Weekly SEO Recap: Happy new year!

First of all, a happy new year to you all! This is the first weekly recap of 2016 and the first weekly recap of the last 3 weeks so we have a few weeks of news to cover. Luckily, we weren’t the only ones taking it slow, so it’s about a normal week’s worth of news.

Joost's weekly SEO Recap

Google “No country redirect” stops working, then comes back

For a short while I was slightly freaked out. You see, Google broke the NCR feature. NCR stands for No Country Redirect and allows you to go to google.com/ncr and it will not redirect you to your country’s local Google (in my case google.nl). Breaking that would force me into using a proxy all the time. Luckily, it’s back working now.

Google Search Analytics update

Google did an update to the Search Analytics in Google Search Console, a feature I love. The “full” report reads:

An update to web search logs analysis. This change may increase the total number of clicks and impressions.

It seems to have indeed increased the number of clicks & impressions on several sites I’ve seen, while changing nothing for some other sites.

Keep reading: Search Analytics in Google Search Console.

Google Knowledge Graph Search API

Google released an API to query its Knowledge Graph, replacing its old Freebase APIs. This could be a very useful API in specific fields, I’ll certainly be looking into what kind of interesting data it offers.

That’s it, see you next week!

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from Yoast • The Art & Science of Website Optimization https://yoast.com/weekly-seo-recap-2016-1/
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Yoast Vlog: Google Hummingbird explained

In August 2013 Google rolled out the Hummingbird update. Unlike most other updates this wasn’t just a change to the algorithm; it was more like a replacement óf the algorithm. Why this big change?

It’s closely related to Google’s vision of the ‘perfect search engine’, that Larry Page once described as “understands exactly what you mean and gives you back exactly what you want.” With the Hummingbird update Google wants their search engine to be capable of understanding what the meaning of your query is and even try to provide you with an answer to your query or question.

Watch the video below to learn more about Hummingbird and why it’s so important:

You might also like:

Can’t watch the video?

Here’s the transcript:

I want to explain what the Hummingbird update really was. Google introduced the Hummingbird update by saying that they replaced the engine of their car. And we were unsure why they were changing it and what was happening at that time. But we know now that we’re asking questions to our watch, we’re asking questions to our phone and instead of typing two or three words we’re asking entire sentences. So Hummingbird was Google getting ready to deal with that. It deals with that in two ways: it deals with that by understanding what we’re trying to search for – even if we ask an entire sentence – so it needs to get better at comprehending what we’re searching for. But it also needs to get better at serving us answers instead of a set of 10 results. So instead of giving us 10 blue links, they give us answer boxes now (which got introduced with the Hummingbird update) that give us the answer to our question. If you type 5+5 Google has always told you the answer is 10, with Hummingbird it has improved and expanded the range of questions, where it actually gives you an answer instead of just giving you 10 results. That’s why Hummingbird was very important and that’s why you should read about it a lot more.

from Yoast • The Art & Science of Website Optimization https://yoast.com/yoast-vlog-hummingbird-explained/
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YouTube Analytics: watch time reports

Last year we started vlogging and overall using videos a lot more in our communication. It’s an easy way to communicate and a lot more personal than most online communication. We like it a lot and will obviously continue to focus on video this year. Following our recent posts on social media analytics (Twitter, Facebook), it only seems to make sense to go over YouTube Analytics as well. YouTube continues to be the second largest search engine in the world, and of course, you want to monitor your efforts there as well.

what you can do with youtube stats

Dashboard

When you visit youtube.com/analytics (be sure to pick the right profile in the upper right corner), you’ll find a number of ‘channels’ in the left menu. For this post, I’ll mainly focus on the watch time section. I’ll write a second post on the engagement reports section of YouTube Analytics soon.

YouTube Analytics Overview

YouTube Analytics starts with a nice overview of watch time, average view duration and things like your top 10 videos. The page bottom shows some graphs showing countries, gender, traffic sources, and playback locations. Filters are available for uploads/playlists, subscribed/not subscribed, and live/on demand. My 2 cents? Just a nice overview, but it tells me little. I do like the top 10, but for the rest I’d like to see more details, and that is probably why Youtube Analytics is divided into many subsections, that can easily be accessed through the left sub menu.

Realtime

Realtime overviews are just available for uploads, not for playlists. Makes sense, right. You can see stats for the last 48 hours and last 60 minutes:

youtube analytics realtime example

Hovering elements will give you more details. I already mentioned in an earlier post on Google Search Console that some graphs are better used for trend analysis than anything else, and that seems to be the case here as well, that is why these overviews only really matter at an event, like the start of a new campaign or when you’ve just sent out your email newsletter.

youtube analytics hover realtime exampleThere’s also a convenient overview of these stats for the last five videos you uploaded. So if traffic on that important video is low for instance, you could consider giving it some extra social media exposure or mentioning it in your upcoming newsletter. Clicking one of these specific videos will get you to a page where you’d expect more details on the video, but that isn’t the case in this Realtime section. It just shows the stats a bit larger :) The hover state in the overview shows you a lot more – see image on the right (channel, date of creation, when it’s published, duration and privacy setting).

Earnings report

I’m going to skip this section, as this only works when Adsense is associated with your YouTube channel. We didn’t, as our earnings come primarily from this website and not per se from our videos on Youtube.com. If you have associated Adsense, this section will show estimated earnings and ad performance.

Watch time reports

Now this is an interesting section. This is about how people watch your videos and analyzing this can give you new ideas for promotion and on how to organize your videos.

This section starts with this graph:

youtube analytics watch time graph

That’s a pretty dull graph, I know. The thing is that it’s packed with extras that YouTube Analytics decided to hide in the icons on the left. There is a line graph for watch time and views (filter at the top), which is what is in the screenshot, and then we have from top to bottom:

  • A multi-line chart for the videos that were viewed in the selected period (which can be selected using the slider at the bottom of the graph). This will show you your best performing videos and your underachievers. There is a filter for growth, totals and % of totals.
  • A stacked area chart for totals and how that total is divided. This isn’t my kind of chart, but hey, there’s a chart for everyone.
  • The next one is a pie chart showing basically the same information. Big difference is that this chart can’t be filtered to show data per day, rolling x days total, week, month etc. That makes this chart less useful in my opinion.
  • Then there is a bar chart, adding nothing new.
  • And then, as a total surprise, a map of the world. This maps shows where your views come from.

Next to watch time, all charts can also show average view duration, average percentage viewed, watch time in hours instead of minutes, subscriber views and/or subscriber minutes watched in that same chart.

Audience retention

Audience retention in YouTube Analytics is about how loyal your viewers are. These are actually nice graphs to play with and see how things compare to each other. It will give you a better view about the performance of certain videos.

youtube analytics audience retention chart

That’s last year on our Yoast channel. I can clearly see when we started focusing on video a lot more. The spike just before week 23 (2015) was YoastCon. In our case, that’s also reflected in the table below these charts:

youtube analytics live / on demand table

The details of the live streams (just click live in the table) show that these indeed only occurred during YoastCon, conveniently the only day we offered live streams in 2015 😉

You can see there are a few more tables to be analyzed: which country had the most watch time (including average view duration), which day had the most watch time and whether most watch time was done by subscribers or people that still have to subscribe to our Yoast Channel. Nice to see that subscribers watched a bit longer on average (even about 50% longer!).

You should definitely play around with the data in this section and see what comes in handy regarding your own videos.

Demographics

It almost feels like overkill, but next to the geographic information in the previous sections, YouTube Analytics has some more geographical data in store for us:

youtube analytics geographical information

Our main YouTube audience is from the US, UK, India and the Netherlands, and these are mostly male viewers in the age of 25-44. I can think of companies where this information is very valuable, like (online) magazines and other companies that try to target a specific audience.

Playback Locations

This section gives you a nice overview of where your videos are watched:

  • Embedded in external websites and apps. This is the main location for our videos, as we share these on our website and promote them via Facebook, for instance.
  • YouTube watch page. Another important one, as a lot of viewers prefer youtube, or click from one video to the other or use the app to view videos.
  • There are two minor locations in our case, being YouTube channel page (no need to optimize that, as far as I can see that one gets little traffic), and the leftover location ‘other’.

Traffic Sources

This section starts with the alert that “Data in this report may be incomplete or missing.”(in our case, not sure whether this is a general alert), and it mentions as the main traffic sources External, Direct or unknown and Unknown – embedded player. Luckily, as with most items displayed in tables in YouTube Analytics, there is an easy click to more detailed information:

youtube analytics traffic sources overview

Unfortunately, this is as detailed as it goes, clicking the links in this table will give you (drumroll) geographical information, per country per traffic source.

Devices

I do like the devices sections, which tells me that a whopping 87% of our watch time is done on a computer, 64% on Windows and 33% on Mac. Just about 6% is done on a phone, and even less on a tablet.

Live Streaming

This section just applies to the live streams you had in a certain period. For us, this section holds little information as we only streamed videos for a day. I can imagine this section might also be interesting for certain companies.

That concludes our first post on YouTube Analytics. In an upcoming post, I will dive a bit deeper in the engagement stats YouTube provides. Keep a keen eye on our website for updates!

from Yoast • The Art & Science of Website Optimization https://yoast.com/youtube-analytics-watch-time/
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12 days of Christmas: read our best posts of 2015!

We’re quite sure you’ve already noticed our excitement about the upcoming holidays: after our review sale we now have an awesome Academy sale! That’s because we think these holidays are the perfect time to teach yourself all there is to know about optimizing websites!

The holidays are also a great moment to count your blessings and look back on the past year. For us, 2015 was an awesome year full of highlights and growth (in staff as well as products). And, of course, we’ve launched our first Yoast Academy training: Basic SEO!

For the 12 days of Christmas, we’ve selected the 12 most popular posts of 2015 for you. Have fun reading and use the holidays to improve your skills!

1. Optimizing images for SEO

Best Yoast post of 2015 optimizing imagesThe best read post of 2015 is about optimizing images for SEO! Images make an article more vivid and can actually contribute to improving the SEO for your article. In this post, we explain the steps that should be taken to fully optimize an image for SEO like picking the right filename and using an image alt text!

2. How to create the right meta description

how to create the right meta descriptionThe main purpose of a meta description is to get the visitor to click your link in Google search results. But where do you start if you want to write a good meta description? In this second most popular post of 2015 we show you the characteristics of a good meta description and some examples of how it should be done!

3. rel=canonical • What it is and how (not) to use it

how to use rel=canonical
The basic premise of rel=canonical is simple: if you have several similar versions of the same content, you pick one “canonical” version and point the search engines to that. This solves a duplicate content problem where search engines don’t know which version of the content to show. Rel=canonical has turned into a powerful tool in an SEO’s toolbox, but like any power tool, you should use it wisely, as it’s easy to cut yourself. Joost shows how this tool should be used.

4. 10 tips for an awesome and SEO-friendly blog post

awseome and seo-friendly blog postAt Yoast, we write a lot about blogging. We think your content should be, more than anything else, worth reading. This year, we released our eBook Content SEO in which we explain more about good writing (this eBook is on sale now for only $14). In this article, Marieke shows how to write an awesome blogpost by explaining the importance of stopwords, headings, links and structure!

5. Google Webmaster Tools: Crawl

google webmaster tools crawlThe section in Google Search Console that works most closely with our Yoast SEO Premium plugin, is the Crawl section. This section shows you if Google is able to reach every page on your website. This article digs into for instance crawl errors and stats, finding out how Google sees your website and your XML sitemaps.

6. Don’t block your CSS and JS files

Don't block your CSS and JS filesThe 6th article in our 12 days of Christmas post has a clear message: don’t block Googlebot from accessing your CSS and JS files. These files allow Google to decently render your website and give them an idea of what it looks like! Our Yoast SEO plugin is a great help when it comes to this issue. It’s on sale now for only $69 instead of $89!

7. Yoast SEO 3.0

Yoast SEO 3.0 real time content analysis and multiple keywordsWe did a huge update on our Yoast SEO plugin this year! With Yoast SEO 3.0 came some incredible handy features. In Yoast SEO Premium, we added real time content analysis and the option to optimize a post or page for multiple focus keywords! This post explains the new features of this update.

8. Google Webmaster Tools: Search Appearance

Google webmaster tools search appearance If you want to know how your website’s SEO is doing, Google Search Console (former Google Webmaster Tools) is a great help! Google Search Console is a free tool which gives you a great insight in your pages visibility in Google and provides tips on how to improve your site’s SEO as well. This post is the first in a series about Google Search Console (we call it Google Webmaster Tools in the series) and explains the possibilities of this tool!

9. Use hreflang for multilingual websites

9_Use_Hreflang_FBIf your site’s content is available in more than one language, you’ve probably heard of the hreflang tag. Search engines use the hreflang tag to ‘redirect’ the visitor to the page in the right language. This tag might improve your rankings, but only if you use it well! In this post, we explain when and how the hreflang tag should be used!

10. Using category and tag pages for your site’s SEO

using categories and tag pages for SEOTags and categories can both be part of a taxonomy system. This taxonomy system is crucial for your site’s SEO. Despite the importance of this system, we still see completely unmanaged category and tag pages in our site reviews. This article dives into why those pages are so important and how to use them!

11. Mobile-friendly sites and SEO

mobile-friendly sites and SEOThe 11th post in our 12 days of Christmas series is about optimizing for mobile. As we know, Google introduced Mobilegeddon this year. This update made it extremely important to optimize your website for mobile. Right before this update, we wrote a post about how to prepare yourself for this huge update!

12. Our second eBook: Content SEO

Content SEO eBookIn February, we published our second eBook called Content SEO. It turned out to be a big hit! There are three sections in this eBook: keyword strategy, site structure and content writing. All three sections not only contain all the information you need to write great content, but also lots of practical tips. This timeless, high quality eBook is on Holiday sale now for only $14!

from Yoast • The Art & Science of Website Optimization https://yoast.com/12-days-of-christmas-read-our-best-posts-of-2015/
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