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WordPress robots.txt: Best-practice example for SEO

Your robots.txt file is a powerful tool when you’re working on a website’s SEO – but it should be handled with care. It allows you to deny search engines access to different files and folders, but often that’s not the best way to optimize your site. Here, we’ll explain how we think webmasters should use their robots.txt file, and propose a ‘best practice’ approach suitable for most websites.

You’ll find a robots.txt example that works for the vast majority of WordPress websites further down this page. If want to know more about how your robots.txt file works, you can read our ultimate guide to robots.txt.

What does “best practice” look like?

Search engines continually improve the way in which they crawl the web and index content. That means what used to be best practice a few years ago doesn’t work anymore, or, may even harm your site.

Today, best practice means relying on your robots.txt file as little as possible. In fact, it’s only really necessary to block URLs in your robots.txt file when you have complex technical challenges (e.g., a large eCommerce website with faceted navigation), or when there’s no other option.

Blocking URLs via robots.txt is a ‘brute force’ approach, and can cause more problems than it solves.

For most WordPress sites, the following example is best practice:

# This space intentionally left blank
# If you want to learn about why our robots.txt looks like this, read this post: https://yoa.st/robots-txt
User-agent: *

We even use this approach in our own robots.txt file.

What does this code do?

  • The User-agent: * instruction states that any following instructions apply to all crawlers.
  • Because we don’t provide any further instructions, we’re saying “all crawlers can freely crawl this site without restriction”.
  • We also provide some information for humans looking at the file (linking to this very page), so that they understand why the file is ’empty’.

If you have to disallow URLs

If you want to prevent search engines from crawling or indexing certain parts of your WordPress site, it’s almost always better to do so by adding meta robots tags or robots HTTP headers.

Our ultimate guide to meta robots tags explains how you can manage crawling and indexing ‘the right way’, and our Yoast SEO plugin provides the tools to help you implement those tags on your pages.

If your site has crawling or indexing challenges that can’t be fixed via meta robots tags or HTTP headers, or if you need to prevent crawler access for other reasons, you should read our ultimate guide to robots.txt.

Note that WordPress and Yoast SEO already automatically prevent indexing of some sensitive files and URLs, like your WordPress admin area (via an x-robots HTTP header).

Why is this ‘minimalism’ best practice?

Robots.txt creates dead ends

Before you can compete for visibility in the search results, search engines need to discover, crawl and index your pages. If you’ve blocked certain URLs via robots.txt, search engines can no longer crawl through those pages to discover others. That might mean that key pages don’t get discovered.

Robots.txt denies links their value

One of the basic rules of SEO is that links from other pages can influence your performance. If a URL is blocked, not only won’t search engines crawl it, but they also might not distribute any ‘link value’ pointing to that URL to, or through that URL to other pages on the site.

Google fully renders your site

People used to block access to CSS and JavaScript files in order to keep search engines focused on those all-important content pages.

Nowadays, Google fetches all of your styling and JavaScript and renders your pages completely. Understanding your page’s layout and presentation is a key part of how it evaluates quality. So Google doesn’t like it at all when you deny it access to your CSS or JavaScript files.

Previous best practice of blocking access to your wp-includes directory and your plugins directory via robots.txt is no longer valid, which is why we worked with WordPress to remove the default disallow rule for wp-includes in version 4.0.

Many WordPress themes also use asynchronous JavaScript requests – so-called AJAX – to add content to web pages. WordPress used to block Google from this by default, but we fixed this in WordPress 4.4.

You (usually) don’t need to link to your sitemap

The robots.txt standard supports adding a link to your XML sitemap(s) to the file. This helps search engines to discover the location and contents of your site.

We’ve always felt that this was redundant; you should already by adding your sitemap to your Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools accounts in order to access analytics and performance data. If you’ve done that, then you don’t need the reference in your robots.txt file.

Read more: Preventing your site from being indexed: the right way »

The post WordPress robots.txt: Best-practice example for SEO appeared first on Yoast.

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How to Write Product Descriptions That Convert

Looking for actionable information about how to write effective product descriptions?

You’ve come to the right place.

In this 4,000+ word product description guide, we’ll take a look at:

What Is A Product Description?

A product description is the most important, high-touch marketing copy that helps your website visitors understand whether a product is for them and will influence the outcome of their purchasing decision. This is the perfect opportunity for you to showcase who the product is for and who it isn’t by not only presenting features but also the benefits, in such a way that it will compel your ideal customers to make a purchase.

Sadly, product descriptions are often overlooked and kept very simple or stuffed with generic blocks of text that just describe a product and not only harm your reputation but also affect your website’s ability to rank for a particular keyword.

The great thing is you can do something about it.

While we can’t promise that this guide will help you write the perfect product description for your eCommerce website every single time or your clients’ eCommerce websites, it certainly the best place to start. The truth is that you’ll only learn by actually putting everything in this guide into practice – so make sure all your reading doesn’t go to waste.

The Step-by-Step Process of Writing A Great Product Description

Before we dive into some examples, let’s take a look at what we’ve learned by taking a look at some of the most successful eCommerce stores in the world.

1. Put Yourself in Your Ideal Buyer’s Position

If you would be on the fence, what would you want from a product description?

The best advice that anyone will be able to give you without knowing your situation or saying “it depends”, is to put yourself in your customers’ shoes and ask yourself the following what would I want to know if I’ve never heard of [BRAND] and [PRODUCT]?

2. Focus on Benefits Not Features

Describing your product to your website visitors as if they’re already 100% sold and just want to know more about your product will not result in an effective product description.

Most, if not all, won’t be certain that they need your product once they land on a sales page so you need to make use of the product description as an opportunity to showcase why people need your products, by presenting benefits, not features.

Features:

  • Noise Removal
  • Chatbot integration
  • Built-in pockets

Benefits:

  • Speak without the noise – be heard by call participants. Remove all background noise.
  • Automatically responds to your customers’ questions (and actually sounds like a real human)
  • Safely stores your phone, keys, and credit cards while you run

Notice the difference? Not only does talking about the benefits of a product make it easier for potential customers to see the value, but it’s also far less generic and boring than just listing everything that’s included with your product. Although being fully transparent about what’s included should always be a priority, so sacrificing that is not an option.

3. Use Social Proof to Your Advantage

If you were about to purchase a product, wouldn’t know that you’re in the good company put you at ease?

Never fake social proof. 

Not only is this highly unethical, but it’s also extremely unprofessional. If you don’t have people happily using your products, don’t mislead people into purchasing them by making it look like you do.

If people haven’t given you direct feedback in the form of testimonials there are still alternative ways to improve the credibility of your product pages. One of which is the popular “as seen on” or “already with us” section that is common on a lot of websites.

You’ve seen it before, almost every website has it.

Knowing you’re in good hands makes you comfortable.

rank-math-homepage-social-proof

The use of social proof on the Rank Math homepage

No surprises here, the lemlist homepage also has it.

lemlist-homepage-social-proof

The use of social proof on the Lemlist homepage

And so do thousands of other successful, highly-converting websites.

kali-forms-social-proof

The use of social proof on the Kali Forms pricing page.

contentking-social-proof

And one final example of social proof on the ContentKing pricing page.

Another slightly different approach is case studies. No, I’m not talking about the kind of SEO case studies you’ll find here on Gotch SEO. To support and add to your product descriptions being able to showcase how you’ve been able to help current customers, just like Servebolt does is another great, and perhaps even more effective, way of incorporating social proof on your website.

servebolt-mythemeshop-case-study

As for how this ties into product descriptions, I would personally recommend writing a small outtake that includes all of the most important information for each case study. This will allow you to link to the full case study for those who want to learn a lot more about exactly what you did and how it was helpful.

4. Make Your Product Description Easy-to-Follow

Don’t make it hard for your customers to find what really matters to them and make it easier for them to see what you really want them to.

While the content of your product description is important, on its own, it can’t make a huge impact if your page layout makes information hard to read and hard to find.

Poor product pages that likely can’t be considered helpful will have blocks of text, no images and information that hasn’t been arranged in any logical way. Of course, ensuring that your product description’s content is fairly good, but ensuring that it’s structured and organized well is equally important.

5. Leverage Product Data To Acquire Rich Snippets

amazon-review-rich-snippet

As we’ll look at later on in this post. Amazon makes use of structured data –often referred to as Schema markup – to display additional information in search. This can be extremely effective in some cases because it helps your website stand out among the others – increasing the chances that a searcher will click on your result.

rank-math-schema-markup

The Rank Math WordPress SEO plugin is the perfect way to do this. The good news is that whether you’re using their full suite of SEO tools for your WordPress websites or not, you can still leverage their WooCommerce SEO functionality in combination with any other SEO plugin.

If your eCommerce website uses WooCommerce, which is a highly flexible platform for creating complex stores and have installed Rank Math, just head to your product page.

woocommerce-product-page

And then click edit on the specific product that you’d like to edit and scroll down to the meta box and click Rich Snippet. This will then let you enable the Product Rich Snippet to show searchers additional information without them clicking through to your website.

woocommerce-seo-product-snippet-rank-math

Disclosure: I do work with Rank Math but am an avid user of their plugin – and recommended their tools – long before doing anything together.

6. Use Language That Sells: Power Words Not Keywords

While keyword stuffing used to work well on Google back in 2011, (thankfully) those days are over. Google has gotten a lot better at understanding what users actually want (search intent) and catching out people who are trying to game the system.

Here’s what you should focus on instead.

dollar-shave-club-copy-example

Nope, it’s not time to go and shave. This is a screenshot of one of the examples that we’re going to be taking a look at later. They use power words to evoke emotions and develop a connection between their potential customers and their product.

This is the time to let your product shine, don’t just paint the picture by telling a descriptive story, use powerful, convincing and specific words so your customers will understand exactly how good your product is.

7. Use Great Product Images

I’m not going to lie, this isn’t easy to do for physical products especially if you’re on a budget. The good news is that if you’re selling digital products and courses, producing aesthetic and appealing images isn’t actually that difficult. There are so many pieces of photo editing software to choose from and the key is keeping designs simple.

Physical products, on the other hand, are a completely different story. The example of Dollar Shave Club that we’re going to look at later on is a great example.

You want your images to be true to life and realistic but you also want them to look good enough to be on your website. 

product-images-example

How difficult producing images like this really depends on what the product actually is. In any case, images should:

  • Be visually appealing (in terms of color and angle)
  • Be realistic (set reasonable expectations)
  • Be high-resolution – this not only looks more professional but also makes it easier for potential customers to zoom in and see minor details before purchasing
  • Capture the important aspects of your product (effectively portray sizes)

One creative example of this for a clothing brand would be to have the model try all various sizes of a t-shirt or hoodie so that the customers can see how the fit varies as this will help them make a better choice for themselves.

  • Bonus: Templates To Help You Write Better Product Descriptions

Obviously, I must preface the examples below with the fact that they’ve been written for a very general and non-specific course and follow the templates almost exactly. The truth is that you shouldn’t need a template to follow word-for-word, but these are great guidelines when you have no idea where to start and what to include.

Template #1: The “Ideal You” Template

Have you ___________________________? (struggle)

Learn to _______________ (key takeaway to overcome struggle)

without _______________ (pain and/or challenge).

(Product name) ______________

is ______________ (product benefits).

Example:

Have you struggled to grow your SEO agency? Learn how to turn complicated processes into easy, repeatable tasks that you can outsource and scale. Make agency life enjoyable.

Template #2: The “Perfect For” Template

Perfect for ___________________________ (ideal situation),

these _______________ (product name)

can be/will _______________ (tell a quick story).

(Product name) ______________

are ______________ (top features)

to _______________ (product benefits).

No more _____________________ (pain and/or challenge).

Example:

Perfect for stressed-out agency owners, these SOPs will make processes repetitive and easy to outsource. Our in-depth SEO training was built for people just like you with the potential to scale their agency beyond just themselves.

No more selling yourself short or just charging an hourly rate for your expertise.

Template 3: The “I’ve Been In Your Shoes” Template

I created _________________ (your product)

when I was ________________ (describe yourself before you created a solution)

and ______________________ (pain or frustration).

I wanted _____________________ (best case scenario).

That’s why I created _____________________ (product name)

with ___________________ (top features).

Now I _______________________ (product solution)

Example:

I created this in-depth SEO training course for people in the position I was two years ago. Not knowing what to outsource and where to begin. I wanted the ability to take days off without knowing that I’d be falling behind on client work. That’s why I created this set of SOPs to streamline and take the guesswork out of growing your agency. Now you never have to worry about creating your own SOPs for VAs and employees to follow and keeping everyone up-to-date anymore!

Product Description Examples

1. AppSumo

appsumo-product-description-example

AppSumo – originally founded back in March of 2010 by Noah Kagan – is a deals marketplace for digital products and online services. They are extremely well-known for offering lifetime deals on SaaS products or subscription products that you would typically have to pay for every month.

As you might’ve seen if you follow Nathan Gotch on Twitter (@nathangotch) which I highly recommend you do, you’ll know he isn’t a fan of fake scarcity and urgency.

 

The truth is, however, that AppSumo’s model doesn’t rely on fake scarcity because once a deal disappears, it really is gone unless the company decides that they’d like to resurface the deal for a second time. As you’d expect, this use of scarcity is effective. Just like Snapchat, where messages and images are ephemeral the concept just psychologically encourages action and faster purchases.

Urgency and scarcity are now widely used across marketing campaigns to increase engagement and boost conversions simply because it works. I personally (and I’m sure Nathan himself would agree) don’t like the general concept of overusing it and would carefully consider doing something with a client or on my own site that uses scarcity.

That being said, AppSumo is a different case, their business model of negotiating exclusive deals is successful and their website is also a great place to look for inspiration when writing your own product descriptions.

For the purposes of this breakdown, we’ll be taking a look at Krisp – a noise-canceling application that aims to make calling easier and more productive by removing background noise.

appsumo-krisp-example-product-description

In case this is the first time you’ve stumbled across AppSumo – their deal pages are always very conversational. They make use of creative headlines and tell stories that help customers understand when and why you’d need the product.

AppSumo’s Product Description Model:

  1. Set the scene, introduce (or re-introduce) the problem.
  2. Enter [PRODUCT NAME]

Sounds simple enough to replicate, right? Yes, but don’t forget that you still need to give customers all the information that they’re looking for.

So, as you scroll down, the page transitions into an easier-to-digest section that breaks down exactly what you get. This is the section that most people skip to and read.

appsumo-overview-skim-reading-section

And towards the end of the page it again reminds people what they’ll get when they purchase the product and how it helps them as well as diving deeper with a demo video and screenshots showcasing the interface.

2. Apple

apple-homepage

Apple obviously speaks for itself and needs no introduction.

They can also truly be considered a gold standard when it comes to eCommerce websites. Though keep in mind, Apple’s market share and authority in the industry also means that they don’t really need to go through a lot of the effort that your business and eCommerce website will need when it comes to building trust with potential buyers.

Just keep this in mind as we analyze the way that Apple’s product descriptions work – I really don’t want to say the infamous “it depends”, but I suppose it really does when it comes to looking at situations like Apple’s MacBook Pro line-up. Most people already know that they want to purchase the computer once they make it to the product page so it simply becomes a matter of comparing the different models and specifications with their respective prices to make a decision based on the buyer’s specific requirements.

This also contributes to the logic of having a reverse product description, where instead of being taken to a landing page, a user will see the information that is most important to them – also one of the easier decisions to make – the size of the computer you’d like to buy.

macbook-product-page-example

And only then further down on the page are you able to start comparing the base model that you’d like to purchase as is or then customize even further before buying.

product-page-customization-options

This makes sense for Apple, but in most cases won’t for you. Why? Well, easy:

  • Apple doesn’t need to convince you that their products are very well built. Everybody already knows this.
  • Apple doesn’t need to reassure people that their site is secure and people can enter their financial information.
  • Apple also doesn’t need social proof to encourage people to purchase their products.

 

3. Dollar Shave Club

dollar-shave-club-homepage

Dollar Shave Club is an American company based in Venice, California that sells razors and a sorted array of personal grooming products.

Simply put, they’ve got everything you need to look, feel and smell your best.

They’ve not only managed to build an incredibly successful business but also a website that now generates over 450,000 monthly visitors from search per month – with their brand keywords having search volumes that are far past the half a million mark.

ahrefs-dsc-search-volume

I’m sure you get it by now – enough with the introduction already, right?

The product pages and their respective descriptions on the Dollar Shave Club eCommerce website also serve as a great example of how to present a large amount of information in a way that is not only easily digestible but is also laid out in a way that is easy-to-remember and read quickly. All while still making the product interesting and not confusing or making information hard to find for website visitors so they stay on the page instead of bouncing elsewhere to find the information they’re looking for.

dollar-shave-club-website-personalization

So, without further ado – let’s break them down.

dsc-product-page-breakdown

  • Images Galore

The images on the Dollar Shave Club do a great job of showcasing their products in an extremely visually appealing way. As I mentioned earlier in the article, this isn’t easy to do if you are on a budget, however for some products you may be able to avoid the need to produce “real” images and can stick to using mockups as long as they are true to life and portray your product in an appropriate way.

product-description-page-important-elements

  • Just give me the price already

Don’t try to hide any crucial information (such as your product’s price) from people. Show this in an area that is above the fold or give them an easy way to jump further down on a page to the section that shows the breakdown of the price.

Price is inevitably going to be one of the main factors in someone’s decision to buy or not to buy your product so removing it or representing it in a way that makes it difficult for the user and results in bad user experience.

  • Evoke Emotion and Convey Quality with Power Words

Most SEOs writing product descriptions for eCommerce websites aren’t marketers or copywriters which often results in copy that doesn’t do your product justice. Here, I’m referring to the section in the image above labelled with the #3.

Butter up for an effortlessly gentle, delightfully smooth shave. 

Now, be honest with yourself – how does this to compare to:

Buy Our Shave Butter Now For A Better Shaving Experience

While the second one certainly isn’t the worst we’ve seen on the internet, it doesn’t actually describe your product, evoke emotion and help paint a picture in the potential customer’s mind.

*This is not an endorsement of Dollar Shave Club, I have not used their products and do not currently work with them so I cannot comment on the quality. However, given that they have formed a large part of this post, that might change soon 😉

  • Don’t just shove reasons people should get your product in their face – make them want it.

Here, I’m referring to the section in the image above labelled with the #4. Just underneath the introduction to the product that rolls of the tongue and develops an initial connection/interest with the product – people not only see what the product does on its own.

They see what the product can do for them as well as why and how.

Example #1: Helps reduce the occurrence of ingrown hairs

While this isn’t a particularly glamorous thing to talk about in this post, ingrown hairs are an apparent problem. The inclusion of this short bullet point perfectly portrays how the product can benefit people.

Example #2: Helps to fight razor bumps by providing a smoother shave

As for example #1, use your product description as an opportunity to present your product as a solution to your customers’ problem(s).

4. Amazon

amazon-dyson-product-page-example

What is Amazon? If only that question were easy to answer.

Amazon Inc. is considered one of the Big Four technology companies along with, Apple (which we looked at earlier), Facebook and Google. They have multiple business models spanning across eCommerce, cloud computing, digital streaming, artificial intelligence and more.

amazon-serp-preview

There are a few things we notice solely from looking at this search result – mainly the fact that they use the review snippet to enhance their search results.

This has been proven to result in higher click-through rates, simply because it is more visually appealing and stands out from regular/standard search results. Since this is something really easy to configure for your product pages, I highly recommend trying it out using a plugin like Rank Math (the option I recommend) or another plugin dedicated to solely adding structured data like WP Schema which is another popular option.

In describing their product, Amazon also takes this opportunity to showcase other similar products. This can be really useful if you have a number of similar products but each may only be suitable for specific use cases or have certain extra benefits.

amazon-product-page-comparisons

It can also be one of your best opportunities to upsell people to a more expensive product or even order bump them to other products and extra add-ons that they may be interested in.

Aside from all of the profit-driven decisions, there are also other reasons to do this though which makes the entire experience more enjoyable for your customers. Seeing the product that someone is about to purchase compared to another similar product not only gives them the opportunity to make alternative choices but it also helps them reaffirm their decision.

Are you really leading them to make the best decision possible?

For the sake of your own product descriptions, this doesn’t only need to be in the form of a comparison to other similar products or that you offer, it may also be a great opportunity to show people how you stack up against your competitors. After all, for most companies and their products, the decision won’t always come down to choosing from one of their products. More often than not, people will be taking your competition into consideration so use this opportunity (since you already have the attention) to close the deal.

When doing these comparisons there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Do not hate on your competitors, give them the praise they deserve for the features that their product does have
  • Don’t lie – I sure know a few examples of people who flat-out use this as an opportunity to mislead people which they know aren’t going to do their research anyway.
  • Don’t go into so much detail that you lose people’s attention.

Although this is no easy feat, the key is to strike the right balance of SEO and UX. This means you shouldn’t making compromises that sacrifice the user’s experience.

5. Chain Reaction Cycles

chain-reaction-cycle-homepage

For our next example, we’ll be taking a look at Chain Reaction Cycles – an online retailer of cycling goods based in Northern Ireland.

The reason I chose this site is because it is a little bit of a different industry because the products they’re selling are just so different and certain information needs to be presented before cycling enthusiasts or professionals could even consider purchasing from them.

crc-product-description-example

While their website’s design is by no means the most modern out there, they do a great job of presenting technical information in a way that everything is still easy to find.

product-description-important-elements-chain-reaction-cycle

In the second, smaller box (above) labelled with the number two, you’ll see another easy way of incorporating social proof. While displaying reviews on your own site and adding logos in an “as seen on” section is also popular, it’s also easy to fake. Using the Trustpilot review badge makes their exceptional reputation even clearer to customers.

product-description-tabbed-section

Beyond this they also make it easy for customers to jump to other information to answer any questions and doubt they may have before purchasing the product right away.

While, the option to get in touch with support to ask questions should always remain in place, making useful information as easy as possible to access to remove as much friction as possible from the buying experience

Summary: Is Writing Effective Product Descriptions Difficult?

If you’ve been in the SEO industry long enough, you’ll agree that most SEO questions can be answered by really thinking through what it is that the user actually wants.

That’s exactly why this guide has been written to not only help you write better product descriptions for search engines, but also for potential customers. If you’re about to launch an eCommerce store and feel overwhelmed with the amount of small yet important things you need to remember and keep track of, you should read this eCommerce SEO checklist from ContentKing next.

What tips & advice would you share with someone looking to write more effective product descriptions?

Tweet @alexjpanagis or leave a comment below to join the conversation!!

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Yoast SEO Import & Export features

When you’re a web developer or SEO, working with many clients, you probably have a set of settings for Yoast SEO for WordPress that you prefer. You might have a default title template, for instance, default XML sitemap settings, etc. This post will teach you how to easily apply those settings to a site quickly using the Yoast SEO Import and Export features. In addition, you’ll meet a couple of other import and export features in Yoast SEO.

Making a reusable Yoast SEO Export file

Let’s make a reusable settings file! First, pick a site and set it up as you would any site, applying all of your default SEO settings. Then you go to the Yoast SEO Import and Export page (Yoast SEO → Tools → Import and Export). On this page, you’ll find a couple of tabs:

The Tools section has all the import and export tools you need

Click on Export for the first step. After that, click the blue button called Export Your Yoast SEO Settings. You’ll see you settings appear in the text field. Copy the contents of the field to a new plain text file. Filter out any site specific meta data and save the file in a location you can find it again.

In the file, please exclude taxonomy metadata, as you don’t want to include specific category meta descriptions and so forth. This is not really something you wish to apply to every site.

The secret of Yoast SEO Export files

The (not so secret) secret of Yoast SEO Export files is that a simple text file contains everything you need. It’ll look something like this:

All your settings in a plain text file

Each set of options starts with the option name in brackets, like [wpseo] and [wpseo_permalinks] in the example above. The reason you’ll want to edit it is because you want it to be reusable. So you’ll want to remove any and all site specific data, like a company logo & name, verification strings for Bing, Google, Yandex, etc.

Once you’ve made your changes, simply save the text file.

Import the Yoast SEO Export file

Now, on the site you want to apply these settings to, go to the Yoast SEO Import page (Yoast SEO → Tools → Import and Export, the first tab), open your new text file, copy its contents, paste it in the field and click Import settings. That’s it. Nothing more to it, you’ve easily applied all your default settings to your new site.

If you set up a lot of sites, this will save you valuable minutes every time you do so!

Import from other SEO plugins

If you are coming from another SEO plugin, you’re in luck. Yoast SEO automatically detects your old plugin and can import all your settings. You’ll be up and running in no-time.

Import and Export in Yoast SEO Premium

Yoast SEO Premium has several other options to import and export data, these include the possibility to export meta data about your content to CSV, and import and export redirects in a variety of ways.

Export keyphrase data to CSV

A cool addition to Yoast SEO Premium is the possibility to export data about your content to an CSV file. This way, you can use this giant overview for doing a content audit, for instance, or to quickly see which posts haven’t been optimized correctly. You can choose to export your post with the following options:

  • Export keyphrase scores
  • Export URL
  • Export title
  • Export SEO title
  • Export meta description
  • Export readability score

Import the CSV into Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel and start working!

Export your keyphrases and start auditing your content

Import and export redirects

A big time-saver if you’re working a lot with redirects: importing and exporting of redirects. Yoast SEO Premium users can import redirects in a number ways, like from well-known WordPress redirect plugins, to manually from an CSV file. You can also import your redirects directly from your .htaccess file. If you need to export your redirects to check up on these or move these to another site, you can export the data to a CSV.

Of course, we have an article on how to import redirects using Yoast SEO.

Read more: Why you should buy Yoast SEO Premium »

The post Yoast SEO Import & Export features appeared first on Yoast.

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User research: the ultimate guide

When you want to make some considerable improvements to your website, what’s the best place to start? At Yoast, we feel that research is always one of the most important things to do. It’ll help you find out what needs work, why it needs work, and of course, what you have to do to make things better.

Looking at our website data in Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and other SEO tools, is already part of our weekly activities. But, in order to dive deeper than just having a look at the plain data, we love to do user research. This is the part where you truly get to know your customers and where you’ll discover your blind spots when it comes to your own website. Within this ultimate guide, we’ll show you what types of user research could be valuable for your own website or company.

Table of contents

The top task survey

What kind of user research fits and complements the existing data always depends on the type of project you run. However, we believe that running a so-called ‘top task survey’ should always be the first step when you start doing user research. As you’ll able to use the outcomes of a top task survey within all future projects.

So, what is a top task survey exactly? To get to know why your customers visit your website, you’ll need to talk to your customers. And, how do you get to talk to your customers without actually having conversations with lots of customers? You could set up an online top task survey, which pops up on your visitor’s screen as soon as you like, either immediately after entering the website or after a couple of minutes. 

Questions in a top task survey

The popup is set up for one simple reason: to find out the purpose of their visit to your website. 

To make sure you’ll get valuable data out of your top task survey, it’s important to ask the right question. We recommend asking one open question: ‘What is the purpose of your visit to this website? Please be as specific as possible.’

With this open question, you give your customers the chance to truly say what they think. Closed questions make this harder, as you’ve already drawn up certain answers and then you risk missing other important thoughts or opinions your may customers have. And we know, analyzing the answers will take a lot more time, but when you do this right you’ll get the most valuable results.

Next to this one open question, it is possible to add one or two closed questions to take a closer look at your respondents. You might want to know the age or you want to know the type of customer it is. This data can be valuable to combine with the outcomes of the open question answers. In the top task surveys of Yoast, the second question is: ‘Do you have the Yoast SEO plugin?’. This is valuable information for us because we can see the difference between what free users are looking for on our website and what Premium users are looking for on our website. 

How often should you do a top task survey?

We recommend running your top task survey once a year. If you have a small website, you can choose to run the survey once every two years. The market you work in is always changing and customers always change, so every time you’ll run the survey, you’ll receive new, valuable information to work with and to improve on. 

The exit survey

The following two types of research we’ll discuss are more specific. And, which one you should perform at what time depends on the type of project you’re about to run. 

For example, you’ve noticed in your Google Analytics data that your most visited page has a very high bounce rate. This means that you need to know why visitors are leaving this fast. Couldn’t they find what they were looking for? Or did they find what they were looking for and are they already satisfied? You can get answers to these questions by running an exit survey on a specific page.

What is an exit survey?

An exit survey pops up when a visitor is about to leave the page. When a visitor moves their mouse cursor towards their browser bar, they are usually about to leave your website. So, this is the right moment to ask your visitor one or more questions. 

Questions in an exit survey

So, your visitor is about to leave, what do you want to know before they’re gone? We recommend keeping the survey short and simple: people are already leaving, so if you want them to fill out your survey, it needs to be short.

The question you ask depends on the page and the problem you want to solve. When you have a specific blog post with a high bounce rate, you might want to know if visitors have found the information they were looking for. The simple open question you could ask: ‘What information were you looking for today on our website?’. You could add a second closed question to see if the page fulfills your visitor’s needs: ‘Have you found what you’ve been looking for?’. A simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ is enough to get this overview. 

Within our post ‘What is an exit survey and why should you use it?’ we’ve added some more examples of questions you could ask depending on the page that needs attention.

User testing

The third type of research is ‘user testing’. User testing is the type of research in which you get ‘live’ feedback from your clients because you actually see people using your website or product. At the beginning of this guide, we already mentioned ‘blind spots’ and user testing is the best way to find these blind spots. For example, you know exactly where to find what information or what product on your website, but visitors might not. Seeing testers struggle with finding the right page on your website can be embarrassing, but the good news is, when you know, you can improve!

Why should you do user testing?

User testing can give you very valuable insights during every stage of your process. When you’re creating a new product, it’s valuable to see what potential customers think of it, but it’s just as valuable to see what your customers think of your product that has already existed for over three years. Every test will give you new insights to work with!

User testing also guarantees that the test results are ‘real’. You can see for yourself how your customers use your website or product. The customer can’t ‘lie’ about things. And, that’s a big difference with survey respondents: they can say different things compared to what they really experience.

How to get started

There are three main types of user testing which you could use for your own website or product:

  • Live, moderated user testing: your testers will test with a moderator in the same room.
  • Remote, moderated user testing: your testers will test with a moderator while they’re in contact through a video call.
  • Remote user testing without a moderator: your testers will test without a moderator in their own time and space. They will record the test so you can watch it later.

Within our specific post ‘What is user testing and why should you do it?’, we explain more thoroughly what type should be used in what situation. 

After picking the method you want to use, it’s important to set up a clear plan with goals and a test scenario. Hereby you make sure the testers will follow the right path and will give you the insights you need. After that, it’s time to recruit your testers. Decide on what types of testers you’ll need to get the best test results. We recommend recruiting different types: young people, older people, experienced people, inexperienced people, etc. Think of all the types of people that might use your website or product now and in the future. 

Then it’s time to get started! Create a plan and start testing with your recruited people. Make sure you record all tests, making it easier to analyze the results. As it’s nearly impossible to remember everything that happened during the tests. 

Analyzing user research results

There is some difference in analyzing the results of surveys, such as the top task survey and the exit survey compared to the user testing results. 

When analyzing an online survey, we recommend to export all data to a sheet and to create categories for all answers. Place every answer into a specific category to get a clear overview of what the biggest problems are. After that, you can easily see what problems need to be prioritized and you can start thinking of improvements. Set up an action plan and start improving!

For the user tests, it can more difficult to create a couple of categories that fit the test results. Here, it’s easier to write a summary for every user test and to combine those at the end. Can you discover similarities? Can you combine some issues to improve more at once? It’s important to look at the bigger picture so you can make improvements that will have a big impact on the future user experience of your website or product!

User research tools

There are several tools in which you can create a top task survey or an exit survey (or other surveys!). We’re currently using Hotjar, but we’re planning to create our own design and implementing it with Google Tag Manager. Tools we know for setting up online surveys are:

  • Hotjar
  • SurveyMonkey
  • Mopinion

On their sites, they have a clear explanation of how to use these tools to perform an exit survey.

For user testing, your needs are different. Testing a website or a product, you’ll need a testing environment for your testers or a test product they are allowed to use. Besides, you’ll need recording material: for testing a website, you can easily record a screen session, but for testing a product, you’ll need to think of a recording set up. Do you have a good camera and a tripod, for example? Then you can get started! When you’re doing user tests more often, you can use an eye tracker as well to get more insights on how people are looking at your website or product, but it’s not necessary!

Are you already doing user research as well? Or have we convinced you to start doing user research? Let us know in the comments below!

Read more: Panel research for your business: Benefits and tips »

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