Variables have become a staple of Yoast SEO. Variables make it possible to automate certain processes on your site. They also make it easy to change large batches of meta descriptions for instance, since you only have to change the structure of the variable – the site fills in the data automatically. Here, we’ll take a closer look at the Titles and Meta variables in Yoast SEO.

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What is a variable?

First things first: a variable is a name or a symbol that stands for a value. For instance, Yoast SEO uses the variable %%sitename%% to get the site name from the site itself. This way, you, as a user, don’t have to type in this information by hand. Now, when the name of the site changes, the variable automatically gets the new name from the site. If you had this hard-coded in your site, you’d have to change everything manually – everywhere. Consider doing this on hundreds of pages and you’ll start to see how powerful variables are.

How does Yoast SEO use variables?

Yoast SEO uses variables to give you the freedom and flexibility you need when working on your SEO. It makes it much easier to find a common ground for your text fields. What’s more, if you ever need to change something, variables let you do this as quickly as possible.

You can only find the relevant options in the Titles and Metas section of the Yoast SEO plugin if you activate the advanced settings. There you’ll find loads of options for setting variables to automate your SEO efforts. The full list of variables is listed on the HELP tab of the plugin. Just go to SEO → Titles & Metas and click the help tab in the top right. You can also check our knowledge base article on Titles and Metas variables.

yoast seo titles metas help center

You are free to change any of the settings as you see fit, but remember, the default settings are almost always a great fit for any site. That being said, you can set variables for:

  • The homepage
  • Site title
  • Posts
  • Pages
  • Media
  • Custom types
  • Categories
  • Tags
  • Archives

How to set variables in Yoast SEO

You can use variables in a multitude of ways. Most site-owners only use the most basic ones, while someone more at home in SEO might use the advanced ones. There are even variables for use with WooCommerce, so you can automatically extract product information from your store to use in the metadata. In this post, we’ll keep it simple and give a small example. Let’s look at the different variables that you can use to determine the title of a post on a site.

* Open the Yoast SEO advanced settings and go to Titles and Metas.
* Go to the Post section and find the Title template field.
* The field is prepopulated, but you can change it to whatever you want.
* If you need the list of supported variables, click on Help Center.

Snippet editor

If you want, you can edit the SEO title per post in the snippet editor of Yoast SEO. There, you’ll find the title according to the variables you’ve chosen. In addition, you also get the option to override that title with a custom-made variant if you think that’ll attract more clicks in the search engines.

seo title variables yoast seo

The default title variable string is:

%%title%% %%page%% %%sep%% %%sitename%%

Which, for the post you are now reading, leads to:

snippet preview titles and meta

These variables combined form the SEO title of the post. In this string, the title takes the title of the post, adds a page number if any (f.i. page 3 of 4), the separator symbol you picked and the site name of the site it’s posted on. You could add lots of other variables in there, but remember, you’re working with limited space for the snippets. If you’d add a %%category%% for instance, the title would become too long and Google would cut it off. Try to find a middle ground between readability, findability and branding. Yes, your branding is important, so don’t omit %%sitename%%.

Using variables for SEO

Yoast SEO supports a wide range of variables and they can be used for almost any situation. You should, however, always ask yourself if the change you want to make improves your metadata. If not, why not let the default settings do their work? Experienced SEOs will enjoy using the advanced variables and online store owners can make use of the extra WooCommerce variables. For the rest of you? Don’t overdo it.

Read more: ‘Why every website needs Yoast SEO’ »

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Rian Rietveld and Andrea Fercia are two heavyweights in the WordPress accessibility community. Both legends are joining us at the YoastCon SEO conference on November 2, 2017. For this joint interview, we asked them a couple of questions about the current state of accessibility, common implementation mistakes and how to start with the right mindset. Of course, the duo explains why you should come to YoastCon!

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Accessibility is incredibly important. Focusing on accessibility in your work makes sure you won’t leave anyone behind. Could you tell us a bit about the current state of accessibility in general and WordPress in particular?

According to Andrea, accessibility is getting more and more attention in the last couple of years: “Microsoft, Apple, Google, Facebook, Twitter, and more, are renewing their focus on accessibility as part of an inclusive design process and delivering products with a good level of built-in accessibility.”

Even WordPress gets better, says Andrea. “In the last 2-3 years, a great number of accessibility fixes entered the codebase. However, there’s still the need to educate many contributors, increase awareness, expertise, and incorporate accessibility in the design process. In WordPress, accessibility is still perceived as something that can be added at a later stage in the development process. That’s an ineffective process. It goes in a different direction compared to what all the other big players are doing.”

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Rian wants to stress the importance of accessibility as well:
 “Accessibility is the next big thing after responsive design. People involved in web development are starting to understand that accessibility is part of the process. There are two reasons for this. In an increasing number of countries, websites need to be accessible by law. Not just sites for government and public services but in some countries company sites as well. The second reason: accessibility is considered good practice in modern web development.”

According to WordPress the accessibility of the CMS improved dramatically in the last four years. Rian says that the community is starting to see that this is an important issue. She shares one ‘but’: “New functionality, however, is still not designed and developed with accessibility in mind. That means we still need to fix issues, also newly created issues. And that’s a point we can definitely improve on.”

It still seems hard to get stakeholders interested in accessibility. What do you guys do to convince people of the importance of accessibility and what do you do to help them get started?

Andrea says business owners and managers should look at the numbers in addition to the ethical considerations: “Accessibility is not just about people with specific disabilities or impairments. It’s about changing abilities that everyone experiences in their life with aging. Demographic trends, especially in Europe and North America, give us impressive numbers that can help us understand who our users and customers will be in the next 10-15 years.”

“Sometimes it’s hard to convince people. Education helps. We still need to debunk many myths about accessibility and make people understand it’s something that benefits everyone, including your future you,” explains Andrea.

Rian supports the notion that stakeholders are primarily interested in profit. She’d like to add her arguments for successfully implementing accessibility from the get-go: “20% of your visitors have a better experience using your site. Google is deaf and blind, so accessibility directly benefits SEO. The site will be more sustainable, as an accessible website will use more robust and meaningful code. If you include it at the beginning it will not cost extra if your team is well-prepared.”

You probably see the same mistakes made again and again. Do you have a list of common mistakes to keep our readers from making the same?

According to Rian you should: “Include accessibility at the beginning of the project, don’t check for it at the end because it will cost a lot more to correct it afterward. Also, keep in mind that you don’t create a website for yourself, but research your user and create a site your visitors understand. Focus on the main purpose of the site and don’t add elements to distract the user from that, only because you like to show off your design/programming skills.”

Andrea likes to emphasize the importance of valid HTML: “Well-structured, valid, semantic, markup is definitely the first thing you should focus on. HTML is the last layer of our communication. It’s great when all our development processes focus only on great abstracted object-oriented programming, modern JavaScript Frameworks and so on, but when our HTML is poorly coded, then our communication fails.”

Today, there is still a lot of very poorly coded HTML around, says Andrea: “People must understand why the HTML output is so important for the software that reads our web pages. Any software, including assistive technologies, or search engine crawlers, read our HTML. Good HTML is good communication that helps everyone, improves accessibility and also SEO.”

When looking at it from a design perspective, the design should start with the information architecture, says Andrea: “After that comes the interaction flow, and then the presentation layer. Instead, I still see today many projects starting with the presentation layer. For instance, missing controls labels are a very common mistake. All user interface controls must have a label.”

Let’s say I’m a site-owner and want to improve the accessibility of my site. What’s the first or most important thing I should do?

Andrea starts off with a great tip: “I’d recommend to disable styles in your browsers (that’s easy with Firefox) and look at your site without the presentation layer. Does your page still make sense? Is the order of the content logical and meaningful? Of course, there are a lot of other things to check. There also are more advanced ways to perform a first accessibility check, including some browsers add-ons. They help to catch some of the most common mistakes, but they require some expertise.”

Rian’s advice supports Andrea’s: “Check if you can navigate your website without a mouse, with keyboard only. Also, please add subtitles to video and transcript audio. And keep the following in mind when you design or write: People don’t read on a website, they skim the page and navigation for what they want to know and then read.”

The WordPress project is increasingly accessible. You both contributed quite a lot to WordPress. How did you get involved with the community and which part of the accessibility project are you proud?

Andrea accidentally got involved: “I must be honest: it was a period when I was partially unemployed and had some free time, so I started following the project and then submitted my first contribution. About my involvement in the WordPress Accessibility Team, I just owe everything to Rian Rietveld!”

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Proud is the right word, says Andrea: “I think it’s not a specific patch or improvement to the codebase. I’m really glad to see that some of the WordPress contributors, especially the younger ones, they just try to implement accessibility by default when they code. They feel it’s part of a coding best-practice and that’s the best thing I’d like to see in any project.”

Rian: “My drive was to help my blind clients using the WordPress Admin. I’m the proudest of the cooperation we now get from almost everyone in the WordPress community. I think we are on the right track with the Accessibility Team now.”

You can read more about Rian’s journey in the WordPress Accessibility team on HeroPress.

Why shouldn’t people miss your talk at YoastCon?

“Come and learn if you want to know why accessibility and SEO are a great match. Not everyone uses and reads a website the same. We’ll teach you how to create content that is understandable for everybody,” says Rian.

Don’t want to miss Rian and Andrea on stage? Get your ticket now for YoastCon 2017!

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Read more: ‘YoastCon 2017: Practical SEO’ »

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Alain Schlesser – aka Schlessera – is a prolific WordPress Core Contributor and he is on a mission: “I want to make WordPress future-proof enough to withstand the next few online revolutions without drowning in technical debt, and as a direct consequence, ensure the longevity of the community that’s surrounding it”. Yoast supports him in reaching those goals. Find out more about Alain and his work in the WordPress community.

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A couple of weeks ago, Yoast hired you as a freelancer to expand the work you do on WordPress core. Can you explain this move and what it enables you to do? And what do you hope to get out of it personally?

For some time now, I have been working on WordPress core in my spare time. I have also invested a lot of time into creating educational material like blog posts and WordCamp talks. I had to do all this besides the client work I am getting paid for. As a freelancer, this causes a constant struggle where you’re trying to balance the work you think is important with the work that pays the bills. It causes a lot of stress, and you even miss many important opportunities because the financial pressure grows too big.

I was always able to produce a lot of open source work as a side-effect of my client work. However, working on the important issues of WordPress core is a different beast. I didn’t find a way to integrate these concerns into any client projects.

Being paid for working on WordPress core means that I can afford to spend the time on critical topics. I can now seize opportunities as they come. It means I can work on the areas of the core that do not provide an immediate ROI, but are necessary for a long-term improvement.

One of my overarching personal goals is to make WordPress future-proof enough to withstand the next few online revolutions without drowning in technical debt, and as a direct consequence, ensure the longevity of the community that’s surrounding it.

You are a very active member of the WordPress community and even a core-contributor to the latest couple of releases. What is it that attracts you to this community and how did you start off?

When I started delving more deeply into WordPress, I quickly noticed that the code did not exactly follow common best practices. Some parts of the code were well-built, but very generally, it all seemed as though people were constantly trying to reinvent the wheel, instead of reading up on accepted solutions for their problems.

That led me to frequently share best practices and tips whenever I found an opportunity to do so. A lot of the jobs and the traction I initially got came directly or indirectly from freely sharing my own knowledge and experience. But I was mostly working in isolation, except for the few Slack teams I was a member of.

This all changed after I attended my first WordCamp. It was WordCamp Europe in Vienna, and it was a wonderful experience. I was already wondering for a few months whether WordPress was the right platform for me. It felt like making several steps backwards as a developer, instead of progressing. But the first WordCamp changed everything for me.

Although I went to Vienna for professional reasons, it enriched my personal life as well. It made me aware of how much I truly appreciate the community that has gathered around the WordPress project. All of a sudden, all the technical drawbacks of the WordPress platform were secondary to the feeling of personal growth in the welcoming and inspiring community.

That’s why I now work hard on helping make WordPress the best platform it can be (… according to my own benchmarks and agenda, of course). I always try to be as positive and constructive as I can manage. There’s more than enough people that are more than willing to tell you all that is bad about the WordPress codebase. However, not many will be able to point you towards a possible path to improvement that will still meet all given requirements of such an old project. I, however, am working on moving from the former to the latter group.

Could you tell us a bit about the work that’s going on in WordPress at the moment? What key issues need to be worked on?

A lot of the effort is currently being focused on Gutenberg. This is the new editing experience that should launch with WordPress 5.0. However, there are many smaller groups still working fervently on other areas of the core that are just as important.

Right now, I am mostly focusing on the PHP/backend side of things. I want to work on the architectural problems that are plaguing WordPress. I also started a feature project to analyze and redesign the bootstrap process. In addition, I am helping prepare a bump of the minimum PHP version and try to fix the major performance issues of a normal request.

More generally, I think that WordPress needs more experienced developers with outside experience, that can help teach and enforce better practices. That’s why I also want to work on eliminating the hurdles that these developers face.

We need helping hands if we want to improve WordPress, right? Basically, anyone working with or on WordPress could make major or minor contributions to improve the CMS. Let’s say someone is interested in taking part in the project, what steps should he/she take?

An obvious first step is to head over to make.wordpress.org and read through the list of teams to see whether something catches your interest. There’s lots of documentation for most teams that take you through the initial steps of contributing for the first time.

Apart from that, just meet other people at the next Meetup or WordCamp in your region. Most WordCamps have a “Contributor Day” that is ideal for getting a feel for the project. There are also team leads present that will help you with the initial onboarding.

Finally, for the people who don’t know you yet, could you give us a little background on yourself and your work?

I started dabbling in software development as a child on a Commodore C-64. I learned to develop in Basic, and mostly tried to build text adventures, which was an early form of natural language processing. Later on, I moved through several other languages, covering C, C++, Assembler, Pascal and a lot of more obscure dialects.

I always saw game development as the most interesting area for myself. In this area, you not only needed to make everything work, it also needed to work as fast as possible. You always try to get around the then very crippling performance limits. This led me down several rabbit holes at once, learning about data structures and algorithms, artificial intelligence, graphics and sound driver development, etc.

When I later thought about what professional path to follow, I always tried to avoid the IT space though, as I associated it with frustrating technical support work, more than anything else. That’s why I ended up working as a government agent in the administration of a prison.

I ended up dealing a lot with IT anyway. Since then, I worked on a very diverse set of projects. I even accumulated some certifications along the way, such as for Oracle PL/SQL or Microsoft Sharepoint development.

As I was never truly satisfied with the work I did for the government (mostly because of the long delays and the nonsensical budget allocations), I read a lot about freelancing, remote work, and lifestyle design.

Then, about three years ago, my wife and I made the jump. We both quit our jobs, moved from Luxembourg to Germany and started a new life. I opted to freelance as a PHP and WordPress developer, as these made up the biggest part of the market. I just assumed it would be easy to find work for that reason.

Read more: ‘Why there’s only one model: the open source model’ »

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It’s a common misconception that the internet is the ultimate learning environment. Yes, you can find everything you need, for free, but the information you end up with is not always trustworthy. It’s scattered, often outdated and sometimes contradictory. So if you want to learn all about a particular subject, you might be better off signing up for an online course. Yoast offers all kinds of SEO courses in its Academy, with great success. Marieke, who is responsible for most of the courses, explains how Yoast Academy came about.

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“We first had the idea for the Academy when Yoast reached its fifth birthday. We had already successfully published an ebook called ‘Optimizing your WordPress site’  – now called SEO for WordPress – and a second one was in the works. But we wanted to combine our knowledge in a new way, something more engaging and hands-on because not everyone wants to read a book or a hundred blog posts to get to the bottom of a subject. That’s when our courses were born,” Marieke explains.

DIY SEO

Yoast Academy is the go-to place if you want to teach yourself SEO. So far, we’ve written eBooks on SEO for WordPress, UX & conversion, content SEO, and shop SEO. On top of that, you can find a selection of in-depth courses on site structure, SEO copywriting, Yoast SEO for WordPress, basic SEO and technical SEO. The latest course added to the academy is Structured data and there are several currently in development, and this is only the beginning.

According to Marieke, the Academy is an excellent addition to Yoast’s line of products: “Yoast Academy fits perfectly within our company mission. At Yoast, we want to make it possible for everyone to build a findable website and by sharing our knowledge we can help people to do that. It’s also one of the reasons we make our content available in different formats. Besides, we are great proponents of open source and give away a good deal of what we know for free. A lot of what we teach is freely available on our site, but also expanded and republished in the form of a course or an eBook.”

Efficient, complete and of great quality

One of the first things people will say when given the option to pay for an eBook or course on SEO or whatever other subject, is that you can find everything you want online, for free. Marieke: “Sure, that’s true. If you have enough time and perseverance, you can indeed find everything you want. But we’ve found that a course package is much more efficient, to the point and complete. If you just read posts on yoast.com, the information is fairly focused. But if you surf the web looking for answers, you’ll quickly get outdated and sometimes contradictory advice. Our courses are exhaustive, up to date and well-thought-out. They offer a great mix of practice and theory. Also, the quizzes let you test your new-found knowledge and make sure it sticks.”

The SEO courses in the Yoast Academy have been well-received. Matt LeClear, one of the first participants in the Structured data training, found that Google rewarded his site with rich snippets within a day after applying the knowledge he gathered from the training:

“As a result of what I learned from the Structured data training, my agency is now running Schema audits on our clients’ sites. We’re finding big time opportunities to increase their traffic levels. Those are opportunities I would have missed without Yoast Structured Data Training. If you run an agency yourself, I recommend you take the course. Period.”

Developing material

A course that takes several hours to complete is a different animal compared to a blog post or even an eBook. A good course is well-structured, in-depth and engaging. It has to be an enjoyable experience, and it shouldn’t be too hard or too easy. This is quite a challenge, acknowledges Marieke: “It’s not hard to come up with subjects and material, but it’s the structure and activities that make it a challenging product to build.”

Marieke draws upon past experience to make sure the courses are top-notch: “In the past, I developed a lot of educational material while working at a university. I created several courses and studied different theories on how to produce quality educational material. At Yoast, Joost and I create every course. It’s a complicated and tough process. Jesse, our Academy lead, helps us find the perfect subjects, structure, tone and supporting materials. That way, we know for certain that the course achieves what we set out to do.”

“That’s not to say we think our courses are perfect. They aren’t and probably never will be. But, we are working on them and using customer feedback to improve them. Jesse has lots of experience developing new courses. Plus, he’s an excellent English teacher. Jesse will dive deeper into the theory behind our courses. He’ll make sure that the foundations of our courses are solid and will improve where necessary,” Marieke says.

Keeping things on track

In general, if there is one thing almost all online courses have to cope with, it’s the high drop-off rate. It’s something Marieke noticed as well: “Yeah, it’s hard to keep students on track in online courses. It’s always disappointing to see that a certain percentage of customers never finish the course.”

The missing link could well be the human touch, says Marieke: “I think it would help if we could give our courses a more personal feeling. Take our SEO copywriting course for example. During the course, our students need to send in two assignments. These assignments are hand-checked by our SEO experts, and students get a tailored reply with valuable feedback. This works great; students love to hear from us. Although expensive to produce, this is something we might expand in the future. Another thing I’m contemplating is an SEO copywriting course with a personal coach for one-on-one support. Another helpful tool to enhance the personal aspect of our Academy would be a place for Yoast Academy students to get together, like a private Facebook group so that people can help each other.”

Want rich snippets for your site? Try our Structured data training »

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Much more to come

Yoast Academy is growing fast; it is the fastest-growing product group in Yoast’s portfolio. Marieke and her team are making progress with new courses and improving and updating current courses. But, it doesn’t stop there, says Marieke: “The current courses touch on a wide range of SEO-related subjects. In the future, we will expand our offerings, but we’re also thinking about a different model. If possible, I’d want to work with a more modular approach. There has to be a way to tailor a course to the specific requirements of a student. Not everyone starts at the same level and with the same knowledge and I’d like a system that adapts where you can pick and choose from suggested subjects.”

Keep an eye on Yoast Academy! Our most recent course on structured data was a big success and we’re actively working on the next one: multi-lingual SEO. Why don’t you try one and see what all the fuss is about!

Read more: ‘Learning didactics Yoast Academy’ »

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“SEO is more about being in ALL the right places at the right time.” That’s how SEO and internet marketer Roy Huiskes describes the importance of a complete online presence. He has worked in the business since 2003 and consulted for several big brands. With loads of experience in CRO, analytics and all aspects of online marketing, he’s one of the best SEO experts in Europe. So it goes without saying that we’re delighted to announce he’ll be joining our panel discussion at YoastCon. To top it off, he’ll also give a hands-on workshop on keyword research!

Want to take your own keyword research to the next level? Sign up for his workshop! Get your ticket now for YoastCon 2017!
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You’re an SEO and online marketer. Do you feel these are still two separate areas, as SEO is becoming more and more about optimizing your complete online presence (including social media etc)?

I never felt these were separate domains. From the first days, I’ve always seen SEO as understanding the consumer’s needs and creating value around that. Google only caught on to this later on, so tactics might have changed a bit, but the strategy of understanding the consumer’s needs is still the same.

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So, to answer the question: Yes, SEO is more about being in ALL the right places at the right time to get better results. There are quite a few cases that prove that the searches themselves and the connection between ‘brand’ and ‘top keyword’ are very relevant to increase your organic traffic. This can only be achieved by being a bigger brand.

You’ve once predicted the rise of local SEO. Nowadays, optimizing for local is very important. Any tips for local entrepreneurs on what to focus on?

Yes. It’s a very natural factor for Google to consider, especially with an 80%+ market share in the mobile market. People are looking for this information. In the English language, the ‘near me’ query is critical. While this could also work in the Netherlands, we don’t see similar behavior that often. Opening hours is quite remarkable though.

So, make sure you do your keyword research very well and not ‘globally’, but understand how the consumer searches in each country or culture. This is getting even more important if you consider the use of devices like Google Home, Cortana, Amazon Echo or Siri. This will probably result in a huge shift in the type of search terms people are using. Since these kinds of queries are on 20% already, this transition is something to focus on.

As a consultant working for major brands, you’ve seen lots of websites in your career. What’s the biggest mistake you think website owners make when it comes to SEO?

I’m not sure. It could be two things:

  • Not training the development teams well and in a more technical, advanced way
  • The lack of keyword/intention research and the unwillingness to make UX changes on this.

I think I’ll go with the UX though. I’ve seen a lot of quality, easy to understand SEO stuff be put away, in favor of all kinds of fancy-pants UX that nobody needed, often because of some CRO goal setting that wasn’t backed up by data.

SEO of the future: what should website owners focus on if they want to rank now AND in the future? Are there any important changes coming up that we should know about?

Well, I don’t believe in the mantra: ‘create for the user, and they will come’, although I do think you should put user behavior first. The users won’t come automatically after a reasonable amount of time. We need to do more work. Market your website properly, making sure people know what they can find, do and buy on your site, and what your brand stands for.

But it all starts with being clever about your target audience and their needs. So proper user research that focuses on intentions and keywords will teach you a lot about your consumers. Then start experimenting, learn more about your customers in A/B tests and help them in your journey to a better product that attracts even more happy users.

Why shouldn’t people miss your talk at YoastCon?

Well, how nice of you to ask, good question. The answer to the previous question is what I’m going to provide. Or at least how I’m doing that for my clients. I’ll teach you how to do proper keyword research, focus on intentions and gather all the useful data to make smart decisions.

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The developers at Yoast HQ are quite the busy bees. In the past few weeks, we’ve released Yoast SEO 5.3 – with some pretty cool features -, helped build a plugin that provides the ‘glue’ between two of the biggest WordPress plugins out there and launched an innovative new customer portal called My Yoast. After the dust has settled, it’s time to release the next version of our flagship plugin: Yoast SEO 5.4. Find out what’s new and what’s fixed.

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Yoast SEO: the #1 WordPress SEO plugin Info

Redirects in Yoast SEO Premium

The redirects manager in Yoast SEO Premium is pretty awesome, if I may say so. It helps you with everyday redirect tasks, so you don’t have to worry about this. So, whenever you deleted a post or change a URL, the redirects manager will ask you if it should redirect the old content to the new content. This way, visitors will never stumble upon pages that don’t exist anymore, resulting in the dreaded 404 error message.

In Yoast SEO 5.3, we added the possibility to export all your redirects in a CSV file. This file gives you a complete overview of all the redirects on your site. In Yoast SEO 5.4, we’ve made it possible to import a redirects CSV file. Now, you can make (bulk) changes to your redirects within that CSV file and import it again when you’re done. Changes will take place immediately. There are loads of scenarios where this will come in handy, for instance, when you’re rebuilding a site and want to replace the same redirects. You’ll find the import and export features in the Tools section of Yoast SEO.

If you want to learn more about what happens behind the scenes of Yoast SEO, you should join us at YoastCon. YoastCon is a hands-on conference that teaches you the ins-and-outs of SEO. Read more »

Technical improvements

Today’s releases mostly feature improvements that make sure that Yoast SEO runs like a well-oiled machine. To increase the performance of the plugin, we’ve replaced the use of `get_posts` and `get_children` by `WP_Query`. This release’s community input came from Saša Todorović – who has been very active lately – and Pete Nelson. The first proposed a fix to exclude archive pages from the sitemap, based on the noindex setting. The latter suggested a hook to disable the Twitter card.

Happy updating!

The updated Yoast plugins are now available, so go get them! We’re working around the clock to bring you a helpful product that makes SEO easier for everyone. We hope you enjoy working with Yoast SEO and value the improvements the plugin brings. Happy updating!

Read more: ‘Why every website needs Yoast SEO’ »

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He’s been active in the SEO industry for over 14 years, and founded one of the UK’s most wanted Digital Marketing agencies, Bronco. With a proven ability to achieve great results, even in the most competitive of fields, Dave Naylor can rightly call himself an SEO genius. So it goes without saying that we’re thrilled to announce that Dave will be at YoastCon this November, to join us for an exciting panel discussion! To give you all a sneak peek, we asked him about SEO challenges, ranking number one, and online success.

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Dave, you’ve been in the SEO industry for a long time now. You founded your company, Bronco, 14 years ago. In your bio, you mention that the search engines sometimes call you to teach their personnel about how they work. What was the last question someone from a search engine asked you?

LOL – As much as I’d love to answer that, I’m pretty sure that the non-disclosure agreements we all sign up to would stop me from being able to. A lot of the most common questions are actually available in open forums. So if you’re really dedicated to finding out the answer to the vast majority of search engine structure questions, you’ll be rewarded!

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SEO has matured. It is a serious business, and most brands invest a lot of time and effort into it. In working with clients, what is the first thing you ask them when they want to achieve online success?

Working with any client is a two-way street, so what I’m looking to find out straight away is how much time and effort they are willing to put into a successful campaign. Of course, we’re not going to find clients as passionate about SEO as we are. We’re not asking for that, but they need to show they’re keen and willing – that’s what makes a truly great SEO campaign and a really productive agency-client relationship. There’s not just the issue of what they will do, it’s also about what they can do. For example, if the client has no way of improving the technical side of SEO on their site, that can become a game changer real quick

You often said that it’s no use to have a site when it doesn’t rank number one. That, however, is quite the challenge for most site owners. Is it still possible to rank number one and which steps should you follow if you want to stand a chance?

That’s a tough one. The SERP landscape is constantly changing, with Local listing and OneBoxes popping up everywhere. Ranking number one has obviously never been a walk in the park. But now we’re dealing with a much more complex environment.

I think that ranking number one these days, is more about market share and visibility than just ranking number one for an industry term. If you’ve got the appetite needed to gain market share and visibility, you should pick up a few number one positions along the way.

There are quite a few challenges ahead for SEOs, like the mobile-first index and the rise of voice search. What do you think will be the number one focal point for the next year?

I think the focus will still be on mobile-first. That’s something I see Google pushing hard for the foreseeable future – until the world catches up.

That said, I would love to see them revisiting the idea of discounting inbound links signals again, but we will have to wait and see!

These days, there’s a lot of focus on creating great content. Understandable, because that’s what makes you rank. The technical aspects of SEO, however, are still incredibly important. In your regard, which technical parts should always get a lot of attention?

Site speed is an essential element of any campaign and for good reasons. You’ve also got to prioritize index and site structure when reviewing your technical SEO – obvious choices but absolutely paramount.

Also with regards to content, from a technical perspective, you need to watch out for duplicated, thin and badly structured content!

We assume this interview has convinced people to go see your discussion panel at YoastCon on November 2! In the unlikely case someone is still in doubt, what’s the main reason they shouldn’t miss the panel?

Personally, I’m looking forward to a really interesting discussion, and I will make sure I answer any question honestly and openly!

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Read more: ‘YoastCon 2017: Practical SEO’ »

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His name is Joeke-Remkus de Vries, but you can call him Remkus. You might know him by his online handle DeFries and you could have run into him at one of the many WordCamps around the world. Remkus is a well-known and respected figure in the WordPress community and we’re glad to offer him the possibility to do more awesome work in the community. We’ve asked Remkus five questions and these are his answers.

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You and Joost/Yoast go way back. Recently, Yoast started sponsoring you part-time to do WordPress community work. What kind of community efforts will you be working on thanks to Yoast? Could you tell us more about that?

Yeah, I know Joost from before there was a Yoast company. Joost and I co-organized some of the first WordCamp Netherlands editions and we’ve always remained friends. I’ll be focussing my efforts on participating in the Community team with validating meetup and WordCamp requests as well as helping out where needed. I’ve spent the last couple of weeks reacquainting myself with everything happening at the WordPress Community Make site in order to help out as best as I can.

The time and energy I spent being part of the organizing team for the previous WordCamp Europe and Netherlands editions, was not where I wanted them to be. But with Yoast sponsoring me part-time, I’ll be able to spend significantly more time in the organization. I’ll help organize the 2018 edition of WordCamp Europe in Belgrade as well as the next WordCamp Netherlands which will probably be held in 2018 as well. Additionally, I’ll visit WordCamps around the globe on behalf of Yoast and represent them in any way I can. Not a bad situation if you ask me ;)

That’s great news! So, how did you start out in the WordPress community?

I started developing sites with WordPress since before we had such niceties as pages. Soon, my hobby became work. Today, I run a couple of WordPress related businesses, Forsite Media and WP ServicePoint being the most prominent.

In 2008, I entered the WordPress community. I discovered that the WordPress project in the Netherlands was in a pretty sorry state. At that time, new Dutch versions of releases came out months after the default one. In addition, the quality of the translations was very inconsistent and, quite frankly, all over the place.

I didn’t want to be embarrassed when handing over a site to a customer. The only way to improving this product to an acceptable level of quality was to take matters into my own hands. So, with the help of Zé Fontainhas – who at the time was handling all things Rosetta and Polyglots – I took over the translations, set up a consistent team, started releasing a Dutch WordPress version within 24 hours and started cleaning up the Dutch WordPress forums with the help of newly found moderators.

In 2009, I co-founded WordCamp Netherlands and have been the lead organizer from 2010 till 2016. Those first editions were all about “activating” the Dutch community. At the same time, I started going to WordCamps abroad and found many kindred spirits and ultimately, friends. Together with the same Zé Fontainhas, I co-founded WordCamp Europe in 2013. You can learn more about how that went on WordPress.tv.

You’ve been very active in the WordPress community for many years now. In these years, WordPress became increasingly popular, leading to an ever-growing community. What’s your view of the current state of the WordPress community?

It’s amazing to see where WordPress is now coming from just a small blogging platform. In my opinion, the current state of the WordPress Community is very healthy. More and more people are going to and organizing WordPress Meetups and WordCamps and more and more communities are starting to flourish. This ultimately brings in, even more, people into the WordPress project and that’s obviously a good thing from where I’m standing. Couple this with the ever growing list of available locales, in which WordPress is available, and I have no doubt we’re going in the right direction of democratizing the web.

The WordPress community is huge. You focus mostly on organizing meetups and WordCamps. Why did you pick that particular part and why do you love it so much?

I’m not sure I specifically picked that part, that kind of happened. I saw ways of improving the WordPress project and I went out of my way to do it. Doing this while meeting people; making friends made it very easy to continuously put energy into it. I get a lot of joy out of the fact we have such strong Dutch and European WordPress Communities.

You often hear that anyone working, developing or building with WordPress could also play a part in getting WordPress to the next level by participating in the community. What advice would you give people wanting to lend their hand to the WordPress project?

Simple. Go to meetups, get involved, go to WordCamps and especially the Contributor Days. It’s a great way to learn about the larger project and find your place within it. Once you’ve found your place, it becomes a lot easier to find out in which area you’d like to contribute most. Be it helping out on the forums, doing translations, improving WordPress’ core or any of the other subjects you can help out with.

Read more: ‘There’s only one model: the open source model’ »

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Advanced Custom Fields, or ACF, is one of the most popular WordPress plugins to date. It makes it possible to turn WordPress into a full-blown, custom-made content management system. How? By providing an easy way to add and manage custom fields. To use the content analysis of Yoast SEO in these custom fields, you need a plugin: ACF Content Analysis for Yoast SEO. As of today, two existing ACF glue plugins will come together in one official plugin. Here, we’ll shine a light on the open source driven development of this new ACF plugin.

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Why use Advanced Custom Fields?

Like the name says, the Advanced Custom Fields plugin, built by Elliot Condon, makes it easier to add custom fields to any WordPress site. While custom fields may sound boring on their own, they are used to extend WordPress. What’s more, people use them to build tailored solutions to, often, complex problems. Developers love these and use custom fields to develop new and exciting products on top of WordPress. By using custom fields, you can turn WordPress into a professional CMS that accomplishes all your needs perfectly.

What does the ACF Content Analysis for Yoast SEO plugin do?

The ACF Content Analysis for Yoast SEO plugin makes it possible for Yoast SEO to work inside custom fields. By using this plugin, you can use the SEO and readability analysis features of Yoast SEO to check your writing and SEO score, even if they live in a complex custom field.

Marcus Forsberg built the original ACF Content Analysis for Yoast SEO plugin. We later forked it to build our own solution. However, both plugins had trouble keeping up with the developments. Some time ago, we started a collaborative effort to make one, well-maintained, official ACF plugin for Yoast SEO. Viktor Fröberg, Marcus Forsberg, Thomas Kräftner and the great team at Angry Creative, helped us to merge two different ACF glue plugins and redevelop these into ACF Content Analysis for Yoast SEO. The team will update this plugin on a regular basis and offer continued support for ACF.

Version 2.0 of the plugin, available as of today, is rewritten from the ground up. It supports ACF 4 and 5. It offers stellar performance and supports more custom fields than ever.

Building something better, together

This is a collaborative effort. It is high time to put a spotlight on some of the team members that made sure two incredible WordPress plugins can start working together seamlessly.

Thomas Kräftner, freelance web developer:

“When Yoast SEO 3.0 came out I had a problem: I had just finished a site for a client that relied heavily on the now removed server-side analysis of content. Of course, the client wasn’t happy that all the work he paid for was wasted.

So we sat down and talked. I explained to them that they wouldn’t be the only ones with that problem. Instead of letting people reinvent the wheel, again and again, we should better make one generic solution. I proposed that my client would only pay a part of my development cost. In exchange, we’d make a completely free and open source plugin. And guess what – they thought this was a great idea!

I then also contacted Yoast, and at WordCamp Europe 2016 we agreed that they would also join in and help me maintain and support that plugin. It was a busy year, so it took until WCEU17 and also bringing Angry Creative on board to finally get us where we are today: The release of a true community built plugin.”

Viktor Fröberg, web developer at Angry Creative:

“At Angry Creative, we mainly do WordPress and WooCommerce development. As such, we often bump into both generic problems and specific problems that we fix by doing plugins. We also try to fix WordPress / WooCommerce core issues, but doing plugins helps us get solutions out there sooner rather than later.

We try to talk to our clients about the importance of open source and why this is valuable for them. A lot of our clients’ problems are shared problems, and by contributing our solutions to the community, our clients get free development time from other developers in the long run as they help improve the plugin. This pooling of resources benefits everyone.

This ACF Yoast SEO integration plugin was just like that. It was born out of a common need that almost all of our clients had. We’ve maintained it, and our clients have benefited from it. With the help of the awesome Thomas Kräftner and the Yoast crew the plugin is now better than ever, and together we’ll continue to improve it so that users can build their next big thing using WordPress with ease.”

Omar Reiss, CTO at Yoast:

“A collaboration like this is very dear to our heart. We get an incredible number of requests to add support for other plugins. At Yoast, we prefer such integrations to be backed by the community. We do our best to make it easy for third-party plugin developers to integrate with Yoast SEO. Whenever users request an integration, we mostly reach out to third-party plugin maintainers and offer our help and assistance in integrating with Yoast SEO. This works out well in many cases.

In this case, Marcus, Thomas and the folks at Angry Creative all separately leveraged the opportunity to create an integration between ACF and Yoast SEO. We happily brought everyone together to work on one integration to rule them all, reviewed, endorsed and distributed by Yoast, developed by the community.”

Open source driven development

The new ACF Content Analysis for Yoast SEO plugin is a solid piece of open source driven development. Ten developers from Sweden, Austria, and The Netherlands identified problems with the current implementation and stepped up to fix it. Working together with a fantastic team from around Europe and a shared open source mindset has made it possible for them to deliver fabulous work.

Open source is at Yoast’s heart. We try help others reach for the stars while continually improving our work. Projects like the ACF Content Analysis for Yoast SEO plugin give us the opportunity to learn from others and to contribute to the ever-expanding WordPress universe.

Download the plugins and tell us what you think! Thanks for supporting our work.

Read more: ‘Why there’s only one model: the open source model’ »

At Yoast, we greatly value our brilliant community. Hundreds of people voluntarily help us to improve our products by giving valuable feedback and insights into their usage of Yoast SEO. Contributors fix issues and suggest enhancements to make our work increasingly better. Today, with the release of Yoast SEO 5.3, we add another chapter to our open source driven development.

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Getting better, together

Browsing through our GitHub repository is a joy. Many helpful discussions are going on about the different Yoast plugins and Yoast SEO in particular. We greatly appreciate this as it gives us a feel of what you as a user want and what kind of problems you run into. This way, we can make calculated decisions on where the plugin could go next.

In almost every release there is at least one enhancement or fix by one of our esteemed contributors. In Yoast SEO 5.3 it’s Saša Todorović‘s time to shine, one of our most prolific contributors. But there are many, many more and we’d like to thank you all. If you’d like to contribute, please don’t hesitate and visit our repository on github.com/yoast.

Full support for Advanced Custom Fields (ACF)

We’re now announcing a different kind of community open source effort: full support for the very popular Advanced Custom Fields (ACF) WordPress plugin by Elliot Condon. Together with Viktor Fröberg, Marcus Forsberg, Thomas Kräftner and the awesome guys and girls at Angry Creative, we’ve merged two different ACF glue plugins and redeveloped these into one official one: ACF Content Analysis for Yoast SEO. This plugin will be updated on a regular basis and will offer continued support for ACF. From now on, Yoast SEO will be able to check your content in custom fields built by ACF.

If you want to know more about this project and what it all means for Yoast SEO and Advanced Custom Fields users, you can read the blog post about this new release.

Improvements: Schema.org, readability filter, XML image sitemap

Besides fixing support for ACF, our development team made great strides with Yoast SEO 5.3. Thanks to the awesome Saša Todorović, we’ve added an XML schema for image sitemaps so these can be validated in sitemap checks. We’ve also made it possible for custom theme providers to hook after_theme_load so they can provide their own XML sitemaps during setup.

One of the coolest additions in this release is the broader use of Schema.org metadata. Schema.org structured data is getting more important by the day, so you have to work on it. In Yoast SEO 5.3, the plugin not only adds Schema.org meta data about your site, like your name, logo, etc., to your homepage but every page on your site. If you’d like to learn more about structured data, we can recommend our Structured data course.

It’s always been possible to filter your posts by SEO score, so you could easily find these to improve them. Now, you can also filter by readability score. One more way to weed out those low-quality posts!

Yoast SEO Premium: Redirect export to CSV

We’ve added one of the most requested features to Yoast SEO Premium: export your redirects to CSV. You can now get a full overview of the redirects on your site in one handy file. Check the list and use it to make adjustments if needed.

Onwards and upwards

Yoast SEO 5.3 has been a joy to build, thanks to the continued support of our lovely community. Thanks for contributing. If you’d like to contribute as well, you know where to find us. Have fun updating!

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