How to build a structured data-powered FAQ page using Yoast SEO

How to build a structured data-powered FAQ page using Yoast SEO

Many, many sites have an FAQ page. This is a page where a lot of frequently asked questions get the appropriate answer. It is often a single page filled to the brim with questions and answers. While it’s easy to add one, it’s good to keep in mind that not all sites need an FAQ. Most of the times all you need is good content targeted at the users’ needs. Here, I’ll discuss the use of FAQ pages and show you how to make one yourself with Yoast SEOs new structured data content blocks for the WordPress block editor. You won’t believe how easy it is.

For more information on our Schema structured data implementation, please read our Schema documentation.

What is an FAQ?

FAQ stands for frequently asked questions. It is a single page collecting a series of question and its answers on a specific subject, product or company. An FAQ is often seen as a tool to reduce the workload of the customer support team. It is also used to show that you are aware of the issues a customer might have and to provide an answer to that.

But first: Do you really, really, really need an FAQ?

Usually, if you need to answer a lot of questions from users in an FAQ, that means that your content is not providing these answers and that you should work on that. Or maybe it is your product or service itself that’s not clear enough? One of the main criticisms of FAQs is that they hardly ever answer the questions consumers really have. They are also lazy: instead of figuring out how to truly answer a question with formidable content — using content design, for instance –, people rather throw some random stuff on a page and call it an FAQ.

That’s not to say you should never use an FAQ. Numerous sites successfully apply them — even we use them sparingly. In some cases, they do provide value. Users understand how an FAQ works and are quick to find what they are looking for — if the makers of the page know what they are doing. So don’t make endless lists of loosely related ‘How can I…’ or ‘How to…’ questions, because people will struggle to filter out what they need.

It has to be a page that’s easy to digest and has to have real answers to real questions by users. You can find scores of these if you search for them: ask your support team for instance! Collect and analyze the issues that come up frequently to see if you’re not missing some pain points in your products or if your content is targeting the wrong questions.

So don’t hide answers to pressings questions away on an FAQ page if you want to answer these in-depth: make an article out of it. This is what SEO deals with: provide an answer that matches your content to the search intent.

Questions and answers spoken out loud?

Google is trying to match a question from a searcher to an answer from a source. If you mark up your questions and answers with FAQ structured data, you tell search engines that this little sentence is a question and that this paragraph is its answer. And all these questions and answers are related to the main topic of the page.

Paragraph-based content is all the rage. One of the reasons? The advent of voice search. Google is looking for easy to understand, block-based content that it can use to answer searchers questions right in the search engine — or by speaking it out loud. Using the Schema property speakable might even speed up this content discovery by determining which part of the content is fit for text-to-speech conversion.

How to build an FAQ page in WordPress via Yoast SEO content blocks

The best way to set up a findable, readable and understandable FAQ page on a WordPress site is by using the structured data content blocks in Yoast SEO. These blocks for the new block editor — formally known as Gutenberg –, make building an FAQ page a piece of cake.

All the generated structured data for the FAQ will be added to the graph Yoast SEO generates for every page. This makes it even easier for search engines to understand your content. Yoast SEO automatically adds the necessary structured data so search engines like Google can do cool stuff with it. But, if nothing else, it might even give you an edge over your competitor. So, let’s get to it!

  1. Open WordPress’ new block editor

    Make a page in WordPress, add a title and an introductory paragraph. Now add the FAQ structured data content block. You can find the Yoast SEO structured data content blocks inside the Add Block modal. Scroll all the way down to find them or type ‘FAQ’ in the search bar, which I’ve highlighted in the screenshot below.yoast seo structured data content blocks FAQ

  2. Add questions and answers

    After you’ve added the FAQ block, you can start to add questions and answers to it. Keep in mind that these questions live inside the FAQ block. It’s advisable to keep the content related to each other so you can keep the page clean and focused. So no throwing in random questions.yoast seo structured data content blocks faq add question

  3. Keep filling, check and publish

    After adding the first question and answering it well, keep adding the rest of your questions and answers until you’ve filled your FAQ page. In the screenshot below you see two questions filled in. I’ve highlighted two buttons, the Add Image button and the Add Question. These speak for themselves.

    Once you are done, you’ll have a well-structured FAQ page with valid structured data. Go to the front-end of your site and check if everything is in order. If not, make the necessary changes.

What does an FAQ rich result look like?

We have an FAQ page for our Yoast Diversity Fund and that page was awarded an FAQ rich result by Google after we added an FAQ structured data content block. So, wondering what an FAQ looks like in Google? Wonder no more:

An example FAQ rich result for a Yoast page

Keep in mind that an FAQ rich result like this might influence the CTR to that page. It might even lead to a decrease in traffic to your site since you are giving away answers instantly. It is a good idea, therefore, to use it only for information that you don’t mind giving away like this. Or you have to find a way to make people click to your site. Do experiment with it, of course, to see the effects. Maybe it works brilliantly for you, who knows?

What does this look like under the hood?

Run your new FAQ page through Structured Data Testing Tool to see what it looks like for Google. Yoast SEO automatically generates valid structured data for your FAQ page. Here’s a piece of the Yoast Diversity Fund page, showing one particular question and its answer:

The first question and answer from the structured data graph

It’s basically built up like this. The context surrounding the questions is an FAQPage Schema graph. Every question gets a Question type and an acceptedAnswer with an answer type. That sounds hard, but it’s not. All you have to do is fill in the Question and the Answer and you’re good to go!

This translates to the code below as generated automatically by the Yoast SEO structured data content blocks. Now, Google will immediately see that this piece of content contains a question with an accepted answer. It will also see how this FAQ fits in with the rest of the page and the entities within your site. If you’re lucky, this might eventually lead to a featured snippet or another type of rich result.

<script type='application/ld+json' class='yoast-schema-graph yoast-schema-graph--main'> { "@context":"", "@graph":[ { "@type": "Organization", "@id": "", "name": "Yoast", "url": "", "sameAs": ["", "", "", "", "", "", ""] } , { "@type":"WebSite", "@id":"", "url":"", "name":"Yoast", "publisher": { "@id": "" } , "potentialAction": { "@type":"SearchAction", "target":"{search_term_string}", "query-input": "required name=search_term_string" } } , { "@type": ["WebPage", "FAQPage"], "@id": "", "url": "", "inLanguage": "en-US", "name": "How to Apply for the Yoast Diversity Fund • Yoast", "isPartOf": { "@id": "" } , "image": { "@type": "ImageObject", "@id": "", "url": "", "width": 1200, "height": 628 } , "primaryImageOfPage": { "@id": "" } , "datePublished":"2019-05-03T11:12:29+00:00", "dateModified":"2019-06-07T09:51:36+00:00", "breadcrumb": { "@id": "" } } , { "@type":"BreadcrumbList", "@id":"", "itemListElement":[ { "@type":"ListItem", "position":1, "item": { "@type": "WebPage", "@id": "", "url": "", "name": "Home" } } , { "@type":"ListItem", "position":2, "item": { "@type": "WebPage", "@id": "", "url": "", "name": "Yoast Diversity Fund" } } , { "@type":"ListItem", "position":3, "item": { "@type": "WebPage", "@id": "", "url": "", "name": "How to Apply for the Yoast Diversity Fund" } } ] } , [ { "@type":"ItemList", "mainEntityOfPage": { "@id": "" } , "numberOfItems":5, "itemListElement":[ { "@id": "" } , { "@id": "" } , { "@id": "" } , { "@id": "" } ] } ], { "@type":"Question", "@id":"", "position":0, "url":"", "name":"What type of costs are reimbursed?", "answerCount":1, "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "Our goal is to reimburse those costs that would keep you from speaking at tech conferences. If you, for whatever reason, have costs, such as child-care or specialized transport, for example, we invite you to share those with us and we'll look at those on a per-case scenario. Examples of costs we're happy to reimburse are:\u2013 Travel and transportation, e.g. gas, car rental, taxis or flights.\u2013 Accommodation, hotel, AirBNB or similar. \u2013 Child-care costs.\u2013 Sign language interpreter.\u2013 Visa costs." } } , { "@type":"Question", "@id":"", "position":1, "url":"", "name":"How many times can I apply for the Yoast Diversity Fund?", "answerCount":1, "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "Our goal is to assist in increasing speaker diversity as much as possible. This means we'll focus on first-time applications mostly. However, there is no limit to the number of times you can apply." } } , { "@type":"Question", "@id":"", "position":2, "url":"", "name":"Is the fund available to all?", "answerCount":1, "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "Yes. With the exception of Yoast employees, former Yoast employees, and contractors." } } , { "@type":"Question", "@id":"", "position":3, "url":"", "name":"When should I apply?", "answerCount":1, "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "Applicants should apply at least one month before the event." } } ]
} </script>

Structured data is so cool

Structured data is hot. It is one of the foundations on which the web is built today and its importance will only increase with time. In this post, I’ve shown you one of the newest Schema additions, and you’ll increasingly see this pop up in the search results.

For more information on our Schema structured data implementation, please read our Schema documentation.

The post How to build a structured data-powered FAQ page using Yoast SEO appeared first on Yoast.

eCommerce Faceted Navigation | How It Affects SEO & Google Search Results

eCommerce Faceted Navigation | How It Affects SEO & Google Search Results

eCommerce navigation or faceted navigation in SEO. There are phrases the Gods of SEO themselves squint at when they hear them. Why? Because it involves duplicate content and very big sites. And we all know how difficult that is to fix.


The subject is hard to master and it comes with a lot of confusion on the side. Faceted search or filtered search? What is the difference between facets and filters? Which pages should I index? These are all questions webmasters ask themselves. So prepare for a ‘headachy’ journey as we’ll try to explain a couple of things in this article, such as the difference between filters and facets, which pages you should and shouldn’t index and best practices for different scenarios.




Hopefully, by the end of this article you’ll have understood everything you need to know about how to set up facets for eCommerce websites and how to manage your URL parameters for best SEO results and Google rankings.


Beware: This article is about very advanced stuff and it will twist your brain a little. It can also twist your rankings, in a good way or in a bad way, depending on whether you implement modifications the right way. The best implementation depends on the website and it differs from one case to another. If you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s better to ask for an expert’s opinion!


  1. Faceted Search vs. Filtered Search: What Is the Difference Between Search and Filters?
  2. Faceted Search Problems & Challenges
  3. How Google Handles URL Parameters & How It Affects SEO
  4. Which URL Parameters to Index & Which Ones to Not
  5. How to Fix Faceted Search Issues & Have a Good Navigation Structure

1. Faceted Search vs. Filtered Search:
What Is the Difference Between Search and Filters?


It took me myself a long time to figure out this difference. Why? Because I didn’t know what facet means. And I’m not talking about its meaning in eComm, I’m talking about its meaning in general.


So let’s start with that:


A facet is one side of a many-sided thing. Like a gem or a dice. We can also say it’s a particular aspect or feature of something.


Ok, so what does that have to do with filters and search?


Well, in eCommerce, the products of a website are usually split into categories. Sometimes, that’s enough to be able to browse it. However, in cases where there are very many products, it might not be enough.


In order to be able to browse the website efficiently, you’ll have to be able to sort those products according to different attributes. You know, like size, color, weight, etc.


To see only results that match certain criteria, you have to apply something which is known as a filter. A filter can include items that only contain the specified attribute, or it can exclude items that don’t.


Ok, so what does that have to do with facets?


Well, when you apply a filter, you can call each result page returned a facet of the category you’re currently browsing. 


There are many websites that try to explain the difference between filters and facets. One explanation is that facets are unique pages and they are extensions to the category pages, while filters are just used to refine item listings.


While that’s true, one thing they seem to get wrong is that facets should be indexed and filters should not be indexed.


In the articles I’ve found (not going to give the names, though) the writers used the following example:


  • Dresses
    • Going out
    • Evening
    • View all
  • Filter by
    • Shipping
    • Size
    • Price
  • Brand
    • Brand A
    • Brand B
    • Brand C


The writers argued that Dresses and Brands are Facets, therefore they should be indexed, while Shipping, Size and Price are filters and should not be indexed.


My counterargument is: What if a lady searches for “evening dresses size M under 400$”?


Now this might be far fetched, but it can very well be the case! The best example I personally know is in the used car industry. People search a lot for things like “used cars under xxx”.


In the following example you can clearly see that Google auto-suggests these types of results:


Google faceted search keywords


So we can clearly see that people search for these keywords. Let’s do a search for “used cars under 10000” and see what results we get:


filters vs facets in search and seo


Hmm… interesting. It seems like Google is returning an answer box for this result. This is cool! I can click on More items to get to


I’ve highlighted the URL above to show which site is ranking in the answer box. Carmax is also ranking #1 so it has multiple positions on Google.


But wait! Is that a URL parameter? Could it be a filter for price? It sure looks like it. Let’s check out the site.


price filter facet indexed in google for seo


It’s seems they consider it a filter! Had Carmax taken the advice above and used a noindex tag on their price filters, they wouldn’t be ranking #1 right now and we would not have landed on their page.


Good thing they didn’t do that. Actually, Carmax does a pretty good job at telling Google which pages it actually wants indexed and which it doesn’t. We’ll use it more as an example.


So the difference between filters & facets is that facets are a result of filtering products. You use filters and they generate facets.


While the definition of facets in search is “sorting by multiple dimensions simultaneously”, which actually means using multiple filters, I like to define facets as the pages that result from filtering a search.


In my opinion, it’s not about having one filter or multiple filters. I can have a single filter: it will still create a facet. This way, it’s very easy to differentiate between them.


For example, I can apply a single sorting filter, by price, which will create a facet. The problem, however, is that the facet isn’t unique! And that’s when Google has a problem with it.


2. Faceted Search Problems & Challenges


Faceted navigation and search are great. They help you find exactly what you need pretty easily. In the following video you can see how you can take advantage of faceted search to filter out exactly the books you might want to read, from over hundreds of thousands of results to only 7.



Ideally, the site shouldn’t create these types of pages at all. Sure, we might think it’s mostly bad for search engines but useful for users.


However, search engines try to favor the user. If you think about it, how good would a user’s experience be if you kept showing them the same products every time they apply a new filter?


Or how good is it for them if no products are shown? For example, if you don’t have any products Size M, should you show that size as being available?


The problem with faceted navigation search is that it can cause duplicate content issues. And with facets, the number of pages grows exponentially.


Hypothetically, let’s say you have two filters in a book store:


  • Fiction
  • Historical


If we were to combine them, you’d probably say that there are 3 possible options:


  • Only Fiction
  • Only Historical
  • Both Historical & Fiction


However, there is a 4th option: it’s Both Fiction & Historical.


So if you have 5 attributes (color, size, weight…), each containing about 5-10 variables (red, green, M, S, 10kg, 20kg…) you would have to multiply the variables to get the total amount of possible facets that can be generated.


If we have 15 colors, 10 sizes we already have 150 possible combinations. Add another 3 types of material and we end up with 450 combinations. Sort that by 8 different brands and we already have 3,600 products which is exactly the number of seconds there are in an hour… the Illuminati must be on me.


Exponential Duplicate Content Growth

How fast facets can create duplicate content.


You get the point, too many filters, too many facets, too many URLs with duplicate content.


But aren’t those pages the same? I mean… both 1+2 and 2+1 equal 3, right? Well, while users might find those pages as being the same, search engines don’t! Why? Because of URLs.


3. How Google Handles URL Parameters & How It Affects SEO


Depending on which order the users choose to select the filters of a facet, some platforms generate different URLs for the same content. This is usually done using parameters.


Google treats URLs with parameters as separate pages, not an extension of the root URL, unless a canonical tag is specified.


So, in Google’s eyes, and are separate pages with duplicate content.


This is an issue because one of the pages doesn’t provide any extra value to the user.


Google doesn’t like duplicate content because it doesn’t provide much value to the users.


If you already have a page covering a set of products, why would you have a second page covering the exact same set? Why would Google want to display the exact same thing from the exact same website twice?


Sure, that happens, but Google is always trying to fix it. For example, Mihai Aperghis from Vertify notified John of some issues that kept appearing in the search results in Romania. After not much time, Dan Sullivan announced that they’re working on a diversity change. Sure, these two things might be unrelated, but it sure seems like a big coincidence.


There are ways to fix that. For example, you can use a canonical tag from one version to another to tell Google which is the original version that should be indexed and ranked. But Google sees canonical tags as recommendations, not as absolute rules, so it might ignore them!


However, there is another issue that content duplication creates, which won’t be fixed by adding canonical tags: Burning through Crawl Budget.


burning through google crawl budget seo

How facets can burn through & create a wasting of Crawl Budget.


When Google crawls your site, it allocates a certain budget for how many pages it will crawl, depending on certain factors, such as how popular your site is, how much traffic it gets how big it is and how relevant it is.


If you’re wasting that budget on pages that will anyway perform poorly because they don’t provide any value, important pages that are unique and relevant might not get crawled, losing the chance to rank higher.


That’s why it’s important to address these issues and make sure you don’t index irrelevant pages. But which parameters and facets should you index and which should you not? How do you deal with these problems? And why do some sites, like Amazon, index everything and do so well?


4. Which URL Parameters to Index & Which Ones to Not


Deciding which pages you should let Google index and which pages you shouldn’t is important for best SEO performance.


If you’re thinking about indexing ‘facets’ but not indexing ‘filters’ think again. Indexation has nothing to do with those things, but with search intent, volume and product supply.


World renowned SEO expert Aleyda Solis explains this very well in the following video of her SEO lessons series Crawling Mondays:



If your site has many pages, then you should only let Google index the ones that either:


  • Have enough demand: These pages should actively target a specific keyword or set of keywords that has a search demand. If users don’t search for it or never reach that page through organic search (you don’t see any impressions or clicks for it in Google Search Console) then maybe it’s a better idea not to index them.
  • Have enough supply: These pages should not result in empty pages. If you only have 1-2 products or none at all in the facet while other facets provide 10-20 results, then maybe it’s a better idea not to index it. 
  • Are unique in the most part: These pages should not be very similar. Sure, there will be similarities, but if applying a second or third filter only results in a 5-10% difference, then maybe it’s better to not index those pages. This usually is also related to supply. Not enough products might lead to duplicate results.


That’s exactly why Amazon is doing so well, even though they are indexing all their pages. It’s because they have such a big supply of products that most of their facets have enough uniqueness to not be considered duplicate.


Sure, some are probably identical but, for example, even after filtering by 7-8 different dimensions I still get about 7 results, which is great.


Amazon Faceted Search


Amazon is also a very popular site with high amounts of traffic going to it each day, which means Google will allocate more crawl budget for it that it will allocate for a smaller eCommerce site.


But for smaller sites, this might not always be the case. So you want to follow the best practices for best results.


5. How to Fix Faceted Search Issues & Have a Good Navigation Structure


Fixing a complex duplicate content issue might require both time and budget. It’s not easy to manage hundreds of thousands of pages.


Here are Google’s official tips on faceted navigation pages. However, Google gives more specific examples on how things should look, but not on how to implement them.


There’s a very big difference between the effects of 301 redirects, canonical tags, noindexing and disallowing pages entirely in Robots.txt.


Unfortunately, I can’t tell you exactly how to implement things, because this can differ from one case to another. However, I can outline the best practices and give you a hint on how implementation could be done.


But the first thing you have to do is create a spreadsheet of your categories, subcategories and filters. Then you should do an extensive keyword research and map keyword clusters to the categories and filters.


Did You Know

To have a general idea of which facets you should index and which not, you need to perform an in-depth keyword research. You can use tools like the CognitiveSEO Keyword Tool or even the Google Search Console to find keywords. Along with other keyword ideas, the tool will give you great keyword insights, such as the volume of the search, their relevancy, the cost per click, etc. 



The quickest solution would be to not have any filters at all. Just use category pages with enough demand & supply. If you don’t have many products, not having filters might work for you. Simply create categories for the keywords that users search for and add products in multiple categories.


A nicely implemented example comes from FilmJackets, a site that sells leather jackets.


No filters no facets


It only took me a couple of scrolls on a desktop to see all the jackets, although on a mobile device that might be harder. Anyway, the site’s design is visually oriented, which makes me want to see all the jackets to see which design I like.


However, if they had had a lot more products and a bigger variety (such as multiple materials), filters might have been useful. The user is also led to believe that the store has all the sizes and colors in stock, as that type of filtering is made on the product page, right before placing the order.


But overall, the user experience with the current amount of products should be good. It’s a simple solution for a smaller eCommerce website and it is elegantly implemented on this website.


If you’re a big site, then you have multiple options of dealing with the problem, depending on your platform’s possibilities. Serge Stefoglo from did a great post on Moz showcasing the effects of different methods that deal with/fix duplicate content.


Duplicate content & Facets Fixes for eCommerce


So, the best fix seems like a JavaScript setup. But what does that mean? And how can it be implemented? Well, this is up to your development team. 


Eric Enge from StoneTemple tells us how Ajax and jQuery work together to fix faceted navigation duplicate content issues.


Javascript Ajax fixes duplicate content


Carmax, our previous example, uses a similar JavaScript technique to generate its filtered pages. It’s not identical but it uses JavaScript to direct users to the facets. This means that Google won’t see those links when crawling the pages, so they can’t burn through crawl budget.


JS Faceted Search


However, this can lead to another problem. Faceted pages can’t be found by search engines anymore! That’s because the JS doesn’t generate <a> tags in the HTML anymore, so Google’s crawler might have a hard time getting to the important pages.


When using AJAX and JavaScript for your facets, you have to make sure your important links can be easily crawled by Search Engines.


Carmax does this flawlessly, by stating its most important facets near the Homepage, at just 1 click away on their cars page. There are also some footer links to different locations on category or facet pages.


Crawlable links for Google


With this implementation, Google won’t have to crawl millions of possible combinations and it will still find the most important facets the site wants indexed. The same result can be obtained with a sitemap, but it’s better if you have a direct crawl path to them.


But what if someone links to those pages? Can they still get indexed? Yes. As long as they don’t have a noindex meta tag or are blocked in robots.txt, they can. But that’s not an issue because you can use canonical tags!


Pages can still get indexed if other websites link to them. Using canonical tags can help prevent duplicate content issues.


Carmax also takes advantage of canonical tags. For example, the page /cars?location=norcross+ga&price=10000 is canonicalized to /cars?price=10000&location=norcross+ga.


Ideally, the links should always be generated in the same order. For example, if I choose the order to be price, location, size, then even if the user selects location first and then price and size, the URL will still be generated in the initial order.


If you have a lot of pages, you want to focus on fixing the crawl budget issue. On the other side, if you have a lot of backlinks pointing to different filters of your pages, then you want to also pass link equity from external websites.


Start with canonical tags. These should be set up regardless if you then decide to index those pages or not.


Most pages should have a self referencing canonical, but if these pages are duplicate, then a canonical version is required.


Noindex and canonical tags will still be wasting your crawl budget, so if you can’t do a JavaScript implementation, you might want to block the pages from being crawled in robots.txt.


However, also take into account that using Robots.txt will dilute link equity, so make sure those pages don’t have internal links nor backlinks pointing to them.


A good way of doing this is by adding an extra parameter (noindex=1) to facets with more than 1 or 2 filters. Then you can add the following line:

Disallow: /*noindex=1

This way, any URL which contains the noindex=1 string will be blocked from crawling.


So for example, search by size will be:


Search by color will be:


Search by size and color will be:



However, keep in mind the supply and demand rule, if there are searches for “black category size m” then maybe you should not block those pages!


If your pages are already indexed and you want them to not get indexed and not burn crawl budget, you’ll first have to set up a noindex meta tag on the page and then add the pages to robots.txt.


Since robots.txt block crawling altogether, there’s no way for the search engine crawler to see the noindex meta tag!


So first, make sure you let the search engine find those pages to see the noindex meta tag, and after they’re removed from the index, you can add them to the robots.txt file to prevent them from burning the crawl budget.




Hopefully, you now have a better idea on which pages in your faceted search navigation menu you should index and which ones you should not.


You can use a JavaScript setup to prevent the links from being created as long as you ensure the most important ones which have demand and supply can be found by search engines.


You can also use robots.txt to disallow crawlers from accessing those URLs, saving up crawl budget. However, keep in mind that if you have or get backlinks to those pages, they won’t help your site anymore!


What’s your experience with faceted navigation search? Do you use JavaScript or do you use a mix of canonical tags, noindex meta tags and robots.txt? Let us know in the comments section below.

The post eCommerce Faceted Navigation | How It Affects SEO & Google Search Results appeared first on SEO Blog | cognitiveSEO Blog on SEO Tactics & Strategies.

Content design: a great way to make user-centered content

Content design: a great way to make user-centered content

You might know about content marketing and SEO copywriting, but do you know about content design? This new process is aimed at making content production much more structured and user-centered. Content design prevents you from simply typing out 500 words about a particular keyword without really thinking that through. For this, the inimitable Sarah Richards coined the term content design. It’s a way of improving content and aligning it with user needs, while also cutting cruft.

What is content design?

Sarah Richards of Content Design London says this: “Content design is answering a user need in the best possible way for the user to consume it.” It helps your user to get that content when they need it, in the language and format they need it. Content design isn’t just a technique the help you produce better content — it’s a new way of thinking about content.

Content design is part writing, part UX and part accessibility. It helps you produce content based on real users needs. In this regard, content doesn’t have to be a piece of text — it can be anything. If your research and process tell you a video would be the best possible solution for a user need, then so be it. Content design helps you get out of that text-oriented mindset.

A content design mindset helps you produce content that adds value to the user. You shouldn’t add another new page to the billions of pages out there already because someone told you so. Think it through. Ask questions. Is this even necessary? What is the underlying problem that needs solving? Content design should give you a good sense of the problem, instead of going straight for the solution.

Wants and needs

Content design is very much a process of figuring out not just what a user wants, but what he or she needs. They might want to learn how to solve a specific problem, but they need guidance to do that. You even have to juggle the needs of your business as well. In some cases, your content shouldn’t just provide an answer to a seemingly simple question, because the underlying need is totally different. Don’t assume stuff — research. Data is your friend — so are people, ask them.

Writing stories

After doing extensive research — we’ll get to that in a minute —, you know what you have to solve. You know what language people use and which sentiments surround a topic. Plus, you know which channel people are using. Now it’s time to turn those questions into answers. Here are the main tools to help you produce user-centered content: user stories and job stories.

A user story looks like this:

  • As a [person in a specific role]
  • I want to [perform an action or find something out]
  • So that I [can achieve my goal of…]

Here’s an example:

  • As a content writer new to SEO
  • I want to find out which WordPress tool can improve my writing
  • So that I can attract more traffic from search engines

A job story looks like this:

  • When [there’s a particular situation]
  • I want to [perform an action or find something out]
  • So I [can achieve my goal of…]

An example:

  • When I change the URL of a post in WordPress
  • I want to create a redirect
  • So I can prevent users from ending up on a dead link

Your stories should include acceptance criteria as well. There should be a way to check whether the piece of content meets these criteria.

So for the story above the acceptance criterion is:

This story is done when I know how to create a redirect in WordPress

This should form the basis of how you design your content.

User stories are helpful when you have different audiences looking to consume your content. Job stories are for specific audiences with targeted actions. For most sites, job stories would probably work best. These research-based stories help you determine what your content should answer. Don’t go out and make a million stories for every need, but focus on the most important ones. Your research should tell you what the most pressing matters are.

Now you can start designing your content.

How does content design differ from SEO copywriting?

We all know a little bit about SEO copywriting, right? You do your keyword research, you look at search intent and check out search volumes. You’ll find opportunities to get your content noticed in the search engines. This’ll help you attract clicks that, eventually, lead to something. If done well, you’re writing great, natural and user-centered copy about your keywords and the surrounding concepts. Done wrong, you’re missing the point or spamming with keywords. Or worse, you’re adding one more article to the gigantic pile of crappy articles.

The main difference between SEO copywriting and content design is that one is focused answering any question a user might have by using the correct keywords in a post, while the other is more open-minded about what the end result should be.

Also, the content design process has much more hands-on tools to make sure that you are fully on target with your content. In both cases, good preparation is half the battle. Find your user, discover where they are, what channel they are using, what language they use and what they deem important.

But like I said, content design isn’t another way to produce the same old content — it’s another way of thinking about it. By following the process, you get new insights and a great deal of input from the different user stories. What’s more, you get feedback from actual people, because you include them earlier in the process.

The content design process

Content design isn’t hard, but it is forcing you to rethink the way you work. Sarah wanted it to be easy to get going and her book on content design is just that. I’d definitely recommend reading that if you have an hour or two to spare. It’ll give you all the insights you need to get started, with many practical examples. Her training is ace as well, we’ve been lucky to attend her workshop with part of the Yoast blog team.

Now, let’s go over the content design process. Don’t forget your sticky notes, people!

Research: the discovery phase

Start off with the most important part of the process: Discovery. The discovery phase is all about doing thorough research into the assignment you’ve been given or the problem you’re trying to solve, the users it targets and the way these two connect. It’s a journey into the minds of users to figure out their wants and needs. It’s also very much a journey of trying to uncover the underlying need of the assignment.

The discovery phase helps you to understand:

  • Who your audience is
  • What they want and need
  • What language they use
  • Which channel they use
  • What your organization thinks it wants
  • What your organization really needs
  • How and what to prioritize
  • What you should communicate when (and where)

But how do you get all these insights? Well, good-old research. Look through the data; use Google Trends, Google Analytics, and other SEO tools like or Answer the Public. Go out on the street and talk to your audience. Ask your support team to chime in. Have a research team on hand? Use it! Read what users are saying on forums and platforms like Reddit and Quora. Doing this in tandem with everyone involved in this process makes the outcome even better. But watch out — try to stay away from what you already know. Don’t take the easy way out to be done with the research part.

Find user needs and map the user journey

Discovering user needs is an important step in the content design process. Besides finding out who your users are, you have to find out how they behave. If you are looking to promote a solution to a problem, find out how they currently got around that problem. Discover why they are experiencing this problem and what else they run into. What are they frustrated about? What do they need to solve this and turn frustration into happiness?

Remember, always keep it real. Everything should be based on research, not made up to fit your goal.

What journey does the user take to get to your solution? (c) Rosenfeld Media

The user journey is the relationship of a user with a product or brand over time and across communication channels. This is often a visual timeline with so-called touch points where the user comes in contact with the product. The user journey gives a bird’s eye view of where communication with a user should take place. Every touch point on the user journey may need a piece of content to help users meet their needs.

Since content design originated at, they have a wealth of information in their Content Design and User Research sections.

Find communication channels

Where are your users? Are they desktop computer users with broadband internet or are they mobile internet users with a capped data plan? Are they heavy search engine users or do they get their information from social media? What type of sites do they visit? Are they on forums? Or maybe even offline? Who do they trust?

Determine language and sentiment

As in SEO, the language users use is of the utmost importance. You’re bound to lose a large part of traffic or don’t get traffic at all when you’re using words that don’t align with your target audience. Always find out if people search for SEO or Search Engine Optimization, for example.

Use Google Trends to find what language people use. You can also use any of the well-known tools to do keyword research as we describe in our Ultimate Guide to Keyword Research. Make sure that you know your subject inside out and that you know all about related concepts as well. Only then can you form a complete picture of what you’re dealing with.

But while you are mapping your topic, you shouldn’t forget one thing: sentiment. One of the things content design reminds you of is that language changes with people’s mood. People use different words when angry. Find out if your subject is talked about positively or negatively. If people have a concern about your product you need to address that in your content. Sentiments must shape your strategy.

Create content

When you’re done with the discovery phase and you know everything about your audience and their needs, you’re ready to start designing content. You’ll use your job stories or user stories as input to come up with the best way possible to meet those needs. Remember, content design frees you of the classic text-oriented chains. It lets you decide — based on all your research — what the best way to help those particular users.

In a lot of cases, you’ll end up writing a post, UX copy or a piece of explanatory content. Writing and structuring content is an important piece of content design. Everything is aimed at making it as easy as possible for a user to understand. If your research shows that your user is often in need of answers quickly — because of where or in which situation they need that answer —, you most likely don’t have to write a 1,000-word post with the answer buried deep within those words. Give it immediately. If needed, keep it short and snappy. Writing strategies like the inverted pyramid help you do that.

Use plain language

If you want your content to answer user needs it must be easy to understand and plain. Don’t use exotic words or phrases and leave out the jargon. Everyone needs to be able to get it immediately. Well, maybe you think eloquently written content fits your brand better? Or, you don’t want to come across childish so you think you must use difficult words. Think again. Plain language helps everyone. Sarah has a great quote:

“Generally, people want to understand — not admire your language skills”

Sarah Richards

By using plain language you are not dumbing down your content, but rather opening it up for everyone to enjoy. In addition, it makes your content accessible. Accessibility is a big issue, often misunderstood. The first thing people will talk about when they talk about accessibility is making things available for the disabled among us. It is, however, so much more than that. By combining user needs with powerful, easy to grasp content you can open up that information to everyone, regardless of skill, the device they’re on, the knowledge they have et cetera.

At Yoast, we know the power of good, easy to understand content. Not only people enjoy readable texts, but search engines as well. That’s one of the reasons why we’ve built a readability tool in Yoast SEO to help you with that.

Ask for feedback — critique the work

One of the most important steps in content design is the crit. Crit is short for content critique and it’s all about sharing what you made and getting feedback on it, preferably in person. People are often hesitant of asking for feedback, but it is a necessary step to make sure that your content is awesome and exactly what’s needed.

Not everyone is good at giving and receiving feedback, so there are rules for a successful crit:

  • Be respectful for the person and the work
  • Discuss the work, not the person who created it
  • Give constructive feedback
  • Don’t give people the need to defend a decision

Doing a crit might give you new insights that make the piece of content even better. Or, you might find something else that improves your work or someone else in the future. Who knows! Crits are very valuable — it’s a good way to remind you why you did what and to see if the outcome fits with the research.

Iterate — keep improving

Content is never done. Remember the requirements you determined for a piece of content? Check if these are met so you can say with some kind of certainty that a piece of content is a success. After publishing you can keep track of how content is doing and make adjustments as you see fit. Try to stay on top of things and update the content within the time you set for it. Have feedback from users or other stakeholders? Use it to make a piece of content better, easier to read or more enjoyable.

Content design techniques are a great help

Content design is a great process that helps you create content that people actually need or use. You can use it for all kinds of things, from ux writing to content marketing blog posts. Everywhere you need turn user needs into content, you can use content design. Even if you just pick up some of the techniques — like working with job stories — you’re bound to find it useful. Try it!

The post Content design: a great way to make user-centered content appeared first on Yoast.

107: A Masterclass In Modern Day Link Building w/Garrett French

107: A Masterclass In Modern Day Link Building w/Garrett French


garrett french

I try not to be hyperbolic in titles – but when listening back to this episode, a “masterclass” is the description that keeps coming to mind. You can tell when I throw spontaneous and challenging questions out like “how important is link velocity?” and Garrett gives a thoughtful, experience-based, unique answer – without even skipping a beat –  that he’s is a true expert at link building. It’s the information and insights I think anyone would expect from a ‘masterclass’.

We chatted for 90 mins about:

  • Two new strategies he’s using for link acquisition (and how you can use them),
  • How Garrett builds links for his own companies

And thanks to your awesome questions on Twitter we also talked about…

  • Building links directly to sales and product pages
  • How Garrett decides what links to go after
  • Judging the value of a link
  • Link Velocity – does it matter?
  • Best approach to anchor text
  • Big publisher links vs niche publisher links
  • Do guest posts still work?
  • Why is link building stigmatized?
  • What’s the future of link building?
  • And TONS more…

Note: There are a few quick spots of ‘dead air’ in the audio – #podcasterproblems – just a heads up!

Listen Now!

Related Episodes You Might Like

Show Agenda and Timestamps

(Coming soon!)

Tools Mentioned

(Coming soon!)

Articles, Resources, and Links Mentioned

(Coming soon!)

Find Garrett Online

The post 107: A Masterclass In Modern Day Link Building w/Garrett French appeared first on Evolving SEO.

Yoast SEO 11.4: FAQ structured data in the graph

Yoast SEO 11.4: FAQ structured data in the graph

Yoast SEO 11.4 is out today. This release features loads of structured data improvements. We’ve improved the way Yoast SEO Schema works with AMP, plus we’ve enhanced our FAQ blocks and added them to the graph. Find out what Yoast SEO 11.4 is all about!

First: Our next live SEO webinar is coming up! Be sure to join us on June 26 for the Big “Is it a ranking factor??!!” Show! »

Once again: Schema

We’re still working hard on making our new structured data implementation even more awesome. In Yoast SEO 11.4, we’re not only improving the way we handle some things, but also reintroducing our FAQ structured data blocks.

As a reminder, please read our Schema documentation if you are interested in why we’re doing this and how it all came together. The release post of Yoast SEO 11.0 has a lot of background information as well.

FAQ structured data now in the graph

One of the latest rich results Google shows is the FAQ. To stand a chance of getting these highlighted in Google, you not only need an FAQ on your page but also FAQPage structured data. Luckily, Yoast SEO comes with structured data content blocks for adding FAQ pages to your site. These only work with the WordPress block editor.

The Yoast SEO structured data blocks let you add FAQ content quickly

The blocks are incredibly easy to work with:

  • Pick the FAQ block
  • Add a question
  • Give an answer to that question
  • Add an image, if necessary
  • Repeat for all your question for this particular FAQ

Our blocks automatically generate valid FAQPage structured data in the background. Google is now ready to pick it up, like it did with this page:

The Yoast Diversity Fund page has a nice FAQ listing

In Yoast SEO 11.4, we’ve improved the code generated by our FAQ structured data block following Google’s latest changes. In addition, we made sure all data is nicely stitched into our graph. For FAQ pages, search engines now not only can identify these pages as an FAQ but they can also figure out how these pages fit in the grander scheme of things.

To get this done — and to make it as flexible as possible —, we’re introducing a new action and a new filter. The wpseo_pre-schema_block-type_<block-type> action allows you to change the graph output based on the blocks on the page. The wpseo_schema_block_<block-type> filter lets you filter graph output per block.

You can read more about this new API in our Gutenberg Blocks Schema documentation.

Now also on Reader mode AMP pages

The new Yoast SEO Schema implementation works perfectly well with modern AMP pages, but there where some issues with the Reader mode (formerly known as Classic mode). These issues have now been fixed.

The focus keyphrase field is now right at the top

UX improvements

We’re doing a number of design changes to clean up the sidebar and meta box in order to improve UX. In this release, we’ve moved the Focus keyphrase field to the top of the meta box and sidebar, making this essential item much easier to find. We’ve also linked the SEO and readability scores in the Classic Editor. A click on these items now leads to the corresponding fields in the Yoast SEO meta box below. Stay tuned for more UX improvements in coming versions of Yoast SEO.

Update now

In the release cycle ending with Yoast SEO 11.4, we’ve fixed a number of bugs and enhanced our Schema implementation. The FAQ is the next item to be added to the graph and there’s more coming up. We’ve also started work on improving the UX of the meta box, making it easier to use and enhance the discoverability of the features.

Find all changes in the changelog for Yoast SEO 11.4.

The post Yoast SEO 11.4: FAQ structured data in the graph appeared first on Yoast.