Yoast SEO’s hidden features that secretly level up your SEO • Yoast


If you use Yoast SEO on your site, you’re probably familiar with features like the SEO analysis or the snippet preview. You might also know our inclusive language analysis, and how easily you can link to related posts or create redirects in the premium version of the plugin. But there’s (much) more! For instance, the Yoast SEO plugin has so-called hidden features. You won’t find them in your settings, but they do great work. Today, we’ll dive into these hidden features: which ones do we have and how do they lighten your load?

Why hidden features?

You can optimize a website in many different ways. Imagine having a toggle for all these options! That’s why, when developing our Yoast SEO plugin, we decided not to translate all these options into settings. If we believe something is beneficial for every Yoast SEO user, we turn the feature on. We call these features hidden features because as a user you’re not necessarily aware of their existence. You might even think we don’t have certain features because there’s no setting for it. But the opposite is true! We’re quietly taking care of things for you.

The hidden features of Yoast SEO

To help you understand what Yoast SEO does for your website in the background, we’ve listed some of the hidden features for you below. Let’s go through them one by one!

1. A structured data graph

Yoast SEO outputs a fully-integrated structured data graph for your posts and pages. But what is a structured data graph? And how does it help you optimize your site? To answer these questions, you first need to know what Schema is.

A few years ago, search engines came up with something called Schema.org to better understand the content they crawl. Schema is a bit like a glossary of terms for search engine robots. This structured data markup will help them understand whether something is a blog post, a local shop, a product, an organization or a book, just to name a few possibilities. Or, whether someone is an author, an actor, associated with a certain organization, alive or even a fictional character, for instance.

For all these items there’s a set of properties that specifically belongs to that item. If you provide information about these items in a structured way – with structured data – search engines can make sense of your site and the things you talk about. As a reward, they might even give you those eye-catching rich results.

How does the Yoast SEO plugin help?

Adding structured data to your site’s content is a smart thing to do. But as the number of structured data items grows, all these loose pieces of code can end up on a big pile of Schema markup on your site’s pages. Yoast SEO helps you prevent creating a big and unorganized pile of code. For every page or post, our plugin creates a neat structured data graph. In this graph, it connects the loose pieces of structured data with each other. When the pieces are connected, a search engine can understand, for instance, that a post is written by author X, working for organization Y, selling brand Z.

You can even build full how-to articles and FAQ pages using the free structured data content blocks in Yoast SEO!

A structured data graph: Yoast SEO connects blobs of Schema markup in one single graph, so search engines understand the bigger picture.

If you want to learn more about structured data, we’d advise reading Edwin’s story on how Yoast SEO helps search engine robots connect the dots.

2. Self-referencing canonicals

Canonicals were introduced as an answer to duplicate content quite some time ago. So, what’s duplicate content? Duplicate content means you’ve published content that is the same or very similar to other content on your site. In other words: it’s available on multiple URLs. This confuses search engines. They start to wonder which URL they should show in the search results.

Duplicate content can exist without you being aware of it. In an online store, for instance, one product might belong to more than one category. If the category is included in the URL, the product page can be found on multiple URLs. Another example would be campaign tags. If you add these tags to your URLs when you share content on social or in your newsletter, it means the same page is available on a URL with and without a campaign tag. And there are more technical causes for duplicate content such as these.

The solution for this type of duplicate content issues is a self-referencing canonical. A canonical URL lets you say to search engines: “Of all the options available for this URL, this URL is the one you should show in the search results”. You can do so by adding a rel=canonical tag on a page, pointing to the page that you’d like to rank. In this case, you’d need the canonical tag to point to the URL of the original page.

How does the Yoast SEO plugin help?

Should you go through all your posts now and add the canonical tag? Not if you’re using Yoast SEO. The plugin does this for you, everywhere on your site: single posts and pages, homepages, category archives, tag archives, date archives, author archives, etc. If you’re not really a techy person, the canonical isn’t easy to wrap your head around. Or perhaps you simply don’t have the time to focus on it. Why not let Yoast SEO take care of it? Then you can move on to the more exciting stuff!

Read more: rel=canonical: the ultimate guide »

3. Paginated archives with rel=next / rel=prev

Another hidden feature in Yoast SEO is rel=next / rel=prev. It’s a method of telling search engines that certain pages belong to an archive: a so-called paginated archive. A rel=next / prev tag in the header of your site lets search engines know what the previous and the next page in that archive is. No one other than people looking at the source code of your site and search engines see this piece of code.

Not so long ago, Google announced that it isn’t using rel=next/prev anymore. Does this mean we should do away with this feature? Certainly not! Bing and other search engines still use it, so Yoast SEO will keep on adding rel=next / prev tags to paginated archives.

Keep reading: Pagination and SEO: best practices »

4. Nofollow login & registration links

If you have a WordPress site, you most likely have a login link and a registration link for the backend of your site. But the login or registration page of your backend are places that visitors and search engines don’t ever need to be.

Therefore, Yoast SEO tells search engines not to follow links for login and registration pages. Yoast SEO makes sure that search engines will never follow these links. It’s a tiny tweak, but it saves a lot of unneeded Google action. 

5. Noindex your internal search results

This hidden feature is based on Google’s Search Essentials documentation. Google wants to prevent users from going from a search result in Google to a search result page on a website. Google, justly, considers that bad user experience.

You can tell search engines not to include a certain page in their search results by adding a noindex tag to a page. Because of Google’s guidelines, Yoast SEO tells search engines that they shouldn’t display your internal search results pages in their search results with a noindex tag. But the links on these pages can still be followed and counted, which is better for your SEO. The plugin tells them not to show these pages in the search results; the links on these pages can still be followed and counted which is better for SEO.

Read on: Which pages should I noindex or nofollow on my site »

6. Removal of replytocom variables

This last hidden feature is quite a technical one. In short, it prevents your site from creating lots of URLs with no added value. WordPress has a replytocom feature that lets you reply to comments without activating JavaScript in your browser. But this means that for every comment, it creates a separate URL with ?replytocom variables.

So what happens if you get a lot of comments? Search engines then have to index all those URLs, which is a waste of your crawl budget. Therefore we remove these variables by default.

But that’s not all..

Our plugin comes with loads of features and settings that will benefit the online visibility of your website. The free version of Yoast SEO already gives you access to a lot of features that will help you do well in the search results. Yoast SEO Premium gives you access to additional tools, like the internal linking suggestions or the redirect manager. This makes many SEO-related tasks much easier and saving you time.

Buy Yoast SEO Premium now!

Unlock powerful features and much more for your WordPress site with the Yoast SEO Premium plugin!

Keep on reading: Why you should buy Yoast SEO Premium »

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