 1, 2010

Instant Previews  —  November 1, 2010

Google Instant  —  September 1, 2010

Brand Update  —  August 1, 2010

Caffeine (Rollout)  —  June 1, 2010

May Day  —  May 1, 2010

Google Places  —  April 1, 2010

Real-time Search  —  December 1, 2009

Caffeine (Preview)  —  August 1, 2009

Vince  —  February 1, 2009

Rel-canonical Tag  —  February 1, 2009

Google Suggest  —  August 1, 2008

Dewey  —  April 1, 2008

2007 Updates

Buffy  —  June 1, 2007

Universal Search  —  May 1, 2007

False Alarm  —  December 1, 2006

Supplemental Update  —  November 1, 2006

Big Daddy  —  December 1, 2005

Google Local/Maps  —  October 1, 2005

Jagger  —  October 1, 2005

Gilligan  —  September 1, 2005

XML Sitemaps  —  June 1, 2005

Personalized Search  —  June 1, 2005

Bourbon  —  May 1, 2005

Allegra  —  February 1, 2005

Nofollow  —  January 1, 2005

Google IPO  —  August 1, 2004

Brandy  —  February 1, 2004

Austin  —  January 1, 2004

Florida  —  November 1, 2003

Supplemental Index  —  September 1, 2003

Fritz  —  July 1, 2003

Esmeralda  —  June 1, 2003

Dominic  —  May 1, 2003

Cassandra  —  April 1, 2003

Boston  —  February 1, 2003

1st Documented Update  —  September 1, 2002

Google Toolbar  —  December 1, 2000

Source: moz.com

And remember

Generally speaking by adding annotations to your Google Analytics account you will be able to see more clearly if you have been affected by any Google updates.

Paul Lovell is an SEO Consultant And Founder at Always Evolving SEO. He can be found on Twitter @_PaulLovell.

The post How to set up Google Analytics annotations to show Google updates appeared first on Search Engine Watch.