Ask Yoast: product feeds and duplicate content

Andrew Raynor

 

 

Previously in Ask Yoast, we took Kathy’s question about selling products through multiple channels and the risk of duplicate content. More webshop owners seem to struggle to avoid duplicate content. Like Stephan ten Cate, who has send the following question to ask@yoast.com:

“A lot of webshops (e.g. Magento) use product feeds to distribute their content to other channels (eBay, Etsy etc.), leading to duplicate content on these channels. Is there a technical solution to avoid duplicate content, while still using product feeds?”

Watch this video to get to know the answer:

Can’t watch the video?

We’ve made a transcript for you:

Yes, there is a solution. The solution is to make your product feeds use different content for all these channels. We’ve covered this in another video as well and I know it’s a tough one because you’ll have to write a lot more content. But there really is no other solution than that. You’ll have to write unique content for each platform. Sorry! Good luck!

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5 “Secrets” to Living the Good Life

Andrew Raynor

Recently, I did a reboot on my approach to life and work, wondering if how I’ve been doing things is the right way. The truth is I’m still not sure. But the experience has taught me some important lessons I nearly forgot.

5 "Secrets" to Living the Good Life

Before sharing these lessons, here’s a quick side note: many “successful” people don’t consider themselves a success. This is a word other people give to your achievements. So while I don’t consider what I’ve done successful, I appreciate that this is what some people perceive.

The truth is, I have achieved far more than I ever thought possible after starting this blog five years ago. So this is a cautionary tale. Be careful what you wish for, as the saying goes, because you just might get it. So you’d better be sure you’re wishing on the right star.

If you want to live a good life, if you want to do good work and make a difference in the world, then you have to go deep. You have to explore uncomfortable questions like, “Why am I doing this?” and, “Just because I can do this, should I?”

Awhile back, my friend Jonathan Fields (who, by the way, has tackled the question of what it takes to live a good life better than anyone else I know) and we talked about these very questions on his podcast. In that interview, he said,

You’ve built something. And you’re comfortable. And you’ve got a certain structure around it. You don’t want to complain to anyone else. But there’s something inside you saying, ‘something’s not right.’

Yes, that’s exactly right. So what does it take to live the good life? What did I remember after getting everything I wanted and realizing something wasn’t right? Well, there were five things, which we’ll call “secrets”, though they’re kind of obvious when you think about them.

Secret #1: It’s not (just) about you

You were lied to, when you were told that if you worked enough hours, got enough stuff, and followed enough rules, that you’d be okay. That you’d be happy. But now, hopefully, you know the truth: We only find fulfillment when we let go of comfort, when we risk losing everything. That’s what a really good story, and incidentally what a really good life, is all about.

Secret 2: Passion is not optional

It’s not enough to simply commit to a task and do it really well for the rest of your life. You were put on this earth to do something, something specific. Until you do, you will be anxious and on-edge. Passion is what we need to have a fulfilled, whole life. Of course, passion alone won’t necessarily get you everything you want, but without it, you will die a slow, bitter death.

Secret 3: Just because it’s hard doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it

Anything worth doing is difficult. It will require courage and strength from you; otherwise, it’s probably not worth doing.

Nobody goes to the gym to feel good. They go there to sweat and scream and stretch themselves. And they leave better versions of the people that entered an hour before. If you’re going to grow, life will at times be hard. Get used to it.

Secret 4: Fear is your friend

FDR was wrong. We shouldn’t fear fear. We should embrace fear as a part of life. Fear is the flinch, telling us that we could die. It reminds us of what’s dangerous and why we’re prone to avoid pain.

Fear is good. It keeps us alive, but it also keeps us compliant (if we’re not careful). My rule of thumb is this: if I don’t feel afraid of doing something, then I’m probably playing it too safe.

Secret 5: Values are better than goals

If you don’t know where you stand on work and friends family when an opportunity to succeed at something comes along, you’ll screw it up.

The best way to get your life in order? Screw the goals and skip the plans. Jump straight to values, your non-negotiables for how you do business, treat your loved ones, and do life. Everything else falls under this.

Sure, plans are good and goals are fine. But even Hitler had goals. The Nazis had a very well-designed plan. That’s not enough to live a good life. You have to have values, good ones, in order for your life to make a positive dent in this universe.

Here’s hoping you do (and God willing, me too).

Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life; everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated, thus, everyone’s task is unique as his specific opportunity to implement it.

—Viktor Frankl

Bonus: If you want to learn more about living the good life, tune in with me later this week for a live chat on Blab with my friend Michael Hyatt about how to stop drifting through life and finally get to do the stuff you dream of doing.

How do you define “success”? What is one of your secrets to living a good life? Share in the comments.

Andrew Raynor

3 Keys to Schedule Your Dream Job

Andrew Raynor

Note: This is a guest post from Michael Hyatt. Michael is a bestselling author, virtual mentor, and entrepreneur. You can find him on his blog, Twitter, and Facebook.

Finding meaningful work can be challenging. It usually involves a mix of passion, proficiency, and profitability. If you’re not emotionally engaged, competent, or getting paid enough to cover your bills, you’ll wrestle with burnout, frustration, and worse.

3 Keys to Schedule Your Dream Job

But let’s say you know exactly what your dream job is. You’ve got your sights set on something right up your alley and smack-dab in the center of your sweet spot.

Now what?

We’ve all been around people who seem like they have their dream job, but can’t quite make it happen. Maybe that’s you. You know what you were called to do, but you just can’t seem to get the traction you want. Or, maybe you’re flying high but feeling down because your life is totally out of balance.

I’ve got one piece of advice, and it works for both conditions. Following this strategy has enabled me to stay productive with work I love for decades, whether in the corporate world or as an entrepreneur. Here it is:

Schedule your dream job.

I discuss exactly how in my new book Living Forward: How to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want. It comes out next week, but here’s a sneak peek at three tactics to make time for what matters so you can gain the momentum you desire and sustain it for the long haul.

1. Schedule your priorities

And I mean all of them. Sometimes we know exactly what we want to accomplish work wise. We charge forward full of energy and enthusiasm. But in our extreme focus, we can easily neglect everything else.

I love Gary Vaynerchuk, and I love his book Crush It. I’ve recommended it countless times. But sometimes we stay in perpetual crush-it mode and miss other areas of our life that give us meaning, don’t we?

Put your work aside for a moment. What about your significant relationships, your health, your spiritual life, even your hobbies? Here’s the reality: What doesn’t rank doesn’t fit. If you don’t schedule time for all the things that matter in your life, your dream job will become a nightmare.

2. Schedule your week

When you’re scheduling your priorities, it’s best to start with your ideal week. What does it look like? Are you preserving the kind of margin you need for everything that matters?

Why your ideal week? Because it puts you in the driver seat. It’s a way to proactively prioritize. Your taking a stand for what matters most to you. Without doing the advance work of scheduling an ideal week, it’s too easy to slip into a reactive mode and get sucked into other people’s agendas.

The trick is to take everything you want to accomplish across all the areas of your life and get them down. It becomes your template for meaningful action. And the more precise you are, the more productive you’ll be.

When we’re vague on our time, our work feels vague too. Tasks expand to fill available time, and we find ourselves making far less progress than we want or are capable of.

3. Schedule your year

This might seem like a stretch at first, but it’s critical for making significant progress. Once you know your priorities, you need to protect them. The best way to do that is to set aside the nonnegotiables: holidays, vacations, work travel, key meetings, and so on.

Then you want to block time for discretionary activities like conferences or other enriching events.

This is a great opportunity to get clarity about your targets. One of the ways we find happiness is to make significant progress towards meaningful goals. That goes for all of life, but it’s critical for our work.

Without big, compelling goals, work becomes humdrum. And the best goals have deadlines and incremental steps you can schedule. Maybe it’s writing a book or launching a new business. Whatever it is, get the key dates on your calendar.

These three tactics should point us to an important fact: Meaningful work cannot be disconnected from a meaningful life. A dream job is one part of a dream life. And getting intentional about our time is the first way to make that dream a reality.

Michael’s new book Living Forward show how to integrate our daily work with our dreams. If you preorder it by February 29, you’ll get $360 worth of bonus materials and tools to help you design — and get — the life you want. Don’t miss it!

What is your dream job? How can you apply the principle of scheduling to your dream job? Share in the comments.

Andrew Raynor

Setting up WordPress for AMP: Accelerated Mobile Pages

Andrew Raynor

 

 

Google has been pushing a new concept called Accelerated Mobile Pages, in short AMP. This post explains what AMP is and aims to do, who should implement and why, how to get your WordPress site ready for AMP and how to make sure Yoast SEO integrates nicely with it.

What are Accelerated Mobile Pages? What is AMP?

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project logoThe Accelerated Mobile Pages project aims to make pages load instantly on mobile. The web is slow for lots and lots of people, in fact, the majority of the people using the internet do so over a mobile phone, often on a 2G or sometimes 3G connection. To make pages load instantly, AMP restricts what you can do in HTML pages. Fancy design is stripped out in favor of speed. AMP is very much a function over form project.

AMP pages look like a very stripped down version of normal web pages, but do contain all the important content. Not all ads will work on AMP, not all analytics will work with AMP. All the “fluff” of your pages is stripped in AMP, including the read more links you might have built into your theme etc.

I have a personal opinion about AMP which is not very flattering, which I’ve written about here. Regardless of my opinion though, with Google pushing it this hard, news sites and blogs basically have no choice but to implement it. Google is giving prime real estate to AMP pages in mobile search results, and if you don’t have AMP on your site, you’re not getting any of that traffic.

So, while I’m reluctant, I’m also telling you: if you run a news site or a blog, you need to make sure your site supports AMP. It’s as simple as that.

Which plugin(s) to use?

There is a good plugin by Automattic that enables AMP for your site:

AMP WordPress plugin banner

When you enable this plugin, all the post URLs on your site will have a /amp/ version. So you can go to any post, add /amp/ to the end of the URL and you’ll see the AMP version. It uses the site’s logo that you can set in the WordPress Theme Customizer, but other than that doesn’t add any styling. If you’re going for the bare minimum, install and activate this plugin and you’re done. The plugin has no settings, whatsoever.

Here at Yoast, we found that slightly too bare bones to our liking. We wanted to change the styling of our AMP pages somewhat and want to make sure there is Google Analytics tracking on those pages too. Luckily, there’s a second plugin which builds on top of the AMP plugin, that handles all that, it’s called PageFrog:

Facebook Instant Articles & Google AMP Pages by PageFrog plugin

This plugin allows you to change the styling of the AMP pages, for instance by choosing the color of the top bar, changing the logo and a few more simple tricks like that. The plugin also handles Facebook Instant Articles, a topic we will be writing about more soon.

The plugin adds a preview to the post editor which we found to be slightly too intrusive and most of all: unnecessary. I’m not going to preview each post anyway, so we decided to disable that. We had to code a bit for that but I hope they add an option to disable the preview soon.

How does this work with Yoast SEO?

The AMP plugin by Automattic uses a default set of metadata, which is sometimes, if you’re using Yoast SEO, not the most optimal metadata. That’s why we’ve built a small plugin that “glues” Yoast SEO and AMP together nicely. It’s aptly called Glue for Yoast SEO and AMP:

Glue for Yoast SEO and AMP banner

Why isn’t this in Yoast SEO itself?

Of course we’ve thought about just adding this to Yoast SEO for WordPress itself. The truth is: we will. Probably in about 5-6 months from now, this will be part of Yoast SEO. We didn’t do that now because we know that our Yoast SEO release cycles have gotten slightly longer by now because we want to make sure every release is as good as can be. To be able to quickly iterate on this particular set of features, we’ve made it into a small plugin which we can update by itself. We fully expect both our own best practices as well as Google’s rules for AMP to change over the next 3-4 months and will adapt as much as we can.

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Innovation in web and it

 

 

Crowdsourcing is the new collective, a way to harness the power of human interaction with minimal effort and energy.  The internet is a vast wasteland of productivity loss, unless you view it with potential in mind.

After the Boston marathon bombing the FBI noted that the explosions took place at the most photographed area of the race course. “some civilians hope that the key to solving the investigation may come from one of those iPhone snapshots or stills from amateur video, and they -believe their guesswork may unearth that critical clue” (Powers, M (2013), Crime Solving by Crowdsourcing).

Obviously unlocking the potential of average citizens and businesses photographs is a valuable crime fighting tool that the FBI leveraged to find the identity of the bombers. According to the author, scavenging for photos at a crime scene is nothing new, Powers points out that the JFK assassination investigation was undertaken in a similar manner, however not as easily and not on such great a scale.

There are some problems with this approach however, as we know the United States Government doesn’t stop at an obvious crime, when a tool proves useful the Governemnt will often leverage it far beyond the FBI’s approach to the marathon investigation.  The ability to aggregate data showed to be nefarious when Edward Snowden uncovered the NSA’s Prism surveillance program, Snowdens leak eventually lead to the programs demise, but not until the US Government had, without a warrant collected millions of phone and email records of US citizens.  This ability to aggregate data uses a similar data aggregation technology, the one major difference is the crowdsourcing at the bombing was sanctioned, the NSA program, however they are both examples of crowdsourcing.

 

References:

Powers, M. (2013, Apr 18). Crime solving by crowdsourcing. Boston Globe

www.forbes.com/sites/katevinton/2015/05/08/edward-snowden-calls-nsa-mass-surveillance-ruling-extraordinarily-encouraging/

The main accessibility checks

Andrew Raynor

 

 

Accessibility checks help you optimize your website. For every visitor. By thinking about accessibility, you are actually thinking about your design, the use of textual and multimedia content, and the structure of your website. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has a list of accessibility checks for you. In this post, I will dive into the main, priority 1 checkpoints in that checklist and see how these apply to a modern (WordPress) website.

accessibility checks

Priority 1 Accessibility checks

Let’s start at the very beginning of that list of accessibility checks and work our way down.

Text equivalents

This is actually quite an extensive check, so I get why they made it the first one. For every non-text element, you should provide a textual equivalent. That goes for things like images, but also for everything ranging from image map regions and animated GIFs to stand-alone audio files and video. This can be done with alt or longdesc tags, for instance. For your YouTube video, it can be done by adding closed captions to your videos:

It’s not that hard if your video isn’t too long. This goes for any kind of multimedia presentation, by the way. It might be easiest to simply add additional text right below a video or powerpoint for that matter, outlining what is in the multimedia presentation, so screen readers will have no trouble explaining what the presentation is about. If time, or viewing time, is an issue (for instance in online tests), synchronize the text with the multimedia presentation.

On a related note, be sure to change these textual equivalents when the non-textual part changes. That seems logical, but just don’t forget to do this.

Mind your colors and contrast

We’ve discussed this before. There are many ways to check contrast and if colors work together. Quick test: convert your website to black and white. Create a bookmarklet using this snippet:

javascript:(function(){var e=document.body;e.style.filter="progid:DXImageTransform.Microsoft.BasicImage(grayscale=1)",e.style.filter||(e.style["-webkit-filter"]="grayscale(1)",e.style.filter="grayscale(1)")}())

One of the things that really draws my attention lately is the number of links that just have that different color and no other indication that a word or sentence is linked. I might be nostalgic in this, but sometimes I really feel we should simply agree to underline each link that is in a text (article, page, etc). That would already make a huge difference.

Don’t know how to create a bookmarklet? Check this page. In this post on accessibility tools, I mention more in-depth accessibility checks for color and contrast.

Flickering

There are things like scripts that cause monitors to flicker more than intended. I have actually never thought of it this way, but there are people that have a serious issue with flickering videos that auto-play or excessive use of animated gifs, let alone blinking text. The sudden flicker (at a certain rate) of the screen  might cause what is known as photo-epileptic seizures.

Describe what will happen and make sure this flickering can be enabled/disabled by the user.

Use clear and simple language

This is obviously not just for accessibility, but also for SEO and user experience in general. The Flesch Reading Ease score in our plugin helps you to write better text. This is actually something we’ll be adding much more focus on in the future.

Of course, you should adjust your language to your audience. If you are dealing with serious subjects like law or politics, your text shouldn’t read something like “This new doggyfizzle televizzle gon’ be off the hizzle, fo shizzle.” Adapt to your audience, and make it accessible along the way.

The ‘obvious’ things

There are more priority 1 checkpoints. Let me sum these up for you in layman’s language:

  • Add proper lang= declarations to your HTML tag, but also add these when changing the language in the middle of the sentence, als je begrijpt wat ik bedoel. That can simply be done by adding a <span lang="nl"> in this case. Don’t forget to close that tag to return to the original language.
  • If you remove your stylesheet, your web page should still be readable. Here‘s a bookmarklet for that.
  • Use client-side image maps instead of server-side image maps. An exception can be when the clickable area is in some odd shape. Remember when we created image maps like that in Dreamweaver? Preferably don’t do that 🙂
    Besides that, image maps need sufficient text links to go with each active region of a server-side image map. More on accessible image maps here.
  • Who uses tables, right? Most of us bloggers don’t, and I haven’t seen a design built in tables for a long time (thankfully). If you need a table, for instance for a scientific article, be sure to:
    • identify row and column headers, and
    • use markup to associate data cells and header cells if your table has two or more logical levels of row or column headers.
  • You’re probably not using frames, but in case you are: add a title to each frame so these can easily be identified and navigated as such.
  • If your website depends on scripts (or applets)m but sure to test your website with these objects turned off. For instance, if your website uses a loader per page (WHY!?), turn JavaScript off in for instance the web developer toolbar and see if your theme still works. If not, fix this or provide the same information on a separate page that is accessible.

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095: Why Time Management Doesn’t Work: Interview with Alli Worthington [Podcast]

Andrew Raynor

Have you ever had to kill a project you were thrilled about? Letting go of something is hard but sometimes necessary when you’re over-committed to too many things.

Busyness is the Enemy of Your Calling: Interview with Alli Worthington

One of my very first breakout speaking gigs was at Blissdom, a popular blogging conference accidentally founded by my friend Alli Worthington.

Yes, by accident. She winged it the first year and the rest is history. But after six roller-coaster years, while planning speakers and themes for next year’s event, Alli pulled the plug and BlissDom was finished practically overnight. The sudden death left her community surprised and disappointed.

Why quit such a successful endeavor in its prime? What was she thinking?

This week on The Portfolio Life, Alli and I talk about what prompted her seemingly rash decision to shut down her conference, and the 10-year journey she took to write a book on busyness. Listen in as we discuss the enemy of calling and why embracing the season you’re in is key to finding fulfillment in your work.

Listen to the podcast

To listen to the show, click the player below (If you are reading this via email or RSS, please click here).

Breaking bad habits

“Busy” has become the new “fine.” When friends ask how things are going we tend to say the word “busy” with our first breath.

This is something I struggle with.

On any given day, I may be running late to a meeting due to the call before that ran over the alotted time. Then I feel bad for being late and let the meeting go long, which makes me late getting home to help my wife. I walk through the door, frantically texting something to my team before it falls through the cracks.

Trying to keep track of everything is distracting, and some days I feel busy all day long. At home I’m thinking about all the work that needs to be done, and at the office I feel guilty for not being at home with my family.

One of the things I found most interesting about Alli’s story and her book, Breaking Busy, is the rejection of this idea of obligation. We all have things we have to do that we don’t want to. That’s part of being an adult. But there are far too many things we say “yes” to merely because don’t want to disappoint someone. We know we don’t have the time or energy to spare, but we say “yes” anyway and somehow try to make it work. All the while, our lives are getting more chaotic.

Breaking bad habits like unnecessary obligations helps us end the cycle of busyness and create margin in our life for what really matters. And as a writer, I’ve found that this is essential to any kind of creative success.

Show highlights

In this episode, Alli and I discuss:

  • How writing a book is like punching yourself in the face
  • The wrong reasons to write a book
  • Why it’s easy to act brave from behind a computer screen
  • Listening to the calling on your life even when people think you are crazy
  • How different aspects of your life work together to make up your portfolio
  • Dealing with skepticism and rejection from your tribe
  • A decision-making framework for minimizing busyness
  • How to do all the things without losing your mind
  • Living a full life without feeling frenetic

Quotes and takeaways

  • “Your calling looks different in each season of your life.” —Alli Worthington
  • “If time management was really the issue, we wouldn’t still have a problem.” —Alli Worthington
  • “Just say no to unnecessary crazy.” —Alli Worthington
  • Life is messy, but it doesn’t have to be hectic.
  • Stepping out into the unknown is intimidating.

Resources

What obligations do you need to say no to? How is busyness robbing you of your calling? Share in the comments

Andrew Raynor

How to handle comments on your blog

Andrew Raynor

 

 

Four types of comments

The comments people leave on blogs can be divided into four types:

Positive feedback

First, the positive feedback. Some people just want to say that they like you, your company, or your blog post. That’s always nice to hear. Make sure to reply to some of these (even if it’s just a quick “thanks!”) or express general gratitude in an upcoming post, so the person giving the compliment feels appreciated.

Questions

The second type of comment are the questions your audience has after they’ve read your post. Perhaps something remained unclear or something you wrote triggered someone to ask you about your post or about your brand.

Responding to questions shouldn’t be that hard. If the answer to the question is short (and you actually know the answer!) you can just leave a direct reply. If a question is harder to answer, or needs some more explanation, you could decide to write a new post about it.
If you don’t know the answer to a question, we would advise you to still reply to that comment on your blog. You could simply admit that you do not know the answer, or you could state that you’ll dive into the matter and come back with an answer later (and don’t forget to!).

Negative feedback

The third type of comment is negative feedback. Sometimes, people disagree with what you wrote and sometimes people are unsatisfied with your product or service. Sometimes people are just plain mean about it. These kind of comments are the hardest to handle.

If comments on your blog are really hurtful and indecent (e.g. violent or racist) I would advise you to delete them altogether. Name calling doesn’t have a place on your blog. But, I wouldn’t delete comments from dissatisfied customers or readers. Not responding to these comments or deleting them could seriously backfire; if people are dissatisfied enough, they’ll complain about you through other channels, and you’ll look like you’re censoring their concerns. So, however hard it might be, you should try to respond to their comments and try to find the source of their dissatisfaction. If commenters are dissatisfied with your product or service, ask them to get in touch by phone or email to solve their problem.

Don’t be afraid of some discussion on your blog. A nice discussion in which there is room for several points of view can be a good thing. It gives you the opportunity to really show your audience your expertise and opinion about a certain topic. As long as a discussion is polite and respectful, it will attract readers and make them return to your blog.

Spam

And finally, some comments are just spam. People try to trick your readers into clicking on a link, often to something unrelated, or they just write nonsense. If your spam filter doesn’t filter these comments out already, you should delete and optionally block them as soon as you see them. WordPress by default comes with the plugin Akismet, which is made for this purpose.

Reserve some time for handling comments

Answering questions and providing correct responses in a discussion can take a lot of time. Make sure you’ve got the time to monitor and respond to the comments you receive on your blog. You don’t have to respond to a comment within the hour, but make sure to respond within a day or two. This shows your readers you’re involved and you care about their responses.

Read more: ‘Blog SEO: make people stay and read your post’ »

SEO New Hampshire

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Basic SEO training: product page optimization

Andrew Raynor

 

 

If you’re a webshop owner, you’d like your visitors to click that ‘Buy’ button on your product page. In our Basic SEO training we teach you how to optimize the usability and conversion of your product pages. In this Basic SEO training video fragment Thijs shows an example of a good product page and explains what’s so great about it.

Can’t watch the Basic SEO training video?

Here’s a transcript:

“So let me give you an example of what I think is a good product page. As you can see here, there’s a big image of this product. It’s a barbecue that’s being sold online. There’s also a pretty big call-to-action, it’s orange so it stands out in the design. And what I like most about this, is that the images they have on this page are really clear. There are images from every angle and images of people using the product. You can really see the product well and get a feeling for it.”

SEO New Hampshire

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