On-Page SEO Checklist: My 35-Step Process For Writing Search Engine Optimized Content In WordPress (2020 Complete Guide)

On-Page-SEO-Checklist

The is the same on-page SEO checklist I use to write every post on my blog.

Most of it has nothing to do with Yoast, in fact I ignore most of Yoast’s recommendations since they put too much emphasis on keyword density and not enough on real on-page SEO factors.

Instead, I focus on finding a long-tail keyword which has low competition in Google’s search results, then creating in-depth content that is organized with a table of contents and nice graphics. I also talk about lesser-known strategies like targeting variations of a keyword, optimizing your table of contents to get in Google’s featured snippets, and making content format properly on Facebook/Twitter (using Yoast). I don’t have an infographic like Backlinko, but these are all actionable tips that will improve your on-page SEO, especially for WordPress.

I have gotten many requests to write this, so I hope it’s useful. Comment if you need help.

 

1. Find A Long-Tail Keyword

Use Google Autocomplete to find a long-tail keyword with  3+ words.

If you start Googling the keyword and it has lots of Autocomplete results below it, that keyword is probably too competitive and in most cases, you should choose one of the more specific (long-tail) phrases. The only time you should consider choosing a broad, competitive keyword is if you plan on creating in-depth content, and if your site has high domain authority.

Long-Tail Keywords

 

2. Learn The Keyword’s Competition

Google the keyword and review the content in the top results.

A keyword is more competitive if:

  • It’s broad
  • Top results have strong content
  • Top results have high DA/PA in MozBar
  • It has high competition in Keywords Everywhere
  • Top results are populated with authority websites
  • You see lots of advertisements from Google AdWords
  • Top results have strong signals (links, comments, shares)
  • There are lots of search results (11.6 million is a lot, but I’m giving it a shot)

Tools I Use:
Keywords Everywhere – Google any keyword and see it’s monthly search volume, CPC (cost per click), and estimated competition. Manually researching the top results is better though.

MozBar – Google any keyword and see each search result’s DA (domain authority) and PA (page authority). Choose keywords with lower PA, and compete within your own DA range.

Keyword Competition

 

3. Find Keyword Variations

These are synonyms (or very closely related) keywords.

Try looking at the different Autocomplete results or searching for a similar keyword. You can use the underline character _ to have Google fill-in-the-blank (a neat little trick I like to use). You can target multiple keyword variations in the post title, SEO title, and meta description.

Keyword Variation(2)

Keyword Variation

Keyword Variations

Example:

  • Keyword #1: on-page SEO checklist (primary)
  • Keyword #2: on-page SEO guide
  • Keyword #3: on-page SEO 2019
  • Keyword #4: on-page SEO process
  • Keyword #5: content SEO checklist

So I wrote the title:

On-Page SEO Checklist: My 33-Step Process For Writing Search Engine Optimized Content (2019 Complete Guide)

 

4. Create A Post

In case you didn’t know how:

Add A New Post

 

5. Write A Keyword-Rich Headline

Qualities of a good headline:

  • Makes people want to read (duh)
  • Primary keyword is ideally in front
  • Keyword variations sprinkled throughout title

Post Title

Other Examples:

Headline 6

Headline 3

Headline 4

Headline 5

Headline 2

 

This emphasizes your keyword to search engines.

Shortened Permalink

Should I Remove Stop Words?
Yoast recommends removing stop words, but this can make URLs ready funny and is NOT always good. Take a look at the examples below. If you can shorten the permalink to include your keyword and read nicely, do it. But if it butchers the URL and doesn’t make sense, don’t.

Yoast-Stop-Words

Yoast-Stop-Words-Examples

 

7. Write The SEO Title + Meta Description

These are the forefront of your SEO and determine the post’s click-through rate. You should include your keyword (ideally in the front), target multiple keyword variations, and follow the character limits. It’s also a good idea to include a number or modifier like “2019” or “checklist.”

Yoast Snippet

Tips For Writing SEO Titles + Meta Descriptions

  • SEO title length: 600 pixels (about 58 characters)
  • Meta description length: 920 pixels (about 158 characters)
  • Do not use Yoast’s snippet variables (write them yourself!)
  • Primary keyword is in front, secondary keywords are sprinkled

 

8. Create An HTML Table Of Contents

I can’t stress how important this is.

A table of contents organizes the post, lets people jump (and link to) specific sections, and increases your chance of being awarded jump-to links and featured snippets by Google. It also encourages longer content (Brian Dean and most SEOs recommend at least 3,000+ words).

Why You Should Do It

  • Helps users navigate the post
  • People can link to specific sections
  • Encourages in-depth content (3,000+ words)
  • Chance of getting jump-to links in Google by using named anchors

Template:

 

Featured snippets can be in the form of lists, paragraphs, or tables.

Since your table of contents is a list, make each item concise and actionable. Do not ask questions or give long answers – people want direct solutions to the problem for their query.

How In Google’s Featured Snippets

  • Find a keyword where people want concise information (eg. a list)
  • Moz Keyword Explorer has a filter that helps find question keywords
  • Target existing keywords/featured snippets that don’t do a good job
  • Create a concise, logical table of contents to target ‘list’ featured snippets
  • Create fact-based content with quality references (links, graphics, etc)
  • Make sure you’re on the 1st page for the keyword, if not, improve the content
  • Design an image exactly describing the keyword and label the image file name + alt text as the exact keyword (this can get that image showing in your featured snippet as well)
  • Google ultimately determines whether they will show your result, or any result at all

Featured Snippet List

Featured-Image-Snippets

 

10. Add FAQ Rich Snippets

FAQ rich snippets are great for standing out in search results:

FAQ Google Snippets

Instructions

  • Install the Structured Content plugin.
  • Edit a page/post you want to FAQs on.
  • Click the “FAQ” icon in the WYSIWYG editor.
  • Add your questions and answers (I recommend 3-8).
  • Click the OK button and the plugin will add the code to your post.
  • Once the post is published, submit the URL to Google’s URL Inspector.
  • Your FAQs should appear in Google’s search results within a matter of minutes.

 

11. Drop Internal/External Links

These should provide helpful resources for specific topics not completely covered in the post, don’t just insert them for SEO or link to Wikipedia. If your visitors click it, it should be helpful.

Internal Links – natural ways to build links to your site while mentioning articles where visitors can more information on specific topics, while improving bounce rate and time on site.

External Links – similar to citing sources to Google. I always use internal links if I have content about the topic, otherwise I link to external sources where people can find more information.

 

12. Get Content From Facebook Groups

I love taking screenshots of Facebook conversations, especially polls.

It’s an easy way to show upvoted answers, common solutions to problems, and comparison polls. There are plenty of polls on the best hosting, cache plugins, SEO plugins, and others.

Step 1: Join Facebook Groups related to your topic/industry.

Facebook Groups

Step 2: Search Facebook for specific topics while only searching within your Groups.

Facebook Keyword Search

Step 3: Find polls and conversations related to the topic, then share them with your readers:

SEO Plugin Facebook Poll

 

13. Design Images

I use GIMP.

Be sure to crop/resize images to the correct dimensions (see next section).

GIMP Editor

 

14. Optimize Images

Alt Text – the Auto Image Alt Attribute plugin will automatically add alt text to images based on their file name. Just remember to write a descriptive file names before uploading images.

Alt-Text

Resize Images To Correct Dimensions – my blog is 680px width so I crop/resize full width images to those dimensions. Otherwise I would see serve scaled images errors in GTmetrix.

680 Pixel Width Rectangle

Lossless Compression – ShortPixel, Smush, Imagify, and Kraken all do the same thing (lossless compression + EXIF data removal). I use ShortPixel which shows an unnoticeable quality loss.

optimize-images-gtmetrix

 

15. Write A Solid Introduction

How to write a great introduction:

  • Use your keyword in the first couple sentences
  • Add links (from the TOC) to entice people to jump to a specific section
  • Tell them why they should read your post (eg. I don’t focus much on Yoast)
  • Be personal, lead with a story, or talk about topics that are currently going on

Post Introduction

 

16. End With A Call To Action

What do you want people to do?

  • Read another post
  • Make an affiliate sale
  • Follow you on social media
  • Subscribe to your newsletter
  • Get in touch as a potential client

Call To Action

I rely on affiliate marketing to make a living, so I usually link to my WordPress speed guide which is super helpful, but also promotes SiteGround where I get a commission from each sale.

Just sayin’ but at least I’m transparent.

2019-Hosting-Facebook-Poll

Get hosting from SiteGround Get managed cloud hosting from Cloudways

 

17. Spell Check Using Grammarly

Grammarly is great, but you should have someone else read it with fresh eyes.

I like to reread it first thing in the morning, or hand it off to a coworker. You can also hire a writer. If you do not speak native English, you should 100% hire someone to edit your copy.

Grammary Recommendations

 

18. Assign A Category And Give It Some Tags

Assign the post to 1 category, and give it a few tags. Don’t overdo the tags.

WordPress Categories
WordPress Tags

 

19. Optimize For Social Sharing

This makes your content format properly when shared on Facebook/Twitter, specifically your image since both networks use custom dimensions to display it, otherwise it will look funny.

Facebook Post

If using Yoast, go to the “Social” settings and enable Open Graph for both Facebook/Twitter:

Yoast-Social-Meta-Data

Now edit a page/post, then click the “share” link in Yoast and you will see options to upload custom images for Facebook (1200 width x 628 height) and Twitter (1024 width x 512 height).

yoast-social-media-optimization

 

20. Add Rich Snippets To Reviews

If you’re writing reviews, you need rich snippets.

I use the premium WP Review plugin which looks great (here’s an example post I use it on), does the job, and is lightweight so it doesn’t affect my load times or my GTmetrix reports.

Structured-Data-Review-Stars

Instructions

  • Write reviews, recipes, or other content types where rich snippets can be used
  • Choose a rich snippets plugin (eg. All In One Schema or WP Review)
  • All In One Schema is free but has minimal customization options and looks boring
  • WP Review looks much better, has multiple pre-styled templates, is maintained and updated frequently by the MyThemeShop, supports 14 data types, and is what I use
  • Use the plugin to markup content and test it using Google’s Structured Data Tool
  • Use my tutorial on adding rich snippets to WordPress for full instructions

 

21. Add Multimedia

Videos keep people on the post longer. Ideally it’s your own since embedding videos on your blog gives them more views, likes, comments, and engagement, a key factor for YouTube SEO.

That’s why I like creating YouTube videos in conjunction with my blog content. I haven’t created a video for on-page SEO yet (I probably will soon), so for now, here’s Brian Dean:

 

22. Ignore Yoast Feedback

Yoast green lights don’t matter.

Yoast doesn’t tell you anything about keyword competition, content depth, or how to improve engagement. It focuses too much on keyword density and not enough on what actually makes great content. Instead of focusing on green lights, beef up your articles with a table of contents and cover the topics in more depth. That is what I did to grow my blog to 3,000 visitors/day.

Importance Of Yoast Green Lights

 

23. Prefetch DNS Requests

This helps browsers anticipate external resources so they can load them faster.

If you embedded YouTube videos, Tweets, Facebook posts, or even use social sharing plugins or comment plugins, these can slow down your website and also show in your GTmetrix report.

Here is a great list of common domains to prefetch:

Prefetch-DNS-Requests-WP-Rocket

You can add them to WP Rocket (the cache plugin I recommend):

Prefetch-DNS-Requests

Otherwise, add them to your header:

<link rel=”dns-prefetch” href=”//youtube.com”>
<link rel=”dns-prefetch” href=”//maps.googleapis.com”>
<link rel=”dns-prefetch” href=”//fonts.googleapis.com”>

 

24. Test Load Times In GTmetrix

Thank you Cloudways for the crazy load times. Even posts with tons of images load in <1s when they’re 2.70MB and have 61 requests.

If I didn’t embed the YouTube video or GitHub code it would be 100%. Make sure images are optimized, use fast hosting, a good cache plugin, PHP 7+, and see my WordPress speed guide.

On-Page-SEO-Load-Times

SiteGround vs Cloudways Cloud Hosting

 

25. Publish The Post

Go ahead, do it.

Publish Post

 

26. Disable Unused Scripts + Plugins

You might be familiar with Plugin Organizer, which lets you selectively disable plugins you don’t use on certain pages/posts. This is the same idea, only I use Kinsta’s perfmatters plugin. Since I’m not using rich snippets in this post, I disabled my rich snippets plugin in the settings.

You can also use the free WP Asset Clean Up plugin.

Script Manager

 

Each link in your table of contents should jump to it’s subheading. Hold ctrl (PC) or control (Mac) and click each link to make sure it works. The tags in your subheadings and table of contents tags should match. Otherwise if it’s another problem, recheck the GitHub code.

Table Of Contents Links

 

28. Submit URL To Google

Next, submit the URL to Google using their URL Inspector in Search Console.

FAQ Request Indexing

 

29. Make Sure Google Doesn’t Cut Off Snippets

If your SEO title + meta description are too long, Google will cut it off. Make sure they don’t.

Google Snippet

 

Anytime you mention the topic, include a link to the article.

Internal Link

 

31. Keep The Article And Publish Date Current

Adding a post modified date makes  your content look fresh and increases click-through rates.

First, enable ‘date in snippet preview’ in Yoast (SEO → Search Appearance → Content Types).

Date-In-Snippet-Preview-Yoast

Now add this code to your theme (or use the Post Updated Date plugin) which does the same thing. If you’re using the Genesis Framework you can use Genesis Simple Edits plugin to add the post modified date shortcode to the ‘Entry Meta’ section under Genesis → Simple Edits.

<p>Last modified: <?php the_modified_date(); ?></p>

Mine looks like this…

Entry-Meta

Which results in…

Post Modified Date

Keep the article updated to refresh the publish date:

Publish Date

 

32. Send A Newsletter

Anytime you publish a great article, tell your subscribers about it (and what’s in it).

Mailchimp Newsletter

 

33. Take It To Social Media

Without being spammy, share it in Facebook Groups and other places.

 

34. Respond To Comments

HubSpot did a study on comments and found this:

“There is no correlation between the number of comments on a post and the number of views that post got. There’s also no correlation between comments and the number of links that post got.

Pros

  • They’re where I get my most valuable feedback
  • People who receive feedback are more likely to sign up for my newsletter
  • Creates a two-way conversation (eg. you’re trying to get clients to contact you)

Cons

  • Spam, lots of it
  • Too many people trying to get a link
  • It’s basically free consulting (if you don’t have guidelines)

 

35. Monitor The Post’s Performance

After a couple weeks, check the performance report in Google Search Console which helps you see the post’s performance. It tells you it’s ranking position, clicks, and click-through rate.

If the post ranks high with lots of impressions, but has a low click-through rate, consider rewriting the SEO title + meta description. If it doesn’t rank well at all, improve the content.

Use Google Analytics to check the post’s average session duration and bounce rate.

If the post has bad bounce rates and average session duration, it could be anything from slow load times to poor web design, no internal links, or lack of well-designed, original graphics. Try listing your most popular tutorials in your sidebar (see mine).

 

Backlinko’s On-Page SEO Infographic

This post wouldn’t be complete without Backlinko’s on-page SEO infographic:

on-page-seo

You May Also Like: How I Got 100% Scores In GTMetrix (WordPress Speed Guide)

 

Frequently Asked Questions

✅ How did I get these FAQs in Google?

Install the Structured Content plugin and use it to add FAQs to pages/posts. The plugin will markup the content for you, then test the page in Google's Structured Data Testing Tool.

✅ How important are Yoast's green lights?

Not very important. Yoast emphasizes keyword usage but doesn't pay much attention to keyword research, quality content, rich snippets, or adding an HTML table of contents. The most important places to use your keyword are in the page title, URL, SEO title, meta description, and a couple times in the content. The rest is quality content + on-page SEO.

✅ What are on-page SEO factors outside of Yoast?

Rich snippets, FAQ rich snippets, adding a table of contents, quality content, using multimedia like infographics and videos, speed optimization, and getting your content showing in Google's featured snippets to name a few.

✅ How do you add a table of contents to long posts?

I recommend using HTML instead of a plugin to make sure the TOC includes linked anchors so people can jump to (and link) to specific sections of your post. I listed the code in this tutorial.

✅ How do you get in Google's featured snippets?

Google can show featured snippets for paragraphs, lists, and tables. Find a question keyword where it makes sense that Google would show featured snippets, or ones that already exists with content that does a poor job answering the question. Next, create a section on your post that answers the question concisely. If optimizing for lists, create a table of contents. Keep the maximum character counts in mind.

Subscribe To My Newsletter: Subscribe to my newsletter if you liked this post! I continuously write new tutorials on WordPress SEO + speed optimization over 3,000 people read each day.

Cheers,
Tom

24 WordPress SEO Tips To Optimize Your Site In 2020

If you’re looking for less obvious WordPress SEO tips, I have just the list for you.

You’ve probably heard enough about Yoast green lights for one lifetime. That’s why this list includes practical tips that go way beyond Yoast, including a full list of SEO and speed optimization plugins. I used these to grow my SEO blog to 3,000 readers/day as a 1-man show.

Just read it, you will definitely learn something.

 

1. Install The Right SEO Plugins

  • Yoast SEO – you probably already use Yoast, but most people don’t do these things correctly: forgetting keyword density, snippet variables, bulk editor, and social optimization. Or see my Yoast tutorial which covers all 4 steps to Yoast: settings configuration, Webmaster Tools, focus keywords, content SEO.
  • Google Site Kit – Google’s new WordPress plugin which integrates Google Analytics, Search Console, AdSense, and PageSpeed Insights. It’s still in beta.
  • WP Review – rich snippet plugin (best one out there IMO) and is what I use. Here’s a page I use it on. It looks great, supports 14 data types (including editor reviews, user reviews, and recipes), comes with 16 pre-styled templates, and is supported by MyThemeShop. All In One Schema is free but very minimal and lacks customization. WP Rich Snippets was abandoned by the developer. WP Review is lightweight and has both a free and pro version with tons of options.
  • Easy Table Of Contents – adding a TOC has huge SEO benefits. It encourages long content, lets people link to specific sections of your post, makes them click around, and Google may award you jump-to links by using name anchors.
  • Automatic Alt Attributes – automatically adds alt text to images, preventing you from having to add it manually (ever since WordPress stopped doing it).
  • Broken Link Checker – still the easiest way to find/fix broken links, but ongoing scans consume high CPUs (be sure to deactivate it when you’re done).
  • Quick Page/Post Redirect – free redirect plugin you can use to fix crawl errors (broken pages) found in Google Search Console (Yoast also has a setting for it).
  • Republish Old Posts – resets publish dates to current day, making all your posts look fresh in search results. It’s a little cheap (considering you didn’t actually update your posts with new content) but it can increase your CTRs.
  • Yoast Premium Plugins – I don’t use these since they don’t directly help SEO, but many people consider them. I wrote a review on Yoast premium explaining how redirects can be done with free plugins, multiple focus keywords aren’t as useful as you might think, and other reason I don’t think it’s worth $89/year.
  • WP Rocket – #1 rated cache plugin in multiple Facebook polls. Easy to setup, yields great results, and is updated frequently. Comes with many features most cache plugins don’t (database cleanup, lazy load, local Google Analytics hosting, heartbeat control, and integrate with Cloudflare and other CDNs).
  • Analytify – shows Google Analytics metrics directly in WordPress dashboard.
  • Really Simple SSL – automatically configures site for SSL. You still need to sign up for an SSL (I use the free Let’s Encrypt SSL which comes with SiteGround).

 

2. Leverage New Keyword Research Tools

Answer The Public – pulls keywords from Google Autocomplete and creates a visual keyword map. Breaks keywords down into questions, prepositions, and comparison keywords. The greener the circle, the more searches the keyword has. Not only a great way to find keywords, but to make sure your content is comprehensive and answers all questions people are asking.

Yoast Keywords – AnswerThePublic

Moz Keyword Explorer – similar to Google Keyword Planner only much better, since it’s designed specifically for SEO while Keyword Planner is designed for AdWords. Shows competition in organic results (KP is for AdWords), monthly search volume, and has filters for grouping similar keywords so you’re not scrolling through the same ones (very handy feature).

Moz Keyword Suggestions

Google Autocomplete Tricks – did you know you can use the underline character to have Google fill in the blank? Just make sure you end on the underline character _ and you can find an entire list of keywords you otherwise didn’t know about. I personally use this trick a lot.

Google-Autocomplete-Fill-In-The-Blank-1

MozBar – Chrome extension that lets you Google any keyword and see each result’s DA (domain authority) and PA (page authority). The higher they are, the more competitive the keyword is. Check your DA in Moz Link Explorer and compete with sites that have similar DA.

MozBar Keyword Competition

Researching a keyword’s competition is a must. You don’t want to create content you’ll never rank for. The best indicator is if you Google the keyword, short (weak) content is in the top results. If you can create better, more thorough content, then it’s probably a good keyword.

Keyword Competition

 

3. Forget About Keyword Density

Yoast’s SEO analysis awards you green lights when you complete recommendations. The problem is, most have to do with keyword usage, and there’s more to on-page SEO than this.

What Yoast should say:

WARNING: injecting keywords in your content/snippets makes them look spammy. Have you thought about writing an SEO title + meta description to increase CTR? Every result in Google will be using the keyword – why would anyone click your link? Yes, you should use your keyword in the page title, URL, SEO title, and meta description (the most important places)… but don’t inject keywords just to get green lights. Forget about keyword density and keywords in subheadings… add a table of contents to organize longer posts, use videos, infographics, rich snippets, social sharing images, and beef up thin content to make it better (more detailed) than the top search results.

Here’s an overview of Yoast:

Yoast SEO Analysis

 

4. Avoid Yoast Snippet Variables

In Yoast’s settings, they give you the option to use snippet variables which act as templates for SEO titles + meta descriptions. Writing custom ones is ALWAYS better and you should never rely on templates as they’re not optimized for keywords, character length (green bar), or CTR.

Yoast-Snippet-Variables

 

5. Increase CTRs With Yoast’s Bulk Editor

Yoast’s bulk editor lets you review all your SEO titles + meta descriptions without having to manually go through each page/post. You should make sure they’re optimized for keywords, character length, and CTR. The bulk editor doesn’t have the green bar (detects character length) and it doesn’t focus keywords either, so you’ll need to keep those in mind. But you can quickly see at a glance whether they read well and entice people to click on your link, or not.

Yoast-Bulk-Editor

 

6. Optimize Content For Social Sharing

Want your content to format nicely for Facebook/Twitter?

facebook-share

Step 1: Enable Open Graph meta data under Yoast’s Facebook and Twitter tab:

Yoast-Social-Meta-Data

Step 2: Edit a page/post, then click the “share” link in Yoast. Upload custom images for Facebook (1200 x 630px) and Twitter (1024 x 512px). You can also customize the title + description for each social network, which by default is set as the SEO title + meta description. This comes in handy when running boosted posts for Facebook Ads and want different text.

yoast-social-media-optimization

 

7. Aim For 3,000 Words

It makes sense.

Longer content does a better job at covering a topic than short content. People also spend more time on your page, finding it more useful, and are more likely to link and share the post.

average-content-length

Some of my posts are 4,000+ words…

WordPress Word Count

 

8. Add A Table Of Contents

Creating 3,000 word count articles may sound daunting, but it’s easier when you start with a table of contents. This has huge SEO benefits like Google awarding jump-to links using named anchors, and allows people to link to specific sections. It also increases time spent on the page.

How To Create An HTML Table Of Contents
Table of contents HTML looks like this…
<ul>
<li><a href="/your-permalink/#item-one">Item One</a></li>
<li><a href="/your-permalink/#item-two">Item Two</a></li>
<li><a href="/your-permalink/#item-three">Item Three</a></li>
</ul>

Each subheading’s HTML looks like this…
<h3 id="item-one">Item One</h3>
<h3 id="item-two">Item Two</h3>
<h3 id="item-three">Item Three</h3>

Or you can try the Easy Table Of Contents plugin.

 

9. Create Comprehensive Content

Nothing satisfies Google more than comprehensive content. You can “optimize” all you want but if your content doesn’t cover the topics extensively, someone else’s content probably will.

Answer The Public tells you all “question keywords” people are searching about a topic. It’s a great way to make sure you’re answering the most popular questions people want to know.

Yoast Keywords – AnswerThePublic

 

10. Add Rich Snippets

The WP Review plugin by MyThemeShop is the plugin I use for rich snippets and has a free and pro version (both are great). I would avoid All In One Schema (free but lacks customization) as well as WP Rich Snippets (the developer abandoned it and isn’t compatible with PHP 7). I was previously using WP Rich Snippets, but he literally didn’t update the plugin for 2 full years.

Why I Use WP Review As My Rich Snippets Plugin

  • Supports 14 data types
  • It’s lightweight (loads fast)
  • Comes with 16 pre-styled templates
  • It’s updated frequently by MyThemeShop
  • It’s highly customizable (here’s a page I use it on)
  • Multiple rating systems with optional user reviews

Structured Data Review Stars

 

11. Add Publish Dates To Posts

If you have time sensitive posts, adding a publish date makes your content look fresh:

Publish Date

Step 1: Enable ‘date in snippet preview’ in Yoast (SEO > Search Appearance > Content Types).

Date-In-Snippet-Preview-Yoast

Step 2: Add post modified date to the top of posts. Here’s the code:

<p>Last modified: <?php the_modified_date(); ?></p>

Of if using the Genesis Framework, use Genesis Simple Edits:

Entry-Meta

It should look something like this:

Entry Post Modified Date

Step 3 (Optional): Install the Republish Old Posts plugin. This resets all post’s publish date to current day, updating the date in search results and making all content look new. Of course, it’s a little cheap since you really didn’t update the content, but it can significantly increase CTRs.

Republish Old Posts

 

Google ultimately chooses who (and if) someone gets a featured snippet, but there are definitely ways to optimize for them. This puts you in the “#0” position and gives you 2 results.

3 Types Of Featured Snippets:

  • Answers
  • Lists
  • Tables

Featured Snippets

How To Get Featured Snippets In Google

  • Target a keyword where people want a concise answer
  • Use Moz Keyword Explorer to identify question keywords
  • Use Answer The Public to find even more question keywords
  • Choose whether the answer should be a paragraph, list, or table
  • Design a nice graphic (or take a photo) describing the keyword
  • Use optimal character length (see photo below taken from Moz)
  • Create fact-based content with quality references (links, graphics, etc)
  • Target keywords that already have an featured snippet but do a poor job
  • If you’re aiming for the answer box, target your keyword using an exact match
  • Make sure you’re on the 1st page for the keyword, if not, improve the content

Optimial Featured Snippets Length

 

13. Install WordPress Speed Plugins

I have done extensive testing on these plugins and use most of them on my own website.

  1. WP Rocket –  #1 cache plugin in most Facebook polls. You do not need plugins 3-7 from this list if you’re using WP Rocket, as it has these features built-in.
  2. WP Fastest Cache – #1 free cache plugin in most polls. Also easy to configure, has options for Cloudflare + other CDNs, but lacks features from WP Rocket.
  3. WP-Optimize – cleans your database of spam, trash, and other junk files.
  4. Lazy Load – delays loading photos until users scroll down and see them (improves load times but constantly loading photos as you scroll is annoying).
  5. Lazy Load For Videos – delays loading videos/iframes until users scroll down and see them. Videos take forever to load – this can shave many seconds off.
  6. CDN Enabler – easily setup your content delivery network (I use StackPath).
  7. CAOS (Host Google Analytics Locally) – fixes the “leverage browser caching” item in GTmetrix by hosting your Google Analytics tracking code locally.
  8. CAOS (Host Web Fonts Locally) – fixes Google Font errors in GTmetrix + Pingdom by downloading your Google Fonts and creating a stylesheet for it.
  9. Imagify / ShortPixel / Smushimage optimization (lossless compression, resize images, remove EXIF data). All these are similar – you only need one.
  10. Specify Image Dimensions – adds a width/height to your image’s HTML, an item in GTmetrix. It only works for images in the visual editor, it does not work for images in page builders, widgets, or any areas outside the visual editor.
  11. AMP For WPadds AMP pages to make mobile pages load faster and gives your site an “AMP Stamp” in mobile search results, which may increase CTRs.
  12. Perfmatters / Clearfy – disables unnecessary functions in WordPress core (trackbacks, pingbacks, heartbeat API, REST API, and other things 99% of you don’t need). Both plugins are similar and have other speed features as well.
  13. Harry’s Gravatar Cachecaches Gravatars, making comments load faster.
  14. GTmetrix for WordPress – keep track of load times and set email alerts.
  15. Display PHP Versionshows which PHP version you’re running (should be at least 7) which has a huge speed impact. You can upgrade in your host’s cPanel.
  16. Query Monitor – see slowest plugins, queries, etc (good replacement for P3).
  17. Plugin Organizer – if you install a contact form plugin, you probably don’t want it loading on every single page (just your contact page). Plugin Organizer lets you control which plugins load on specific pages, posts, and other content.
  18. Autoptimize – if you’re using GoDaddy, WP Engine, or other hosts who blacklist caching plugins, this plugin still gives you the benefits of optimizing HTML/CSS/JavaScript (items in GTmetrix + Pingdom) but without the caching.
  19. WP Hosting Performance Check – tells you if your server is slow and whether your speed technology (PHP, MySQL, WordPress versions) need updating.
  20. Better Search Replace – if you changed www or https versions of your domain, this plugin helps you bulk update all links on your website to reflect the new version. Otherwise you will see ‘minimize redirect’ errors in GTmetrix.

 

14. Avoid High CPU Plugins

Here’s a list of WordPress plugins that will slow down your site. I borrowed this list from a post on the WordPress Speed Up Facebook Group (an amazing group) but also added a few myself.

*Common culprits include related post, statistic, sitemap, chat, calendar, page builders, and plugins that run ongoing scans/processes or show high CPU in GTmetrix.

  1. AddThis
  2. AdSense Click Fraud Monitoring
  3. All-In-One Event Calendar
  4. Backup Buddy
  5. Beaver Builder
  6. Better WordPress Google XML Sitemaps
  7. Broken Link Checker
  8. Constant Contact for WordPress
  9. Contact Form 7
  10. Contextual Related Posts
  11. Digi Auto Links
  12. Disqus Comment System
  13. Divi Builder
  14. Elementor
  15. View Full List Of 65 Slow Plugins

Query Monitor will also find your slowest plugins…

Query Monitor Slow Plugins

GTmetrix’s Waterfall tab is another method…

Slow WordPress Plugin

 

15. Make Images Load Faster

Did you know images can be optimized 20 different ways? I had no idea there were so many ways before writing that article, especially when you take into consideration caching, lazy load,Cloudflare options, removing EXIF data, CSS sprites, and even optimizing them for SEO.

Image Optimization TOC

Here’s a list of image optimization items in GTmetrix (I’ll cover the main ones):

Image Optimizations In GTmetrix

Losslessly compress images – use a plugin like ImagifyShortPixel, Smush, or Kraken (all do the same thing) which also removes EXIF data (ISO, date, time, whether a flash was used, and other unnecessary info about the photo) which when stripped, will make it load a little faster.

Imagify Optimize Images On Upload

Serve scaled images – find oversized images and resize them to the correct dimensions). You can use GTmetrix to find these, and they will also provide you with the correct width/height.

serve-scaled-images

Specify image dimensions – means you need to specify a width/height in the image’s HTML or CSS. Grab these dimensions from GTmetrix, locate the image, and add the width/height.

Specifying Image Dimensions

 

16. Leave EIG Hosting

The same horrible company owns Bluehost, HostGator, and over 60 different hosting companies. They’re known for buying out existing companies and cutting costs by packing more people on the same server, as well as “streaming” support (longer wait times). GoDaddy isn’t good either – there are much better options like SiteGround, Cloudways, and WP Engine.

List-Of-EIG-Brands

How To Check If Your Hosting Is Slow
Run your site through bytecheck.com and check your TTFB (time to first byte). It should ideally be <320ms. This and reduce server response time in PageSpeed Insights are good indicators.

Reduce-Server-Response-Time-Under-200ms

I use SiteGround and have 200ms response times with 100% GTmetrix scores and .4s Pingdom load times. Do a hosting check, run your own tests, or click through my pages to see how fast they load. They were rated the #1 host in 26 Facebook polls and are worlds better than EIG (Bluehost, HostGator), GoDaddy, and bad hosts who pack too many people on the same server. They’re recommended by WordPress, do free migrations, and I use their semi-dedicated plan.

Switching To SiteGround

SiteGround Load Time Migration

Bluehost to SiteGround GTmetrix

HostGator To SiteGround

SiteGround GTmetrix

SiteGround Google PageSpeed Insights

100 Perfect Score On SiteGround

SiteGround Genesis

Speed Delivered By SiteGround

SiteGround GTmetrix Report

Reduced Load Times With SiteGround

New SiteGround Response Times

HostGator To SiteGround Migration

SiteGround Response Times On Joomla

Switched To SiteGround Hosting

SiteGround Rocket Imagify Combo

Joomla GTmetrix On SiteGround

SiteGround PageSpeed Insights

SiteGround On Joomla

SiteGround Reduced Load Times

SiteGround Speedy Hosting

New Pingdom Results On SiteGround

New SiteGround Response Time

SiteGround Response Time Improvement

2019 Hosting Poll

2017-WordPress-Hosting-FB-Poll

Elementor Hosting Recommendations

July 2019 Hosting Recommendation

WordPress-Host-Poll-Aug-2018

Shared-Hosting-Poll-2017

2019-Hosting-Poll

Go-To-Hosting-Company

WordPress-Hosting-Poll-2017

Managed-Hosting-Poll

WooCommerce-Hosting-FB-Poll

2016-Web-Hosting-Poll

Best-WordPress-Hosting-Provider-Poll

Best-Web-Hosting-2019-Poll

WP Friendly Hosting Poll

2016-WordPress-Hosting-FB-Poll

Favorite Hosting For Elementor

2018 Hosting Recommendations

WordPress Hosting Poll Sept 2018.png

Managed-WordPress-Hosting-Poll-2017

2019-Hosts-Poll-1

Hosting-Poll-For-Speed

WordPress-Hosting-Poll-June-1

SiteGround-Recommendation

2014-Managed-WordPress-Hosting-FB-Poll

Best-Web-Hosting-Provider-Poll

Hosting-Poll-Feb-2019

Hosting-Recommendations-Poll

Bluehost vs SiteGround

WordPress Web Host Poll

Godaddy To SiteGround Migration

EIG-To-SiteGround

SiteGround-Migration

Godaddy-To-SiteGround

SiteGround-Backend

OMM-On-SiteGround

I use SiteGround because…

  1. My GTmetrixPingdom reports speak for themselves
  2. My pages load instantly (click through them if you want)
  3. Fast speed technology (PHP 7.3, NGINX, SG Optimizer, Cloudflare)
  4. Recommended by Yoast, WordPress, Ivica from WordPress Speed Up
  5. Free Let’s Encrypt SSL, easy to use cPanel, and features for eCommerce
  6. WordPress support is unbeatable even without GoGeek’s priority support
  7. GrowBig comes with staging, more storage, and more server resources (scroll down to “we allocate the resources you need” and hover over the server tab)
  8. GoGeek comes with even more server resources, storage, priority support
  9. Free migrations, migrator plugin, and a 30-day money back guarantee
  10. Plenty of praise on Reddit, Facebook conversations, Twitter, TrustPilot
  11. Tons of praise on Facebook: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7#8, #9, #10#11
  12. Many people already migrated and posted results on Twitter: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6#7, #8, #9, #10, #11, #12, #13, #14, #15, #16, #17, #18, #19, #20, #21, #22, #23, #24, #25, #26, #27, #28, #29, #30, #31, #32, #33, #34, #35, #36, #37

Affiliate Disclaimer – if you sign up for SiteGround using my affiliate link I will donate a chunk of the commission at no expense to you. Each year I donate $3k to GoFundMe campaigns (2018 was to feed the hungry in Denver, and 2017 was Hurricane Harvey). Your support helps and I really do appreciate it. I try to make my reviews unbiased and backed by evidence in the form of Facebook polls, tweets, and real conversations. If you don’t want to use it, here’s a non-affiliate link to SiteGround. Either way I truly believe they’re the best host and that your site will run faster/smoother… do your research on Google and Facebook groups and you’ll find most people say the same.

SiteGround has 3 plans:

SiteGround WordPress Hosting

Higher plans include more server resources (#1 factor in the WordPress optimization guide). Here’s the full comparison chart, but GrowBig gives you about 2x more server resources than StartUp, and GoGeek is semi-dedicated hosting which gives you even more. GrowBig and up comes with a free migration, staging, advanced caching, and ability to host multiple websites. GoGeek comes with priority support. Their cloud hosting is quite the price jump at $80/month.

You can see this on their features page:

SiteGround-Server-Resources-Comparison

One of many threads…

Favorite-Web-Host

 

17. Upgrade Your Cache Plugin

WP Rocket was the #1 rated cache plugin in multiple Facebook polls:

2016 best cache plugin poll

2019 cache plugin poll

Swift vs WP Rocket

2016 cache plugin poll

Best cache plugins 2018 poll

wp rocket vs w3 totla cache

What’s So Good About WP Rocket?

  • It yields great results (it’s what I use)
  • Awesome support + extensive documentation
  • It’s one of the easier cache plugins to configure (see my tutorial)
  • It has high compatibility with themes/plugins and shouldn’t break your site
  • It’s always updated with new features (many cache plugin aren’t updated frequently)
  • It has features most cache plugins don’t (database cleanup, lazy loading, hosting Google Analytics locally, heartbeat control, integration with both Cloudflare + other CDNs)

 

18. Use Multiple CDNs

We know using a CDN makes your site faster.

But what about using multiple CDNs? The answer is yes, it helps even more. That’s because each CDN has their own set of data centers, and more data centers = faster content delivery.

Cloudflare data centers

Cloudflare Data Centers

StackPath data centers

StackPath-Data-Centers

How To Do It

  • Sign up for Cloudflare (free) and a paid CDN of your choice (I use StackPath).
  • Most cache plugins have an option to integrate both Cloudflare and StackPath

With Cloudflare you will change name servers

Cloudflare Name Servers Dashboard

With StackPath you will create a CDN site, then enter your CDN URL into your cache plugin..

StackPath CDN URL

WP-Rocket-CDN-Settings

 

19. Add AMP Pages

Accelerated mobile pages are a Google project that make mobile pages load faster and give you a AMP stamp in mobile search results, which looks nice and can potentially increase CTRs.

Accelerated Mobile Pages

Instructions For Adding AMP

Accelerated Mobile Pages Plugin Settings

Cloudflare Accelerated Mobile Links

 

20. Write A Killer About Me Page

Think about it.

Your about page is one of the most viewed pages on your website.

So why don’t you spend more time on it? In my about page, I created a list of 50 random and disturbing things about me. I also have a picture of me and my cats, my family, and other personal photos – including my story on how I created a 6 figure/year blog.

About-Me-Page

Main Benefits:

  • More time spent on my website
  • Trust (more likely to buy something using my affiliate link)
  • More emails of people sharing their own story (which I love)

 

21. Add SSL

Google cracked down even harder on non-HTTPs websites in July, 2018 when they started showing “not secure” in Google Chrome. Besides, if you’re a legit business, you need SSL.

I was scared to migrate to SSL even though I work with an amazing developer who I’ve been with for since 2011. Lucky for me, he did everything correctly and my traffic did not decrease at all. In fact, my affiliate sales went up (since I think people saw me as a more legitimate blog).

HTTPS-vs-Position

How To Add SSL To WordPress

Really Simple SSL

 

22. Affiliate Sites Need To Add Value

Yep, that’s my site.

I got penalized for too many affiliate links (plus I hired a link builder who created sketchy links). This was a hard time for me and my traffic/finances plummeted as I was forced to move back into my parent’s house become I had no money. Affiliate websites need to be super careful.

Affiliate-Link-Google-Penalty

Lessons I Learned:

  • Add value to your content beyond recommending products
  • Don’t just recommend affiliate products – recommend free stuff too
  • Do not stuff your content with affiliate links, 5 is usually plenty (for me)
  • Consider creating reviews on affiliate products, and link to those instead
  • Use an affiliate link management plugin to track statistics on affiliate links
  • Track which affiliate links people click those most, then leverage those
  • Create in-depth cornerstone content (core tutorials every visitor wants to read)
  • Don’t just create “list posts” and list your affiliate products first (Google knows)

Want to learn how I made $150,000 in 2018? Read my affiliate marketing tutorial.

 

23. Use SEO-Friendly Themes

StudioPress themes (and their Genesis Framework) are recommended by Yoast, Matt Cutts (from Google), and even Matt Mullenweg himself. I’ve been using their Outreach Pro theme since 2016 and love it. My site has 100% GTmetrix scores (loads fast), has virtually no compatibility errors with plugins, and is highly customizable with StudioPress’ Genesis plugins.

StudioPress Themes

What Makes StudioPress Themes So Good?

  • Reliability – trusted by 200,000 people including top WordPress users like Yoast. Clean code, documentation for each theme, and frequent updates to both their themes and Genesis Framework. Bottom line – I don’t have to worry about compatibility issues when upgrading plugins, PHP, theme-related CPU consumption, etc. It runs smoothly.
  • Mobile-friendly – all StudioPress themes are HTML5 + mobile responsive.
  • Large CommunityGenesis WordPress (Facebook Group) has 10,000 members.
  • Plugins – all StudioPress plugins are lightweight and add virtually nothing to load time.
  • Highly Customizable – StudioPress’ Outreach Pro theme looks like it’s designed for churches, but look at my homepage. It looks nothing like the pre-designed homepage.

 

24. Local SEO (Google’s Local Ranking Factors)

If you’re doing local SEO, there are many things outside of optimizing your WordPress you should be doing. Here are Google’s 2018 local search ranking factors which are reported by Moz every 2 years. Google My Business has become more important with it being 25.12%.

2018 Local Search Ranking Factors

Optimizing Your Google My Business Page

*Google is increasingly taking into consideration activate business owners who: post on Google Posts, respond to reviews, keep special hours updated, answer questions, make it convenient for customers to take direct actions on GMB using business URLs.

Google My Business Logo

 

Heyyyy. You Made It To The End.

Check out some other tutorials of mine which are just as good!

Cheers,
Tom

22 WordPress SEO Plugins For Optimizing Your Site In 2020

2019 WordPress SEO Plugins

Searching for a complete list WordPress SEO plugins?

This goes way beyond Yoast and dives into rich snippets, redirects, alt text, SSL, table of contents, even Google’s Site Kit plugin. The speed optimization plugins include 19 in itself.

I’ve been writing WordPress SEO + speed tutorials since 2011 – I am a complete nerd about this stuff. I only included the best SEO plugins (no duplicates) and I use most on my own site.

You can install as many WordPress SEO plugins as you like, but Google really wants to see organized, in-depth content around long-tail keywords that is better than the top results. That means choosing very specific phrases, adding a TOC, and writing long (3,000+ word) content.

Here’s the list:

 

1. Yoast SEO

Most people have Yoast, but few use it correctly. Here are some lesser-known Yoast tips.

Yoast WordPress SEO Plugin Settings

4 Key Steps When Using Yoast

  • Configure the settings
  • Setup Webmaster Tools
  • Choose long-tail (3+ word) phrases
  • Optimize content (this goes beyond Yoast’s green lights)

There’s More To On-Page Than Keywords – getting green lights in Yoast is all find and dandy, but it doesn’t make you rank. Selecting long-tail keywords with weak content in the top results then doing real on-page SEO, will. Don’t obsess over Yoast – spend more time on keyword research, add a table of contents, create a video/infographic, aim for 3,000 words, and add practical how-to tips. The most important place to use your keyword is your page title, SEO title, meta description, and permalink (slug). Avoid keyword stuffing which can risk a penalty.

Yoast-SEO-Analysis

I highly recommend reviewing my on-page SEO checklist for better, practical tips.

Don’t Use Snippet Variables – In Yoast’s settings, there’s an option to use snippet variables (templates) for SEO titles + meta descriptions. You should avoid using these since writing custom ones is always better. Make sure you stay within Google’s character limits (the green bar in Yoast) and you’re enticing people to click your link – not just including your keyword.

Yoast-Snippet-Variables

Optimize Content For Social – in Yoast there’s a “share” link where you can upload custom graphics for Facebook (1200 x 630px) and Twitter (1024 x 512px). This makes your content format nicely when people share it, and you can also customize the title + description text.

yoast-social-media-optimization

facebook-share

Setup Google Search Console And Fix Crawl Errors (Broken Pages) – sign up for Google Search Console, add your site, and select the HTML tag verification method. Copy this code and paste it into Yoast. After a few days, login to Google Search Console and view your crawl errors report. If you see any, setup redirects to redirect the broken pages to the correct pages.

HTML Tag Google Search Console Verification

Use a plugin like Quick Page/Post Redirect (or .htaccess) to redirect these to the correct URLs.

301 Redirect WordPress

Similar Plugins

 

2. Structured Content

Google recently added FAQs to search results, and the Structured Content plugin is the easiest want to implement them on your WordPress site. This is the same plugin Neil Patel uses in his video. To add FAQ rich snippets, install the plugin then see the instructions below.

Structured Content JSON-LD wpsc – WordPress plugin

Instructions

  • Install the Structured Content plugin.
  • Edit a page or post and click the FAQ icon.
  • Add your questions and answers (I recommend 3-8).
  • Clear the page’s cache.
  • In Google Search Console, request the URL to be indexed via Google’s URL Inspector.
  • Watch your FAQs appear in search results in just a few minutes!

FAQ Google Snippets

 

3. Republish Old Posts

This plugin resets your post’s publish dates to current day, making your content look fresh:

Publish Date

This is an easy way to increase click-through rates. Of course, people might wonder why your content says it was updated when it actually wasn’t. It’s pretty cheap, so proceed with warning.

Step 1: Find the entry meta section of your blog (the section at the very top of your posts) which for me is in the Genesis Simple Edits settings. Now include the post modified date.

Entry Meta

What this looks like on your posts:

Entry Post Modified Date

Step 2: Enable ‘date in snippet preview’ in Yoast (SEO > Search Appearance > Content Types).

Date-In-Snippet-Preview-Yoast

Step 3: Install the Republish Old Posts plugin and configure the settings. You can choose how often the plugin resets your publish dates under “post age before eligible for republishing.” Even if you don’t use this plugin, you should usually enable publish dates in search results then keep the content updated. Any time you edit a post and click the ‘publish’ the date will refresh.

Republish Old Posts

 

4. Automatic Image Alt Attributes

One day, WordPress stopped adding alt text to images automatically.

Thankfully, this plugin will do it for you. Just install it and it will use the image file name as the alt text. That means you can stop wasting your time writing alt text for every single image, like I used to. Just remember to label your image file name before uploading them to WordPress.

 

5. WP Review

WP Review is my favorite plugin for adding rich snippets (here’s a page I use it on). It supports 14 data types, looks great, has 16 pre-styled templates, and is maintained by the developers at MyThemeShop. It’s reliable, lightweight, and includes user reviews. There’s also a free version.

rich-snippets

Why I Use WP Review:

  • Design is much better than All In One Schema
  • Compatible with PHP 7+ (unlike WP Rich Snippets)
  • 16 pre-styled templates which are highly customizable
  • The plugin developer (MyThemeShop) keeps it updated
  • Supports 14 data types including the most common reviews + recipes
  • Multiple rating systems and option to include (moderated) user reviews
  • Free version and pro version are both solid, pro version has more features

Avoid These Rich Snippet Plugins:

 

6. Easy Table Of Contents

Why would a table of contents plugin be on my SEO plugin list?

Because adding a TOC to long pages/posts has HUGE benefits. Google says

Ensure that long, multi-topic pages on your site are well-structured and broken into distinct logical sections. Second, ensure that each section has an associated anchor with a descriptive name (i.e., not just “Section 2.1”), and that your page includes a table of contents which links to individual anchors.

What That Means For You:

  • Better chance of being awarded jump-to links in Google using named anchors
  • People can link to specific sections on your post (not just your single permalink)
  • People can immediately find what they want, and spend more time on your page

Jump To Links

Important: instead of using a plugin, adding a TOC using HTML/CSS lets style it and link to specific sections of the post (good for users and getting links). Here is a TOC GitHub template.

 

7. Google Site Kit

Google Site Kit combines Google’s most people tools (Search Console, Analytics, AdSense, PageSpeed Insights) into 1 WordPress plugin. You really don’t need this plugin (just go to the actual websites), but if you want to see these in your dashboard, this gives you that option.

Site Kit by Google

 

Still the best way to check all broken links on your WordPress site.

Detects broken links in pages, posts, comments, images, and even redirects. Dr. Link Check is good, but Broken Link Checker lets you fix them inside WordPress with 1-click options to edit or unlink each one. Of course, not having broken links on your website can improve your SEO.

Broken Link Checker Plugin

Here’s what it looks like:

Broken Link Checker

Warning: this plugin continuously runs scans and sucks up high amounts of bandwidth. I recommend fixing all broken links then immediately deleting the plugin when you’re done.

 

9. Quick Page/Post Redirect

When you change permalinks, you need to setup a redirect to the new page.

Quick Page Post Redirect Plugin

How To Setup A Redirect: Install it and go to “Quick Redirects.” Enter the old URL + new URL.

301 Redirect WordPress

Find Crawl Errors: Go to the crawl errors report in Google Search Console section to see all broken pages on your site, then use this plugin to redirect each one to the new, correct URL.

Yoast Search Console Crawl Errors

 

10. ShortPixel

ShortPixel is generally the best WordPress plugin for optimizing images.

It lets you losslessly compress images, strip EXIF data, and optimize them in other ways. Simply install the plugin, test a few images to make sure you’re satisfied with the image quality, then bulk optimize all images on your site. It also lets you optimize images once uploaded.

ShortPixel Settings

 

11. WP Rocket

WordPress says:

The Caching section gives you the biggest benefit for the smallest hassle.

Which cache plugin is best? WP Rocket was #1 in most Facebook polls and is what I use.

2016 best cache plugin poll

2019 cache plugin poll

Swift vs WP Rocket

2016 cache plugin poll

Best cache plugins 2018 poll

wp rocket vs w3 totla cache

Why WP Rocket Is #1 In Facebook Polls

  • It’s easy to configure.
  • It yields fast load times.
  • It has extensive documentation.
  • It shouldn’t break your site (like some cache plugins).
  • It has tons of features most cache plugins don’t – lazy loading photos/videos/iframes, database cleanup, integration with Cloudflare + other CDNs, local Google Fonts and Analytics, Sucuri integration, etc. With most other cache plugins, you would need to install about 6 extra plugins to get these features, when WP Rocket has them built-in.

For how important it is, WP Rocket is worth $49/year. They also let you renew your license at 50% off so it’s really $24.50/year after the 1st year. And you can also get 10% off the initial price if you sign up for their email list. Check out my WP Rocket guide for setup instructions.

 

12. Asset Manager

Asset Manager lets you selectively disable plugins from loading on certain pages. Some plugins load on every single piece of content even if it’s not being used there. Disabling these plugins can reduce the number of requests on the page and make them load faster. Asset Manager is similar to Plugin Organizer (Perfmatters lets you do this too), only it’s free and simple to use.

Examples:

  • Disable slider plugin on pages that don’t use sliders
  • Disable rich snippets plugin on pages that don’t use rich snippets
  • Disable contact form plugin on pages that don’t have a contact form
  • Disable social sharing plugin on all pages (since it’s usually for blog posts)
  • Disable affiliate link management plugin on pages that don’t use affiliate links

 

13. Speed Optimization Plugins

Speed is a ranking factor (duh).

2019-GTmetrix-Report

Here are some great plugins for speeding up WordPress.

I use many of these on my site which contributed to my 100% GTmetrix scores. Migrating from EIG and low quality hosts like GoDaddy to SiteGround and Cloudways was another big reason.

  1. WP Rocket –  #1 cache plugin in most Facebook polls. Comes with heartbeat control, lazy loading, database cleanup, and hosting fonts + analytics locally. This means you don’t need to install these extra plugins if using WP Rocket.
  2. WP Fastest Cache – #1 free cache plugin in most polls. Also easy to configure, has options for Cloudflare + other CDNs, but lacks features from WP Rocket.
  3. WP-Optimize – cleans your database of spam, trash, and other junk files.
  4. Heartbeat Control – disables the WordPress heartbeat API which consumes resources by sending real-time notifications, when uses are editing a post, etc.
  5. Lazy Load – delays loading photos until users scroll down and see them (improves load times but constantly loading photos as you scroll is annoying).
  6. WP YouTube Lyte – delays loading videos/iframes until users scroll down and see them. Videos take a long time to load – this can shave many seconds off.
  7. CDN Enabler – helps set up your content delivery network (I use StackPath).
  8. CAOS (Host Google Analytics Locally) – fixes the “leverage browser caching” issues in GTmetrix by hosting your Google Analytics tracking code locally.
  9. OMGF – hosts fonts locally and fixes Google Font errors in GTmetrix + Pingdom by downloading your Google Fonts and creating a stylesheet for it.
  10. ShortPixelImagify / Smushimage optimization (lossless compression, resize images, remove EXIF data). All these are similar – you only need one.
  11. Specify Image Dimensions – adds a width/height to your image’s HTML, an item in GTmetrix. It only works for images in the visual editor, it does not work for images in page builders, widgets, or any areas outside the visual editor.
  12. AMP For WPadds AMP pages to make mobile pages load faster and gives your site an “AMP Stamp” in mobile search results. However, Kinsta’s conversions dropped 59% when using AMP and I have not used them since.
  13. Clearfy / Perfmattersdisables unnecessary functions in WordPress core (trackbacks, pingbacks, heartbeat API, REST API, and other things 99% of you don’t need). Both plugins are similar and have other speed features as well.
  14. Harry’s Gravatar Cachecaches Gravatars, making comments load faster.
  15. GTmetrix for WordPress – keep track of load times and set email alerts.
  16. Display PHP Versionshows which PHP version you’re running (should be at least 7) which has a huge speed impact. You can upgrade in your host’s cPanel.
  17. Query Monitor – see slowest plugins, queries, etc (good replacement for P3).
  18. Autoptimize – if you’re using GoDaddy, WP Engine, or other hosts who blacklist caching plugins, this plugin still gives you the benefits of optimizing HTML/CSS/JavaScript (items in GTmetrix + Pingdom) but without the caching.
  19. WP Hosting Performance Check – tells you if your server is slow and whether your speed technology (PHP, MySQL, WordPress versions) need updating.

 

14. Rel Nofollow Checkbox

If you’re using affiliate links, this adds a nofollow option when adding links in WordPress. Otherwise, you would have to go into the link’s HTML and add nofollow manually. Saves time.

 

15. Yoast Premium Plugins

Spoiler: Yoast claims their premium plugins lift heaven and earth when in reality you will probably not see any direct improvements just by purchasing their WordPress SEO plugins.

Conclusion: Yoast’s premium plugins aren’t worth the money.

WordPress SEO plugins by Yoast

Yoast SEO Premium ($89/year) – I wrote a review on it, basically explaining how most features can be done with free plugins or are simply not valuable, especially for $89/year.

  • Redirect manager – use the free Quick Page/Post Redirect plugin.
  • Internal linking suggestions – do you really need a plugin for this?
  • Multiple focus keywords – doesn’t always detect partial match keywords.
  • Content insights – shows 5 top used words (keyword density barely matters).
  • Social preview – as long as you’re uploading social media images, you’re OK.
  • Support – I have heard many stories of them just referring people to tutorials.

Yoast Video SEO Plugin ($69/year) – create a video sitemap and markup pages so video thumbnails appear in Google Videos. Of course, most people go to Google’s regular search engine, so this will likely only pay off if you’re creating lots of videos especially how-to style.

Yoast Local SEO Plugin ($69/year) – adds a KML file, schema.org, and the option to embed a Google Map and store locator. Embedding a Google Map is easy, and most information Yoast “optimizes” for is already pulled from your Google My Business page. Yoast says this plugin “tells Google everything it needs to know to put you on top in local search results” which is not true considering Google’s local ranking factors have little to do with Yoast’s local SEO plugin.

Yoast Google News Plugin ($69/year) – doesn’t actually get you in Google News (see those steps here) but helps format content for Google News by creating an XML News Sitemap.

Yoast WooCommerce SEO Plugin ($49/year) – enables rich pins for Pinterest.

 

16. Schema

There are lots of schema plugins, but it depends on which kind of markup you’re doing. For example, if you’re writing reviews, you would need a plugin for review markup like WP Review. Figure out which kind of markup is applicable to your content, then use the required plugins.

Schema Plugins

 

17. Analytify

See a glimpse of your Google Analytics directly in WordPress.

Analytify Dashboard

 

18. Really Simple SSL

This plugin “automatically detects your settings and configures your website to run over https.” Of course, you still need an SSL to use it, but Really Simple SSL makes it easy to set it up.

Let’s Encrypt SSL is the most popular free SSL and is what I use. Google cracked down on non-HTTPs sites even harder in July, 2018 when they began showing not secure in Google Chrome.

Really Simple SSL

Features:

  • Mixed content fixer
  • Enable WordPress 301 redirection to SSL
  • Enable 301 .htaccess redirect
  • Enable Javascript redirection to SSL

 

19. Better Search Replace

Why is a search/replace plugin on the list?

Because if you changed www or http(s) versions, you will need to bulk update all links on your website to reflect the new version. That’s where this plugin comes into play – I suggest HTTPS and non-www. Simply search the old version of your domain and replace it with the new one.

Better Search Replace – WWW Versions

Cool Trick: if you use the same image on multiple pages, this is an easy to way update them all.

 

20. Anti-Spam

Spam kills blogs. JetPack says

Spammers may leave link or keyword-filled comments on your site in an attempt to direct more traffic to their sites (and boost their own SEO). With enough spam, your rankings could take a hit, through no fault of your own.

The Anti-Spam plugin is captcha-free and does a superb job filtering spam comments, while leaving the good ones. Spam is a huge problem with WordPress. This plugin will save you time.

 

21. WP Google My Business Auto Publish

Posting updates your Google My Business page has becoming increasingly important in Google’s 2018 local search ranking factors. This plugin publishes your WordPress content directly to your Google My Business Page. It’s still in the early stages, but has terrific reviews.

2018 Local Search Ranking Factors

Here are some of the plugin settings:

WP Google My Business Auto Publish

 

22. StudioPress Plugins

If you’re using a StudioPress theme or Genesis Framework (which I recommend), you need to be using StudioPress plugins. These are on my list because they are lightweight, reliable, and will keep your load time (and chances of errors) to a minimal, making your site run smoothly.

studiopress-genesis-plugins

 

Other SEO Tools You Should Know About

  • Answer The Public – coolest keyword research tool (photo below). Pulls keywords from Google Autocomplete and creates a visual map based on different keyword types (questions, prepositions, comparisons). The greener the circle, the more competitive the keyword is. Question keywords are a great way to make sure your content is comprehensive (it answers the most popular questions people are searching). My favorite keyword research tool.
  • Moz Local – analyzes your top 15 citations (GMB, Yelp, YellowPages, etc) and shows incomplete, inconsistent, and duplicate profiles. Try to get 100% scores!
  • Moz Link Explorer – shows link metrics, as well as your domain authority which is an indicator of how competitive your targeted keywords should be.
  • MozBar – Google any keyword and see each search result’s DA (domain authority) and PA (page authority). The higher they are, the more competitive the keyword is. Try competing with sites that have similar domain authority.
  • Moz Keyword Explorer – basically Google Keyword Planner, only better. Shows organic competition (unlike Keyword Planner which is for AdWords). Shows monthly search volume and has tons of filters for sorting keywords.
  • Keywords Everywhere – Google any keyword and see monthly search volume, estimated competition, and CPC directly in search results. Also works for YouTube, Amazon, Etsy, Google Analytics and other programs/search engines.
  • SEMrush – one of the most extensive SEO softwares are the market, literally telling you everything about your keywords, backlinks, content SEO, and analytics. Many metrics can’t be found in Google Analytics or Search Console.
  • Google Autocomplete – my favorite trick is “fill in the blank” where you use the underline character _ to have Google (yes you guessed it) fill in the blank. Try it with Chicago _ Photographer. You must end on the underline character.
  • Google Search Console – See errors with your site (indexing, security, mobile, AMP, sitemap, penalties), SEO titles/meta descriptions that are too short or long, set your preferred domain name (www vs. non-www), international targeting, Search Analytics (my favorite way to measure overall SEO + CTRs), links to your site, and data highlighter for structured data. You need to use it.
  • Google Trends – see keyword trends in specific geographies (and YouTube).
  • Cloudflare – free CDN with 200+ data centers which can be setup with most cache plugins. Has additional features like accelerated mobile links, hotlink protection, Railgun, and Page Rules. Improves both site speed and security.
  • Dr. Link Check – scans entire site for broken links (up to 7,500/month) but does not provide a user-friendly way to fix them directly in your WordPress dashboard (like Broken Link Checker does, but BLC does consume CPU).
  • Copyscape – prevents plagarism (searches the web for copies of your content).
  • HubShout WebGrader – see full list of competitors keywords and a side-by-side comparison of backlinks, domain authority, and highest ranked pages.
  • StackPath – CDN with 30+ data centers (mostly in the US). More data centers = faster content delivery, which is why I use both Cloudflare and StackPath.
  • Siteliner – checks entire site for duplicate content and highlights it.
  • Screaming Frog – extensive (free) SEO audit tool which shows missing alt text, SEO titles, meta descriptions, URLs, AMP, sitemaps, and also integrates with Google Search Console, Google Analytics, and many other SEO tools.
  • vidIQ – search any keyword in YouTube and see key metrics that indicate how competitive the keyword is. Based on likes, views, shares, comments, etc.
  • SEOquake – Chrome extension which is great for keyword research. Shows each search result’s links, Alexa rank, domain age, indexed pages, keyword analytics, internal links, external links, and many other (customizable) metrics.
  • Contact Form 7 Google Analytics – adds event tracking to all your CF7 forms.
  • SiteGround – the host I recommend who was rated #1 in 30+ Facebook polls.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

🔌 What is the best free WordPress SEO plugin?

Yoast and Rank Math are the best free SEO plugins to help you optimize your content based on keywords. They also create an XML sitemap automatically, help you set up Google Search Console, and customize which content is indexed in search engines.

🔌 Is Yoast the best SEO plugin?

Yoast is one of the most popular SEO plugins, but that doesn't mean it's the best. Rank Math has everything included in Yoast SEO Premium, but it's free and more lightweight, leading to a faster website.

🔌 Is Yoast or Rank Math better?

Rank Math is arguably better than Yoast since it has more features, yet it's not as code-heavy. Yoast also shows advertisements in the WordPress dashboard, which can be annoying.

Did I Miss Any Good SEO Plugins?
I hope this list was helpful! If you have questions about  any of these WordPress SEO plugins feel free to drop me a line in the comments and I’ll be glad to help you out. Remember, I have lots of tutorials on Yoast, WordPress speed optimization, and other SEO-related tutorials. If you have a question about those, please leave a comment on that specific tutorial. Finally, if you enjoyed this post, please share it with a friend who might like it too – I’d appreciate that.

Cheers,
Tom

The Ideal Yoast WordPress SEO Settings: A Complete Guide To Optimizing WordPress With Yoast’s Plugin (Updated 2019, V.11.7.0)

Everyone has Yoast, but few use it correctly.

No worries. This tutorial breaks it down into 3 key steps: configuring the Yoast SEO settings (including adding AMP Pages to make mobile pages load faster), researching long-tail focus keywords, and optimizing content (there’s more to it than green lights). I will also show you how to connect Yoast to Google Search Console so you can fix crawl errors (broken pages).

This is a COMPLETE guide to Yoast. If you don’t have Yoast go to plugins → add new → search Yoast SEO → install/activate. If you already have Yoast, make sure it’s updated to the latest version. Leave a comment if you have questions and if you like this tutorial, check out my other guides like my WordPress SEO and WordPress speed guide which are both ridiculously good.

Yoast-SEO-Settings

yoast in wp dashboard

 

Important Things To Know Before Using Yoast

People waste too much time trying to get green lights and not enough time on keyword research (or making their content better than whoever’s in the top results). Before you start, read these tips to avoid wasting your time which is seriously a big issue when people use Yoast.

  • Do not obsess over green lights – check out Backlinko’s on-page SEO infographic
  • Do not blindly select keywords – look for long-tail (3+ word phrases) in Google Autocomplete, then Google it to see whether top results cover the topic extensively
  • Do not stuff keywords in your content to try and get your lights green (this is spammy)
  • Good on-page SEO means creating comprehensive content (3,000+ words, videos, etc)
  • The most important place to use your focus keyword is the page title, URL, SEO title, meta description, and once in the first couple sentences of the content body. That’s it!
  • Yoast (and all SEO plugins) do very little for on-page SEO – most of it is advice. Spend more time on keyword research, and add an HTML table of contents to longer posts.

Version 14.2 and Counting

Though not one of its biggest releases to date, Yoast continues to push out bug fixes and enhancements to their popular SEO plugin: Yoast SEO. In fact, one of the biggest fixes made with this update had to do with breadcrumbs that were saving in reverse order (yikes!). It also changed how the plugin checks for previously used focus keywords, making it more efficient for publishers.

1. General

Dashboard
general yoast dashboard tab

Features
general yoast features tab

Below is a screenshot of each feature:
I disabled a few of them… I don’t use the Readability Analysis since I don’t need Yoast “grading” my content (eg. whether my sentences are too long). I use internal links naturally in my content and don’t need Yoast’s Text Link Counter reminding me to add them. I don’t need Ryte to constantly check whether my site is indexed in search engines (it obviously is), and I never use Yoast’s Admin Dropdown Menu. See what features you like, enable them, and disable the rest.

SEO Analysis
Yoast SEO Analysis

Readability Analysis
Yoast Readability Analysis

Cornerstone Content
Yoast-Cornerstone-Content

Cornerstone-Content-Filter

Text Link Counter
Yoast-Text-Link-Counter-Feature

Insights
Yoast Content Insights

Link Suggestions
Yoast-Internal-Linking

XML Sitemaps
Yoast-XML-Sitemap-Setting

Ryte Integration
Yoast-Ryte-Analysis

Admin Bar Menu
add menu to wordpress dashboard

Security: No Advanced Settings For Authors
Yoast-Advanced-Settings

Webmaster Tools
Next, we’ll sign up for each Webmaster Tools (Google/Bing/Yandex/Baidu) and verify each one using the HTML verification method. Then we can can submit your Yoast XML sitemap to them. I personally use Google Search Console religiously to fix broken pages (crawl errors) with redirects, use Search Analytics to find keywords/pages I rank for, HTML improvements to fix errors in SEO titles + meta descriptions, and monitor mobile/security issues as well as links to my site. Here’s my complete Google Search Console tutorial which I would definitely skim.

Yoast-Webmaster-Tools

Verify Webmaster Tools

Submit Your Yoast XML Sitemap To Google + Bing + Yandex

  • In Yoast, go to General → Features → XML Sitemaps
  • Click the question mark icon by the XML Sitemaps option
  • Click your XML Sitemap link
  • Copy the last past of the URL: /sitemap_index.xml
  • Login to Google Search Console
  • On the left, go to Crawl → Sitemaps
  • Paste the last part of your sitemap URL into Google Search Console
  • Test and submit
  • Repeat for Bing + Yandex

Yoast-XML-Sitemap-Setting

Yoast Sitemap

 

2. Search Appearance

General
Yoast-General-Settings

Title Separator – when using snippet variables, this is the dash (or other special character) that is usually between your page/post title and site name. Example: Page Title Site Name.

Snippet Variables – templates used for SEO titles/meta descriptions only IF you forget to write them, which you should never forget to do. So as long as you’re writing these manually, they don’t matter. You should take the time to write them so they sound nicer than a template.

Yoast Basic Variables

Why you shouldn’t use them…

The title of this post you’re reading is 160+ characters long (well over the 60 character limit for SEO titles). If I relied on Yoast to create my SEO title using snippet variables, it would be longer than 60 characters and get cut off, making my snippet look horrible. Instead, I wrote it myself so it reads nicely: The Ideal Yoast WordPress SEO Plugin Settings (2018, Version 7.9).

Yoast-Snippet-Variables

Homepage – the homepage usually targets a broad keyword about your main product/service (eg. Chicago Wedding Photographer). Use this in your homepage SEO title + meta description:

Homepage-Snippet

Content Types
content types - posts

content types - pages

Show Posts In Search Results – control whether posts/pages are indexed in search engines.

Date In Snippet Preview – adding dates to your snippets (specifically adding them on time sensitive articles) makes content look new and can significantly increase click-through rates.

Publish Date

In addition to enabling this in Yoast, you also need to add the “post modified date” to the top of your posts (called the entry meta section). For me, this is in the Genesis Simple Edits settings…

Entry Meta

This is what it looks like on a post…

Entry Post Modified Date

Now, anytime you update a post, the post modified date refreshes to current day and will update in search results. Yes, you can go through ALL posts and make your content look brand new. But don’t abuse it, I try to only do it when I’m making an update to a time sensitive article.

Update WordPress Post

Yoast SEO Meta Box – this is the SEO analysis with content optimization recommendations. You definitely want this for pages, posts, and blog category pages if you’re optimizing those.

Media
Yoast-Media-Settings

Taxonomies
Yoast-Taxonomies-Settings

Which Content Shouldn’t Be Shown In Search Results – tags, portfolio categories, slideshows, format, and other non-useful content should usually not be shown in search results. Tags will usually cause duplicate content in Siteliner. If you have a nice portfolio, or your blog categories pages are well-designed with many articles under that category, by all means include it in search results. But if you wouldn’t spend more than 30 seconds on that page, don’t index it.

Archives
Yoast-Archives-Settings

Breadcrumbs
Yoast-Breadcrumbs-Settings

Breadcrumbs – navigation text that appears at the top of your content:

Breadcrumbs

It helps users and search engines learn your content and site structure. I don’t use breadcrumbs to prevent clutter, but I recommend them if you don’t mind the extra text. To enable breadcrumbs, add this code to Editor → Index.php by pasting it under get_header();

get_header(); ?>
<div id="primary">
<?php if ( function_exists('yoast_breadcrumb') ) {
yoast_breadcrumb('<p id="breadcrumbs">','</p>');
} ?>
<div id="content" role="main">

RSS
Yoast-RSS-Settings

 

3. Search Console

Authenticate Yoast With Google Search Console – this will show you crawl errors (broken pages on your site) so you can redirect them to the correct page on your site. You might have a lot of these if you ever changed permalinks, deleted pages, or migrated your website. You will need to verify Search Console under ‘General → Webmaster Tools’ before proceeding. Once verified, go here and click “Get Google Authorization Code” and it will prompt you with steps.

google search console authentication

Fix Crawl Errors With Redirects – after authenticating Search Console, give it a few minutes (or hours) so Google can populate your crawl errors. You will eventually see the errors (page not found, server errors, soft 404s…).

You should fix ALL these by setting up 301 redirects which come with Yoast SEO Premium, or try using the free Redirection plugin…

yoast-search-console-crawl-errors

Setup Redirects – to setup a 301 redirect using the Redirection plugin, install the plugin and go to Tools → Redirection (in the WordPress dashboard). Enter a URL from Yoast, then enter the correct URL (the most relevant page or post on your website)…

redirection example

More Google Search Console Optimizations – fixing crawl errors is just one of many ways to optimize your WordPress site with Google Search Console. I HIGHLY recommend looking through my Google Search Console tutorial to learn about rich snippets, international targeting, security issues, search analytics, and other important parts of your WordPress SEO.

Google Search Console

 

4. Social

Filling out Yoast’s social settings helps Google learn about your profiles, but the main thing is enabling each social network’s meta data. This allows you to upload custom graphics to each page/post which makes it’s image thumbnail format properly when that page is shared on social media. This is what Facebook Open GraphTwitter Cards, and Google+ meta data does.

Accounts
social profiles

Facebook
Yoast-Facebook-Settings

Facebook App ID – if you created a Facebook app, find your app ID and enter it here. Here’s a tutorial on how to create a Facebook app and what it does.

Twitter
Yoast-Twitter-Settings

Pinterest
pinterest-settings

You will need to complete a few additional steps to verify your site with Pinterest.

Social Media Optimization – once meta data is enabled for each social network, you can upload custom social media images in Yoast’s SEO analysis section using the “share” link (see below). This makes the content’s image thumbnail format properly when that page is shared on social media. Yes, this means you will need to create 2 separate graphics for every post.

  • Facebook Image: 1200 x 630px
  • Twitter Image: 1024 x 512px

Upload custom graphics to Facebook/Twitter…

yoast-social-media-optimization

Makes your content format nicely…

facebook-share

Controlling Facebook Ad Text With Yoast – if you’re boosting posts, Facebook won’t let you change the ad text. So before sharing your post on Facebook, give it the title you want using Yoast’s “Facebook Title” field (which can be different from the SEO title + meta description). If your Yoast Facebook title isn’t working right away, trying clearing your website’s cache. I have found it can sometimes take several days for it to update with new Facebook title and image.

Yoast Facebook Title

 

5. Tools

yoast seo tools

Bulk Editor – edit SEO titles and meta descriptions in bulk (without having to go through each individual page/post). Making sure these ready nicely can significantly increase click-through rates by making your snippets more appealing to click on. Don’t forget to include that post’s focus keyword in both places. SNIPPETS ARE LITERALLY THE FOREFRONT OF YOUR SEO!

Yoast-Bulk-Editor

File Editor – edit robots.txt and .htaccess files.

Import And Exportimport my recommended Yoast SEO settings or export your own Yoast settings to use on other websites you manage. If you’re currently using another WordPress SEO Plugin, use the “Import From Other SEO Plugins” tab to migrate it’s SEO data to Yoast.

import yoast settings

export yoast settings

import and export other data in yoast

 

6. Premium

Yoast SEO Premium is $89/year – I seriously only bought it because I write WordPress SEO tutorials for a living. Otherwise, I probably wouldn’t have it… setting multiple focus keywords isn’t useful, there are plenty of free redirect plugins, and internal link suggestions + content insights really don’t help me at all. Here’s an explanation of some of the highlighted features…

yoast pro versus free.1

yoast pro versus free.2

yoast pro versus free.3

Keyword Optimization (Multiple Focus Keywords) – there is a specific strategy for optimizing content for multiple keywords (see below). Secondary keywords are often included as partial matches which means the SEO analysis checklist is virtually useless, since Yoast only detects exact keyword matches. It does help you keep track of secondary keywords in your dashboard so you can use those partial matches, but don’t expect to get a lot of green lights. Targeting secondary keywords is more about crafting a nice SEO title + meta description to include individual words from both phrases – rather than simply listing keywords which looks spammy.

Yoast Multiple Focus Keywords

Preview Of Your Page – as long as you’re uploading custom images in Yoast’s “social sharing option” so your image formats properly Facebook and Twitter (step 4), you don’t need this. But if you like seeing how it looks directly in Yoast to make sure it looks good, that’s all this does.

yoast-social-previews

Link Suggestions
Yoast-Internal-Linking

Content Insights
Yoast Content Insights

Redirect Manager – use this to fix crawl errors (broken pages) from Yoast’s Search Console tab. Do this by add the old URL and new URL to redirect each one to the most appropriate page. If you already have redirects from the Redirection Plugin or .htaccess, you can import these into Yoast. While a free plugin like Quick Page/Post Redirect does the exact same thing, Yoast’s redirect manager will automatically setup a redirect if you ever change a permalink…

yoast-automatic-redirect

To setup a redirect, head to Yoast’s Search Console tab and find your crawl errors…

Yoast-Search-Console-Crawl-Errors

Now head to Yoast’s redirect manager (or the “Quick Redirects” section if using the Quick Page/Post Redirect Plugin). Paste your broken URL into the “Old URL” field. The new URL should NOT always be your homepage – it should be the closest URL to your broken page.

Yoast-Redirects

Premium Support – I have never used their support, but you do get it with Yoast Premium.

 

7. AMP

Accelerated mobile pages (AMP) are a Google project that make mobile pages load faster and adds an “AMP” sign to your mobile snippets. While this sounds good, you should usually avoid AMP. Take a look at Kinsta’s study on how mobile conversions dropped 59% after adding AMP. After reading that article, I decided to disable AMP on my own website (and I’m glad I did). The design isn’t nearly as nice and it’s a pain in the ass. Save yourself the trouble – I would avoid it.

amp-pages

AMP Instructions

  • Install the AMP Plugin by Automattic
  • Install the Glue For Yoast SEO AMP Plugin if using Yoast
  • Add /amp/ to any page on your website to see how it looks and make sure it works
  • Go to Yoast’s Settings → AMP to change your design and enable custom post types
  • Wait for Google to recrawl your site and add the AMP sign in mobile search results
  • Visit the Accelerated Mobile Pages section in Google Search Console to see errors

A common issue is featured images appearing on the top of posts when you might not want them too. There is a work around for this, but it’s not perfect. You can either have no featured image, or you can set a default featured image in Yoast under SEO → AMP → Design → Default Image. This will only show if NO featured image is set, but if one is, that is what will show on the top of the post. You can read Yoast’s AMP guide but I basically just summed it up.

If using Cloudflare, enable accelerated mobile links and show the AMP logo…

Cloudflare Accelerated Mobile Links

 

8. Import My Yoast Settings

To use my Yoast settings, download the zip file and upload it under SEO → Tools → Import And Export → Import. This configures the settings, it does not delete focus keywords or meta data.

Download My Yoast Settings (Updated 3/9/2018)

Things You Still Need To Do:

  • General → Webmaster Tools (verify your site with Google/Bing/Yandex)
  • Search Appearance → General (check if you have duplicate sitenames by hovering over your homepage’s browser tab, and if so, leave Force Rewrite Titles as enabled)
  • Search Appearance → General (fill out your homepage SEO title + meta description, and specify whether you’re a person or company)
  • Search Appearance → Content Types (choose which content you want shown in search results, and add publish dates to snippets on time-sensitive posts)
  • Search Appearance → Taxonomies (choose which content you want in search results)
  • Search Appearance → Breadcrumbs (add your website name as the “Anchor Text For Homepage” and follow Yoast’s tutorial to add breadcrumbs)
  • Search Console → Settings (authenticate Yoast with Google Search Console, wait a few days for the data to populate, then fix crawl errors (visit section). See my Google Search Console tutorial for even more tips on optimizing your website with Search Console)
  • Social → Enter URLs of your social profiles, upload your logo in the Facebook tab, enable Facebook Insights, and verify your site with Pinterest
  • Add AMP Pages (visit section)

 

9. Focus Keywords

Stop thinking you know your keywords and do the research. My method works quite well…

  • Find long-tail (specific) keywords in Autocomplete + Keyword Explorer
  • Write down all relevant phrases so you have a robust keyword list
  • Avoid keywords where strong content/websites are in the top results
  • Target keywords where search results contain weak/irrelevant content
  • Google each keyword using MozBar to learn each one’s estimated competition
  • Check OSE for your DA (domain authority), then Google your keyword using MozBar and check the top results to see what their DA is. Compete within your own DA range and if yours is low, target even more specific keywords which are less competitive.
  • You should be left with high opportunity keywords where you can get on page 1

Google Autocomplete
Go to google.com and start typing in a keyword to have Google complete the phrase (remember, you’re looking for long-tail phrases usually with 3+ words since those are much less competitive). You can also use an underscore character _ anywhere in the phrase and Google will fill in the blank. You will need to END on the underscore character for that method.

google-autocomplete-keywords

To see even more keywords in the dropdown, use plurals or different word ordering…

autocomplete-keywords

Each service (and location) should be targeted on separate pages on your website…

multiple-localized-keywords

For competitive blog post topics, always select a very specific (long-tail) keyword…

Long-Tail Keywords

You can do the same thing for YouTube video keywords…

youtube-autocomplete-keywords

How I found my keyword for this tutorial (which helped me optimize my content)…

Yoast-Keyword-Research

Yoast-Keyword

Moz Keyword Explorer (Better Than Keyword Planner)
To make sure you don’t miss any keywords from Google Autocomplete, use Moz Keyword Explorer which is like Google Keyword Planner only better (and free). Start with a broad phrase, run the tool, then under Group Keywords select “yes, with low lexical similarity.” This prevents you from having to scroll through similar keyword variations over and over again.

Moz Keyword Suggestions

HubShout WebGrader (Competitor Keywords)
To see a full keyword list for competitor websites, run them through HubShout WebGrader

My Keywords

MozBar (Keyword Competition)
Now you should have a robust keyword list. The final step is to install the MozBar Google Chrome Extension and Google each keyword. The higher the PA (page authority) and DA (domain authority), the more competitive the keyword. Try to select keywords within your own DA/PA range. You can increase these by creating awesome content to get links. The best keywords are those that if you Google, weak (or irrelevant) content exists in the top results.

Mozbar Keyword Competition

It’s a little outdated, but here’s a video I made on choosing keywords…

 

10. Content Optimization

The first step to optimizing content is researching focus keywords – make sure you do step 9 first. Then you can start creating content (or optimizing existing content) for those keywords.

What Yoast should say…

WARNING: injecting keywords in your content/snippets makes them look spammy! Have you thought about writing an SEO title + meta description to increase CTR? Every result in Google will be using the keyword – why would anyone click your link? Yes, you should use your keyword in the page title, SEO title, and meta description… but don’t inject keywords just to get green lights in Yoast. Forget about keyword density and keywords in subheadings… start thinking about adding a table of contents to longer posts, videos, infographics, rich snippets, social sharing images, and beefing up thin content to make it better (more detailed) than everyone else’s.

Basic Rules Of Yoast:
The green light obsession – if you’re copying/pasting focus keywords throughout your content to make Yoast happy, stop it right now. This article you’re reading is well optimized (it’s super useful and organized) and half my bullets are red. Stop obsessing over green lights and start obsessing over your content. Add an infographic and video to a page and see what happens.

You can only set 1 focus keyword – Yoast premium allows up to 5, but if you don’t have success with 1 keyword then don’t try 2. However it’s not that hard (just make sure the secondary keyword is very similar to your primary) and sprinkle partial matches throughout the content. Generally, each unique keyword should have it’s own page with content reflecting that phrase. Each of your services will have it’s own page – sometimes multiple pages. I have separates pages for WordPress SEO Services, WordPress SEO Consulting, WordPress SEO Audit, etc.

Yoast doesn’t always detect keywords – sometimes it won’t pick up on synonyms or partial matches. If my focus keyword is SEO Consultant and I use SEO Consulting in the content, Yoast may not count this keyword. But I can assume keyword density is higher than Yoast says.

Find a balance between keywords and using a nice page title, SEO title, and meta description – there’s a fine line between writing a headline that sounds good, and writing a headline so it includes your keyword. Find the right balance. Crafting a headline that people will actually click on is a huge part of content optimization.

Yoast only detects keywords in the main content body and search engine snippet – not the sidebars, not the footer, just those two areas. This is also good since search engines analyze content in blocks and your content body/search engine snippets are the important areas.

Focus keyword for homepage – your homepage should usually target your primary keyword. If you have a widgetized homepage you won’t have Yoast’s SEO analysis checklist (since you’re using widgets). But that’s OK, just use the same on-page SEO strategies as the other pages.

You usually do want to target a focus keyword for these pages…

  • Homepage
  • Product/service pages
  • Location pages
  • Blog posts (non-promotional keywords)

You usually don’t want to target a focus keyword for these pages…

  • Contact page
  • Team pages (unless their names are being searched for)
  • Testimonials
  • Work/portfolio
  • Main blog page

Now create a page, set your focus keyword, write some content, and see my suggestions…

Yoast-SEO-Analysis

Focus Keyword – use Google Autocomplete to find long-tail (specific) phrases, then Google the keyword and analyze the search results with MozBar’s Chrome Extension. Look for keywords with weak content in the top results and avoid competing with authority websites.

Never Target The Same Keyword On 2 Pages – if you’re going to spend time creating 2 pages targeting the same keyword, you might as well spend all that time on 1 page and make the content awesome. I would rather have 1 amazing piece of content than 2 mediocre articles.

Page Title – include your keyword here. If it’s a blog post make sure you write a kick-ass headline preferably with your focus keyword in the beginning of the title. Posts usually have a longer, more descriptive title, page titles are usually shorter and just list a product/service.

URL – shorten URLs to not include stop words (and put emphasis on your focus keyword) UNLESS this makes the URL ready funny. I shortened mine to /yoast-wordpress-seo-settings/

SEO Title – these are the blue links in search results and are the FIRST thing people see. They should be 50-60 characters (length bar in Yoast should be green). If it’s a page, don’t just use “Chicago Wedding Photographer – Tom Dupuis.” Use a modifier to spice up your headline so more people click on it… “Award Winning Chicago Wedding Photographer – Tom Dupuis.” SEO titles for posts can be similar to the title, but adjust it to read nicely in those 50-60 characters.

Meta Description – 150-160 character description of your content, primarily used to increase CTR and get people clicking your link, but should also include your focus keyword.

Image Alt Text – do not stuff keywords here, just describe the image! As long as you’re writing descriptive file names before uploading, you can use the Automatic Image Alt Attributes plugin to automatically use the file name as the alt text, so you don’t have to do this manually.

Keyword Density – Yoast exaggerates the importance of keyword density when it’s actually not very important. Use it once in the first couple sentences, then forget about it.

Keyword In Subheading (H2) – you don’t need to use your keyword here – it looks spammy.

Internal / External Links – use a few links on your page. Google likes this and as long as you’re actually linking to helpful resources (I’m not talking about Wikipedia), then visitors will also find this helpful. Internal links are good because they keep people on your site and are a natural way to build links, but you will need a good amount of content for this. External links are good because they’re like citing sources for the article, which Google likes. Both are good.

Post Long Content – short, crappy content doesn’t rank. Long content that covers the topic extensively (especially content that includes a video or infographic), will. Google measures “average time on page” so your primary goal is to increase the “dwell time” of your visitor. Yoast recommends 300+ words, but try 3,000 words (or more) and you will see way better results.

WordPress Word Count

Social Media Optimization – assuming you configured the social tab in Yoast’s SEO settings, you can use the “share” link to upload custom graphics so your post image formats properly on Facebook and Twitter. This is a small ranking factor but it will also increase your social sharing which is excellent for SEO. And yes, this means you need to create 2 graphics…

  • Facebook Image: 1200 x 630px
  • Twitter Image: 1024 x 512px

Rich Snippets – these enhance your snippets with review stars, videos, and information about products, events, recipes, and other types of data. This isn’t part of Yoast but it obviously helps your SEO and click-through rates. I use the premium WP Rich Snippets plugin (here’s my review of it) which has way more options and looks better than free plugins like All In One Schema.org. If you would like to add rich snippets to your WordPress site, follow that tutorial.

rich-snippets

Image Speed Optimization – I have a full tutorial for image optimization. Run a page through GTmetrix to see all unoptimized images on the page. Large images need to be resized to fit the correct dimensions. If your content body is 680(w) you should be using images that are resized to 680(w). Use a plugin like Imagify for lossless compression. Images with the “specify image dimensions” error means you need to specify a width + height in the image’s HTML or CSS:

<img src=”/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Why-Is-WordPress-So-Slow.jpg” alt=”Why Is WordPress So Slow” width=”680” height=”380” />

Image Optimizations In GTmetrix

Targeting Multiple Keywords – I touched on this in the Yoast SEO Premium section, but here’s an example. You’ll want to craft your SEO title/meta description to include elements of both…

Primary Keyword: SEO-Friendly WordPress Themes
Secondary Keyword: SEO-Optimized WordPress Themes

Page Title / SEO Title: 25+ SEO-Friendly WordPress Themes For Everyone
Meta Description: Browse over 25+ SEO-Friendly WordPress Themes which have mobile responsive and HTML5 design, all of which are SEO optimized via the Genesis Framework.

Now sprinkle your secondary keyword (or a partial match of it) in your content. Your permalink should usually just include your primary keyword: /seo-friendly-wordpress-themes/. You do not need to purchase Yoast SEO Premium to target secondary keywords – just use tools like Google Autocomplete to find a secondary keyword, then sprinkle it.

 

11. Anatomy Of A Perfectly Optimized Page

I borrowed this from Backlinko which emphasizes why content optimization is more than “green lights.” It’s more about creating damn good content using infographics, videos, and creating “the ultimate guide” with a table of contents (like this post). Stop worrying so much about green lights, get off the “text and photos” route and start doing something different.

on-page-seo

I also created a version for WordPress (a little outdated but still good)…

WordPress-Content-Optimization

 

Frequently Asked Questions

🚦 What are the 3 main steps to Yoast?

Configuring the settings, researching focus keywords, and content optimization are the 3 main steps to using Yoast's SEO plugin. Setting up Google Search Console is important too.

🚦 How do I choose focus keywords?

Google Autocomplete is a great tool for finding keywords, especially when using the fill-in-the-blank method from this guide. MozBar and Keywords Everywhere Chrome Extension helps you learn each keyword's competition - which is a critical part to keyword research.

🚦 How important are green lights?

They're not. The 5 most important places to use your keyword are in the page title, permalink, SEO title, meta description, and a couple times in the content body. Nearly all other ranking factors have nothing to do with Yoast, regardless of what other people say.

🚦 What other on-page SEO factors are there besides green lights?

FAQ rich snippets (like the ones you're reading now), adding an HTML table of contents to long posts, optimizing site speed, carefully crafting SEO titles + meta descriptions, and in-depth content are all major factors that can improve both rankings + click-through rates.

🚦 How did I get these emojis in search results?

They're called FAQ rich snippets and I have a tutorial for that. You simply install the Structured Content plugin and add FAQs (with the emoji of your choice) to pages/posts.

 

Whaddaya Think?

Hit me up in the comments if you have questions :)

See Also:
How I Got 100% Scores In GTmetrix

Cheers,
Tom

Stop Obsessing Over Green Lights In Yoast’s SEO Analysis

Content optimization does NOT mean getting green lights in Yoast – and I think it’s time someone drops the bomb on Yoast’s SEO analysis when it tells you to use your focus keyword.

The problem is, Yoast’s SEO analysis only detects exact matches of your focus keyword in the visual and HTML editor (not page builders). It does not detect plurals, synonyms, or partial matches of your keyword. So when you’re writing a nice page title and snippet (SEO title + meta description) people will actually click in search results, don’t just use your exact focus keyword to get green lights in Yoast’s SEO analysis. Consider click-through rates (CTR) as well.

The solution is, to find a balance between using your focus keyword AND make your content + snippets read nicely. If my focus keyword is “Yoast Focus Keywords” my SEO title could be: How To Choose Focus Keywords In Yoast (You Can Actually Rank For). It’s not an exact match, and I don’t use the keyword in the beginning of the SEO title like Yoast wants, so 2 bullets will be red in Yoast’s SEO analysis. But it’s a nice headline and I rank #5 for this keyword (Yoast has the top 4 results). So it’s perfectly OK to not include exact matches and get red lights in Yoast.

  1. What Yoast’s SEO Analysis SHOULD Say
  2. Optimized Post (Example)
  3. Writing Headlines For Pages vs. Posts
  4. Keyword Density Barely Matters
  5. When To Shorten URLs (And Remove Stop Words)
  6. Image Alt Text Should Just Describe The Image
  7. Yoast Doesn’t Analyze Content In Page Builders
  8. When To Use Exact Keyword Matches (Examples)
  9. Use Yoast’s Bulk Editor To Rewrite Your Snippets
  10. Don’t Target The Same Keyword On Multiple Pages
  11. Most People Don’t Choose The Right Focus Keywords

 

1. What Yoast’s SEO Analysis SHOULD Say

WARNING: injecting your focus keyword in the content body/snippets can make them look spammy! Have you thought about writing a nice SEO title to increase your CTR instead? Every result in Google will be using the keyword – why would anyone click your link? Yes, you should use your keyword in the page title, SEO title, and meta description… but you don’t have to use an exact match just to make your lights turn green. Just sprinkle it’s individual words throughout the text! Keywords and nice headline… find the balance. Forget about keyword density and using your keyword in the H2… we all know these barely matter in on-page SEO. Mention it in the first couple sentences and get back to creating awesome content (that is better than whoever’s in the top results for your keyword). Ps. if you’re using a page builder, Yoast won’t detect anything in your content, since it only analyzes content in the visual/HTML editor. Do not force yourself to get green lights.

Now go to Yoast’s bulk editor (SEO > Tools > Bulk Editor) and rewrite your SEO titles + meta descriptions so people actually want to click them!

Importance Of Yoast Green Lights

 

2. Optimized Post (Example)

Here’s a post where I rank #1 for these keywords: yoast settings, yoast settings 2018, yoast wordpress seo settings, best yoast settings, among other keywords about configuring Yoast.

Yoast-SEO-Analysis

How I selected my focus keyword…

Yoast-Keyword-Research

Yoast-Keyword

 

3. Writing Headlines For Pages vs. Posts

Post titles are usually much longer than page titles… this is the only major difference in how I optimize pages vs. posts. My page on WordPress SEO Consulting has a simple page title of “WordPress SEO Consulting.” But my post title for this tutorial you’re reading is… way longer.

Page-Title

Post-Titles

 

4. Keyword Density Barely Matters

Google is giving less and less importance on keyword density and more weight on quality content. Yes, you should still mention your focus keyword (or a partial match of it) a few times in the content, and most importantly, once in the first couple sentences. But to go through all your pages/posts and inject your focus keyword… it’s not a good investment of time. You’re better off improving content. My keyword density % in Yoast is usually red, anywhere from 0-1% especially since I don’t always use exact matches, which is the only thing Yoast will detect.

Keyword-Density-Yoast

 

5. When To Shorten URLs (And Remove Stop Words)

Yoast’s SEO analysis prompts you to remove stop words (common words most search engines skip over) like the, a, and, in, etc. Sometimes you SHOULD shorten URLs to only include your focus keyword. WordPress automatically uses the page/post title for your URL, so the URL for this post you’re reading now would have been VERY LONG. So to emphasize my keywords, I shortened it to be https://onlinemediamasters.com/yoast-green-lights-in-seo-analysis/

Yoast-Stop-Words

But sometimes it’s not a good idea to remove stop words since this makes URLs confusing on what the topic is actually about. Here are examples when you shouldn’t remove stop words:

Stop-Words-SEO

See how they don’t even make sense? Yes, you should shorten URLs and include your focus keyword. But if stop words make it read funny like in the examples above, don’t remove them.

 

6. Image Alt Text Should Just Describe The Image

If you have an image that describes your focus keyword, by all means use it as the alt text. But there is absolutely no reason to go hunting for images and change their alt text just to get another green light in Yoast. As long as you’re uploading images with a file name that actually describes the image, and use the file name as the alt text, you will be FINE (and you will probably have some nice partial matches of your keyword)! This tutorial has images for Yoast’s SEO analysis, focus keywords, bulk editor… so I will name them just like that. Keep it simple.

Yoast-Focus-Keyword-In-Alt-Text

 

7. Yoast Doesn’t Analyze Content In Page Builders

If you’re using a page builder, Yoast’s SEO analysis won’t detect anything here, so you will need to do the on-page SEO manually. Just do it how you would on any content, you just won’t be able to tell when your lights turn green in Yoast. The SEO analysis doesn’t analyze content outside the WordPress Visual/HTML Editor, so this also applies to widgetized homepages.

 

8. When To Use Exact Keyword Matches (Examples)

The only time you should use your exact focus keyword is if it sounds natural (no injecting spammy keywords, no injecting them into SEO titles + meta descriptions at the cost of lower CTRs). But if you can still write a nice headline with your exact keyword, go ahead and do it.

SEO Titles Where I Use An Exact Match:

 

9. Use Yoast’s Bulk Editor To Rewrite Your Snippets

If you want to rewrite your SEO titles + meta descriptions to sound nice (and I would definitely recommend doing this), Yoast’s bulk editor lets you do it without going through individual pages/posts (it’s under SEO > Tools > Bulk Editor). The bulk editor doesn’t tell you each page’s focus keyword, and it does not measure the length of SEO titles + meta descriptions. SEO titles should be 50-60 characters, meta descriptions should be 150-160 (however in 2018, Google extended meta description length in many results and Moz now recommends 300 characters).

Yoast-Bulk-Editor

 

10. Don’t Target The Same Keyword On Multiple Pages

It’s counterproductive. You’re better off spending time improving content on 1 single page than creating a bunch of pages with mediocre content targeting the same focus keyword.

Duplicate-Focus-Keywords

 

11. Most People Don’t Choose The Right Focus Keywords

The biggest problem I see with people using Yoast is choosing broad, competitive keywords they will never rank for. If you’re not ranking on the TOP of page 1 for many of your keywords, start choosing more specific (long-tail) phrases in Google Autocomplete. And if you’re still not ranking, get even more specific. Usually only websites with high domain authority (you can check this in OSE) can rank for broad, competitive keywords. Until then, always go long-tail.

Long-Tail Keywords

Always Google your keyword and analyze the search results. Avoid competing with strong content (that covers the topic extensively) and authority websites like credit.com, amazon.com, etc. If you can create better content than the top results, you have a chance.

Keyword Competition

Use MozBar to Google your keyword and see each result’s PA (page authority) and DA (domain authority). Try to only compete with websites in your domain authority range.

Mozbar Keyword Competition

Moz Keyword Explorer is also a great place to find keywords (it’s much better than Google Keyword Planner). Once you’ve narrowed down a list of long-tail keywords and analyzed search results to avoid strong content and authority websites, you’ll have a nice keyword list.

 

Conclusion: Yoast’s SEO Analysis Isn’t Perfect (Because…)

  • Yoast doesn’t take into account good headlines/CTRs
  • They only detect exact keyword matches, no partial matches
  • They prompt you to increase keyword density which barley matters
  • They prompt your to remove stop words, which can make URLs read funny
  • They prompt your to use your exact keyword in H2’s (causes spammy subheadings)
  • They prompt you to use your exact keyword in image alt text (even if it doesn’t describe the image)

These are all situational on the page/post, whether you actually have an image that describes your focus keyword, and whether you can write headlines/snippets that include your keyword AND still sound nice. Yoast is still a great SEO plugin, but I think they need to incorporate my warning to prevent people from injecting their focus keyword at the cost of spammy content.

Do you agree?

Cheers,
Tom

20 Reasons Your WordPress Site Isn’t Ranking High In Google

It’s the #1 question I get…

Why isn’t my WordPress site ranker higher in Google?

The most common reasons WordPress sites don’t rank high in Google are: keywords are too competitive, lack of in-depth content, bad on-page SEO, click-through rates, or little to no links.

Whether you’re nowhere on the map, have a Google penalty, or wondering why competitors outrank you, this tutorial will help you identify what’s going on. These are the 20 most common reasons based on my last 5 years doing SEO consulting and writing these tutorials.

Go through the list and be sure to leave a comment if you found the problem or you need help. I’m glad to help anyone who takes the time to read my tutorials. Here are the main reasons why YOUR WordPress site isn’t ranking high in Google and exactly what you can do to fix it.

 

1. Lack Of Comprehensive Content

Beefing up articles to 3,000+ words is the #1 reason my blog grew to 3,000 visitors/day. Google your keyword, analyze top results, and include every important topic you can find. Use Answer The Public to find “questions keywords” and answer as many as you can. Backlinko suggests 3,000 words in many of his articles, especially if it’s cornerstone content. I beefed up my Yoast tutorial from 500 to 4,000 words and it went from 10 to 100 visitors/day in 1 week.

I don’t write 3 mediocre tutorials a week. I write 1 killer tutorial every 2 weeks.

Aim for 3,000+ words, especially if it’s a competitive keyword:

WordPress Word Count

You can get penalized for content with low word count (shallow pages), content that isn’t useful with bad bounce rates, affiliate content offering no value, and duplicate content. But even if you don’t have a penalty for thin content, that doesn’t mean some of your content doesn’t have low word count and is preventing you from ranking high.

Step 1: Identify Low Performing Content
In Google Analytics, head to Acquisition > Search Console > Landing Pages. Look for pages with low average time on page + high bounce rates. Low average time on page likely means people aren’t finding the content useful. High bounce rates are a bit more complex and can be from poor design, load times, navigation, pop-ups/advertising, and bad (or no) internal linking.

Landing Pages – Google Analytics

Step 2: Add A Table Of Contents
table of contents helps people navigate long posts, but also encourages you to write long content (and gives you a better chance of being awarded jump-to links using named anchors).

Table of contents HTML looks like this…
<ul>
<li><a href="/your-permalink/#item-one">Item One</a></li>
<li><a href="/your-permalink/#item-two">Item Two</a></li>
<li><a href="/your-permalink/#item-three">Item Three</a></li>
</ul>

Each subheading’s HTML looks like this…
<h3 id="item-one">Item One</h3>
<h3 id="item-two">Item Two</h3>
<h3 id="item-three">Item Three</h3>

Step 3: Beef Up Content
Now that you’ve added a TOC with a good amount of topics, write your paragraphs. Your job is really not to just make it longer, but to make your content more valuable. That usually means adding more helpful graphics, videos, or infographics. Not just spewing out text to fill the page.

Step 4: Answer Question Keywords
Answer The Public lets you search any keyword and generates a visual map (and list) of the most popular questions people are searching about that keyword. It pulls keywords from Google Autocomplete, and the greener the circles are, the more searches those keyword have.

Yoast Keywords – AnswerThePublic

 

2. Keywords Are Too Competitive

Websites with low domain authority should not compete for broad, competitive keywords. As you build domain authority (by creating great content that gets links) you can start targeting keywords with more searches. But if you struggle to get on page 1, consider going longer-tail.

Long-Tail Keywords

Step 1: Check your domain authority in Moz Link Explorer (or another tool).

Domain-Authority

Step 2: Use this chart from Orbit Media. I mostly target 3-word phrases, but I spend a LOT of time on content. More competitive keywords = more time you should invest in your content. The chart is more of a rule of thumb and doesn’t have to be taken literally, but it’s a reminder that websites with high domain authority can (in general) target more competitive keywords.

Keyword Research Shortcut

Step 3: Download MozBar and Keywords Everywhere. These let you Google any keyword and see a keyword’s competition: monthly searches, each search results’s DA (domain authority) and PA (page authority), etc. Of course, the most important step is clicking on top results and checking how “good” the content is, and make sure you can write better content than theirs.

Keyword-Competition

A keyword is more competitive if:

  • It’s broad
  • It has a high DA + PA in MozBar
  • The keyword is obviously profitable
  • Strong content ranks in the top results
  • Authority websites rank in the top results
  • The keyword has a high number of monthly searches

Long-tail keywords are easier to rank for

  • Instead of SEO Consultant, target WordPress SEO Consultant
  • Instead of Chicago Web Designer, target Chicago WordPress Designer
  • Instead of Get Out Of Debt, target Get Out Of Debt Without Bankruptcy
  • Instead of SiteGround Reviews, target SiteGround WordPress Hosting Review

 

3. Too Much Focus On 1 Single Keyword

Many businesses get obsessed with ranking for 1 keyword, when this is actually a horrible strategy. I rank for thousands of keywords, and even though I rank #1 for keywords like “WordPress SEO Consultant,” I get way more inquiries through my blog than my service pages.

If you’re a photographer in Chicago, here are some ideas:

Google-Autocomplete-Fill-In-The-Blank-1

 

4. Too Much Focus On Yoast Green Lights

Obsessing over Yoast’s green lights can lead to keyword stuffing and make pages look spammy. Stop thinking SEO is so much about “keyword usage” and start thinking about keeping people engaged with your site through videos, tutorials, and things that people actually would actually want to learn/share/link to. The only time I think about keywords is when I do keyword research, write a keyword-rich (but nice sounding) headline, and craft an enticing meta description so people click my link. I rely on my kick-ass content to do the rest.

What’s Yoast’s SEO Analysis should say:

WARNING: injecting keywords in your content/snippets makes them look spammy. Have you thought about writing an SEO title + meta description to increase CTR? Every result in Google will be using the keyword – why would anyone click your link? Yes, you should use your keyword in the page title, URL, SEO title, and meta description (the most important places)… but don’t inject keywords just to get green lights. Forget about keyword density and keywords in subheadings… add a table of contents to organize longer posts, use videos, infographics, rich snippets, social sharing images, and beef up thin content to make it better (more detailed) than the top search results.

 

5. You’re Using Google Keyword Planner

Keyword Planner is designed for AdWords, not SEO! The competition is for AdWords, and I have personally found the keywords don’t reflect what people are actually searching. Google Autocomplete, or any keyword tool that pulls from Google Autocomplete, is more accurate.

Google-Keyword-Planner

 

6. Slow Load Times

My WordPress speed guide shows you how I got <1s load times with 100% scores in GTmetrix, but I listed the most important factors below. You probably know Google rewards fast sites.

This video should help (timestamps are in the video description):

Switching To SiteGround

SiteGround Load Time Migration

Bluehost to SiteGround GTmetrix

HostGator To SiteGround

SiteGround GTmetrix

SiteGround Google PageSpeed Insights

100 Perfect Score On SiteGround

SiteGround Genesis

Speed Delivered By SiteGround

SiteGround GTmetrix Report

Reduced Load Times With SiteGround

New SiteGround Response Times

HostGator To SiteGround Migration

SiteGround Response Times On Joomla

Switched To SiteGround Hosting

SiteGround Rocket Imagify Combo

Joomla GTmetrix On SiteGround

SiteGround PageSpeed Insights

SiteGround On Joomla

SiteGround Reduced Load Times

SiteGround Speedy Hosting

New Pingdom Results On SiteGround

New SiteGround Response Time

SiteGround Response Time Improvement

2019 Hosting Poll

2017-WordPress-Hosting-FB-Poll

Elementor Hosting Recommendations

July 2019 Hosting Recommendation

WordPress-Host-Poll-Aug-2018

Shared-Hosting-Poll-2017

2019-Hosting-Poll

Go-To-Hosting-Company

WordPress-Hosting-Poll-2017

Managed-Hosting-Poll

WooCommerce-Hosting-FB-Poll

2016-Web-Hosting-Poll

Best-WordPress-Hosting-Provider-Poll

Best-Web-Hosting-2019-Poll

WP Friendly Hosting Poll

2016-WordPress-Hosting-FB-Poll

Favorite Hosting For Elementor

2018 Hosting Recommendations

WordPress Hosting Poll Sept 2018.png

Managed-WordPress-Hosting-Poll-2017

2019-Hosts-Poll-1

Hosting-Poll-For-Speed

WordPress-Hosting-Poll-June-1

SiteGround-Recommendation

2014-Managed-WordPress-Hosting-FB-Poll

Best-Web-Hosting-Provider-Poll

Hosting-Poll-Feb-2019

Hosting-Recommendations-Poll

Bluehost vs SiteGround

WordPress Web Host Poll

My GTmetrix report

2019-GTmetrix-Report

My Pingdom report

2019-Pingdom-Report

 

7. Low Click-Through Rates

Everyone knows click-through rates are important (and are used as a ranking factor), but how do you get people clicking on your link? Below are 4 easy ways to increase click-through rates.

Click-Through-Rates

Step 1: Use Yoast’s Bulk Editor To Rewrite SEO Titles + Meta Descriptions
Yoast’s bulk editor lets you edit your SEO titles + meta description in bulk so you don’t have to go through each individual page/post. Rewriting these to sound nicer (and of course, include your keyword) is an easy way to increase CTR. Just remember the bulk editor doesn’t detect keywords or character length, so be sure you’re keeping these in mind (length is around 55 characters for SEO titles, 155 characters for meta descriptions). Everyone is going to include the keyword in their snippet – why would anyone click on your link? Your tutorial is current, you have a video tutorial, infographic? Tell them why! Try using numbers and clever adjectives.

Yoast-Bulk-Editor

Step 2: Add Rich Snippets
I use the WP Review Pro plugin by MyThemeShop (see a demo or a page I use it on). I was using WP Rich Snippets but the developer abandoned his plugin, and All In One Schema looks way too plain with virtually no customization options. I’ve been happy with WP Review Pro.

Structured Data Review Stars

Step 3: Add Post Modified Date To Search Results
Make time-sensitive content look fresh. First, enable “date in snippet preview” in Yoast’s settings. Next, add “post modified date” to the top of blog posts (this is in a different location for everybody, but for me it’s in the Genesis Simple Edits plugin). Now, whenever you update a post, the date will refresh in search results. You can use the Republish Old Posts plugin to refresh all posts to current day, but it’s a little cheap since you actually didn’t update the posts.

Publish Date

Entry-Meta

Step 4: Get In Google’s Featured Snippets

  • Create an HTML table of contents (if targeting lists)
  • Make each item in the TOC concise and actionable to solving the problem
  • Target a keyword where people want a concise answer
  • Use Moz Keyword Explorer to identify question keywords
  • Use Answer The Public to find even more question keywords
  • Choose whether the answer should be a paragraph, list, or table
  • Design a nice graphic (or take a photo) describing the keyword
  • Use optimal character length (see photo below taken from Moz)
  • Create fact-based content with quality references (links, graphics, etc)
  • Target keywords that already have an featured snippet but do a poor job
  • If you’re aiming for the answer box, target your keyword using an exact match
  • Make sure you’re on the 1st page for the keyword, if not, improve the content

Featured Snippets

Optimial-Featured-Snippets-Length

 

8. Not Optimizing For Social Sharing

Customize how your content looks when shared on Facebook/Twitter…

facebook-share

In Yoast go to SEO → Social, then enable meta data under the Facebook/Twitter tab. While you’re here, don’t forget to verify your site with Pinterest and add your Google+ page to Yoast.

Yoast-Social-Meta-Data

Now edit a page/post, scroll down to the Yoast section, click the share link (shown below) and you will be able to upload images to Facebook (1200 x 630px) and Twitter (1024 x 512px). Yes, this means you need to create 2 graphics for each piece of content if you want it to look nice.

yoast-social-media-optimization

 

There is no perfect number, but I usually have 50+ links in my 3,000 word tutorials.

Internal links – a natural way to build links to your own website, keep people on your site longer, and reduce bounce rates by getting people clicking on other stuff you’ve written.

External Links – these are like citing sources to Google. Linking to credible, useful content that your readers would find helpful (not just Wikipedia) develops trust with Google.

 

10. Lack Of Cornerstone Content

Here’s a tip… instead of blogging just to blog how about writing “the ultimate guide” on a key topic your audience wants to learn about? Yoast and WP Rocket are 2 of mine… people aren’t going to link to my WordPress SEO Consulting page, but by attracting links through my tutorials… the “link juice” will benefit my entire site by increasing my domain authority. So if you run your site through Link Explorer and don’t have many links, write some ultimate guides.

WordPress-SEO-Series

 

11. Not Using SSL

I added SSL in 2018 and surprisingly, my rankings went up (and so did my affiliate sales). Google is further penalizing websites that don’t use SSL (and that insecure padlock doesn’t look good either), so don’t be scared – just do it. Here’s a guide on adding SSL to WordPress.

Really-Simple-SSL

 

12. Bad Bounce Rate + Time On Site

Bounce rates (the % of people who leave your site without clicking anywhere) and average time on site are metrics used by Google to determine the value of each page and it’s rankings (you can find these out in Google Analytics). So if your web design, mobile design, lack of internal links, call to actions… and other parts of your website don’t encourage people to click around… this will hurt your rankings. Making your website “sticky” is what SEO is all about.

Bounce Rate

 

Every time you change a permalink (even if you setup a 301 redirect) you will lose MOST your rankings temporarily, and only some of your rankings long-term. It’s been said about 1-10% of link juice is lost when you setup a 301 redirect. Bottom line… I would avoid changing these all together unless your permalinks use the ugly ?p=123 format. This includes during a redesign.

 

14. Terrible “About Me” Page

I never knew how important this was until I wrote an awesome about page.

I instantly had people emailing me… relating to my story and sharing their own story. It was really cool, opening myself up and watching that grow into relationships/opportunities. From an SEO perspective, it’s one of my most viewed pages and keeps people on my site longer.

About Me Page

 

15. Citations Errors (Local SEO)

If you’re targeting local keywords (especially where Google Maps appear), you need citations. They’re about 10% of local SEO. My 3-step process of Google My Business > Moz Local > Whitespark gets awesome results and is the same process I used to get multiple clients #1 rankings in Google Maps. Everything is free besides Whitespark’s citation building service ($4-5/citation). The more competitive your keywords are, the more citations you should order.

Moz Local Citation Score

How To Create Citations

How To Check For Duplicate Citations

  • Run your site through Moz Local and fix items in the duplicates tab
  • Search “Your Business Name Google+” and look for duplicate GMB pages

 

16. Google Search Console Errors

Most people don’t use Google Search Console as much as they should. I use it 10x more than Google Analytics for finding crawl errors, mobile errors, AMP errors, sitemap errors, security issues, manual actions, HTML improvements, and many others. I recommend you do the same.

Mobile Usability Errors Google Search Console

I also use the Performance Report religiously to measure my keywords, CTRs, rankings, and most popular pages. For me, this is much better at measuring SEO than Google Analytics.

Google Search Console Queries

View My Google Search Console Tutorial

 

17. Duplicate Content + Search/Replace Pages

Use Siteliner to check for duplicate content…

Siteliner Duplicate Content

Search and replace pages are probably the most common form of duplicate content (where you duplicate the same page over and over but only swap out a few words on each page). You see this a lot in local SEO when businesses create geo-targeted landing pages for multiple locations… but this doesn’t work. Each page should ideally have unique content about each location like photos, reviews, team members, etc. Rand Fishkin made a nice video about this:

 

18. Discouraging Search Engines From Indexing Site

Make sure “Discourage search engines from indexing this site” is NOT selected in your dashboard under Settings > Reading. This makes your site completely disappear in Google.

Discourage Search Engine From Indexing This Site

 

19. Affiliate Website Mistakes

Affiliate sites are prone to Google penalties. This can either be a penalty in your manual actions report in Google Search Console, or it can be an algorithmic penalty (in which case you have to compare the time your traffic dropped and look at Google’s algorithm changes).

Trust me, you don’t want an affiliate penalty…

Affiliate Link Google Penalty

Tips For Affiliate Sites:

  • Don’t stuff posts with affiliate links
  • Add value! I spend a ton of time making sure my tutorials are helpful
  • Don’t always list affiliate products first (Google knows what you’re doing)
  • Consider writing review pages for affiliate products, and linking to those instead
  • Always nofollow affiliate links

 

20. You Have A Google Penalty

Go to your manual actions report in Search Console to check for penalties. There are many types (thin content, keyword stuffing, spam content), but unnatural links is the most common.

Unnatural Links To Your Site – early on, I hired a link builder and got a Google penalty for unnatural links which took 1 full year to recover. My rankings plummeted, and so did my client inquiries and income. It was dark times for me. Think twice before hiring a link builder on Fiver, Upwork, or any of those freelancer sites… unless you really, really know what you’re doing.

How To Clean Up Bad Links

  • Check to see if you have one in the manual actions tab
  • Go to the links to your site section of Search Console
  • Write down all spammy, irrelevant, and suspicious links
  • Reach out to these websites and ask them to take it down
  • Be persistent… Google wants to see you have made an effort
  • For any links you can’t get taken down, use the disavow tool
  • Submit a reconsideration request with all proper information
  • Fire your link builder and never hire a sketchy link builder again

Unnatural Links To Your Site - Google Search Console

 

Still Not Sure If These Are The Reason?

Kiss Metrics has an awesome article on 50 Reasons Your Website Deserves to Be Penalized By Google, but I think I covered the main reasons here. If you have any questions at all, leave a comment below and I’ll be glad to answer your question. Otherwise, good luck with your SEO!

 

Frequently Asked Questions

✅ How do I rank my WordPress website higher in Google?

The easiest way to rank a WordPress website on Google is to find specific, long-tail keywords which aren't too competitive, then write in-depth content about each topic. Engagement, click-through rates, and on-page SEO all help improve Google rankings.

✅ Are my keywords are too competitive?

New websites or those with low authority (backlinks) should always target long-tail, specific keywords. It's hugely important to Google each keyword and analyze the search results to make sure you're not competing with strong content and authority websites.

✅ How can I check for SEO errors on my site?

Google Search Console tells you if you have mobile, security, and indexing errors. It also tell you structured content errors on FAQs and reviews. However, you should really get an SEO audit if you want to learn exactly what's going on with your SEO.

✅ Will getting green lights in Yoast help rankings?

Not exactly. Yoast only does a good job at detecting keyword usage and there's much more to on-page SEO than this. Try adding FAQ rich snippets, adding an HTML table of contents to long posts, and creating in-depth content with videos. Optimize click-through rates!

✅ Is my Yoast plugin configured correctly?

Check my Yoast configuration tutorial to make sure your Yoast is setup correctly, especially the Search Appearance tab. Don't forget to setup Google Search Console.

See Also: How I Optimized My Site To Load In <1s With 100% GTmetrix Reports

Or: my WordPress SEO Guide is even more helpful than this and includes 101 actionable tips.

Cheers,
Tom

11 Simple Ways To Increase Click-Through Rates (In SEO) By Enhancing Snippets To Stand Out In Google’s Search Results

Search engine snippets are the forefront of your SEO.

Anything you can do to make them stand out will increase click-through rates and get you more SEO traffic. There are plenty of ways to enhance them (some less obvious than others).

I will show you how to get featured in Google’s Answer Box (featured snippets), add rich snippets, AMP Pages, and display your blog post’s publish date to make content look newer. You should follow all 11 steps if you want to significantly increase click-through rates, which can be measured in Google Search Console’s search analytics and for finding low CTR content.

Google uses click-through rates (CTR) as a ranking factor so this can also improve your actual rankings. There have been numerous studies supporting this. I highly recommend identifying lower performing CTR content and rewriting your SEO titles + meta descriptions in Yoast’s bulk editor, which is step 1. Comment if you have questions – it’s worth the time doing this!

A snapshot of just a few things I’ll cover…

Click-through Rates

 

1. Identify Low CTR Content

Go to Google Search Console’s Search Analytics report and turn on the CTR filter. Look for pages with a high position (ranking) but low CTR – this means even though a page ranks high, nobody is clicking your snippet. Improving these snippets can easily result in more traffic. If you recently setup Search Console (using Yoast), wait a few weeks so you have enough data.

Click-Through-Rates-Search-Console

HTML Improvements
You can also use Google Search Console’s HTML Improvements to find SEO titles + meta descriptions that are too short, long, and whether you have duplicates. Be sure to fix these.

HTML-Improvements

Why Aren’t People Clicking?

  • Does the page/post rank high?
  • Does your content match their query?
  • Is your content better than the top results?
  • Does the post show an outdated publish date?
  • Does your Yoast SEO title entice people to click?
  • Does your Yoast meta description entice people to click?
  • Can you add rich snippets to show extra information like review stars?

 

2. Improve SEO Titles/Meta Descriptions In Yoast’s Bulk Editor

Go to Yoast > SEO > Tools > Bulk Editor. Here you can bulk edit SEO titles + meta descriptions without going through each individual page. Rewriting these to sound nicer is literally one of the easiest ways to increase CTRs. You can also fix HTML improvements here (from Search Console). The bulk editor doesn’t show the page’s focus keyword or have the “length bar” that tells you whether your SEO title/meta description is too short or long… so keep that in mind.

Yoast Bulk Editor

 

3. Craft The Perfect SEO Title (In Yoast)

Here’s how I write most headlines…

  1. Research 1 primary keyword
  2. Research 1 secondary keyword
  3. Craft a headline that includes elements of both, and stills sounds good
  4. Google your keyword and mention what makes your content different

I wanted to rank for keywords related to “WordPress Theme Packs” since people who search this are probably willing to drop $400, and as an affiliate I would get about $125 from the sale.

Step 1: Research a primary keyword…

Secondary Keywords

Step 2: Research a secondary keyword which be close to your primary (a synonym)…

Secondary Focus Keyword

Step 3: Craft a headline that includes both but still sounds nice. You do NOT always have to include both keywords as exact matches otherwise you will find yourself turning your headline into a keyword list which looks spammy and results in a low CTR. Try using partial matches…

Headline

Good Headline > Keywords – you do not always have to target 2 keywords… sometimes targeting 1 keyword and writing a creative headline is the better option. The main thing is to Google your keyword and ask why people should click on YOUR link and not everyone else’s. Can you include the fact that you have a video, infographic, or tons of people used your guide?

Some of my highest CTR snippets…

High-Click-Through-Rate-Snippet

Notice how my headline for my W3 Total Cache includes 2018 (because people are looking for the most recent plugin settings, AND because “W3 Total Cache Settings 2018” is a keyword that shows up in Google Autocomplete) and how it’s been used by over 100,000 people? I changed that just recently and that post now has 57% CTR!

Click-Through-Rates

This is called a featured snippet which I’ll cover in step 9

High-CTR-Featured-Snippet

High-CTR-Snippet

High-CTR-Page-Google-Snippet

High-CTR-Search-Engine-Snippet

 

4. Craft The Perfect Meta Description

This is your chance to tell people WHY they should click on your link and no one else’s. Here I say I have a pre-configured zip of my Yoast settings which they can import to their site. Small things like this help. You can edit meta descriptions in Yoast’s snippet editor or the bulk editor.

Yoast Meta Descriptions

Tips On Writing Meta Descriptions

  • Entice people to click on your link (situational to the topic)
  • Include your keyword, and ideally a partial match of a secondary keyword
  • Length should be between 150-160 characters (bar in Yoast should be green)

 

5. Include Dates In Your Snippets

By including a date (year) in the SEO title + meta description of time sensitive articles, you can rank higher for date keywords and increase CTR because people see your tutorial is current.

First, learn if people are searching date keywords…

Time Sensitive Keywords

Then include the date (year) in your SEO title + meta description…

Dates In SEO Titles

 

6. Add Rich Snippets

You’ve probably seen these for reviews, recipes, and other supported data types

Structured Data Review Stars

There are 3 primary ways to do this:

I use WP Rich Snippets when writing reviews, here’s an example of how they look…

wp-rich-snippets-for-wordpress

You can see a side-by-side comparison of WP Rich Snippets vs. All In One Schema on my WordPress rich snippets tutorial but I would definitely use WP Rich Snippets if you have an affiliate or recipe site where they’re a key part of your SEO. You can see my SiteGround GrowBig review to see a preview of WP Rich Snippets which includes more settings, markup options, and tons of add-ons (this and the nicer design are the main benefits of this plugin).

 

7. Add Publish Dates To Blog Posts

Adding dates to snippets makes your content look new and increases click-through rates…

Publish Date

In your Yoast settings enable ‘date in snippet preview’ under SEO > Search Appearance > Content Types. I only have this enabled for posts since are more time sensitive than pages.

Date In Snippet Preview

Now find the entry meta section of your blog (the part that shows up on the very top of posts) which for me is in the Genesis Simple Edits settings. You’ll want to add post modified date…

Entry Meta

This is what it looks like…

Entry Post Modified Date

Republish Content To Look New – now that dates are in your snippets, you can reset publish dates to current day by editing a post and clicking the update button. Yes, you can go through ALL posts and keep doing this. Just don’t abuse it, I try to only do it when I’m making an update.

Update WordPress Post

 

8. Add AMP Pages

AMP (accelerated mobile pages) are a Google project that make your mobile pages load faster while adding that nice AMP stamp next to your mobile snippets. This will not only increase click-through rates but will also improve mobile speed and potentially your SEO / conversions. Adding AMP Pages effects the design of your mobile site so I suggest trying it out, and if you don’t like it you can uninstall the plugins and revert back to your old, non-AMP mobile pages.

Accelerated Mobile Pages

Yoast AMP

Adding AMP Pages In WordPress

  • Install the AMP plugin (adds the actual AMP pages)
  • Install the Glue For Yoast & AMP (lets you customize the design)
  • Add /amp/ to any page to see how it looks and make sure it works
  • Go to Yoast’s Settings → AMP to change your design and enable custom post types
  • Be sure the tweak your featured image on the top of your pages (see Yoast’s tutorial)

Fixing AMP Errors
Make sure you don’t have AMP errors in Search Console or your AMP stamp won’t show up on these pages. Errors are usually caused by older plugins that are not AMP compatible, for example, AMP doesn’t support JavaScript – so plugins that inject script tags will cause errors.

Accelerated Mobile Pages Google Search Console

 

If you have content that quickly answers a question in paragraph, list, or table format, Google might reward you with a featured snippet. Google ultimately decides who and what shows up in the featured snippet but they will pull an answer from ANY 1st page result. You can influence this by targeting ‘question keywords’ and creating accurate, authority, structured content that is organized with a table of contents and subheadings as described in step 10.

Featured Snippets

If you want these snippets I would DEFINITELY watch Rand Fishkin’s video…

There Are 3 Types Of Featured Snippets:

  • Paragraphs (about 63% of answers)
  • Lists (about 19% of answers)
  • Tables (about 16% of answers)

Tips For Getting Featured Snippets:

  • Target queries that already have an answer box (but do a poor job)
  • Identify question keywords (Keyword Explorer has an answers filter)
  • Be literal with your keywords (eg. use an exact keyword match in your title)
  • You must be on the 1st page of Google to show up in the answers box
  • Make sure your content is as accurate as possible with references/links
  • About 15% of queries have an answer box, there are plenty of opportunities

 

Jump To Links

Once again, Google ultimately determines who gets these. The best thing you can do is create long, structured content with a table of contents, anchored subheadings, and organize your post in a logical way according to the topic. When I say long content (or “authority content”) I mean a solid article usually with 3,000+ words, accurately referenced with links.

Google says this is how you get them…

… ensure that long, multi-topic pages on your site are well-structured and broken into distinct logical sections. Second, ensure that each section has an associated anchor with a descriptive name (i.e., not just “Section 2.1”), and that your page includes a “table of contents” which links to the individual anchors… you won’t see it on the results all the time — only when we think that a link to a section would be highly useful for a particular query.

How To Create A Table Of Contents With Anchored Subheadings
Table Of Contents HTML looks like this…
<ul>
<li><a href=”/your-permalink/#item-one”>Item One</a></li>
<li><a href=”/your-permalink/#item-two”>Item Two</a></li>
<li><a href=”/your-permalink/#item-three”>Item Three</a></li>
</ul>

Each subheading’s HTML should look like this…
<h3 id=”item-one”>Subheading One</h3>
<h3 id=”item-two”>Subheading Two</h3>
<h3 id=”item-three”>Subheading Three</h3>

You should ALWAYS include a TOC when creating longer content.

 

11. Use Descriptive URLs

If your permalinks have this format: http://www.sample.com/?p=123 then you need should change these to be more SEO-friendly. They’re ugly, bad for SEO, and cause low click-through rates. I recommend using the “post name” format in WordPress under Settings > Permalinks…

Post Name Permalink Settings

 

A Few Words From Rand Fishkin About CTRs And SEO

A great video from Rand Fishkin on queries and CTR (best to start at 1:45)…

Video Summary

  • Google uses “average time on site” and “bounce rate” as a ranking factor
  • Attaching a keyword to your brand (StudioPress Genesis Themes) increases rankings
  • Target keywords that bring people who will likely spend a lot of time on your website

I put 110% into these tutorials so I hope you find it helpful. If you have any questions, thoughts, or need help with your click-through rates or SEO, leave a comment and I’ll be glad to help out.

Cheers,
Tom

Yoast SEO Premium Review – Is It Worth $89/Year? (Spoiler: I Wouldn’t Use It If I Didn’t Do WordPress SEO For My Full-Time Job)

As a full-time WordPress SEO blogger, it’s my duty to have Yoast SEO Premium.

If you want an honest Yoast SEO Premium review, it’s not worth $89/year because nothing it does directly improves SEO. The SEO analysis is useless for targeting multiple focus keywords, there are free redirect plugins, and content insights is a poor attempt to measure keyword density which barely matters. Internal linking suggestions are only for people who don’t know their content and social previews just show how your content looks on Facebook + Twitter. Plus, everything in Yoast Premium can be done with Rank Math which is free and less bloated.

I do like how the premium version automatically creates a redirects when I change permalinks (something most other redirect plugins don’t do) but that’s literally the only premium feature I use. Otherwise this premium plugin sits in my WordPress dashboard, barely used, collecting my $89/year while I write this review about how I don’t like Yoast premium. The irony of it all :/

Yoast-SEO-Premium-Review

Yoast-SEO-Premium

 

1. Keyword Optimization

Yoast SEO Premium allows you to set multiple focus keywords (up to 5) but there is a SPECIFIC STRATEGY for doing this. When you Google both keywords, the search results should be nearly identical (same search intent). To optimize for both, your primary keyword should usually be used as an exact match while your secondary keyword should be a partial match. See the example below… the trick is to sprinkle individual words from your secondary phrase in your content (specifically in your page title, Yoast SEO title, and meta description).

Since you will only be using partial matches for your secondary keyword (and Yoast only detects exact keyword matches), many of your bullets will not be green in Yoast’s SEO analysis. This is 100% normal when targeting secondary keywords, so you can ignore them.

Yoast-Multiple-Focus-Keywords

I rank #1 for both keywords using this strategy…

focus-keyword-1

focus-keyword-2

Remember to research both your primary and secondary keyword so you know they’re being searched (using Google Autocomplete) and make sure they aren’t too competitive (using Moz Bar). These are just the most basic strategies for keyword research and I suggest reading my guide on Yoast focus keywords if you want to make sure you’re selecting the best keywords.

Secondary Keywords

Secondary Focus Keyword

Tips On Targeting Multiple Focus Keywords

  • Secondary keywords must be researched (just like your primary)
  • Secondary keywords must have same search intent as the primary keyword
  • Craft your headline, SEO title, meta description to read well and include keywords
  • Partial matches for secondary keywords prevents spammy keyword stuffing
  • Ignore the SEO analysis for secondary keywords since partial matches are used

Conclusion: Yoast’s bullets only turn green when you use exact focus keywords (secondary keywords are usually used as partial matches) so the SEO analysis becomes useless for secondary keywords. It’s good for keeping track of them, not for helping optimize content.

 

2. Preview Of Your Page

Social previews show you how a page/post looks when shared on Facebook and Twitter. Yoast (the free version) allows you to upload custom images (which you will need to create) so your image looks nice when shared on these networks. As long as you’re creating these images and uploading them using Yoast, there is no need to preview the image as it will format just fine.

In the Yoast “Social” settings, enable Facebook and Twitter meta data…

yoast-facebook-meta-data

yoast-twitter-meta-data

When you edit a page or post, scroll down to Yoast and click the “share” option and you’ll see the default image probably doesn’t look good. You will see an option to upload a custom image for Facebook and Twitter – and Yoast will tell you the correct dimensions. Facebook is (1200 x 630px), Twitter is (1024 x 512px). Once you upload these images, it will look much, much nicer.

yoast-social-previews

How it looks when I share this post on Facebook…

facebook-share

Conclusion: as long as you’re uploading custom images to each page/post in Yoast’s social tab (using the “share” icon in the SEO analysis) with the correct dimensions for Facebook (1200 x 630px) and Twitter (1024 x 512px), your content will format perfectly on these social networks. There is no need to preview what the content/image looks like. But if you still want to see a preview, copy that page’s URL and paste it into a Facebook/Twitter status.

 

3. Readability Check

Readabiliy check tells you whether your sentences/paragraphs are too short, long, whether you’re using transition words, and grades you on how “well” you’re writing. Of course you shouldn’t write super long paragraphs with typos, but a tool cannot properly grade you’re writing! I never use it, and don’t find the readability analysis or flesch reading east test helpful.

Yoast-Readability-Analysis

Some features of Yoast premium you can turn on under SEO > General > Features…

Yoast-Premium-Features

 

4. Full Control Over Your Breadcrumbs

If you need a breadcrumb manager plugin, there are plenty out there. Most allow you to do what Yoast premium does, set a primary category for your post and determine the taxonomy.

 

5. No Duplicate Content

Siteliner is the easiest way to find duplicate content and is usually because you’re indexing tags/categories in your Yoast settings (for the most part, I recommend not showing these in search results). Yoast does not actually check for duplicate content – it simply lets you set a canonical URL if you have 2 URLs that show the same content (which most people don’t).

Yoast-Canonical-URL

 

6. Technical Stuff In The Background

With Yoast SEO Premium you can:

  • Edit robots.txt
  • Edit .htaccess files
  • Clean up URLs
  • Generate and update your sitemaps

You used to be able to do most of this with the free version of Yoast SEO, but now they made these a premium feature. For example, you used to be able to control which content is included in your sitemap (pages, posts, categories, tags, etc) but now Yoast makes you pay for it :/

 

7. Automatic Updates And Upgrades

Yoast says

We update the Yoast SEO plugin every 2 weeks. That way you’re sure that your website is optimized for Google’s most recent version of its algorithm.

It is completely ridiculous to think an SEO plugin will keep your website optimized when a new Google updates rolls out. For the most part, Panda/Penguin simply reward websites with high quality content/links. Yoast doesn’t analyze links to your site and (besides telling you your content is too short or has a low readability score) it also can’t say if you’re content is good. Including a video or infographic can make ALL the difference in the world when it comes to on-page SEO, yet Yoast can’t detect these. While I don’t expect any SEO plugin to detect them, it’s a bold statement to say Yoast will protect you from Google updates when clearly, this is false.

 

8. Internal Linking Suggestions

When you edit a post, Yoast Premium will show internal link suggestions on the right of the dashboard. I never use this and insert all my links manually – I’m not going to inject links just for the sake of SEO – I only use them when my readers need clarification info from a tutorial I’ve written. For this reason, I don’t use it. This feature also consumes CPU which can slow down your website/dashboard since every time you edit a page/post, Yoast pulls suggestions.

Yoast-Internal-Linking

Conclusion: internal links are great for SEO, but don’t inject them if they’re not helpful to readers. Since Yoast will check for relevant internal links each time you edit a page/post, this will increase CPU consumption. I prefer to insert links manually as it’s more personalized.

 

9. Content Insights

Content Insights show you which words you used most on a page. Keyword density barely matters, and Yoast already counts how many times you used your focus keyword in the content (the keyword density part of the SEO analysis), so why would you need this? You don’t.

Yoast-SEO-Metabox-Insights

Conclusion: do you really need to know which words you used most on a page? Keyword density barely matters and you will probably naturally talk about your topic (keyword).

 

10. Redirect Manager

Yoast SEO Premium comes with a redirect manager so you can fix crawl errors (broken URLs caused by changing permalinks, deleting pages, etc). Many websites often have 100s of these.

Instructions

  1. Verify Google Search Console with Yoast under SEO → General → Webmaster Tools
  2. Authenticate Yoast with Google Search Console under SEO → Search Console
  3. Wait a few days for the data to populate (full population often takes several weeks)
  4. Fix all crawl errors in the Search Console section using Yoast’s redirect manager

yoast-crawl-errors

yoast-redirect-manager

Redirect Types – 301 (permanent) redirect is the default, but Yoast has other options too:

yoast-redirect-types

Automatic Redirects – If you change permalinks, Yoast will now automatically create a redirect which is hands-down the best feature of the redirect manager. This does not work if you launch a new website with new permalinks, just when you change them in your dashboard.

yoast-automatic-redirect

Import Existing Redirects – if you already setup redirects through the Redirection Plugin or .htaccess, you can import these into Yoast. For the Redirection Plugin you will see an option under SEO → Tools → Import/Export → Import From Other SEO Plugins. then select the “Important From Redirection” (see below). For .htaccess follow Yoast’s redirect instructions.

yoast-redirection-import

Yoast Redirect Manager vs. Free Redirect Plugin
If you’re just looking for a simple way to fix crawl errors, you can use the free Quick Page/Post Redirect Plugin. Yoast only allows you to create 1 redirect at a time while this free plugin allows 3. This can save you save a lot of time especially if you have hundreds of crawl errors.

301 Redirect Example

Conclusion: there are plenty of free redirect plugins out there, like the Quick Page/Post Redirect plugin that is easy and does a fantastic job. The only major benefit of Yoast’s, is that if you change a page’s permalink, they will automatically create a redirect to the new URL. But if you need to setup a lot of them, Yoast’s redirect manager only lets you do 1 at a time.

Redirect Manager Pros

  • Allows you to import redirects from Redirection Plugin and .htaccess
  • Comes with multiple redirect options: 301 (default), 302, 307, 410, 451

Redirect Manager Cons

  • Existing redirects from other plugins must be added manually
  • You can only setup 1 redirect at a time
  • If you have to import redirects manually, you get a notification every time you add a redirect (gets annoying)

 

11. Focus Keyword Export

Gives you an extra option in the Yoast settings (Tools > Import and Export) to export all your focus keywords, each page’s SEO/readability score, and some additional SEO information.

Yoast-Export-Focus-Keywords

Conclusion: if you’re doing an SEO audit and want to review your entire keyword list, this can save time. Otherwise you can simply go through each page and review it’s keyword(s).

 

12. 1 Year Free Access To 24/7 Support

Conclusion: I admit to never having used Yoast’s premium support, but have heard mixed opinions and that many times, they just refer you to tutorials they’ve written. They won’t configure the plugin for you or review your website – these are all paid services they offer. But if you need a tutorial that breaks Yoast down into the 3 major steps (configuring the settings, researching focus keywords, content optimization), I have a solid tutorial for that.

 

Conclusion – You Might Want It, But Don’t Need It

Installing any SEO plugin won’t automatically improve your SEO – this is the same with Yoast SEO premium. Yes, it gives you extra features, but will you actually use them??? Besides their redirect manager (which I can easily use another redirect plugin for), I don’t. Most people do not get the fundamentals of SEO down, so instead of thinking about extra features, focus on what actually matters. Below are the 3 major steps to properly using Yoast’s FREE SEO plugin.

  1. Configure Yoast’s settings
  2. Research keywords
  3. Content optimization

My Yoast tutorial walks you through all this, and you don’t need the premium version to do it. It has 500+ comments and has been used by 150,000+ people – I would definitely read it.

 

23. Frequently Asked Questions

🚦 Is Yoast SEO Premium worth it?

No, it is not. The multiple focus keywords feature is pretty much useless, redirects can be setup using free redirect plugins, and nothing in Yoast Premium directly improves your SEO. It's not worth $89/year. I only have it because I write SEO reviews/guides for a living.

🚦 Is the multiple keywords options helpful?

No, it's not helpful because secondary keywords are usually used as partial matches and Yoast won't detect these, so the SEO analysis becomes useless for secondary keywords.

🚦 Can redirects be setup using a free plugin?

They sure can. Redirection or Quick Page/Post Redirect are two (free) plugins that can be used to setup redirects, or use .htaccess so you don't even need a plugin.

🚦 Does Yoast Premium keep your site updated for Google's algorithm?

Not in the least. It's crazy they make this claim because Yoast has nothing to do with the quality of your links, thin content, or even selecting good keywords. There are many factors in Google's updates and to think Yoast somehow protects you from these updates is entirely untrue. This claim by Yoast is false.

🚦 Is the internal linking feature useful?

I have Yoast Premium (only because I write reviews for a living) and don't use their internal linking feature. As long as you remember to add internal links to your content (which you should anyway), counting internal links on every single post is a little obsessive.

🚦 Is Yoast's premium support good?

They not will review, login, or help you optimize your site. They will mainly just refer you to tutorials they have written. I wouldn't buy Yoast Premium for that, or at all.

Do you agree? Let me know if you have questions :)

Cheers,
Tom

The 15 Most Important WordPress Plugins For SEO, Speed Optimization, Backups, Security And Website Optimization

WordPress Plugins

Obsessed with WordPress plugins like me?

Here’s a list of plugins for SEO, speed optimization, design, security, backups, and other plugins for optimizing your site. I use all these on my own WordPress site and they all have a 4+ star rating. I wrote tutorials on many of them including how to configure the Yoast settings, optimizing content with Yoast, and configuring W3 Total Cache to improve load times. Most tutorials have tons of comments as many people have found them helpful – I hope you do too.

All these plugins are lightweight as I’m also obsessed with WordPress speed optimization. I use nearly every plugin in this list and my site still loads in under 1 second in Pingdom. Still, if you don’t use plugins at certain times and only need them once in a while, it’s a good idea to delete it, then only reactivate it when needed. Here’s my list of important WordPress plugins:

  1. Yoast SEO
  2. W3 Total Cache
  3. All In One Schema.org Rich Snippets
  4. Imagify
  5. iThemes Security
  6. UpdraftPlus
  7. P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler)
  8. Quick Page/Post Redirect
  9. Anti-Spam
  10. Widget Logic
  11. TinyMCE Advanced
  12. Google Analytics
  13. TablePress
  14. Broken Link Checker
  15. Heartbeat Control

 
While there are 15 plugins in this post, the top 10 are listed here:

top-10-wordpress-plugins-infographic

 

1. Yoast SEO

I know most of you already have Yoast, but you probably have not configured the proper settings, researched the best focus keywords, or optimized content to it’s full potential. Use my guides below to sharpen your skills and start ranking pages/posts higher in search engines.

Configure the Yoast Settings – fill out your business information, configure Google Search Console and other Webmaster Tools, set the ideally structure of your SEO titles, prevent duplicate content in your sitemap, fix broken pages (crawl errors), and tweak all your Yoast settings to be optimal for SEO. My Yoast settings tutorial has been used by 50,000+ people.

Yoast General Settings

Researching focus keywords – use Google Autocomplete and Moz Keyword Explorer (the two best keyword research tools in my opinion) to build a list of long-tail keywords and make sure you don’t miss out on ANY phrases. Google each keyword using the MozBar Google Chrome Extension to learn the competition of each keywords. Use that data to filter out competitive phrases, leaving you with high-opportunity keywords you should be able to get on page 1 for.

Google Autocomplete Keywords

moz-keyword-explorer-research

Content / Green Light Optimization – people obsessed with getting green lights in Yoast don’t fully understand the big picture of content optimization. Yoast only detects exact keyword matches so green lights are not always possible, plus there are TONS of ways to optimize content outside of Yoast (videos, rich snippets, adding a table of contents, and more). Use that tutorial to get ideas for optimizing YOUR content instead of obsessing over Yoast green lights.

Yoast Content Analysis SEO

Yoast Extensions

 

2. W3 Total Cache

The most popular tutorial on my site is my recommended W3 Total Cache settings which has helped multiple people reduce their page load time to under 1 second (read the comments). It includes a pre-configured zip file you can upload directly to your own W3 Total Cache plugin.

This is one of the best cache plugins out there and will improve your speed scores in tools like GTmetrix and Google PageSpeed Insights. However just like Yoast, many people don’t configure the settings properly. Use my tutorial to configure the difference “performance” tabs on the left of your dashboard W3 Total Cache is installed. This plugin integrates with Cloudflare (free) and MaxCDN ($6.75/month with my 25% off MaxCDN coupon) which you can use the Cloudflare and MaxCDN section in my tutorial to further improve your load times. When you’re done configuring W3 Total Cache (and hopefully read my entire WordPress speed optimization guide), hopefully your GTmetrix scores will look something like this…

GTmetrix WordPress Speed Report

 

3. All In One Schema.org Rich Snippets

Adds rich snippets to your WordPress site which helps you stand out in search engines by adding “extra information” to snippets in the form of review stars, recipe information, events, and other supported data. You can do this using the All In One Schema.org Rich Snippets Plugin (free but very minimal and has many limitations) or the WP Rich Snippets Plugin (premium and has way more features). This improves click-through rates and traffic so if you haven’t done this yet, read my guides on those plugins which shows you how to add them.

rich-snippets-markup

 

4. Imagify

Losslessly compress images to load faster (in bulk). Imagify is free until you hit a monthly quota of 25MB per month or it’s $4.99/month for 1GB (which you can usually use one-time for all existing images during the first month, cancel, then just use the free account). This plugin is MUCH better than other completely free plugins since these can often break images, not actually compress them, or they can have bugs. With Imagify you just sign up, install the plugin, enter your API in the settings, go to your “media” section to bulk optimize all your images.

imagify-wordpress-image-optimization

 

5. iThemes Security

You probably heard iThemes, WordFence, and Sucuri are 3 of the top security plugins for WordPress. I like iThemes Security because you can run the 1 click security check and go down a simple checklist of vulnerabilities. Click the “fix it” button and each should be pretty easy.

ithemes-security-plugin

 

6. UpdraftPlus

UpdraftPlus lets you take backups manually or automatically. It has a 5 star review and is very easy to use and configure the settings. Don’t be the person who loses their website because you didn’t take a backup. UpdraftPlus could save you from losing hundreds of hours of work.

UpdraftPlus Backup

 

7. P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler)

Diagnose slow loading WordPress plugins hurting your site speed so you can delete them or find alternative, lightweight plugins. Too many plugins (or just 1 large plugin) can kill your site speed. I also like to run the P3 Plugin whenever I install a new plugin to see how it affects my load time. If you haven’t run P3 before and have a lot of slow plugins, you will need to research alternative plugins that are lightweight but provide the same functionality as the old plugin.

P3 Performence Profiler

 

8. Quick Page/Post Redirect

If you publish a page/post and change it’s URL (permalink), you need to setup a 301 redirect to direct the old URL to the new URL. Otherwise it will become a 404 page and you will lose any links that used to point to that page. You can either do this using Quick Page/Post Redirect (the free method which I will show you) or the premium version of Yoast which is $69/year.

To find these crawl errors on your website, you will first need to setup Google Search Console in the “Webmaster Tools” section in Yoast using the HTML verification option. Then go to Yoast’s “Search Console” and authenticate Yoast with Search Console. You should see all your crawl errors. If you just setup Search Console it will take a few days for the data to populate.

Yoast-Google-Search-Console

To setup a 301 redirect using Quick Page/Post Redirect, install the plugin then go to Quick Redirects –> Quick Redirects in your WordPress dashboard. Enter the old broken URL shown in Yoast, then the new URL of the (most relevant page on your site) you want it redirected to…

301 Redirect Example

 

9. Anti-Spam

I’ve tested numerous anti-spam plugins and this one is the easiest to setup since you just install it. More importantly, it works. Install it and watch your spam comments go away.

anti-spam-plugin

 

10. Widget Logic

Lets you control which widgets show up on different pages, posts, categories, and archived pages. This helps you show the most relevant content in your widgets depending on what type of content your reader is viewing. Once installed, you will see a “widget logic” section at the bottom of each widget where you will enter a conditional tag to control where it appears.

widget-logic

 

11. TinyMCE Advanced

Want more editing options in your visual editor? This nifty WordPress plugin adds additional features to your editor so you can further customize your content and make it look nice.

tinymce-advanced

 

12. Google Analytics

While it’s always best to insert your Google Analytics tracking code manually into your footer, you can use this plugin to verify Google Analytics on your WordPress site. Just copy your UA code from Google Analytics and paste it into the plugin under Settings –> Google Analytics. Wait a couple days for activation, then head over to your Google Analytics account to get data.

You can download these free custom Google Analytics dashboards to segment traffic from SEO, social media, mobile, referral traffic, and other helpful data on your visitors. While there is tons of data in Google Analytics the first thing you should do is look at your low performing pages (pages with low avg. time on page + high bounce rates) and improve content on those.

At Glance - Google Analytics dashboard

 

13. TablePress

Use this 5 star review plugin to create tables on your WordPress site. The CSS and styling can be completely customized to match the colors/branding of your WordPress site. This specific table show you why you shouldn’t remove stop words in Yoast because it can make your permalinks look weird. The plugin adds a “TablePress” option to your main dashboard tab on the left, you would create the table, then you will use a shortcode to add the table anywhere.

tablepress-wordpress-plugin

 

This plugin should ONLY be used every couple months to run a scan of your broken links. Otherwise it will use a ton of server resources and can cause your website to run slow (which is why this plugin is banned from hosts like Godaddy). However if you can run this plugin once every so often, fix your broken links immediately, then delete it, there shouldn’t be an issue. It is the best plugin for this and makes it very easy to fix broken links directly in it’s interface.

Once you installed the plugin it will immediately scan for broken links. Let it run and populate for a few minutes, then head over to Tools –> Broken Links to find a list of broken links on your site. Go through each one and you can choose to fix the link, unlink it, or dismiss it. Like I said you can fix all broken links in this dashboard without having to go through each page/post.

broken-link-checker-plugin

 

15. Heartbeat Control

Leaving the WordPress dashboard up for long periods of time can slow down your website and suck up server resources from your host (potentially causing CPU overages). Heartbeat control lets you to manage the frequency of the WordPress heartbeat API which prevents this. You can change the frequency to 15-60 seconds, or disable it completely. Once installed go to Settings –> Heartbeat Control and change override heartbeat frequency to 60 seconds.

WordPress Heartbeat Control

 

See Also:

Genesis Framework Plugins – if you’re using the Genesis Framework by StudioPress and are looking for Genesis plugins for customizing your site (outside of the non-Genesis ones I just listed) I created a separate list. It includes some StudioPress plugins but also a few others.

These are all important WordPress plugins and I’ve modified this list several times so it continues to serve as a solid resource. If you found it useful, please share it. I appreciate it :)

Cheers,
Tom

Why You Should NOT Always Remove Stop Words From URLs (Hint: When You Let Yoast Remove These, It Makes Your URLs Read Funny)

If you’re considering removing stop words from your URLs to make them look cleaner, please DO NOT enable this as the default option in your permalink settings.

Stop Words are words like the, a, is, with… and other short words which some people omit because they think it makes their URLs shorter and cleaner. But that’s not always the case…

Removing stop words can actually hurt your SEO because it can make your URLs read differently. For example, /growing-up-with-hearing-loss/ is NOT the same thing as /growing-hearing-loss/ (the version where stop words are removed). You can remove these manually if it actually sounds better, but you should assess this on a page-by-page basis.

Stop words might not always cause URLs to read differently, but they definitely can. I just finished going through 300 URLs on a website which had stop words removed via Yoast’s WordPress SEO Plugin (they changed their permalink structure so they hired me to add redirects). 100 of them didn’t read well so I changed their new permalinks to include them.

Here are just a few examples of how stop words can butcher URLs…

stop-words

Obviously the URLs read much nicer with  stop words. Especially if the URL is going to be short anyway (/what-is-hearing-loss/) it simply doesn’t make sense to remove these.

 

How To Prevent Stop Words From Being Removed

Most SEO tools like Yoast’s WordPress SEO Plugin have an option to “remove stop words from slugs” in the permalink settings. In Yoast you can find this under SEO –> Advanced –> Permalinks. Then look under “clean up permalinks.” Here’s what it looks like in Yoast…

Stop Words SEO

That’s all you need to know! You can find other permalink structure tips here otherwise leave me a comment if you have any questions. Hope this was helpful!

Cheers,

Tom Signature