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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Canonical tags are nothing new. They’re been around since 2009—the best part of a decade. Google, Microsoft and Yahoo united to create them. Their aim? To provide website owners with a way to solve duplicate content issues quickly and easily.…
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.
Source: Google Analytics
A four-step guide to creating an annotation
Click on the small down arrow pointing triangle of any graph type of report.
Source: Google Analytics
2) Click on the “+Create new annotation”.
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).
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
Go to the admin section of your Google Analytics account
Select the correct view in the far left-hand column
Under “Personal tools & Assets”, select “Annotations”
Click on “+ New Annotation” at the top of the table
Enter the date of the Google update/change you will see that you are now able to select a date in the future
Add some descriptive text about the change/update
Chose the type of visibility – private or shared
Click “Create 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
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
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.
Experienced marketers know their competitors inside and out, and they know that there is always somewhere to dig deeper Let’s look at some of the more complex insights that your rivals’ website traffic metrics can reveal. Set your clock: we have got 30 minutes and 9 hidden points to discover.