Mobile SEO: mobile first and the most important ranking factors

Mobile SEO: mobile first and the ranking factors

The growth of the mobile internet is unstoppable… Worldwide, more and more people are using their mobile phone to perform searches on Google, visit websites and make purchases on webshops. Of the just over 17 million inhabitants in the Netherlands in 2018, 16.38 million people were Internet users and 84% of this group used their mobile phone to surf the Internet. 

Research shows that on average we spend more than a month a year on our smartphones. The cell phone truly has become our best friend. We take it with us everywhere we go, even to the toilet.

Mobile SEO best friend

Apart from the fact that this trend has a major impact on our way of life, the SEO, ‘Search Engine Optimization’/Search Engine Optimization, ranking factors are also strongly influenced by this phenomenon. Many websites already receive more than half of their search traffic via mobile phones.

Google also sees that mobile searches have increased explosively in recent years. 

That is why websites are increasingly judged based on SEO ranking factors related to concepts such as ‘mobile first’ and ‘mobile friendliness’. Do you want to know what this means and what guidelines you should use to optimize your website for mobile traffic? Then read on or click below on the topic you want to know more about.

  1. Brief introduction SEO
  2. Mobile SEO
  3. Mobile Indexing
  4. Mobile SEO ranking factors and Google guidelines
  5. How WPupgrader can help you with your mobile SEO rankings

Brief introduction SEO

Ever wondered why one website in Google ranks better than another? The answer is SEO, which stands for the process of increasing the quality and quantity of website traffic by increasing the visibility of a website for internet users of a search engine. In essence, SEO ensures that your information, product or service matches the searches of internet users as well as possible. SEO also often refers to the improvement of unpaid results and excludes direct traffic through the purchase of advertisements.

This is how it works: Google (or any other search engine that performs a search) has a ‘crawler’ (a robot that searches the world wide web in a very methodical and automated way), which collects information about all the content it can find on the internet. The crawler brings all this data back to the search engine to build an index. That index is then fed through an algorithm that tries to match all the data with a specific search query. There are a lot of SEO factors that are relevant for this algorithm, just take a look at this article.

Mobile SEO

No distinction is made between the SEO ranking factors on the mobile phone or the desktop; the same principles apply to both devices. However, as relatively many searches and website visits are performed on the mobile phone these days, the experience on this device is becoming more and more important. Google and other search engines measure this experience based on a number of essential factors that you should definitely take into account when optimizing a website for mobile traffic. Don’t worry about this, because if your website is already optimized for search engines there are only a few things that need to be adjusted according to Google.

It is always a smart idea to check if your website gets a lot of mobile search traffic before you start optimizing your website. It could be that your website receives almost no mobile traffic, this differs from industry to industry (see the image below). If this is the case, it’s a shame to completely set up your website for mobile traffic. Researching your website traffic can be done with the tool Google Analytics.

Responsive web design

Advantages responsive web design

Creating a responsive website offers many advantages. For example, only one website needs to be developed and maintained for different devices and most of the content remains accessible on almost all devices, with focus on the mobile phone. 

Moreover, a responsive web design offers an optimal visitor experience on both smaller screens and larger screens with a (very) high resolution. As with dynamic websites, in a responsive web design there can also be chosen to omit less relevant content from mobile visitors in order to improve page speed. For example with heavy imagery or font files.

In addition to these benefits, Google indicates some other advantages of a responsive web design;

  • a responsive web design makes it easier for users to share content with the same URL and link to it;
  • a responsive web design helps assign Google’s algorithms accurate indexing properties to the web pages instead of investigating and indexing the existence of corresponding desktop or mobile pages;
  • it requires less time and energy to maintain multiple web pages with the same content;
  • a responsive web design does not require redirection of visitors to display a device optimized view, which ultimately reduces loading time;
  • and Google only needs to crawl a responsive web design website once, instead of multiple times to retrieve the content. This improvement in crawl efficiency can indirectly help Google index more of your site’s content and find all relevant content.

All in all, Google definitely recommends to go for a responsive web design, in order to score well in terms of mobile SEO and create the best user experience.

Mobile indexing

Another very important topic of mobile first is mobile indexing. It is very important that the Google crawler can fully index a website by not excluding JavaScript and CSS files from indexing in robots.txt. If you don’t do this, Google will not be able to determine whether the website is actually mobile friendly.

In 2020, Google indicated that their analyses show that most sites displayed in search results are suitable for mobile-first indexing. For example, 70% of the sites displayed in Google’s search results have already switched to mobile-first indexing. To make it easier, Google will switch to mobile-first indexing for all websites from September 2020. Google claims to still crawl with the traditional desktop Googlebot from time to time, but most crawling will be done with their smartphone user agent.

To check if your website complies with the mobile-first indexing features, it’s best to use the Google Search Console tools. For example, the status your mobile first indexing can be displayed on the settings page as well as in the URL inspection tool. In particular, Google recommends ensuring that the displayed content (including text, images, videos, links), metadata (titles and descriptions, robots meta tags) and all structured data are the same on both the mobile and desktop website.

 

Mobile SEO ranking factors and Google guidelines

SEO mobile ranking factors

There are several ways to make your website mobile-first easier and score well on the mobile SEO ranking factors. Below you’ll find 11 very important methods to do this:

 

  1. High page speed score: Ensure a high page speed score. This is a very important ranking factor and certainly for mobile traffic. When your website is too slow, Google will not only rate your website worse, but you will also miss a lot of visitors. If a page doesn’t load within three seconds, visitors will most likely abort the loading and go to a competitor’s website. This is especially true for webshops. Ways to improve the page speed score are: selecting a fast hoster (like Kinsta), reducing resources on HTML, CSS and JavaScript, optimizing images, limiting the number of redirects, enabling compression, using browser caching, improving the server response time, considering a Content Delivery Network and choosing a suitable (WordPress) theme. With this tool you can examine the page speed of your pages.
  2. Responsive web design: Always go for a responsive web design in the first place if you want to score as good as possible in the field of mobile SEO, here is explained why.
  3. Mobile friendliness analysis: Always test the mobile friendliness of your website with an analysis tool like the mobile friendliness test or the settings page of Google Search Console and improve the error messages.
  4. Delete unnecessary content: Delete all unimportant content on your website. Mobile visitors don’t feel like scrolling through long lists of unnecessary content, so always make sure you have a minimalistic and sleek landing page. This ensures a lower bounce rate, which can significantly improve the SEO of the website.
  5. Call to action buttons: Make sure your Call to action buttons work and give them a prominent place. In this way you don’t run the risk that visitors will leave because they couldn’t find what they came for fast enough.
  6. Clear pages: Work with clear buttons and (product) pages. For example, provide your pages with a logical categorization of content and do not put too many products on one page when you are running a webshop.
  7. Search bar at the top of the page: Make it easy for the visitor to search for specific content by placing the search bar clearly visible at the top of the page.
  8. Structured data: Use structured data from Schema.org. Because of the limited screen space on a mobile phone, a search result with rich snippets is even more striking than on a desktop. It is therefore recommended to take advantage of structured data such as rich snippets.
  9. Optimize titles and meta descriptions: Remember that when a visitor visits your website with a mobile phone, you have less screen space to work with. To score best in terms of mobile SEO, you need to be as concise as possible when creating titles, URLs and meta descriptions.
  10. Optimize for local search: If your business offers a local service or product, don’t forget to optimize the website for local search. This includes standardizing the name, address and phone number and including the name of your city in the metadata of your site.
  11. AMP: Make use of AMP (‘Accelerated Mobile Pages’) on your website where this is possible and appropriate. Read more about AMP here.

Besides the different ways to make your website mobile-first and score well  in the search results, it’s also useful for both visitors and search engines, that your website meets the following guidelines of Google;

  • notify Google when a page has been created for mobile search traffic. This helps Google to accurately display your content in search results for mobile traffic;
  • make sure your website does not block CSS, JavaScript or other  files. The Smartphone GoogleBot wants to see and categorize the same content as users, so don’t hide it. These elements are essential for Google to understand whether you have a responsive site or another mobile solution;
  • try to avoid common mistakes that really frustrate mobile visitors, such as displaying unplayable videos (for example Flash video as the main content of the page). Mobile pages that provide a poor search experience can be downgraded in the ranking or displayed with a warning in mobile search results; 
  • the text must be readable on the page without having to zoom in;
  • content should be scaled based on screen size;
  • do not bundle links in a small area 
  • avoid installing App Interstitials for mobile users as much as possible (e.g. a pop-up for downloading a particular app).

WP Upgrader can help you with your mobile SEO rankings

The above Mobile SEO ranking factors and Google guidelines can be a lot to process and perhaps also difficult to put into practice right away. At WP Upgrader we are happy to help you as our goal is to rank your (mobile) website in the search results for organic (mobile) search traffic as high as possible. We do this by applying our knowledge of the Mobile SEO ranking factors and Google guidelines to your website. So if you need help with the implementation of the SEO ranking factors, creating a responsive website or have certain questions about the Google guidelines, you can ask for help here

 

Top 5 mistakes in your navigation menu: This is how to prevent them!

Top 5 mistakes in your navigation menu: This is how to prevent them!

The menu structure of your WordPress website is very important for both visitors and search engines. With this article, you can improve the main navigation of your website in a few simple steps. We’re talking about the most important menu at the top of your WordPress website. Are you ready for the do’s and don’ts?

Five mistakes in the navigation of your WordPress website

Mistake #1: Generic names for menu items

When I talk to customers about a new menu navigation, I usually show their homepage and cover everything but their navigation menu with my hands. I read the menu out loud and ask them: what is this website offering and to whom? There’s usually a silence. After your logo, the navigation menu is the first thing a visitor reads on your website. An excellent opportunity to show important information here. That is why instead of ‘Our services’ or ‘What we do’ we use the terms ‘WordPress Development’ and ‘Hosting & Maintenance’. When choosing the right terms, think of what the customer is looking for, instead of what your organization wants to say. Also check out our tips at the bottom of this blog.

Mistake #2: Too many items in your navigation

Limit the number of items in your navigation. A maximum of 7 is a good guideline, but less is even better. Personally, we only have four. Other options:

  • Make a short menu of, for example, three items. The last item being a menu button called ‘More’, that contains a drop-down menu with all the other, less important options
  • Use a secondary menu next to the main menu
  • Or both, see screenshot:

Mistake #3: Menu with an odd style

A menu with an unusual style is very common. Think of these mistakes:

  • Bad contrast between the menu items and the background, for example menu items that are shown on a colorful picture that makes it unreadable.
  • Hamburger menu on a desktop. We usually advise against this, because it adds an additional click, before your visitor gets to the relevant information. Except for a landing page where you want to show as little distraction as possible, and you choose to focus on just one action.
  • Bad responsive menu, that doesn’t come out well on smaller screens like tablets and mobile phones. (Tip: look at your website on all devices with Browserstack)
  • Odd location, for example when your main menu is not situated horizontally at the top or vertically at the left-hand side of your page (but in another creative place, without this making any sense or being a deliberate choice).

Mistake #4: Wrong order

Items at the top or bottom of a list are the most effective. Navigation is no exception to this. In psychology there’s the term ‘serial position effect’, which describes the tendency of a person to most remember the first and last items on a list. So, place your most important menu items at the top and your least important ones in the middle.

Mistake #5: Complicated drop-down menus

You’ve probably seen this: drop-down menus containing more drop-down menus, that make it impossible for you to click on the item you want. Just don’t do it! Live on the edge and try not using a drop-down menu at all. Why? Because you’re causing a choice overload, by confronting your visitor with more choices after they’ve just made a choice in the main menu. And yes, we’ve got some learning to do ourselves in this area ????

Five tips to improve your menu navigation

These where the things we often see go wrong in navigation menus of WordPress websites. But then what? How can you do it right? We give you five tips to improve the navigation of your WordPress website:

Tip #1: Take a visitor’s perspective

When naming your menu items, look at it from the visitor’s perspective and not your own (or that of your organization). When selling products, consider using the most important products or product categories as navigation. When providing services, try to name them. It can be helpful to use your target groups as navigation items. What will help your visitor to a better navigation?

Tip #2: Remember the search engines

When creating your main navigation, you also give an incredible amount of information to search engines about the structure of your website. This is why it can be a good idea to include your most important services and/or products in the navigation. Because with this, you’re saying: “Look, Google, this is what I have to offer”.

Tip #3: Remove the ‘Home’ button

The ‘Home’ button is not necessary in the main navigation. By far, the most internet users get that they can click on the company’s icon to go to the homepage. But keep your target group in mind: for an older target group we do recommend you leave the home buttons, because they are very used to them, and are very attached to the buttons they’re familiar with.

Tip #4: Put the call-to-action in your menu

In the end, your website is there to convince your visitors to do something. For example, to subscribe to something, order a product, request a quotation, to donate or to contact you. Put this action in your menu, because that is the way you want to lead your visitors. You’ll find good example, here below:

Tip #5: Make your menu visually attractive

When you sell various products on your website and you have a target group that is visually oriented, it can be very effective to include images of these products in your menu. Do you offer a service? Then icons are often very suitable. An example of Sony:

Bonus tip: Use WordPress to simply change your main navigation

Did you know you can easily change your main menu in WordPress? Check out our special WordPress Menu Manual!

Conclusion

There is usually lots of room for improvement in a main navigation. Do you have any good tips or ideas for this? We’d love to hear from you! Let us know in a comment below.

Manual: Setting up Yoast SEO for WordPress

Manual: Setting up Yoast SEO for WordPress

With the free WordPress plugin Yoast SEO ((search engine optimization) you optimize your WordPress website for search engines. But how do you set up this plugin of Dutch origin? In this article, we’ll explain step by step how you can set up your WordPress website for the ideal search engine optimization.

In this manual

1. Install Yoast SEO plugin
2. Yoast SEO Configuration Service
3. Fine-Tune WordPress for SEO
4. Fine-Tune Yoast SEO
5. Link Search Console
6. Resolve Notification Issues
7. Write Content
8. Content Strategy

1. Install Yoast SEO Plugin


You’ll find the Yoast SEO plugin in the WordPress repository. In WordPress, go to Plugins -> New plugin and search for “Yoast SEO”. Click “Install now”, then click “Activate”.

2. Yoast SEO Configuration Service


Now that the WordPress SEO plugin has been installed, you’ll see a “SEO” button in your WordPress menu on the left-hand side. Click it to open the plugin’s Dashboard. You’ll probably already see some notifications and warnings, but we’ll ignore these for now. First click the “General” tab at the top, then click “Open the configuration service“, and then “Configure YOAST SEO”.

You’ll now run a wizard that will help you set up a large part of your website for SEO (search engine optimization). Many of these steps are self-explanatory, but we’d like to comment on some of them:

2a. Company or person? (step 4)

At step 4 you’re required to fill out whether you’re a company or a person. In both cases, you can still fill out the name of your company/person. We recommend you include your most important search term in your company name. For example, if you are a carpentry business with the name “Johnson LLC“, then fill out “Johnson LLC Carpentry”. And if your name is Vanetta Smith and you write a personal website on recipes, then call yourself “Food blogger Vanetta Smith”. Copy this text right away, because you’ll have to fill it out a couple of times.

2b. Social profiles (step 5)

When entering your social profiles, do not think: the more, the better. Limit yourself to using two or three social media channels, that you use well, instead of using eight which you totally neglect. Consider the social media channels that are most suitable for your target group.

2c. Visibility of the post type (step 6)

In every WordPress website there are three default post types: Pages, Posts and Media. Some themes and plugins add extra post types. A properties plugin for real estate agents, for example, can add the post type “Houses” to the website.

At this step, you can set up exactly which post types should be indexed by Google and which should not. All post types that you don’t use for the conversion goals of your website, can here be set to “Hide”. This does not mean that they won’t be used on your website. But only that the search engines won’t be instructed to index such posts.

In case you don’t have a blog/news archive, but only a few static pages, you can hide the post type “Posts”. The same often goes for media; the media library on your website is probably not setup with the purpose of attracting traffic that increases conversion; usually these media are used to, for example, placing images in your pages and posts, in which case you can simply hide “Media”.

In fact, some plugins put their settings in a post type. In that case, you might see something like “Extended framework” as a post type. If you have no use for this, then hide this too; the more unnecessary post types you hide, the better the other types will be valued by the search engines. Obviously, you’ll want to make sure you don’t accidentally hide a post type that you do need. Because then you’ll be throwing away a lot of valuable information for the search engines.

2d. Title settings (step 9)

At this step, you can fill out the website name. Here, you paste the text that you copied at step 4, or fill out your activities, and maybe even your location. For example, “Rotterdam Lawyers Friesinger & son”. Or “Architect Anna van der Molen”. You’ll need this text again later in this manual, so be sure to copy it again.

3. Fine-Tune WordPress for SEO

Now that you have run the configuration service, you’ll arrive back at the Yoast SEO plugin Dashboard. You’ll probably get some more notifications at this time. You can keep ignoring these, because first we’re going to run through some WordPress settings, that will probably resolve a large portion of these notifications.

3a. Site title and subtitle

Now, in WordPress go to Settings -> General. At the top, you’ll see the site title and subtitle. Many people use the name of their website or organization as a site title. This seems logical, but if you want your website to be easy to find in the search engines, it’s better to put your activity here, just like you did in the configuration service. So, again paste the title that you’ve used at step 2a and 2d here, e.g. “Furniture manufacturer New York – Donald McMillan”, or “Antique children’s toys – Web store ToyToy”.

Very often, the subtitle is still the default WordPress text: “Just another WordPress site”. Remove this line and enter a short description of your website. Try to use keywords that apply to your entire website and keywords that you want to lead visitors to your website. For example: “Web store for remanufactured chassis parts for Volkswagen Beetle.”

Now that you are on this page: be sure to scroll down and check if your website language is set correctly. Is your website in Spanish? Make sure your website language is also in Spanish. Because the language is also picked up by search engines. It says something about your target group.

Finally, click “Save changes”. Save or copy the title and subtitle, because you’ll need them again later.

3b. Update services

In WordPress, go to Settings -> Write. At the bottom of this page you’ll find a field to “Update services”. These are external webservices that need to be informed when you’ve made changes to your website, e.g. when you’ve written a new blog, or made changes to one. This makes sure that search engines are almost immediately informed of your new content, so they’ll include it faster in their search results. Make sure it says: “http://rpc.pingomatic.com/” under “Update services”. If it doesn’t, then paste this URL here. Pingomatic is an update service that informs all large search engines of your new content, so you don’t have to. Usually this is configured correctly, but it never hurts to check.

3c. Search engine visibility 

In WordPress, go to Settings -> Read. At the bottom of this page, you’ll find the “Search engine visibility” option. Make sure this box is unchecked, otherwise your website will actively inform search engines to NOT be included in the search results. Are you developing a website, or do you have a website that you, in fact, do NOT want showing up in search engines, then DO check this box. By the way, this is not a completely safe guarantee that your website will not show up in any search results; if you really don’t want to be found, it’s best to secure your website with a password. You can do this with a free plugin such as Password Protected.

3d. SEO for comments on your WordPress website

In WordPress, go to Settings -> Comments. Here, you can change the settings for comments on your website. It may seem strange to include this topic in a manual for SEO, but we’ve done this for a good reason. After all, comments on your website are content too! So, ask yourself whether comments on your website will help you be more findable to search engines, or that they would only add less relevant information to your webpage. If you’ve noticed that the comments on your articles lead to irrelevant conversations and discussions, then it might be better to turn off the option to leave comments on your website, or decrease the amount of comments under your blog. Or maybe you’ve seen that your blogs rarely get comments. In that case, you also better turn off the option to leave comments, because it makes your pages more compact. And with less irrelevant content, the rest of the content gets valued more by search engines and your visitors.

3e. Permalinks

With permalinks you configure the structure of your website’s URLs. This is very important for the SEO (search engine optimization) of your WordPress website, because the structure of a URL says a lot about the content of its page. As the term implies, permalinks are permanent; you configure them once, and then you never look at them again. Anyone who links to your website (search engines, social media, friends, etc.), will link to the URL as configured in your permalink.

In WordPress, go to Settings -> Permalinks. The default general permalink settings are year, month, day and name. This will result in URLs like www.furnituremanufacturer-newyork.com/2017/08/12/sanded-wood-with-discount/. But these data are probably not at all what you want in your URL. What you do want is to include the most important category of your blog in the URL (e.g. “Sale”). This way, you could get a URL like this: www.furnituremanufacturer-newyork.com/sale/sanded-wood-with-discount/. You can configure this, by choosing the “Customized structure” and then typing: /%category%/%postname%/.

Under the general settings, you’ll also find the “Optional” button. Below this, you’ll be able to change the category and tag archives structure. The permalink of the archive for the category “Dinner tables” by default would be: www.furnituremanufacturer-newyork.com/category/dinnertables/. But the word “category” is not relevant here (and thus a distraction for the search engines), so you could choose another word instead, for example: “furniture”. Please note that the category structure is the same for all categories; so, the “Sale” category archive will get the URL: www.furnituremanufacturer-newyork.com/category/sale/. In case you don’t know any good category structures, you can also turn it off altogether (see step 4e).

You’ll probably use several categories for most of your articles. The Yoast SEO plugin gives you the option to set one primary category, so that one will always be used in the permalink. To do this, click “Make Primary” next to the most relevant category, when creating/editing a post.

If you change the permalink structure afterwards, a lot of old links will probably become obsolete. This has great consequences for your findability; search engines don’t like it when pages in their search results are suddenly unreachable. It will cause you to drop fast in their search results. So, when you change your permalinks, check to see if existing links still work in the search engines. If not, then install a plugin like WordPress Ultimate Redirect Plugin ($ 29), that will automatically try to redirect as many “not found” pages (or 404 pages) to the right page. It’s like saying to the search engines: “The current page still exists, but has been moved to this new URL”. That way you transfer the accumulated value in search engines to the new pages on your website, and search engines will gradually adjust their index to your new permalink structure.

4. Fine-Tune Yoast SEO

Now that WordPress has been set up correctly for SEO (search engine optimization) and the basics for Yoast SEO have been configured, it’s time to do some fine-tuning in the Yoast SEO plugin.

4a. Activate advanced settings

To unlock additional functionalities in Yoast SEO, we first must change some settings. To do this, go to WordPress, SEO -> Dashboard and click the “Features” tab. Set the “Advanced settings pages” to “Enabled”. Then click the “Security” tab and also enable the “Advanced section of the Yoast SEO metabox”. Now click “Save”. In the menu on the left-hand side, under “SEO” you will now see additional options.

4b. Titles and metas

Titles and metas, are the title and description of a page/post, just as they are communicated to search engines. With this, you actually tell the search engine: “When you include this page in your search result, then show this title and description.” It’s obviously up to the search engine to do what they want, but if you use relevant texts, your request is usually honored.

Using good Titles and metas is very important, because you use them to give a first impression to your potential visitors, even before they visit your website. So, make sure you have attractive, relevant texts. The title is also shown in the tab/title at the top of your browser screen when visiting that specific screen.

Click “SEO” -> “Titles & metas” and open the “Homepage” tab. Here, you enter the title and subtitle that you’ve also filled out at step 3a. If you want, you can change the subtitle a little, by adding a call to action, to make it even more attractive to click on. For, example, if your subtitle is: “Web store for remanufactured chassis parts for Volkswagen Beetle”? Then your meta description could be: “Web store for remanufactured chassis parts for Volkswagen Beetle? Ordered today, delivered tomorrow!”.

Now click the “Post types” tab. Here you’ll see the visibility for the post types, as you’ve configured them at step 2c. Good to know, if you ever have to change this in the future. Here, you can leave the title and meta templates as they are, because we’ll configure these per article/page later in this manual.

Now, click the “Taxonomies” tab. Taxonomies is the umbrella term for both categories and tags. So, on this tab you’ll find all the categories/tags of your WordPress website. Every taxonomy has an archive page in WordPress. It is passed on to search engines by default. Just like with the visibility of the post types (step 2c) you must ask yourself here which categories/tags you actually use. So, for example, if you have added no tags at all to your posts, then set the “meta robots” for that taxonomy to “noindex”. This way, you tell the search engines, that the archive pages for that taxonomy don’t have to be included by the search engines; because they are not relevant pages.

For the taxonomies that you do use, you can check out the title templates. By default, they are set up as follows: %%term_title%% Archives %%page%% %%sep%% %%sitename%%. The title for a post category called “Sale” would then be sent to search engines like this: “Sales Archives – Furniture manufacturer Rotterdam – Pieter de Heuvel”. Which is fine, but there’s room for improvement. If you make sure all your categories for this taxonomy are consistent, then you can change the template to for example: %%term_title%% of %%sitename%% %%sep%% %%page%%. With categories like “Sale” and “Portfolio” you’ll get nice-looking titles: “Sale of Furniture manufacturer New York – Donald McMillan”, or “Portfolio of Furniture manufacturer New York – Donald McMillan”. The meta description template can best be left empty here, we’ll run through that later on in this manual.

Now, click the “Archives” tab. Here you will see some additional options for archive pages generated by WordPress next to the taxonomies. Such as author pages, date archives, etc.

Author archives show all articles per author. This is usually unnecessary, because for search engines it is rarely relevant who wrote the article. In fact, author archives are only useful when you work with several well-known authors and you want to build up findable archive pages for them. For example, the Youp van ’t Hek columns on the NRC (news) website. You can probably turn off your Authors archives, though.

The same goes for date archives; these show all articles published on your website during a certain period (e.g. January 2017). Unless you publish news messages that actually describe current events, you can turn off these archives; your archive pages for taxonomies probably offer much more relevant content than this kind of archive pages.

You’ve now configured quite a lot, so don’t forget to hit “Save”!

4c. Social SEO

Go to SEO -> Social. Here, you’ll find an overview of the social media accounts you added at step 2b. Run through the various tabs and fill out all the required information for the social media that are relevant for you. The rest of the precompleted settings in these tabs are all perfectly set, so you don’t have to look at those.

4d. Sitemaps

Now go to SEO -> XML Sitemaps. Sitemaps are XML files, automatically generated by Yoast SEO, that give search engines a structured overview of all content on your WordPress website. Make sure that the settings under the “Post types” and “Taxonomies” tabs include only in the sitemap what you’ve configured as visible at steps 2c and 4b.

4e. Advanced

Now go to SEO -> Advanced. You start off at the “Breadcrumbs” tab. A breadcrumb trail shows on which page you currently are in the tree view of the entire WordPress website. Many WordPress themes already have a built-in crumb trail, but in case yours doesn’t, it is best to archive it here. You do, however, have to make some adjustments to your WordPress theme, so a little PHP knowledge is required.

When activating the breadcrumb trail, delete the text after “Prefix for Archive breadcrumbs”. And at the bottom, at “Taxonomy to show in the breadcrumb trail of the post types” select for each post type the richest taxonomy for that post type. When I say “rich”, I don’t necessarily mean the taxonomy containing the most terms, but that the terms in that taxonomy are full of posts. Categories are usually richer than tags; an average tag maybe contains two or three posts, an average category probably ten to twenty. Finally, click “Save”.

Then, click the “Permalinks” tab. In this tab Yoast SEO can make a few more changes beside the changes you’ve made to the permalinks in WordPress at step 3e. This way, you can turn off the category structure if you couldn’t think of any good category structures at step 3e.

Enable “Redirect attachment URLs to parent post URL” to prevent visitors from directly going from a search engine to one of your website’s attachment pages (usually containing only an image and a title). This feature makes sure that visitors are sent to the corresponding page where the attachment is used. This is generally more relevant.

Finally, under “Clean-Up Permalinks” choose “Remove” under “Stop words in the slug”. This way, words like “the”, “a” and “an” are automatically removed from your permalink when writing new articles. The rest of the advanced settings are good, so now click “Save changes”.

5. Link Search Console

You can link the Yoast SEO plugin to your Google Account. This way, you can load relevant SEO information and resolve warning notifications on the website. Go to SEO -> Search Console and click “Get Google Authorization Code”. Follow the steps, paste the code and click “Authenticate”. You then get an overview of the pages of your website that cannot be found by Google, but that are linked to on other pages (or used to). You can run through this list and check to see if you can restore them (by changing the permalink of a page, or by making redirects to the correct page).

6. Resolve Notification Issues

Go back to the Yoast SEO plugin Dashboard. Maybe you’re still getting a few notifications. These notifications point to your WordPress settings that need to be resolved to further optimize your website for search engines. Do not click the close icon on the right, but click the link on the notification. You’ll then be directed to the right page for the WordPress settings.

In the above-mentioned example, you’re redirected to the WordPress Customizer, where you can enter your site title and subtitle under “Site Identity”. By the way, if you’ve been following the steps of this manual, you’ll probably not get this notification, because we’ve already fixed this problem.
Resolving notifications is something you can do on a regular basis. The Yoast SEO plugin gives you a clear overview, so if you schedule this once a month, it’ll cost you very little time.

7. Write Content

Your website is pretty much set up for Yoast SEO. But you can still fine-tune Yoast SEO per page, post, category and even per tag. We’ll start with fine-tuning posts and pages.

7a. Titles and permalinks of your WordPress articles and pages

After typing the title of your post, WordPress automatically generates a permalink for you. This is not always the permalink you want, and sometimes you change the title afterwards, but the permalink stays the same. The main rule is: you can easily change your permalink as long as you haven’t published your post yet. Then, you best leave the permalink as it is.

What is a good permalink for your post or page? You only need to include the most important keywords. Say, as a furnituremaker, you’re writing an article in the category “import” called “Strong quality improvement of imported wood from Italy”, the permalink automatically ends with: “/import/strong-quality-improvement-imported-wood-from-italy/”. This can be made shorter and more relevant; the words “import/imported” are duplicates and some of these words are not relevant for the slug. How about: /import/quality-improvement-wood-italy/? Much better.

7b. Configure the Yoast SEO metabox

When you’ve finished writing your article, there’s a new block “Yoast SEO” under your text editor. Here, you’ll see an example of how Google will probably show your page in the search results, based on your title, permalink and text. An example of such a snippet below.

The content of this snippet is based on the settings we’ve configured in the previous steps. However, it is possible to make a few more adjustments for this particular article. In the above example, we see that the title is too long for the box, and the description underneath is too. Click “Edit Snippet” to change the title and description. By making the title and the meta description a bit shorter and more attractive, we’ve created a snippet that looks nice in Google:
You can edit the snippet for each and every post or page that is important for you in the search results. Also, you can edit your categories and tags to see per category what a similar archive page will look like in search engines. To do this, go to Posts -> Categories (or Tags) and select a category. At the bottom, you’ll find the Snippet. You can, for example, give the category “Import” a nicer description:

7c. Focus keyword

Under every snippet you’ll also find a “Focus keyword” field. Here, you can enter the most important keyword of the page. Under the focus keyword, the SEO plugin gives you an analysis of the page, containing suggestions to make improvements. Mind you, it is a technical tool; always ask yourself if the suggestions make sense. The analysis of an article with the focus keyword “jerseys” can turn out wrong, because the words “jersey” and “sweater” won’t be recognized. So, use the analysis as a guideline, not as hard facts. Furthermore, it is good to know that the focus keyword is only a personal analysis; the focus keyword won’t be sent to search engines as a search term, nor is it embedded in the code of your page.

7d. Cornerstone articles

When you’re editing pages or posts, there’s another option under the focus keyword: mark the article as “cornerstone content”. Cornerstone articles are the most important articles on your website. The ones you really want everyone to read. Say you write a lot of articles on the different aspects of DIY woodworking. But there is one article about the complete process of woodworking. In that case, this article is a cornerstone article; in a way, all the other articles are related to this main article. By marking the main article as a cornerstone article, Yoast SEO will make new suggestions; are there enough links to this article? And do these links contain the most relevant keywords for this article?

An average website can contain about five cornerstone articles. Choose them carefully and ask yourself; can I link to these cornerstone articles from all the other (non-cornerstone) articles? And make sure you do this; after the introduction of a non-cornerstone article, make a quick reference to the cornerstone article.

8. And from Now on: Content Strategy

If you’ve made it all the way to the end, your WordPress website has a great configuration for SEO! But you’re just getting started; make sure your website stays attractive, relevant and up to date. You do this, by regularly writing articles on topics related to your website. Make a content strategy and schedule, for example, one day a month to write and publish a good article.

5 WordPress tips you (possibly) did not know

5 WordPress tips you (possibly) did not know

At WpUpgraders we work with WordPress every day. And every day, we try to keep each other on our toes by sharing new tips and discoveries about WordPress with each other. We also like to share these things on our blog. So, here we have five tips for WordPress you (possibly) did not know.

1. Two-factor authentication for WordPress

Many people are still using unsafe passwords on the internet. This increases their chances of being hacked enormously, because hackers can easily find out your passwords through automated guessing. Two-step verification demands two actions before successfully signing into your account, for example, using a password and entering a code you have on your phone. So if a hacker where to ever guess your password, he would still be unable to sign in, because he would need your phone for the second step.

You can get two-factor authentication for WordPress for free with the Google Authenticator plugin. On your smartphone you install the Google Authenticator App, which generates the code you need to enter after logging in. After having completed these two steps, you get access to the WordPress admin. There’s a payed alternative for Google Authenticator called Duo.

2. Selecting several messages or pages at once

Sometimes you have to select a whole list of messages or pages in WordPress at once, to edit or remove them. Did you know you can select more

than one message at the time by pressing and holding SHIFT? Then you press and hold CTRL (or CMD on a Mac) which allows you to check and uncheck individual messages.

This way you can quickly move several messages or pages to trash at the same time.

3. Ping-o-matic

Maybe you’ve never heard of Ping-o-matic, but every WordPress user is using this free service. It informs search engines when you publish a message or page. This way, search engines can include your update in their search results almost immediately after you’ve posted it.

But you don’t always want this to happen right away. Maybe you want it to be included in the search results a bit later. In this case, it’s good to know that you can easily deactivate these notifications to Ping-o-matic. In WordPress you go to Settings > Writing and you remove the address http://rpc.pingomatic.com/ from the text field below ‘Update Services’.

Please note that you only prevent your messages from being sent to search engines immediately. Your messages will still be indexed, but at a later time (because search engines also visit your website on their own). Do you not want your website to appear in the search results at all? Then go to Settings > Reading and check the box at the bottom: ‘Discourage search engines from indexing this site’.

4. Preview your Widgets and Menus

When editing a blog or page, you can click on ‘Customize’ to see a preview of what your changes are going to look like, before publishing them and making them visible to visitors. But how do you do this with Widgets and Menus?

Since WordPress 4.3 it’s possible to preview the changes you’ve made to your Menus and Widgets. In WordPress, go to Appearance > Customizer to see your website with an extra sidebar on the left. You can just click through your website; the sidebar stays visible. In the Customizer, you click on Menus or Widgets and make the changes you want to make. You immediately see the effect of the changes you’re making to your website. When you are satisfied with the result, you click on ‘Save’, after which your changes will be published.

5. Pasting hyperlinks in a text

When you write many blogs, you will probably sometimes link to other websites. The usual way to do this in WordPress is by selecting the desired part of the text, clicking on the link icon, entering the URL, and clicking on ‘Add link’. But did you know there is a faster way?

Usually you’ve already copied the URL to which you want to direct your reader. Now select the text you want to use as a link and press CTRL-V (or CMD-V on a Mac).

Your selected text will now become a link to the address you had copied earlier. Easy peasy!

Do you have any good tips? Please tell us below!

Google penalizes pop-ups: Here are 3 WordPress alternatives

Google penalizes pop-ups: Here are 3 WordPress alternatives

Are you used to grabbing visitors’ attention on your WordPress website through pop-ups? Well, you may want to take note of the fact that Google will penalise these so-called ‘intrusive popups‘ in its search results as from january the 10th, 2017. Especially when you set up intrusive pop-ups that are almost screen filling on mobile devices, you’d better find alternative ways to attract your visitors’ attention before January 10, 2017. Read more