SEO Blogging

Yoast SEO 17.1: an update on page titles

One of our core philosophies is keeping you and your site up to date with the latest changes in Google’s inner workings and policies. These last couple of weeks saw an interesting new development, with Google rewriting many titles in the SERPs. In Yoast SEO 17.1, we are making a couple of small changes that help you write great titles that stand up to Google’s scrutiny. Another cool thing is a product-specific SEO and readability analysis in WooCommerce SEO 14.4.

Yoast SEO 17.1: Keeping up with changes in search and SERPs

For years, Google has been changing stuff in the search engines results pages if it thinks it can write a better description of your content. Now, Google started to rewrite titles much more aggressively, and the results vary. Still, millions of homepages out there have a page title of ‘Home’ or a contact form that says ‘Contact’ and that’s not good enough. Google does great work writing proper titles for pages like these.

In Yoast SEO, we offer tools to help you write a great page title (the ) as well as an SEO title (the ). We even have an assessment that checks if your title contains your focus keyphrase and whatnot. In addition, the assessment checks whether your title fits within a certain range — if it’s too short, you’ll get a red bullet. In Yoast SEO 17.1, we’re changing the title assessment.

Google changes titles, we change the title assessment

In Yoast SEO 17.1, we still check your titles, but we won’t penalize you if it’s too short. Shorter titles are theoretically less likely to be changed by Google, as they’re more precise and concise. They’re more focused and contain fewer superlatives, for instance. We’re not saying that you should write shorter titles, though, but we’re giving you the option.

As of today, we give you more control over your titles — whether they are short or long. Although, we’re not changing the upper limits yet. Of course, we can’t control what Google does with — or to? — your title, so it’s up to you to write a title that clearly describes the page in the best possible way.

If you are worried about how your titles might look you need to analyze the changes in the SERPs. You don’t have to check every page you have, but you need to check up on your most important ones. Search Google to see how they appear and if Google rewrote stuff. Check your analytics to see if there was a drop in CTR to those pages. And, of course, keep crafting remarkable page titles that stand the test of time — and that Google recognizes as such.

The second change is in the title separators. We’ve removed the | and ~ from the title separator settings because Google seems to change these to — in the SERP titles actively. If you want, you can pick another separator.

While we were at it, we also ensured that our Google Preview closely mimics the latest visuals in the search results. This gives you the most up-to-date view of how your post might look in Google — barring Google’s rewriting efforts, of course.

More enhancements in Yoast SEO 17.1

Yoast SEO 17.1 comes with more enhancements, of course. We’ve improved the filtering of function words in Dutch, English, Indonesian, Russian, and Spanish on the language front by including time-related words like ‘minute.’

Looking at performance optimizations, we have made the process of saving posts faster by excluding unchanged items. This is very noticeable on posts with many links. Finally, we now no longer show the SEO Optimization notification on non-production sites, as this is not very useful in that situation.

WooCommerce SEO 14.4: an analysis focussed on products

Today, our WooCommerce SEO plugin also gets a big upgrade. In WooCommerce 14.4, we’ve updated the SEO and readability analysis making it product-specific. We’ve added a couple of new checks, changed the ranges of several of the existing ones, and made sure that they all made sense to use on product pages.

For instance, there’s a new list check to see if you’ve used a list on your product pages — as lists are essential tools to convey information about your products. We’ve updated the images check to see if you’ve added enough images and videos, while also checking if they have proper alt text. Many ranges of the checks have changed as well, so you don’t need to write 900 words for your product pages to have a green bullet. These are just a couple of the changes in WooCommerce 14.4.

Read up on all the cool new stuff in WooCommerce SEO 14.4 and use it to make the best possible product pages out there!

Improving your product descriptions in WooCommerce SEO

Update now!

Yoast SEO 17.1 is out today. In this release, we fine-tuned some things based on a couple of recent changes at Google. We’ve also worked on the performance, and we’ve added a couple of language enhancements. If that’s not all, we gave our WooCommerce SEO plugin an updated, product-specific version of the analyses to help you build better product pages.

The post Yoast SEO 17.1: an update on page titles appeared first on Yoast.

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SEO Blogging

How to add your website to Google Search Console

Google Search Console is a must-have tool for all site owners as it gives you an incredible amount of information about how your site is doing in search. We strongly advise you to add your website to Google Search Console to fully benefit from all the insights. Yoast SEO can help you verify your site so you can make the most of it. It only takes a couple of steps to connect your site to Google Search Console with a little help from Yoast SEO. Let’s see how that works!

What is Search Console and why should you use it?

Google’s free tool Search Console gives site owners loads of tools to check how their site performs. Not only does it show how your site is doing under the hood, but also how searchers see your site in the search results. You’ll get information on keywords and queries that bring traffic, find out which rich results your content has earned, and discover how your mobile site is doing. Also, you can check if Google can access your content. In short, use it! Here’s our beginner’s guide to Google Search Console to get you started.

How to verify your site in Google Search Console with Yoast SEO

It is straightforward to add your website to Google Search Console — it just takes a couple of steps. Here, we’ll guide you through the process. First, you need to have a Google Search Console account. Don’t have an account? Sign up now for Google Search Console. Once you’ve done that, you can follow the steps below:

Go to Google Search Console. Login or click ‘Start Now’, if needed.

Click ‘Add a property’ under the search drop-down.You can add up to 1000 properties to your Google Search Console account.

Select property type, enter your website URL, and click ‘Continue’.Which option you pick is up to you. The Domain option is more flexible, but harder to verify as it needs to do that with DNS. In this example, we use the URL prefix option. Please make sure you enter your complete URL. For example, if your site is it needs to be that exact URL. Don’t forget the / at the end of the URL. If your site uses WWW or HTTP you need to add properties for those as well. Google provides multiple ways of getting your site verified and they even suggest adding multiple ways because of security. If you are not sure what your site has, please speak with your host provider.

Click the arrow next to ‘HTML tag’ to expand the option.There are several ways to verify your site, but we’ve made it easy for you. We only need to get the authorization code so we can paste it in Yoast SEO.

Copy the meta tag.Highlight the entire meta tag code. Right-click on the highlighted tag and click on ‘Copy’ or use the copy shortcuts ctrl-c on Windows or cmd-c on Mac. We only need the long line of characters inside the content part to add your site to Google Search Console.

Log in to your WordPress websiteWhen you’re logged in, you will be in your ‘Dashboard’.

Click on ‘SEO’ > ‘General’.On the left-hand side, you will see a menu. In that menu, click on ‘SEO’. After that, click on ‘General’ for additional options.

Click on the ‘Webmaster Tools’ tab.This page has all the fields to pass the verification codes for the various webmaster tools from Baidu, Google, Yandex and Bing.

Paste the code in the Google field.You only have to put in the range of random letters and numbers. After filling in the code, hit the ‘Save changes’ button.

Go back to Google Search Console and click ‘Verify’.Congratulations! You’ve connected your website to Google Search Console! Now that you’ve verified and linked your site, you can submit your sitemap. Not to mention all the other cool stuff that’s Search Console capable of!

It’s easy to connect your website to Google Search Console

We’ve made it very easy to connect your site to Search Console, and we strongly recommend you do so. Search Console gives you a wealth of information on the performance of your site. Not only does it show you what goes right, but, more importantly, what goes wrong. The advice you get is very actionable, and most things are easy to follow up on.

PS: How to check your verification tag in Search Console

If you need to check your verification, you can do so easily by following the steps below:

1. Go to the top-left and select your domain

2. Select Settings in the menu bar. After that, click on Ownership Verification

3. Click on HTML Tag and see if the verification tag matches.

Use it to your advantage

Once you’ve got this all figured out, your Google Search Console should be primed and ready to go! Google Search Console is a must-have tool for all site owners as it gives you an incredible amount of information about how your site is doing in search. We strongly advise you to connect your website to Google Search Console to fully benefit from all the insights. For more help fixing your site, Yoast SEO Premium comes highly recommended.

Buy Yoast SEO Premium now!

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The post How to add your website to Google Search Console appeared first on Yoast.

SEO Blogging

Will Google Remove a Google Maps Review After the Owner of the GMB Page Replied to It?

Yes, Google may remove Google Maps reviews that the owner/admin of a Google My Business page wrote a public reply to.   Responding to a review doesn’t seem to validate it in Google’s view, as in, “Well, if business owner replied to it, it must be legit.”  Your response to a review doesn’t fossilize that review for eternity.

Every now and then a client gets a bad review from a non-customer, a real customer with a bogus or irrelevant complaint, a slimy competitor, or another  questionable source, and the question I get is: “Should I report the review to Google or should I reply to it?”  If you’re wondering the same thing, I’d say you should do both.  Report the review and reply to it in a circumspect way (if you think you’re better off with a response up for all to see).

In the past I’ve suggested first trying to get a bogus or irrelevant review removed, and then replying to it only if Google doesn’t take it down (which is what happens more often than not).

But recently Google has removed a few reviews that (a) the owner of the Google My Business page replied to and that (b) I flagged for removal.  In those cases it took a couple of months, but it was still a good outcome.  Here’s an example of what that looks like when it works out.

WILL Google remove every review you report?    No – not even close.  What hurts your business doesn’t hurt Google’s business.   For the same reason that Google didn’t auto-filter the review right out of the chute, the chances are high that Google doesn’t consider the review unfair enough to remove it manually after your reporting it.

What does all of that boil down to?  Two things:

You can go ahead and flag reviews that you already replied to. Of course, one possible danger is that the reviewer writes you another, angrier (or more bogus) review on Google Maps or elsewhere (or both).  In general, I’d say that’s an acceptable risk. You can reply to damaging reviews even if you’ve already flagged them. You’re not making the review stick by responding to it. Does your response tip the scales at all, so that the review is more likely to stay put?  That I do not know.  I know only that Google may remove a review that’s been replied to.

How much success have you had any in getting Google to remove reviews of your business that you replied to?

How about reviews of other people’s GMB pages – reviews that they replied to and that you reported?

Any tips?

Leave a comment!

P.S. Do you know of anyone who’s already written on this (so I can give any due credit)?