Yoast SEO 11.9: More fixes and enhancements

Are you ready for another exciting release to round up the Yoast SEO 11 cycle? Because we are! In Yoast SEO 11.9, we have improvements for Schema and security, we have bug fixes and updates for Local and News SEO!

Improving Schema once again

With the closing of the Yoast SEO 11 releases we’ve yet again improved Schema in the plugins! The Yoast WooCommerce SEO plugin had a bug showing invalid Schema when a product used the placeholder image, so we fixed that. We’ve also improved Schema output in the News SEO plugin.

With Yoast SEO 12.0 around the corner, you might fear that we think we’re done with Schema output in the Yoast SEO plugins. Fortunately, this is not the case! We’ll continue to improve and work on Schema in future releases as well.

Curious for more Schema? Looking for a way to extend our Schema implementation? Why don’t you dive into our Schema documentation?

Tightening the security of the plugins

Somehow security is something people find not very interesting. But you do lock up your house when you leave it because you don’t want anyone to steal your tv, right? Updating to the latest version of a plugin is essentially locking your website to make sure no one can get in. A criminal does not need an open door, an open window or even thin glass won’t stop them. It’s the same with software: they don’t need a password to maybe do malicious things to your website. That’s why we always give high priority to possible security issues in our plugins. For this release, the incomparable Juliette Reinders -Folmer — helped us improve the security of the plugins to make sure there won’t be possible malicious data.

Local SEO improvements

We’ve updated our Local SEO plugin, because Google went from two different API keys to just one. New users of the Local SEO plugin will see a field in the API key tab where they can enter their API key. Existing users can add their API keys the regular way, but we encourage you to use the new API key.

Local SEO now also gives you notifications when you have set an API key in a constant in your wp-config.php file. In addition, we fixed a bug that caused the map settings tab to show an empty panel without an API key present. It now shows a notification.

News SEO improvements

We gave the News SEO plugin quite some love this release! The add-on now has its own tab in the Yoast SEO meta box.

We’ve also fixed a bug where the @type in the schema output would be NewsArticle instead of Article for articles which were excluded from the news sitemap. And we’ve fixed a bug where news article pages and custom post types included in the news sitemap, would not receive an author in the schema output.

Bug fixes in Yoast SEO 11.9

In Yoast SEO for WordPress, we’ve fixed a bug where the image from the configuration wizard notification was missing an empty alt attribute. No need to read that sentence again, we’ll explain what this means! In absence of an alt attribute, screen readers will try to announce something to you. This means in most cases the screen readers will try to announce a part of the image URL, which is far from ideal. Decorative images need an empty alt and that’s what this fixes!

Another bug we squashed concerned missing translations from the meta box, sidebar, configuration wizard and the help center. We love our translators and it’s much easier to read the information in your native language.

Bug fixes in Yoast SEO Premium

In Yoast SEO Premium, we’ve fixed a bug where multiple redirects would be created when editing taxonomies on a multisite environment. In addition, the social preview forms no longer appears on taxonomies twice. We love social media, but there’s no need to let you fill in those forms multiple times.

Update to Yoast SEO 11.9

That’s it! We’re very proud to deliver the last release of the Yoast SEO 11 cycle. Don’t forget to update!

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Yoast SEO 11.8: Improving Yoast SEO with the help of the community

Release history tells us that the releases in the months of July and August are usually very quiet. Due to vacations from team members, the focus usually lies on fixing bugs and cleaning up. Not for Yoast SEO 11.8! This new release gives you an enhanced meta box, an improved Schema output and bug fixes, some of which powered by contributors from outside the company! Here, we’ll tell you everything about the all-new Yoast SEO.

Meta box enhancements

The observing Yoast SEO user might have already noticed the changes in the plugin’s meta box the past few releases. In this all-new release, we’ve updated the meta box once more! The advanced tab has been moved to the SEO tab – you’ll find it as a collapsible header now – and the social settings have been updated as well. This is how the meta box looks right now:

metabox 11.8 screencast

We’ve also fixed a bug where the snippet title and meta description fields would still be left-to-right when the website was set to a right-to-left language.

Bug fixes

Of course, we’ve fixed more bugs! In Yoast SEO Premium we’ve fixed a bug where RegEx redirects that started with a forward slash could not be deleted.

And thanks to contributors, Yoast SEO 11.8 also fixes a bug where the plugin used the WP_query->get_posts() function wrong. This could cause the return of wrong results. So, good job, contributors! And that’s not the only contributor fix; find them all in the Yoast SEO changelog!

On top of this, we’ve fixed a bug in Video SEO. You can find the entire changelog here.

Schema updates: we’ve got them!

Were you waiting for the Schema updates again? We’ve got that covered for you!

A quick recap: in Yoast SEO 11.7 we’ve added a subset of HTML tags for the HowTo and FAQ blocks when creating a post. Among those, is the ability to link to other posts. When Google shows your HowTo or FAQ block as a rich search result, they might also display the internal links you added. This way, you can get more people to click through to your content directly, instead of just giving them the full answer in Google search results.

In Yoast SEO 11.8, we’ve also improved the sanitization of the Schema output. This means that with this new update, the plugin has become even more secure.

Contributor Emily Leffler Schulman

Recently, we’ve received no less than 9 contributions from Yoast SEO user Emily Leffler Schulman. At Yoast, we understand why contributing to open source projects is important and it seems like Emily shares the same philosophy as we do! We’ve asked her several questions that might be on the tip of your tongue as well.

Emily is a freelance WordPress and UI developer, and she’s a true problem solver: she works with small business, associations, and universities. You can find more about her on her website.

When asked why she decided to contribute to Yoast, she answered: “Open source projects offer such an amazing opportunity to learn and expand in a team environment. After freelancing for over a decade, I’d found that the technical skills I needed to collaborate with other developers were becoming atrophied so I started contributing to WordPress plugins to stay fresh. Yoast SEO has been a mainstay of every site I’ve built, so it made sense to work on something that was both familiar and valuable to me. ”

She uses Yoast SEO for everything and is a frequent visitor of the Yoast blog as well: “Yoast’s blog posts are really helpful reference material for explaining SEO techniques to my clients in laymen’s terms and the developer portal is a professional go-to for staying abreast of changes in the SEO ecosystem. I’m so impressed by how supportive and positive Yoast’s contributor community is.”

Want to contribute to Yoast SEO?

Do you want to contribute to Yoast SEO just like Emily or the other contributors do? Emily has one last tip for you:

“Just do it! If you’re into making things, open source projects are a great way to give back to something awesome.”

At Yoast, we’d love to be able to write your name in our changelog as well!

Update to Yoast SEO 11.8!

Yoast SEO 11.8 is out now and as always, you can update this through your website’s dashboard. Go update!

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Yoast SEO 11.7: Are podcasts the new blogs?

The last couple of months a true change has been noticeable within the Yoast HQ. That’s why the marketing team is so excited for the newest release of Yoast SEO: 11.7! Every week we share our favorite podcasts with each other. Or we come in earlier and stay in longer to finish a podcast episode and share it. It’s not the most ideal situation to spread awareness for podcasts, though. That’s why in the newest release of Yoast SEO podcasts are now set to index by Google – thank you development team. Now we can get back to less talking and more searching.

Will podcasts replace blog posts?

Unfortunately the obsession with podcasts by some coworkers is not the reason why podcasts are suddenly to be indexed by Google. Google now indexes podcasts through the RSS feeds and displays these in the search results. Previously this was not yet the case, so the feeds in Yoast SEO were set to noindex. This caused podcasts and other feeds to be no indexed. As podcasts are getting more and more popular, you do want to be able to be found on Google as well and not just through mouth to mouth and through the podcast apps.

A few years ago the buzz went around the web that blogging was dead. And look at blogs today: they’re still alive and kicking. Podcasts will not replace radio, just as ebooks are not replacing the printed books. And blogs are still as relevant as ever! And you can translate your podcasts into blog posts as well.

Schema, Schema, Schema

By now you probably know the 11.x releases of Yoast SEO are all about Schema. And if you didn’t yet know, you can read up about what it is in this ultimate guide. To give you a quick summary: Schema.org takes care of all the structured data needs on your website. Search engines can pick up data marked up this way to understand it better. We couldn’t have released Yoast SEO 11.7 without Schema improvements!

It’s now possible to use a subset of HTML tags in the FAQ and HowTo blocks! This means that you can now add links in your blocks and with a bit of luck, Google will show these links in your FAQ or HowTo rich results. Why this is useful, you might wonder? With this feature, you will give people more reasons to click through to your content and they won’t just stay on Google to read what you’ve written. We’ve also fixed a bug where the avatar in the knowledge graph settings would incorrectly overwrite the default user profile picture.

UX improvements and bug fixes in Yoast SEO Premium

Both Yoast SEO and Yoast SEO Premium have gotten quite some usability enhancements, bug fixes and accessibility improvements. In Yoast SEO Premium we’ve improved several messages regarding the internal linking tool. You’ll now get more accurate feedback when we’ve calculated the prominent words for a text, but no matching articles to link to were found. Also, the site-wide internal linking analysis now comes with more extensive explanation texts.

To see all enhancements in Yoast SEO Premium, read the Yoast SEO Premium changelog here.

Local SEO updates

Are you wondering whether you should start a local ice-cream parlor that also delivers at home in the direct area this summer? Our Local SEO plugin has gotten quite some attention this release! Not only did we pay attention to the user experience, but we’ve also fixed bugs with the 12h and 24h notation. Check the full Local SEO changelog here.

PS: if you have a bakery, a local company or any other local store, these improvements are, of course, for you as well!

Update to Yoast SEO 11.7

It’s always smart to keep your software up to date. But if you’re not yet convinced to hit that update button right now: Yoast SEO 11.7 gives you more Schema advantages and has slight plugin improvements to get and stay ahead of your competition!

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How to craft the perfect blog post: a step by step guide

A few of the most asked questions I get as a blogger is how I manage to get traffic to my website, how I get people to stay and how I do all this without losing track. Maintaining a blog is a lot of work, but once your hard work pays off, it is definitely fun too. In this post, I will show you my step by step guide to creating the perfect blog post!

There are three moments you can distinguish when crafting the perfect blog post: before publishing, immediately after publishing and some time after publishing. We’ll go through each of these three steps!

Before publishing

The first step is the most obvious one for every content writer. Before publishing, you obviously need to write your text and optimize it for SEO.

Topic

When you are a blogger, you often do not write what others want to know, but rather what you want to share from your experience. It’s the very reason why I started the Caroline’s Corner series at Yoast. As a blogger, it can be difficult to focus on SEO, as you often write from your own experience and are more focused on entertaining people than informing. I keep a list of blog post ideas with me, so I always have something to blog about.

Read more on finding inspiration for your next blog post

Keyword Research

After you picked your topic, it’s important to see if you are solely writing for entertainment purposes, or can give information to your readers too. Even if you think you can only entertain, often there is a bit of information to give to your readers too. One of my favorite courses of Yoast is the Keyword Research training. If you as a blogger struggle with your keywords, then I highly recommend this training.

Text and tone of voice

Are you wondering when you finally can start writing your post? That time is now! I often skip the keyword research step but trust me, this will do you no good. If you want to rank in Google, your keyword research is absolutely important. Optimizing after you wrote your post can be done, but it is sometimes quite tedious. And wouldn’t you rather focus on a new post anyway than optimizing an old one?

Write your blog post and do not forget this should be in the same tone of voice the rest of your blog is. If you are known to write funny texts and people come to you because you are so honest, they don’t want you to sugarcoat things. In other words: create your personal brand and stick to it .

Images

Some bloggers prefer to create photos and images before they start writing their texts. Others, like me, prefer to first write and then find the correct images. Whether you use stock photos or create your own graphics, make sure you at least have a header image that also can be used to be shared on social media. In Yoast SEO Premium, there is a social preview where you can see what it looks like when your post is shared on Facebook or Twitter. You can set a different social image if desired.

Social media texts

Not only you can set your own social image, you can also write a different description for Facebook and Twitter than for Google. People who find you through Facebook, often have a different connection with you than those who find you through Google. Make sure the description resembles that! I have made the decision that through social media I want to entertain people, so I focus more on the fun parts of the blog posts on social media. An example: if I write about idiot things my cat does, I would for example tell my followers on Facebook how I found another dead mouse in my kitchen this morning and how I gave the little fella a funeral. For Google I would focus on the behavior of cats and this would show in the meta description as well.

Pinterest

I have a genuine love-hate relationship with Pinterest. Although I love the way it brings me visitors, I’m not someone who enjoys creating graphics for the platform. I love writing, I don’t love designing as much. As a blogger, you have to design things as well. Or become rich and hire someone to do it for you, that’s an option too! A part of your blog post’s preparation is designing a Pinterest image. These should have a ratio of 2:3, which means that it’s vertical. Pinterest comes with a scheduled feature now, so you can schedule your pin before publishing the post, just make sure you put the correct publishing URL in!

SEO

And now, the most dreaded thing for every blogger world wide… I’m just kidding, there are people who absolutely love SEO, my colleagues included. Me, not so much. I do love it when people come to my blog through Google, but more often than not I am known for muttering: ‘I don’t want to do SEO, I want to write’. Optimizing for search engines is of course a big part of your blog strategy. It’s important to check your meta description, your social descriptions and of course the distribution of your keywords and the readability analysis. As you most likely are aware, you know our plugin helps you with this step! Don’t forget to add proper internal and external links and you’re good to schedule or publish your post.

Summary

To sum up of all the steps before you publish a blog post:

  • Pick a topic;
  • Do keyword research;
  • Write your text in your brand’s voice;
  • Create your images;
  • Create your Pinterest image and schedule it;
  • Do a last SEO check;
  • Publish or schedule your post.

Immediately after publishing

After publishing your blogpost, you can either sit back and hope people will pick up your newest masterpiece, or you shoutout your new blogpost digitally. If you want visitors, I hope you are ready to make some noise and get the story out there!

Share your posts on social media

Although social media are designed to keep their users on their platforms, instead of clicking a website, your followers love to hear from you. Especially if you write for your audience on your social medium accounts, it’s important to post your blog posts there. There are plugins that push your blog posts to social media as soon as you hit publish, but at Yoast we schedule this after publishing ourselves.

And although Pinterest isn’t a social medium, but a visual search engine, I want to discuss this here as well. Where Google knows about your new blogpost through crawling and sitemaps, Pinterest doesn’t know. You need to actually tell Pinterest you have a new post. If you have not used the scheduler or want to place your pins on more boards, now is the time to do so!

At Yoast, we publish our blog posts on Facebook and Twitter. As I’m personally not active at Twitter, my own blog posts only are shared on Facebook and Pinterest by me. It’s whatever fits you. Pick something and stick with it! I have a friend who doesn’t even put her blog posts on social media and has seen a steady increase of visitors to her blog through Google. There’s no wrong or right. It’s better to focus on one thing and commit to it a 100% than focus on ten things and only invest 10% of what you could’ve put into it.

Internal linking to this post from other posts

By now you probably know how important your site structure is. Internal links are links that are in your text and they tell Google all about context. It’s important to link to and from your blog post. While writing your post, you most likely linked to other posts you’ve written already. But you could not link yet to your newly created blog post. Your visitors would end on a 404 and Google doesn’t like 404s either! So after publishing, make sure you check which blog posts could do well with a link to your new post and add them immediately. Trust me, you will thank me later when you don’t have to go through all your orphaned content and spend hours upon hours finding context and relevant posts!

Summary

To sum up of all the steps right after you publish a blog post:

  • Share your posts on social media;
  • Internal link to your new post from other posts.

A while after publishing

After you published your blog post and have done the things you have to do immediately after, you can sit back and wait for the traffic to come in. I’m kidding. Blogging is hard work. There’s plenty to do, apart from working on your website’s foundation, you probably have new blog posts to write and older ones to revisit! ‘A while’ is a pretty abstract time frame and I cannot tell you when you exactly should look at your blog post again. If you are going to share the post in a newsletter, I would say to do this after a few days or two weeks at most. But when you need to optimize your blog post, you’d do that a few months later, after you have data to analyze!

Newsletter

A lot of people will tell you to maintain a newsletter. At Yoast, we have a newsletter as well and I am currently experimenting with my own newsletter for my personal blog. However, it can be quite hard to keep up with all of this if you also have various active social media accounts. If you decide to go for a newsletter, you have to decide if you are going to share all your blog posts, or will only share your most funny ones or the most informative ones. You can share your newest blog post in today’s newsletter, but if it’s still relevant six months from now, you can decide to put it in your newsletter six months from now. I would advise against putting your blog post in every newsletter, even if you want everyone to read it. People might feel like you’re forcing it down their throats and that you have nothing to say than that your cat brought you yet another gift in the form of a dead mouse. You become repetitive. Like that cat with the dead mouse. See what I did there?

Social media

You shared your blog post on social media right after you published, but that doesn’t mean you cannot republish it again after a few months! The same goes as with the newsletter. Don’t overdo it, but it’s safe to reshare something 6 months after you already shared it. You can decide to even use another social image or another introduction text.

Pinterest

There’s no such thing as oversharing on Pinterest. If there’s one place where you can shamelessly self promote, it’s Pinterest! Apart from of course repinning relevant blog posts from your colleague bloggers, you can repin your blog post you just pinned two weeks ago. Pinterest is about the snowball effect and the more it’s on there, the more Pinterest will learn about it and will give you visitors. I usually share my post every week on a different board. If I have about 16 relevant boards, that means for the next 16 weeks, my post will be repinned on there. The more active you are on Pinterest, the more visible you are!

Analyzing the post performance

After a month you can start to analyze your post’s performance. This is something you need to do every three months. More often or less often if desired. You should check in Google Search Console how the people find your blog post, if you rank for the keywords you wish to rank for and if you possibly should create more posts surrounding the subject or make the blog post even more in-depth. This is one of the most tedious jobs in my opinion, as this maybe only slows down when you rank in the top three of your preferred search engine.

Optimizing where necessary

SEO is an ongoing process. Where you might’ve ranked first on a keyword last month, your competitor could’ve created a better piece and ranks first now. This is why you should revisit your blog post with the data you have collected and optimize where necessary. Check what your competition does better than you and decide whether you want to optimize. I don’t optimize a post if I’m already ranking the top three, not even if I dropped from the first to the second place. But this could be different for you. Optimizing could mean you are going to focus on link building, but could also mean you want to elaborate more or focus on Schema. Check what your competitors do what you don’t. Don’t copy, but learn from them.

Internal linking

So you already worked on your internal linking when you just published your post, that’s awesome. If you’ve done that, then you can skip this step. If not, you probably need to work on your internal linking again! Use the orphaned content filter in Yoast SEO Premium to see which articles need some much-needed love.

Revisit your cornerstone content

Every 6 months, you should revisit your cornerstone content and check if it’s still up to date. Your cornerstone content contains lengthier articles that give a lot of information: they are also known as evergreen content and are most likely the posts you are most proud of. In Yoast SEO Premium we have the stale content filter that will let you know when a blog post has not been updated the past 6 months and might need to be checked for new additions or updates.

Summary

To sum up of all the steps right after you publish a blog post:

Ongoing on a weekly basis

  • Pin your post to Pinterest

Recurring after a month on a three monthly basis

  • Analyze the post performance
  • Optimize the post
  • Check the internal links

Once every 6 months

  • Share on social media
  • Share in your newsletter

After 6 months twice a year

  • Revisit your post and check if you need to update

Checklist

To keep control over your blog and to create your perfect blog post, we’ve created a checklist you can print and keep with you when you are writing. We even added empty checkboxes so you can add extra steps if we didn’t cover something you deem to be absolutely necessary!

Download the free checklist here!

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Tips for an eco-friendly website

Today it’s World Environment Day, organized by the United Nations since 1974. It started to spread awareness about environmental issues all over the globe. At Yoast, we believe that the environment is the responsibility of everyone: nations, companies, and individuals. That’s why we want to explain how you can help the environment with your website! Additionally, we’d love to take a moment to explain how Yoast contributes to the environment as well.

How to save the environment and save money at the same time with your website

Whether you are part of a big company, a self-employed web developer, a hobbyist with their own website or anything in-between, know that you can help the environment with your website and, as money makes the world go round, you can save money too. How? Let’s explore the following options!

Update to the latest version of PHP

Unfortunately, there are still a lot of (WordPress) websites that are not on PHP 7 yet. Not only is it safer to upgrade because of security reasons, but did you know that running the latest version means that you use fewer resources, meaning less energy? You are literally saving the world by upgrading your website to the latest PHP version.

If you are unsure how to update or on which version of PHP you are, contact your web host. For more information, see this article about what PHP is and how you can help!

Updating to the latest PHP version means more security and a faster website. If that’s not enough reason for you, you can now add: saving the world to that list!

Update to the latest WP release

When you’re running on the latest PHP version, be sure your WordPress version is updated as well. We’re not just talking about major releases here, but especially about the smaller releases. Why? Often, these smaller releases hold fixes that make the code a lot more efficient. If you are not updating because of security reasons, do it for the planet ;)

Keep your plugins up to date

Most WordPress websites have several plugins installed. If you’re anything like me, there’s a chance there are plugins on your website that you’ve installed once and hardly ever use. If that’s the case, it’s time to go through your list of plugins and deactivate and delete every single plugin you do not use. Please test before you do this, of course. I’m notoriously known for breaking my own blog because I went a bit too happy on the cleanup process.

Another step you can take is making sure all your plugins are up to date. You can easily see this when you check the update tab in your WordPress dashboard.

It’s also wise to check your theme for any unused functionality that does get rendered. You might need to check with your website developer to get this done. The benefits will be tremendous though, not only in load for your web server but also for the site speed.

Use a caching plugin

Caching is used to store data so that a future request can be served faster. This improves speed time, but also fewer resources are being used. At Yoast, we are a fan of WP Rocket. WP Rocket has a caching plugin that makes your website faster and reduces resource requests tremendously.

Go even deeper in the technical stuff

Do you want to gain even more? You’re in luck! Jimmy has written an extensive article about reducing the HTTP requests to make your website faster. And Michiel wrote an article about optimizing your browser’s cache.

How Yoast helps

We told you what you can do, but you are probably curious what we do at Yoast for the environment as well. Trust us that there isn’t a day that goes by without someone discussing what we can improve, both offline and online!

Innovations

Last week we’ve explained why we release the plugin every two weeks. We believe in innovation and efficiency, that’s why we do smaller releases and love to clean up obsolete code or to make certain functions faster and more efficient. We went from a PHP run analysis to a JavaScript one in Yoast SEO 3.0 to not put so much pressure on the server. And from JavaScript to React in 5.9. So, how does this help? By releasing smaller plugins that are built more efficient, the plugin will use fewer resources, which is better for your web server. As Yoast SEO and its add-ons offer a lot of features, we realize it is not the smallest plugin you can get out there. We do strive to make each release a tad more economically efficient than the previous version.

And if you believe you can help us with that and live near our offices, don’t hesitate to apply for a job!

Environment at the office

So you know we try out best to stay efficient on the web, but does our office life resemble this? It does. We have solar panels on the roof of one of our buildings and a couple of years ago we banned the disposable cups in our offices. We have a lovely facility team that thinks about how we can produce less waste and they remind us actively about this.

We try to send our people to conferences close by, meaning that if there’s a conference in the United States, but there’s one that’s just as good in the Netherlands, just 100 kilometers away, we’ll be sending the team to the one 100 kilometers away. We encourage everyone within the company to improve their knowledge, through courses, but also through (e)books, online learning tools and of course conferences and meetups close by. You don’t have to travel far to learn a lot.

As our offices are located in a small town and are lucky that many people who live here, also work here, we want to give back to the local community as well. We do this by sponsoring local events. We believe in giving back. Not only in the local community, but in open source as well. Our profits grow as the company grows, and we believe that the community, the WordPress community, the local community, and the world, should benefit from this.

Of course, there’s always room for improvement! But by making small steps and inspiring each other, we can improve the world.

We’d love to hear from you how you’re helping the environment today. Tell us in the comments or on social media!

Read more: What is holistic SEO? »

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Earn money on Pinterest with Yoast WooCommerce SEO

With over 250 million users, Pinterest is a platform many online shops cannot ignore. According to the platform, 84% of its users use Pinterest to decide what they should buy next. Whether you have a small business or sell all over the world, Pinterest is the place to invest your time in. Want to start using Pinterest for your business or want to get more out of it? Here, we’ll explain not only how Pinterest works, but also how you get the most out of it. You’ll also find out how the latest schema update of Yoast SEO 11.0 helps you with reaching your goals.

Pinterest explained

Unlike common belief, Pinterest is not a social media platform: it’s a visual search engine. Users browse for ideas, called pins, and go to other websites to read about or buy something. The pins are vertical images with an optimized meta description.

Because Pinterest creates a personal feed for all of its users, it can place your pins in feeds of people who do not know you yet. This is based on the recent search history of your users and based on the people, subjects and boards someone follows. If you like a pin, you can repin it on one of your own boards, which spreads the message even further. So if you optimize your own pins well, it can go viral if it reaches the right audience.

Unlike social media such as Facebook and Twitter, a pin can generate traffic and customers to your website for months to come. It’s actually more common for a pin to generate traffic a few months after you first put it live, as the power of sharing is incredibly important on Pinterest.

Consider it a snowball effect: as your pin gets repinned, Pinterest will learn more about your pin each and every time. It bases this knowledge on the boards it’s placed on, as well as the description the pin has and the kind of people who interact with it. A pin that doesn’t seem popular at first, can suddenly spike a lot of traffic 4 to 6 months after your first placed it online.

Claiming your Pinterest account with Yoast SEO

Pinterest has two types of accounts: personal accounts and business accounts. If you have an eCommerce site, make sure your account is a business account. It’s incredibly easy to do so in only three steps!

  • Log into your account on Pinterest, go to your settings and find the ‘Claim’ option. Here you can insert the URL of your domain.
  • Next, Pinterest will ask you to verify your website. Choose ‘insert HTML-tag’ and copy the code within the content quotes, as displayed below.
Pinterest’s HTML tag to verify your website
  • Go to your website’s dashboard in WordPress and click on SEO in your left-hand menu. Then, click on Social and go to the Pinterest tab. Here, you’ll find a box for the Pinterest confirmation. Paste the code you copied in step 2 here and save the changes.
The Pinterest tab in the Social section of Yoast SEO

You’ve now claimed your website!

The Claim section in Pinterest

The last thing you need to do is to make sure your pins will show up as rich pins. With rich pins, the metadata is shown on the pin itself. This increases engagement as more information is given. To make sure your website is ready for rich pins, follow the steps on the rich pins validator page of Pinterest.

A rich pin, including price, stock and a link to your website, encouraging people to check the product out in your online store.

Product pins: the most important pins for you as a store owner

Pinterest has four kinds of pins:

  1. article pins;
  2. app pins;
  3. product pins;
  4. recipe pins.

We’ll focus on product pins, as these are the kind of pins you need to create as a shop owner. Product pins make it easier for your possible customers to see what you’re selling, how much it costs, whether it’s in stock and more. By providing this information immediately, you’re grabbing the attention of your audience and will drive more traffic to your website.

Yoast WooCommerce SEO and Pinterest

The WooCommerce SEO plugin stitches the Yoast SEO schema output and the WooCommerce schema output together, making sure it’s one, coherent, graph. At the same time, it also enriches the output with several attributes.

This means that, when you own an online store that runs on WooCommerce, you only need the Yoast WooCommerce SEO plugin on top of Yoast SEO to make sure Pinterest can get all relevant information. You just have to install the plugin, we’ll do the rest for you!

The moment you or someone else shares the product on Pinterest, we’ll make sure Pinterest understands it’s a product, what the price is and who the seller is. On top of this, we’ll also explain to Pinterest that the main entity of the page is the product you sell.

Schema.org explained

Implementing structured data properly on your website has always been a hassle. In Yoast SEO 11.0 we made this easier for you: instead of focusing on the technical specifics of your website, you can now focus on selling your product. We’ll focus on the right schema implementation for you!

Schema.org is used to markup products, recipes, articles and more. Search engines as Google and, of course, Pinterest can read this implementation and present it to their users. On top of this, search engines understand a page or website that has schema.org implemented better. Here’s a little story to show how it works.

All in all, Schema.org is incredibly important for SEO. It will make your website a better search result as it will give your visitors an easier way to pick a result from the list of links.

Read more: How to use Pinterest to grow – my experiences »

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Link building for bloggers

As your blog grows, the situations you’re dealing with seem to become harder. Whoever says blogging is for the lazy, has not dealt with optimization for search engines, the ever-changing algorithms of Facebook and Instagram, the best practices of Pinterest or the ever dreaded link building.

What is link building?

Link building means, in short, that you’re getting links from other websites to your own blog. It helps your posts to rank. Link building is not an easy task, as you are depending on third parties to link to your website. And not only that, you don’t want a link from every website. Spammy websites or websites that have little to do with your niche, are not valuable at all. I’ve tried link building, the holistic SEO way, and will share my experiences here. If you want to learn more about this, read this article Marieke wrote about link building from a holistic SEO perspective.

Asking for relevant links

To get relevant backlinks, you should know the websites you would like to get a backlink from. Send them a polite email requesting to place a link to your content, if it’s relevant to their audience as well. Please note that often, you will not get a reply at all. To improve your chances of getting a link to your website, your content should really be unique. Trying to get a link for a blogpost that is extremely basic and could’ve been written by anyone, is less likely to succeed than when you provide some very good content: content people can only find on your website. If you, for example, are a planner guru or the nation’s funniest mom blogger, it’s way easier to get a link to your website than if you just started out.

Facebook Groups

Do your hands get sweaty by the idea of having to email your fellow bloggers to ask for links? Fear not! Luckily, there are a lot of Facebook Groups, where bloggers post they might be working on a blog post that, for example, collects the best recipes for Easter, the best bullet journal tips or something different. You can often drop your link in the comments if you’ve written about the topic requested and with a little bit of luck, you’ll be featured in a blog post. It depends on your country which Facebook groups could be suitable, so ask your fellow bloggers or look around on Facebook.

Guest blogging

Another option to get links to your website, is through guest blogging for other blogs. Often, blogs are looking for input from fellow bloggers and in return will let you link to your own content. You’ll not only get a link to your website from a relevant website, you’ll get attention from the readers of that particular blog as well. Visit your favorite blogs and check to see if they accept guest submissions. They’ll usually mention this on their contact page or their collaboration page. Please note that a website could have certain guidelines before they accept your guest blog. It has to be unique content, but it also has to be in line with that website.

Do your thing

Link building for bloggers can be hard. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. When you’re already working on optimizing your posts, finding your voice and creating original blog posts, you might not want to add another massive project to your list. Because that is what link building is: it is not something you do just once. That’s why I’ve decided to quit my attempts at link building. I find it removes the focus from my blog entirely and turns into a popularity contest, at least in my mind. Not only that, I am not someone who finds it easy to reach out to other bloggers to request links in their content.

Instead, I’ve decided to focus on my own website and on helping others. I’ve found that I’ve received backlinks whenever I give a talk at a conference or after I helped someone with their website. This is not something that I take for granted, but when it happens, I realize why I’ve spent a few hours helping a blogger out with a bug on her website. For me, this means that I stay true to my own beliefs without having to focus on an entire strategy that is not my thing. And I found out that this is a link building strategy in itself: it helps my reputation as a blogger in the Dutch community. Find whatever works for you. And if you are actively building links, could you tell me your strategy?

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Networking for bloggers: why, how and where

As a blogger, you are probably doing your best to grow your audience on a daily basis. You’re optimizing for Google, Pinterest, social media and you do your best to set up and maintain a social media strategy. But, if you want to take your blog to the next level, there’ll come a point you will need the help of your fellow bloggers. In this post, I will explain why you need a network, as well as how and where to build it.

Want to expand your network? YoastCon 2019 is the perfect occasion to grow your network. Meet like-minded people and work on your blog’s SEO at the same time! Don’t worry about going alone, we even have single tables where you can get in touch with fellow bloggers, site owners and Yoast folks easily. See you on February 7 & 8 in Nijmegen! 

Why you need to network as a blogger

We all know that writing is one of the most lonely professions in the world. Although blogging may not seem as lonely at first glance – you engage with your readers on a daily basis – there’s a high chance you work alone.

As a writer, you often live inside your head. Your audience will only ever see your end result: a blog post or social media post. They won’t see the process of you thinking up your idea, killing your darlings or debating whether to write a certain article. You often take those decisions by yourself, or run them by your spouse or best friend.

While this is a valid approach, someone who is not ‘in the business’, can only help to a certain extent. While it’s often worth it to discuss certain ideas with your personal network, you’ll probably only ever touch the surface.

You might, for example, contemplate archiving your entire Instagram profile to start with a clean slate. Your best friend thinks you’re stupid, while you see bloggers around you do this and grow their following rapidly over the course of several months. And you might be left wondering if you’re cut out for this thing called ‘becoming an influencer’. If you’re at this point, you need a network of people who are like-minded.

At Yoast, I have a lot of colleagues to talk to whenever I need help. I know which person I should ask about SEO, which person knows a lot about Google Analytics and who can help me out when I broke my laptop – again. You need that kind of network for your blog as well. It’s very helpful to create a network so you can discuss certain topics: from SEO to developing websites, and from press releases to personal invitations. If you want to grow, you need a network.

How to network as a blogger

Truth be told, we’re in it for us. This means that everyone you’ll meet, is in it to gain something for themselves. This could be knowledge, reputation, information, cash, products or something else.

Knowing this, you’ll understand you can’t just go to someone you don’t know and ask them for that piece of information you want. You might not get an answer or, in the unlikely chance you do get one, it probably is an evasive one. You need to adopt an open source kind of mentality while networking. This means that you’ll share your knowledge with the world and eventually will receive information in return.

I’ll take myself as an example. Although I knew quite a few bloggers online, my network didn’t really grow until I went to a Dutch blog conference last June, to speak about SEO. I told the crowd that I was going to share my secrets with them, and told them, honestly, how weird it felt to do that, because I might very well kill my own blog this way.

Strangely, or perhaps not so strange at all, the opposite happened. My blog took off and with it, my network expanded tremendously. People knew where to find me, how to find me, and, also, that I was willing to help look into issues or questions.

I answered each question I got, because I love helping out. Did I request favors for each question I answered? No. Was I offered help in return for answering questions or solving issues? You bet! Often, I told people not to worry about it, that I loved to help and that I’d be sure to let them know if they could help me out. And I took people up on their offer, twice now. One of them even got me an invite for a press event of the Walt Disney Company – I mean, it’s Disney!

Where to network as a blogger

You might feel very willing to network with your fellow blog colleagues out there, but where to find them? If you’ve been on your own for a very long time, it can be tricky to get started. Don’t worry; there are various places where you can network as a blogger, both offline and online.

Online networking as a blogger

As your blog lives online, the easiest way to create a network is online as well. There are a lot of Facebook groups for bloggers in all sorts of niches and all kinds of languages. They’re created by bloggers like you and me. Try to find the groups where you can help other bloggers. I, myself, am in various groups, where I answer questions about the Yoast SEO plugins, SEO in general, WordPress or technical questions, as these are things I can help others with. In return, people help me when I have questions about Pinterest, Instagram or about certain press events that I’d like to attend.

Offline networking as a blogger

Offline networking is even more important than building a network online. While online it’s perhaps easier to mingle in discussions on forums, Facebook, or in Twitter conversations, the deeper and longer lasting connections will often start offline. Have you considered going to a local WordPress meetup, a WordCamp or a blog event in your city or country? These can be quite valuable – trust me, this is where the good stuff happens! If you’re unsure where to start, let me suggest YoastCon.

YoastCon for offline networking

YoastCon is a conference organized by Yoast. It focuses on SEO for all types of websites. I can guarantee you it will certainly focus on blogs as well! The conference will take place 7 and 8 February 2019 in the Netherlands. You’ll not only learn all there is to know about SEO from the very best in the field, there’s also plenty of networking opportunities.

Value your network!

Networking is not about transactions. It’s about building relationships, about finding the people you wish to work with and affiliate yourself with. It’s extremely valuable to invest in networking and maintaining relationships with your fellow bloggers. You never know when they’ll cross your path again or what you could mean for each other in the future. I would love to hear how you go about this, especially if it’s your fulltime job. And of course, let me know if I’ll see you at YoastCon! I would love to meet and talk in real life.

Read more: Caroline’s Corner: Work on your blog’s foundation »

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How to kick-start 2019 as a blogger with big goals

2018 is the year I took my blog to the next level: I started a blog series here on yoast.com about SEO for bloggers, I made goals, achieved a lot and failed a few as well. I tried to plan, failed miserably and tried again, with success. In short: in 2018 I found my love for blogging (again) and experimented a lot. 2019 is approaching fast though and I want to prepare properly. I don’t want to make the same mistakes I made this year and I’d like to reach the goals and resolutions I’ve set. So, here’s a plan (for you and me) to kickstart 2019 as a blogger with big goals.

Write down your blogging goals

Whether you want to grow to 50,000 visitors a month, want to launch an eBook, get more collaborations, or all three: write down each and every single one of your goals of 2019. By writing down your goals, you’re already way more committed to them than by just saying them out loud. Take that advantage! Write them down somewhere where you’ll see them regularly, for example on your blog notebook or on a memo board in your office. Seeing goals regularly and thinking about them often, will help you stay on top of them.

Please note that your goal should be realistic. If you want to grow your audience and your blog has 500 visitors now, it might not be entirely achievable to aim for 100,000 visitors by December 2019. Especially, if you’re unsure about how to reach such a growth.

Plan time to work on your goals

The biggest thing we all face, is time. Particularly, if your blog is a hobby – or just not your main source of income – it’s often the first thing you put aside when life throws you a curveball. I didn’t publish blogs for almost two months on my personal blog as I was very busy with other projects, hobbies and making up excuses why I just couldn’t spend time on my blog.

Because I don’t want this to happen again in 2019, I need blog posts written in advance. That’s why I planned a blog weekend in the beginning of January. I’ve done this back in September as well and managed to write over 30 blog posts in just three days. So in January I booked a cottage together with a fellow blogger and we’ll spend our days writing. The goal? To create flow, creativity and content.

Focus on one task at a time

If you’re in a writing flow, you should continue to write, even if your blog post is finished. Do not fall into the trap of finishing your writing to start photographing and scheduling or promoting the blog post. Continue working on other blog posts! If you combine your tasks, you’ll be much more efficient. That could mean that you first write a few blog posts, then start photographing for all blog posts and then schedule or fine-tune them. You’ll switch less between tasks, which makes your focus and the results that much better.

I’ve spoken to bloggers who link certain days to certain tasks. On Mondays they’ll create their images; on Tuesdays they’ll focus on their Pinterest scheduling; on Wednesdays they’ll write new content and so forth. Because you’re focused, you’ll get things done much quicker. You have to find out if this works for you or not, it will help you get the tasks you otherwise wouldn’t do, on your to do list.

Finish your tasks

If you focus on one task at a time, the biggest trap you could fall in is never publishing some of your post. While I was writing in a cottage back in September, the internet was horrible. This meant I couldn’t schedule my posts properly, nor find stock photos if necessary. Now, I’ve only published 12 of the 32 blog posts I’ve written back then. Are the other 20 not worth publishing? No, they definitely are! I just never finished them. I’ve never proofread them, took photos, nor scheduled them. And now, I have an issue with even looking at those blog posts, as it all feels like a waste.

Lock up that critic (or befriend it)

Two of my most popular posts in 2018, were about the inner critic we all have inside of us. The first one was about why you should befriend your inner critic, the second one was why you should quit your blog now. Both got a lot of comments. Some of you were annoyed that I even dared say you should quit your blog and with every right so.

Often our biggest critic, is within us. If we want to grow, we should befriend it and be willing to silence it every once in a while. You can’t write blog posts in advance, if you let your inner critic out too often. You’ll never be able to finish everything, if you let the perfectionist in you speak all the time. Often ‘good enough’ really is good enough.

Find bloggers like yourself

To stay on top of your goals, it’s very helpful to have bloggers to chat to. The last year I met various bloggers like me on blogging conferences. I’ve even become close friends with a few of them. We often message each other for help, tips and the likes. Are you unsure why and if networking is something for you? I’ve written a post on the importance of networking as a blogger!

Reflect each month

Whenever you set your year goals, don’t forget you should set monthly goals and maybe even weekly and daily goals that link to the bigger goals. This way, your goal stays within reach and doesn’t feel like something in the far distance. You’ll make small progress with every step you take. By the end of each month, you need to check if you made progress and if it’s the progress you aimed for. If not, find out why you didn’t reach it. Did you aim too high? Or did you neglect to do what you should’ve done? Whatever the reason is, accept that sometimes you fail. You always have a new month and a new day to try again!

I would love to hear from you what your goals for 2019 are, how you want to reach them and what you would like to learn from me in 2019!

Read on: Blogging: the ultimate guide »

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