Metadata and SEO part 3: social, internationalization and more

Andrew Raynor

 

 

Literally, metadata is data that says something about other data. You can use particular metadata to send information about a webpage to a search engine or a social media channel, and thereby improve your SEO. In the first two posts of this metadata series, we discussed meta tags in headof your site and link rel metadata. In this last episode, we’ll scrutinize on metadata that can improve the sharing experience on social media. And last, but definitely not least, we’ll describe why metadata likehreflang declarations are a necessity if your business serves multiple languages and/or countries.

Posts in this series

Metadata #1: meta tags in the head

Metadata #2: link rel metadata

Metadata #3: Social and international

Social metadata

We have written about Open Graph and Twitter Cards before. These tags, or this information, is definitely metadata. It will help you tell social networks like Facebook and Twitter what the page at hand is about in an orderly, summarized way. It will allow you to control the way your articles or pages are shared.

OpenGraph

OpenGraph is a standard used by a number of social networks like Facebook and Pinterest. If you’re using our Yoast SEO plugin, these tags are added to your page automatically, and of course, you can control the contents of these OpenGraph tags (in the social section in our meta box below on edit pages).

Twitter Cards

The same goes for Twitter Cards. They add metadata to your pages that are convenient for Twitter to read and understand. Our plugin adds Twitter Card metadata as well. If there is no Twitter Card data, Twitter will fallback to OpenGraph data, but you obviously want to make things as simple as possible for that Twitter.

If you’d like a preview of how your page, shared on either Twitter or Facebook would look like, please check our Yoast SEO premium plugin, as that one adds these social previews right in your WordPress backend.

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But wait, there is more important metadata!

If you thought that all the things previously mentioned are all the SEO related metadata for your website, think again.

hreflang tags to indicate other languages

For those of you that have multilingual sites, this one is really, really important. If you have a site or page that is served in more than one language, be sure to add hreflang tags to your page.

With hreflang tags, you can indicate the language variations of the page at hand. That looks like this:

<link rel="alternate" href="http://example.com/" 
      hreflang="en" />
<link rel="alternate" href="http://example.com/en-gb/" 
      hreflang="en-gb" />
<link rel="alternate" href="http://example.com/de/" 
      hreflang="de" />

As you can see, these can be used for variations of the ‘same’ language as well, like the British English in the second line. Note that hreflang isn’t a substitute for the rel=canonical we discussed. Be safe, implement both. More information on how to implement hreflang can be found here.

Alt tags

If you think about it, any extra attribute you assign to an image, like the alt or title tag, is metadata. Google uses it to scan the page and see what’s on there, so be sure to add these alt and title tags and optimize ’em.

Microdata for breadcrumbs

For a better understanding of your site’s structure, you should add some kind of microdata to your breadcrumbs. That can be done by adding schema.org data for breadcrumbs, for instance by JSON-LDRDFa is another option to add this type of metadata to your website. Again, install Yoast SEO for WordPress and this is taken care of.

Language declaration for the page at hand

Let’s wrap this long list of metadata up with another language related metadata element. At the very top of your HTML, we find the, indeed, html tag. This one wraps all the code of your <head> and <body> and can contain the language of the page at hand. That is done like this:

<html lang="en">

Makes sense, right. Some might say that adding a meta tag for Content-Language is also an option, but following the W3C guidelines, that meta tag should not be used anymore. Use the lang declaration in the html tag instead.

That concludes this series with a lengthy list of metadata you can use to tweak your SEO. I am confident you can come up with even more metadata, as there is plenty. Feel free to leave your additions in the comments!

Read more: ‘Metadata and SEO part 1: the head section’ »

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146: The Strategic Advantage of Creative Thinking: Interview with Rob Levit

Andrew Raynor

For too long an expanding gap has existed between working in a cubicle and spending time on your craft. Creative thinking and critical thinking are not at odds. In fact, when you allow the two halves of your mind to work together, you can unlock amazing potential.

146: The Strategic Advantage of Creative Thinking: Interview with Rob Levit

It’s difficult for some of us to face another day at the office, plugging away at a job we’re disconnected from, while our book, blog, paint brush, or camera is collecting dust at home, waiting to be tinkered with.

But why can’t we be creative at work? Do our day jobs really have to drain us of motivation and joy?

This week’s guest on The Portfolio Life believes in the competitive advantage of creative thinking. During our conversation, he admitted that artists know more about getting things done than most people.

Listen in as creativity expert, Rob Levit, and I talk about why people are afraid to take basic creative risks, managing your time, energy, and resources as an artist, and why your talent is a gift.

I can’t change what people do in their jobs, but I can help them appreciate how to do it in a way that creates more meaning for them. —Rob Levit

Listen to the podcast

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

Show highlights

In this episode, Rob and I discuss:

  • Why people are afraid to take basic creative risks
  • How to develop a “pro-noia” mentality to see possibilities
  • Undoing the adage of “those you can’t do, teach”
  • Wrestling with feeling self-centered as a professional musician
  • The value of real-time feedback and the bias for growth/development
  • What stories we tell ourselves that keep us from being creative
  • The misconception of being talented and entitled to making a good living
  • Where creatives commonly get stuck
  • Overcoming the conflict between art and commerce
  • The ultimate gift we take for granted
  • A major caveat that is never included in self-help books

Takeaways

  • Everyone is interested in learning how to learn.
  • Creativity thrives in the context of relationship and community.
  • Failure of imagination occurs when we refuse to make time to reflect.
  • Don’t create false barriers. Explore other avenues to flex your creative muscle.
  • If your talent is a gift, it is your obligation to develop it to the highest level regardless of the reward.
  • If you create things people don’t want you lose the right to complain when they don’t “get” it.
  • Get comfortable with making mistakes.
  • Life is not a microwave oven, it’s a crockpot. You have to slow cook things.
  • Every moment that we live is potentially a wonderful, miraculous, great moment.
  • No matter who you are or what you’re doing, people feel a deeper connection to life when they are creating.
  • If you’re afraid to fail, you don’t belong in the arena.
  • You’ll never know if the spaghetti will stick on the wall unless you throw it.

Resources

How can you use your creative mind as a competitive advantage? What excuses stop you from creating? Share in the comments

Click here to download a free PDF of the complete interview transcript.

Andrew Raynor

Announcing YoastCon 2017 – November 2, 2017

Andrew Raynor

 

 

On November 2, 2017, we’re organizing the second edition of the coolest SEO conference of The Netherlands: YoastCon. Starting today, you can get your hands on an extremely limited amount of early bird tickets for just €249. YoastCon is a hands-on SEO conference where you’ll learn invaluable tactics to enhance your site to get better rankings or results. Be there!

At YoastCon, you’ll get practical with SEO. At the end of the day, you’ll be full of inspiration and ready to start improving your site. You’ll leave with a list of actionable advice that you can use immediately. Choose your favorite workshop and dive deeper into a subject. You can learn more about technical SEO, writing for the web or the deepest secrets of Yoast SEO. At YoastCon, everything is possible.

It will be an unmissable event for anyone wanting to improve the rankings of their sites. The second edition of YoastCon takes place in the beautiful concert hall De Vereeniging in Nijmegen, The Netherlands. The regular price for this one-day conference will be €299, but starting March 14, we will offer a limited number (50) of early bird tickets for €249.

Tickets

de vereeniging

YoastCon will take place in concert hall De Vereeniging in Nijmegen, The Netherlands.

 

YoastCon 2017 – Practical SEO

YoastCon is a must-visit conference if you want to learn SEO hands-on and want to hear renowned experts speak about the latest developments in our industry. We will announce the full speaker roster and workshop schedule in the coming weeks. Keep an eye out on our special conference page or subscribe to our newsletter to keep up to date on YoastCon news.

If you want to join us on November 2, be sure to order a ticket as soon as possible. An extremely limited number of early bird tickets is available for €249 from March 14. When they are gone, the price will jump to €299. If you buy an early bird ticket, you’ll get an exclusive goodie, and you’ll be the first to choose your workshops. What are you waiting for?

Tickets

Read more: ‘YoastCon 2017 conference page’ »

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Ask Yoast: noindex posts that need an update?

Andrew Raynor

 

 

If you own a blog for a long time, it could be that some of your old blog posts need to be updated or optimized. Every once in a while, you should go through your archive to check that. When you go through your archive pages, you might see posts with low quality content that you don’t want Google to add to the index temporarily. If you don’t want Google to show certain posts or pages in the search results, you can use the robots meta tag. That’s what this Ask Yoast is about!

Frédérique Lavios emailed us this question:

“We have a lot of old blog posts that need to be optimized. For overall website health, should I set these posts to noindex in the robots.txt file?”

Check out the video or read the answer below!

How to noindex a post or page

In the video we explain whether you should use noindex for posts that need an update.

I honestly think you’re mixing up a couple of things here. Noindex is something that you should do on the page and in the robots.txt file you forbid the crawler to come to the page entirely (using the Disallow directive).

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So what you should probably do, if you really think that something is low-quality content, is noindex the page itself for now. So not in the robots.txt, but with a meta tag that you can set in the advanced tab of Yoast SEO and then, you should rework them. But if it’s reasonably quality content and you just want to make it better, I wouldn’t add noindex; I would just go through them and optimize them as you go along.

If you set a blog post to noindex, Google will start crawling it slower. So after you’ve fixed it, it might take a couple of weeks for Google to come back and see the new content. So don’t do that, if it’s not absolutely necessary and just keep the blog post indexed and rewrite them as you go along.

Good luck!

Ask Yoast

In the series Ask Yoast we answer SEO questions from followers. Need some advice about SEO? Let us help you out! Send your question to ask@yoast.com.

Read more: ‘Website maintenance: clean up old posts & pages’ »

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How to Be More Creative (without Having to Be Original)

Andrew Raynor

How do we become creative? Do we motivate ourselves to create works of genius? Do we study our way into greatness? No. We do none of that. We steal.

Every Artist is a Thief

As Austin Kleon says,

“A good artist understands that nothing comes from nowhere. All creative work builds on what came before. Nothing is completely original.”

When I started writing, I wanted to find my voice. But whenever I tried to write in an original style, it wasn’t any good. For a long time, I thought this was what real writers did. They must have been born with some innate talent, some style just waiting to get onto the page.

Turns out, that’s simply not true. We find our voices by writing in other people’s voices. We hone our craft by stealing from the work of others.

Saving history by stealing it

There is an old Irish myth that illustrates this. In the story, a young monk named Columcille steals a manuscript from an abbot in hopes of copying it. When the young monk’s theft is discovered, the abbot demands it.

Columcille refuses, and the case is brought before the high king who demands the monk return both documents. The young monk impulsively tells his father, who is also a king, and what ensues is a battle leaving the abbot dead and the monk plagued with guilt. To atone for his sins, Columcille is banished from Ireland and lives out his exile on a small island named Iona, just off the coast of Scotland.

At Iona, Columcille spends the remainder of his days paying penance through acts of service to the church and western culture. He and his band of monks spend their time copying ancient documents and preserving them for posterity. Like their founder, they copied the work they loved, preserving it for future generations. They were stealing, too.

Iona soon became a refuge of western culture, one of a few sites in the world where art and culture were preserved while barbarian hordes tried to destroy it. The documents those monks copied would prevail through the Dark Ages, saved from destruction and preserved for the future.

A band of Irish monks rescued western culture from near annihilation. How? Not by doing original work. They copied manuscripts of ancient documents, which they inherited from the Romans. And the Romans, of course, stole their culture from the Greeks. While the Greeks borrowed from each other.

And on and on it goes.

Creativity is stealing

Creativity is not about coming up with something new and original. It is about borrowing ideas from a variety of sources and re-assembling them into a better or at least different package.

This process is hard work. It involves studying what others have already done and adapting it to your own purposes.

If you do this well, you won’t merely crib other people’s work and pass it off as your own. You will build upon it, and make it better. But be careful here, as far too many creatives have gotten lost in the pursuit of originality and damaged their work as a result.

Creativity is stealing. When you “steal like an artist,” you follow in the footsteps of history’s greatest creative minds. But before you become an artist, you must first become a thief.

Here’s how it works.

1. Study

First, you must study the work of those who came before you. You must become a student of other people’s work.

When the famous choreographer Twyla Tharp started dancing in New York, the dancer dedicated herself to studying every great dancer who was working at the time. She patterned herself after these professionals, learning what she could from them, copying their every move. “I would literally stand behind them in class,” she said, “in copying mode, and fall right into their footsteps. Their technique, style, and timing imprinted themselves on my muscles.”

Tharp understood that honing her dance skills would begin not with coming up with an original technique, but with copying what others were doing. She imitated the greats and after years of study created a style that was all her own — at least, that’s what people thought.

“That’s the power of muscle memory,” she wrote in her book, The Creative Habit. “It gives you a path toward genuine creation through simple re-creation.”

The way you establish your authority in a certain field is by mastering the techniques of those who are already authorities. And what eventually emerges over time is your technique.

2. Steal

Then you must steal the work. You must copy your way into creativity, deriving your inspiration from others and calling it your own.

For generations, writers have done this by copying the words of their favorite authors verbatim.

Hunter S. Thompson did this with the work of his idol, F. Scott Fitzgerald, when he wrote out the pages of The Great Gatsby to get a feel for “what it was like to write that way.” He also admitted in an interview to stealing more words and phrases from the Bible than from any other source, because he liked the way they sounded.

Great artists do not try to be original. They copy the work of both masters and peers — word by word, stroke by stroke, they mimic what they admire until those techniques become habitual. “Skill gets imprinted through action,” Tharp once said. We create by copying, and as we do, the skill becomes embedded into our memory.

So, how do you do this, ethically?

Well, first you give credit where credit is due. You list your sources. You acknowledge your influences. And you steal from not just one place but many places. And you recombine all that work into a hodgepodge — a mosaic — that other people will dare to call original.

The work of an artist, then, is not so much about creating things as it is about curating them.

3. Share

Finally, you share the work with others. This is the point at which the work you steal becomes generous. If you follow the example of greats artists like Michelangelo and borrow from the past, adding your own artistic flare, you are doing more than borrowing — you are creating.

This is what Jim Henson did when he borrowed his unique style of puppetry from the likes of Burr Tillstrom, creator of Kukla, Fran and Ollie, and other influences. Tillstrom won the admiration of both children and adults with his performances, which involved him standing behind a stage with a curtain to conceal his movements while the puppets acted out the skit. It was a simple arrangement; one Jim would borrow from and adapt to suit his needs. Later in life, he would credit Tillstrom for doing more to bring puppetry to TV than he ever did.

When you steal like this, you are passing something on for posterity; you are paying the work forward. Using the material around and available to you, you end up doing something new. And when people start calling you genius, the best thing you can do is honestly point to your influences.

So, how do you become creative? You start by stealing. It’s just that simple. But simple doesn’t always mean easy.

Who are your creative influences? How can you steal from them to create something original? Share in the comments.

Andrew Raynor

How to find the perfect WordPress theme

Andrew Raynor

 

 

We’ve seen it happen so often. You have a great blog, and at some point, you decide to go for a new look and feel. There are a couple of things you’ll look at, usually in the order: layout / look and feel, usability, and optionally, room for advertising. If the theme meets your needs in all two or three of these points, you might download and install it. If that sounds familiar, this post describes how to find the perfect WordPress theme!

A theme has quite a few things to take care of, and a lot of themes miss out on these. This overview should help to keep you out of trouble when you’re looking for a new theme. If you’re thinking of installing a new theme, please give the following points a thought. Keep in mind; your new theme should be accessible, compatible, customizable, integrable and standards compliant.

Define your needs

Whether you are in the market for a free theme, a premium theme or want to hire a developer to build one especially for you, the first step is always the same: define your needs. Write down what the theme should do, now and in the future. You might not need an eCommerce shop at this time, but what about in a year from now? What should your site look like? Which pages do you need? What types of content are you planning to publish? Once you have a clear picture of the requirements, you have a better chance of finding your dream theme.

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Find a trusted reseller or developer. How’s the support?

Should you build a theme yourself? Or will a general free theme do? The discussion on whether a premium theme is better than a free theme continues to rage on. Both sides have their merits. There are loads of crappy free themes, but there are just as many crappy premium themes. What you should do is find a reseller or developer that you trust. Look for social proof; how many reviews does a theme get? Is there an active message board? When did it receive its last update?

In general, every theme on WordPress.org underwent scrutiny, so they are safe to use. But that doesn’t mean they’re awesome. Theme resellers offer loads of premium themes in varying degrees of awesomeness. But just because you pay for them, doesn’t necessarily make them better than free themes. In addition to that, since you only receive the files when you pay for a theme, there’s no way to check the quality upfront. Despite social proof, it’s still a leap in the dark.

How flexible is the theme?

A static theme won’t do you any good when you want to change the page layout in a couple of months. Make sure to choose a theme that is flexible in its appearance as well as its functionality. Don’t choose a design that screams for full-width images when you only need a well-presented place to write your poetry. Check what happens to a theme when you turn off all massive images; does it still function? And is it possible to change colors, fonts and other visual elements?

Your theme should have ample room for widgets, plus it should support featured images and offer multi-language support. Lots of themes have a page builder on board; these help you construct your bespoke layout. But, this is something you should be careful with because these could generate less than stellar code that hinders your SEO.

Which post and page templates does the theme support?

Another way to keep things flexible is for a theme to offer multiple posts and page templates. That way, you could start off using a basic template with a main content area and a left sidebar, but have the flexibility to change to a full-width content area or one of the many other options. If a theme has only two choices, that might become problematic in the future. Pick a theme with enough sensible templates.

Does it function as a parent/child theme?

Parent and child themes are a great combo. If you use any of the theme frameworks like heavy hitter Genesis, you know how powerful these are compared to regular themes. A child theme gets its functionality from a parent theme. So if you’re making changes to your child theme, the parent won’t see these. You won’t break the parent theme if you make a mistake. The same goes for updates; if you update your parent theme, which happens often, it won’t wipe the changes you’ve made to your theme because it’s a child and doesn’t contain the functionality.

Whether you need a theme framework depends on your needs. Almost all WordPress projects will benefit from a theme framework, but it might be overkill if you only need a tiny amount of its functionality and you know exactly what kind of theme you need.

Watch out for theme bloat

Many themes are bloated, and this will increase loading time. If the developer of a particular theme included everything but the kitchen sink, you might get a feature-complete product but an insanely complicated one as well. Try to find a theme that offers everything you need, instead of everything there is. Your theme should be lean and mean. See the next point.

Check site speed and mobile-readiness

In this day and age, mobile-friendliness is imperative. In addition to that, your site and its theme should load as fast as possible. Choosing a lean and mean theme will certainly help in this regard. Check the responsiveness of a theme and run a Google mobile-friendliness test. You could also enter the address of the theme’s demo site in Google’s PageSpeed tool to see if there are particular loading issues. However, this is just an indication, since you can only judge the real loading speed of your theme when it’s running on your server.

Is the theme’s SEO in order?

While Yoast SEO fixes a lot of WordPress’ SEO issues, a good theme helps a lot. Most WordPress themes will claim SEO-friendliness, but make sure to check it. Find out if the theme’s code is nice and clean or an intangible mess. Has it been updated recently? And will it be supported in the future? How many JavaScript libraries does the theme depend on? Does it support Schema.org structured data? If you’re eyeing a free theme, make sure there are no hidden links to the developer’s website, as this can hurt your SEO efforts. In general, keep Google’s Webmaster Guidelines in mind when hunting for SEO-friendly themes.

Is the theme’s code valid?

Many a theme author is more of a designer than a coder, and thus they sometimes hack around until it finally looks the way they want, without bothering to check whether the code they’ve written is valid HTML. If it’s not, current or future browsers might have issues rendering the content correctly. You can check whether the code is valid by using the W3C’s validator.

Test, test, and test again

Once you’ve chosen your favorite new theme, it’s time to kick it into gear. Start with a development setup to test your new theme through and through. Run every type of test you can think of. This might be a security check with the Sucuri plugin or a theme check with the Theme Check plugin. Load your site with dummy data from wptest.io to see if every element is represented and functioning. Run pagespeed and mobile-friendliness tests to see if problems arise. Fix the issues, or find a new theme.

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Bonus checks

That’s just to get you going. There’s a lot of stuff you can check before you install your brand-new theme. Start with these three checks, if you will:

Hooks

WordPress plugins use so-called “hooks” to be able to perform their designated tasks. These hooks allow for instance to add extra output, tracking codes, etc. A lot of issues with plugins will arise for you when a theme author forgets to add these hooks. This is how to check for them:

1. In header.php, it should have a small piece of PHP code that looks exactly like this wp_head(); or this do_action('wp_head');, usually just before a piece of HTML that looks like this: </head>.

2. In footer.php, it should have another small piece of PHP like this wp_footer();, or this do_action('wp_footer');

3. In comments.php and/or comments-popup.php, it should have a piece of code like this: <?php do_action('comment_form', $post->ID); ?>, just before the </form> HTML tag.

Template files

Another wise thing to do when you’re changing themes is to compare theme files. If for instance, your current theme has an author.php file, which contains the template for your author profiles, and your new one doesn’t have that, that might be an unpleasant surprise when you install the theme. The files you should be checking for in your old and new theme:

  • home.php: the homepage template.
  • single.php: the template for single posts.
  • page.php: the template for pages.
  • category.php: the template for category indexes.
  • author.php: the author template, used when someone wants to find all posts by a certain author.
  • date.php: the date template, used when someone tries to look at for instance a certain month of posts on your blog.
  • archive.php: this template is used when either category.php, author.php or date.php isn’t there.
  • search.php: used when someone searches on your blog, a very important template to look at if you’re concerned about usability, and whether people can find posts on your blog.
  • 404.php: used when WordPress can’t find a certain post or page, this is a very important template file to have!

How is your theme handling titles?

You should check how your current theme is handling page titles in the file header.php. You can find it within the <title> HTML tags. If the title tag differs, you might want to check out why and what happens when you enable your new theme. Sometimes it’s for the better (for instance, because it turns around blog description and page / post title), but you have to make sure up front!

It will probably look something like this:

<title><?php bloginfo(‘name’); ?> <?php wp_title(); ?></title>
If it does, you’ll be a lot better to change it to:

 

Now Yoast SEO can take care of all the titles. We have a great article that you can read if want to know more about crafting good titles.

If your theme does all of this correctly, you should be quite ok. Good luck with your new theme, and if you have any tips on other things to check, please share in the comments!

Read more: ‘Why every website needs Yoast SEO’ »

SEO New Hampshire

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Metadata and SEO part 2: link rel metadata

Andrew Raynor

 

 

In the first post of our metadata series, I discussed the meta tags in the <head> of your site. But there’s more metadata in the <head> that can influence the SEO of your site. In this second post, we’ll dive into link rel metadata. You can use link rel metadata to instruct browsers and Google, for example to point them to the AMP version of a page or to prevent duplicate content issues. The link rel tags come in a lot of flavors. I’d like to address the most important ones here.

Use rel=canonical to prevent duplicate content

Every website should use rel=canonical to prevent duplicate content and point Google to the original source of that content. rel=canonical is one of those metadata elements that has an immediate influence on your site’s SEO. If done wrong, it might ruin it. An example: we have seen sites that had the canonical of all pages pointed to the homepage. That is basically telling Google that for all the content on your website, you just want the homepage to rank.
If done right, you could give props to another website for writing an article that you republished.

If you want to read up on rel=canonical, please read this article: Rel=canonical: the ultimate guide.

Add rel=amphtml to point search engines to your AMP pages

In order to link a page to its AMP variant, use the rel=amphtml. AMP is a variation of your desktop page, designed for faster loading and better user experience on a mobile device. It was introduced by Google, and to be honest, we like it. It seriously improves the mobile user experience.

So be sure to set up an AMP site and link the AMP pages in your head section. If you have a WordPress site, adding AMP pages is a piece of cake. You can simply install the AMP plugin by Automattic and you’ll have AMP pages and the rel=amphtml links right after that.

If you’d like to read up about AMP, be sure to check our AMP archive.

dns-prefetch for faster loading

By telling the browser in advance about a number of locations where it can find certain files it needs to render a page, you simply make it easier and faster for the browser to load your page, or (elements from) a page you link to. If implemented right, DNS prefetching will make sure a browser knows the IP address of the site linked and is ready to show the requested page.

An example:
<link rel="dns-prefetch" href="https://cdn.yoast.com/">

Please note that if the website you are prefetching has performance issues, the speed gains might be little, or none. This could even depend on the time of day. Monitor your prefetch URLs from time to time.

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What about rel=author?

Rel=author has no effect whatsoever at the moment. It hasn’t had any effect we know of for quite a while actually, as Joost already mentioned this in October of 2015. You never know what use Google might come up with for it, but for now, we’re not pushing it in our plugin. It was used to point to the author of the post, giving the article more or less authority depending on how well-known an author was. At the time, this was reflected in the search results pages as well (it’s not anymore). No need to include it in your template anymore.

Other rel elements include your stylesheets (make sure Google can use these) and you can set icons for a variety of devices. SEO impact of these is rather low or simply not existing.

Is there more?

So we discussed meta tags and link rel metadata in the <head> . Is there even more metadata that affects SEO? Yes there is! In our next metadata post, I’ll explore social metadata, like OpenGraph and Twitter Cards. In addition to that, we’ll go intohreflang, an essential asset for site owners that serve more than one country or language with their website. Stand by for more!

Read more: ‘Metadata and SEO part 1: the head section’ »

SEO New Hampshire

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Does readability rank?

Andrew Raynor

 

 

Two weeks ago Google’s Gary Illyes tweeted that you should read your text out loud. If it doesn’t read nicely or sounds strange, it’ll probably won’t rank either. Of course, a discussion followed. Some SEOs are reluctant to believe him, because in some cases keyword stuffing still seems to pay off. For relatively small languages (like Dutch) this appears to be true. At Yoast however, we really believe in the value of readable texts for SEO. In this post, I’ll explain the importance of writing readable content for SEO. Also, I’ll give some tips to make sure your text remains readable.

Hummingbird and readability

After the Hummingbird update, Google became a lot better at recognizing synonyms. Keyword stuffing, in order to really let Google know what your text is about, became useless. Keyword stuffing leads to text that are terrible to read. Webpages with these kind of texts will (sooner or later) disappear from the search results. Sooner, if Google actively punishes sites that clutter their text with keywords. Later, if visitors get tired of reading bad copy and are less prone to come back or buy from those sites.

Learn how to write awesome and SEO friendly articles in our SEO Copywriting training »

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UX and readability

Text that isn’t nice and easy to read will give your audience a bad user experience. Nobody likes to read something that’s boring or stuffed with keywords. All texts should be aimed and focused on your audience, giving them the best experience possible. Otherwise, you’ll end up with unsatisfied visitors, that’ll bounce back to Google instantly, when they hit your site.

Voice search and readability

As voice search is becoming more and more important, readability of copy becomes more important as well. As people are searching for stuff by talking to their devices, these devices will search for information that they can give to their audience. Information that is a terrible read, will not be comprehended by an audience. Texts should be clear while read from paper, from a screen, from a mobile phone, but also if they are read to you by a device.

How to keep your text readable

Writing readable texts is hard. That’s why we worked so hard on our readability analysis. We’re still working on it, getting it translated in as many different languages as possible. It’s available for free in the Yoast SEO plugin. It’ll really help you to write readable texts. It checks, for instance, if your sentences aren’t too long, if you don’t use passive voice too often, and if the length of your paragraphs is OK.

Before you start writing your text, think about the structure. What are you going to tell your audience and in what order? Is that a logic order of topics? Will your audience be able to follow your arguments, your examples, your message?

Read more: ‘Setting up a text structure’ »

Write short rather than lengthy sentences, as lengthy sentences a much harder to process. Try to avoid or to limit the amount of difficult words in a text. Try not to use complicated sentences and try to avoid the use of passive voice.

Keep reading: ‘5 SEO copywriting mistakes you should avoid’ »

Make sure to write in an appealing style. That can be really hard, as not everyone has a talent for creative writing. Make sure to mix it up a little! Try to alternate long sentences with shorter ones. Use synonyms. Avoid starting sentences with the same word.

Read on: ‘5 tips to write a readable blog post’ »

Conclusion: read out loud!

Let’s be clear: your rankings will not immediately rise if you improve the readability of your texts. But, writing readable blog post is an essential part of every SEO strategy. If you want your readers to read your entire blog post, you should make sure your copy is easy to read. Posts that are nice and easy to read will definitely result in more returning visitors and a higher conversion rate. So in the long run: readability ranks.

Read more: ‘SEO copywriting: the complete guide’ »

SEO New Hampshire

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145: How to Draw Creative Inspiration from Your Day Job: Interview with John Weiss

Andrew Raynor

It’s hard for some people to believe, but you don’t have to choose between your day job and your dream job. The two can complement each other in ways you never imagined possible.

145: How to Draw Creative Inspiration from Your Day Job: Interview with John Weiss

When you think of a cartoonist, you probably don’t think of somebody with a Masters degree in criminal justice administration. A creative life of making satirical art doesn’t jive with running a police department. On the surface, these two occupations seem at odds with one another.

But that’s just what this week’s guest on The Portfolio Life did for over 25 years. John Weiss is a former police chief who pursued his passions of cartooning, painting and writing while working in law enforcement.

Now that John is retired, he is a full-time artist painting landscapes, drawing cartoons, and writing a weekly art column.

Listen in as John and I talk about how he navigated the tension between creative expression and police work by letting his day job and dream job inspire each other.

Listen to the podcast

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

Show highlights

In this episode, John and I discuss:

  • Drawing political cartoons in college
  • If he regrets getting a “real” job
  • How a day job compliments artistry
  • Confronting stereotypes of artists and law enforcement officers
  • How a creative background made him better at police work
  • A funny story about getting pulled over
  • Pivoting to different art forms to accommodate career growth
  • When he stopped apologizing for being an artist

Takeaways

  • A day job compliments your artistry.
  • Creativity and artfulness are necessary skills.
  • Life gives you inspiration for writing.
  • Going viral isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Resources

Click here to download a free PDF of the complete interview transcript.

How can your creative passion inform your day job? Have you ever considered your day job as a source of inspiration? Share in the comments.

Andrew Raynor

Ask Yoast: redirecting your site to non-www and HTTPS

Andrew Raynor

 

 

Let’s say you own the website http://www.some-example.com. At one point, you might like visitors to go to the non-www version instead of the www version of your domain. In addition to this, if you follow security best practices, you might want to switch from HTTP to HTTPS. What should you do if you want to make both these changes? You probably figured out that you’ll have to redirect traffic from your current domain to your preferred domain. But what’s the best way to do this? Is there a preferred order?

We received an anonymous question for this Ask Yoast:

“I want to move my site from www and HTTP to non-www and HTTPS… what should I do?
1. Strip www and then force HTTPS;
2. or force HTTPS and then strip www?”

Check out the video or read the answer below!

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How to switch from HTTP to HTTPS and www to non-www?

Check out the video or read the answer below!

You should do both at the same time. You should redirect the HTTP link straight to the HTTPS version without the www. Don’t try to do that with two 301 redirects, you should do that in just one 301 redirect.

Forcing HTTPS is something that you need to test really well. There are all sorts of things in your site that probably aren’t HTTPS ready that you should know of upfront. I know it was a lot of hard work to get yoast.com to HTTPS and we don’t even have ads. Especially ad services can be really tough to get working on HTTPS. But you should do it in one go. So it’s really secret option number three: redirect from one to the other straight away, and don’t think about anything else.

If you really can do HTTPS for everything and it works fine, make sure to add an HSTS: ‘Strict Transport Security Header’, which forces everything to be over HTTPS. And then, if the browser sees an HTTP link to your domain in the content somewhere, it will still automatically grab the HTTPS version, thus the right one.

Good luck!

Ask Yoast

In the series Ask Yoast we answer SEO questions from followers. Need some advice about SEO? Let us help you out! Send your question to ask@yoast.com.

Read more: ‘How to remove www from your URL’ »

SEO New Hampshire

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