October is Hacktoberfest month! Hacktoberfest is all about contributing to open source projects together. This year, we welcomed a nice crowd at Yoast HQ to help us improve our own and other peoples open source projects. Some of these fixes and enhancements made by this fine group of people made it into Yoast SEO 9.1. But that’s not all!
Building open source projects together
At Yoast, we believe in the open source model. We’ve been saying it again and again: open source is the way to go. By joining hands, we can genuinely make better products — and even change the world for the better. Here are a couple of posts to prove that we mean it:
Not only are our plugins open source, but members of our team often contribute to other open source projects like WordPress. But the open source community can still use some help. One of the projects created to get people to contribute to open source projects is Hacktoberfest. Hacktoberfest is open to everyone — you don’t have to be a seasoned contributor. If you are looking to contribute to open source for the first time, this is an excellent place to start. For this edition of Hacktoberfest, we hosted a special edition of the NMGN.tech meetup at Yoast HQ.
Yoast SEO 9.1 brings loads of fixes and improvements. As Yoast SEO 9.0 was such a big release with the improved SEO analysis, there was bound to be some stuff to fine-tune. As of now, we’re better at recognizing keyphrases in the first paragraph on texts which start with images and captions. Yoast SEO can now properly identify a featured image when you are using the SEO analysis in Gutenberg. We’ve also removed the non-functioning eye-markers from the link keyphrase assessment. We’ve fixed a couple of other bugs like one where we were showing notices when quick editing a post and no post type object could be found. Find the rest of the fixes in our changelog.
As mentioned earlier, we had quite some help this month. Not everything has made it into the plugin yet, but we’re very proud of every single contribution by our beloved community. The list is quite long for this release, so let’s get to it!
We’ll start with two language-based improvements. Marko Kronenfeld improved the content of the date archives help text, while Pedro Mendonça corrected the inconsistent spelling of the words “plug-in” and “set-up”, resulting in less text needing translations. Pedro also added an additional string in the sidebar to the translatable strings.
Next up is Felipe Valtl de Mello, who suggested we should add a warning notification to the permalink settings page, linking to an article that provides more information. Thanks to Pete Nelson, we added a filter called wpseo_opengraph_is_valid_image_url. This filter allows custom image url validation. Last but not least, we have updated the font size of the snippet title measure element to mimic Google’s desktop snippet title correctly. That one was courtesy of Volker Killesreiter. Thanks for your contributions, everyone!
That’s it for Yoast SEO 9.1! October was a very busy month for us and November is shaping up to be just as busy, with Gutenberg arriving. For this release, we’d like to thank the Hacktoberfest crew. We had some nice contributions to our plugin, and we could return the favor for other plugins. See you at Hacktoberfest 2019! Can’t wait that long? There are thousands of open source projects in need of help, so get to it!
The snippet is a single search result in a set of search results and generally consists of a title, a URL and a description of the page. The content of a snippet matches parts of the search query and you’ll see your keyword highlighted in the snippet description. Search engines often use pieces of your content to fill in the parts that make up the snippet. In most cases, search engines determine the best possible snippet for you, but you can try to override that by adding a meta description to your page. In this post, we’ll dive deeper into what is a snippet.
A snippet as found on a search result page
The snippet is one of your most valuable pieces of online real estate. This is the doorway to your site, and you should make it as enticing as possible. You need people to click your link — without misleading them, of course. While search engines have the last say in how these snippets appear, you can give them options. If they deem these worthy, they’ll use it. Even Googles John Mueller says you should fill out your meta description:
I'd generally recommend specifying one, you know your content best.
Regular snippets, rich snippets, and featured snippets
The snippet in the screenshot you saw at the beginning of this article is a regular, static snippet but there are many variations to be found. Search engines love to experiment with different ways of highlighting particular results within the search results pages.
For some time now, we’ve seen rich results appear in different forms. Rich snippets are regular snippets with added information, like product details, availability, reviews and a lot more. Here’s a rich snippet for the search term [Fender Standard Precision Bass sunburst]. You’ll notice that this snippet is much ‘richer’ so to say. It has ratings, review, pricing, stock availability and some product highlights. This is a specific product rich snippets, but there are similar snippets for recipes, reviews, videos, events, courses and much more. Adding structured data is a necessity for some types of these rich results.
A rich snippet found while searching for [Fender Standard Precision Bass sunburst]
Another type of snippet is the featured snippet. This is a new kind of result that appears at the top of the search results pages, even before the first organic search result — at position 0 so to say. The content for these featured snippets comes from pages that best answer that specific question in its content. You can’t sign up for this — you have to earn it with your content. Here’s one of our featured snippets, this one for the search term [what is a meta description]. This feature snippet takes the full answer to that question from our article and puts it right at the top of the page.
A featured snippet for the search term [what is a meta description]
SEO title and meta description
Earlier, I pointed out that search engines sometimes prefer to pick their own text from a website to use in the snippets. While they are pretty apt at making up something nice, in a lot of cases you’d probably want to control how your page appears in search. One of the ways you can influence this is by adding a meta description to your page. This is a short piece of text describing your content in a way that makes it attractive for both searchers as well as search engines. You can also edit the SEO title of your article if you want to override the standard way search engines show your page title. Yoast SEO helps you do all this.
Snippet preview in Yoast SEO
Enter the snippet preview in Yoast SEO:
The snippet preview gives you an idea of how your post will appear in the search results
The snippet preview in Yoast SEO gives you a good idea of how your post or page might look like in search engines. Also, you can edit the SEO title if you want it to be something else then your regular page title. If you want you can use variables, so you can automate stuff. You’ll also find the meta description field in which you can add the text you want to suggest to search engines to use. Learn how to make your site stand out in search results and how to write an awesome meta description.
Now you know all about the snippet
A snippet is a deceptively simple thing: a single search result. However, it has great power. A good snippet will help you get those clicks. You don’t just want to appear at the top of the search results, no, you want those clicks! And to get people to click, you need a brilliant snippet.
Welcome to the dawn of a new era. For ages, Yoast SEO has helped you optimize your content using a focus keyword. This works well but could be a lot more flexible. The plugin only recognized an exact match of your keyword and didn’t take plural forms into account, for instance. So, sometimes you had to work according to the rules of the plugin rather than the rules of good writing. Today, we’re turning our text recognition in Yoast SEO up to eleven! Yoast SEO 9.0 makes it easier and more enjoyable to write a perfect, SEO-friendly web text.
We’d like to celebrate the release of Yoast SEO 9.0 with you, so Yoast SEO Premium is on sale!
Only $89$79 (ex VAT) for 1 site
As of today, Yoast SEO does recognize those keyphrases when they are spread out over a sentence. Even if you put some extra words in between. And the words don’t even have to be in the same order! So if your focus keyphrase is [make vegan pancakes] we not only recognize that exact match but a sentence like [How to make the best vegan pancakes in the world] counts as well. Just make sure the content words of your focus keyphrase are inside a sentence and you’re good to go.
What’s more, Yoast SEO Premium now also supports word forms. Currently, this only works for the English language. What does this mean? Well, we recognize all the different word forms — e.g., make, made, makes, making — of your focus keyphrases and synonyms. So if you’d write [making a vegan pancake] somewhere in your article, that would count as well. This way, we can do a much more realistic analysis of your text. Now we can give you the best possible advice to make your text more readable, understandable and findable for both humans and search engines. We know you are going to enjoy this new-found freedom! Other languages will follow soon.
“Should I recheck all my articles?”
No. All published posts will still have their old score until you open them. Feel free to check out how they work with the new analysis, though! The new analysis does offer you a great opportunity to improve your most important blog posts or pages. The new tools will give you more nuanced advice to improve your article naturally. If you have Yoast SEO Premium, you can also start using synonyms to make your posts the best possible piece of content about your focus keyphrase!
Brand-new SEO analysis
Yoast SEO 9.0 comes with a much improved SEO analysis. We drastically changed how we check the use of keywords — or keyphrases as we now call them — in texts to make it much more realistic and flexible. For most checks, it doesn’t matter anymore if the words in the keyphrase are put in the text in the same order and whether other words separate the words in the text.
This change concerns the checks that search for the keyphrase in the text, in the subheadings, in the meta description, the image alt text and in the slug. The title assessment uses the exact match as users will probably look for content that fits their search query.
We have improved the feedback we provide as well. You get much more actionable advice to make your post awesome. On our site, you’ll also find new content explaining the assessments and how to improve your scores.
Filtering function words
Search engines read texts to find meaning, but generally, ignore so-called function words while doing that. Function words — e.g., the and who — have generic meaning, which does not help to determine what the text is about and by which search request they should be found. As of Yoast SEO 9.0, we’re no longer looking at the function words in a focus keyphrase. These words only get in the way of the content analysis, so this makes it easier for us to detect the words that matter most, regardless in which order they appear. If you want, you can override this — and all other new checks — by adding your focus keyphrase in quotes. So, if you run a fan site about the English rock band The Who, you can force an exact match result by making your focus keyphrase “The Who.”
Currently, we can only filter function words from languages which we support: English, German, Dutch, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, and Polish. More languages are on the way.
Yoast SEO Premium: Word form support — English only for now
In addition to all that general awesomeness in Yoast SEO 9.0, the Premium version gets awesomeness times two: word form support! We now recognize all word forms – e.g., singulars, plurals, comparatives or past-tense variants — of your focus keyphrase.
Sound abstract? Well, let’s take the vegan pancakes mentioned above as an example. With your focus keyphrase being [making vegan pancakes], the plugin would now look at different word forms to see if there are alternative matches within the content. [Yesterday, I made the tastiest vegan pancake.] This sentence would now count as a hit because Yoast SEO Premium knows that [made] is a word form of [making].
In practice, it means that we will now recognize your keyphrase (or a synonym) in the text even if the words appear in a different form. This gives you much freedom, as now you do not have to use the same keyphrase in your text to make it findable by the plugin.
For now, this only works for English, but we’re going to expand that.
Yoast SEO Premium: A better synonyms check
Search engines increasingly use the context surrounding terms to build a complete picture of what that term means. Previously, you had to add those terms into your content without any guidance from us. Today, with Yoast SEO 9.0 Premium, we can help you optimize your text with synonyms and related terms. This way, you can make sure that you’re doing everything in your power to improve the search engines’ recognition of your content.
Some other familiar checks now rely equally on your keyphrase and its synonyms when calculating the score. No more need to repeatedly use your keyphrase in the introduction, meta description, subheadings, and image alt text. You can use a synonym there, and the relevant check will still give you a green bullet. Just like with normal keyphrases, the plugin will also warn you if you’re linking to another article with a synonym.
Last but not least, we have the related keyphrase feature. You can use this to build up context around your main focus keyphrase. In this field, you can add concepts that are not direct synonyms of your focus keyphrase, but that are important to broaden and deepen the understanding of a topic. For related keyphrases, we now show checks that are specific for the keyphrase, and we only show you things you should improve with regards to that keyphrase.
The synonym and related keyphrase features offer a much better and more flexible way of optimizing your text for a broader context. Once you start using it, you’ll immediately see how brilliant it is!
Focus keyphrases, synonyms, word forms, related keyphrases — huh?
With Yoast SEO 9.0, we’re introducing a lot of new terms and concepts. To make those terms come alive, we’ve created an infographic that shows what this is all about and how everything ties together. In addition, we have a page explaining all the terms in-depth: Yoast SEO assessments glossary of terms.
Update to Yoast SEO 9.0 and let us know what you think!
This is a major release of Yoast SEO, and we’re extremely proud of what the team built. Text analysis is notoriously hard to do, and it takes a lot of work to make it into an actionable product. But we’ve done it! Yoast SEO is now a lot smarter, more helpful, easier to use and, above all, more flexible. This new text recognition engine lets you optimize your content naturally, without using tricks and workarounds to get the plugin to show that coveted green bullet.
A final note, as this is such a big release, we’re looking for feedback on the new analysis. Is it too strict? Does it make your work easier? Did you find bugs? Have suggestions to improve it? Please help us make it even better by submitting your input on the Yoast SEO GitHub page. You are welcome to comment on this article as well.
Most releases are all about incredible new features or fixing a gazillion bugs with the help of the community. But sometimes, there’s a small release that is unfortunately timed just before a big one. There may not be any new game-changers in Yoast SEO 8.4, but does that mean it shouldn’t get its own release post? Of course not! So, my dear Yoast SEO 8.4, here we are!
Keeping up with our two week release schedule, we’re releasing Yoast SEO 8.4 today. While we’re gearing up for something pretty awesome in the next couple of weeks, we wouldn’t want to leave you hanging for too long.
New in Yoast SEO Premium: Synonyms in taxonomies
In Yoast SEO 8.4, we’re expanding a feature for our Premium users. It is now possible to optimize your taxonomies for multiple focus keywords and synonyms. We’ve also added the keyword distribution assessment to help you check and improve your focus keyword use in taxonomies. To make this happen, we have introduced a new wpseo_taxonomy_content_fields filter so we can add the additional fields to the taxonomy metabox.
Don’t have Premium yet? What are you waiting for? You get a redirect manager, internal linking suggestions, synonym support and much more. Go get Yoast SEO Premium!
In this release, we improved compatibility with Gutenberg so the latest changes in the new WordPress editor won’t break Yoast SEO. In addition, we now only support Gutenberg versions 3.9 and up. A community contribution by Emily Leffler Schulman this time. She suggested we add a margin below select fields to create space for breadcrumbs between taxonomy settings. Thanks, Emily!
This time, we had time to fix a small number of pesky bugs. In one case, we fixed a bug that showed the cornerstone content toggle for attachment pages. We’ve also fixed a bug from the future. Sometimes, the Search Console page displayed ‘first detected’ and ‘last crawled’ dates that were in the future.
Yoast SEO 8.4 is out now. It’s not a very big release, but we’re putting just as much love into small releases as we do in big releases. That being said, there’s something brewing at Yoast HQ, but it’s all very hush-hush. Keep an eye on our SEO blog or subscribe to our newsletter to keep up with the latest!
It’s hard to imagine a life without a search engine that knows what it’s doing. I remember the days of AltaVista and co, search engines that just dump random pages on you for every given query. I was so excited to see Google enter the scene and immediately do everything right — the results were great, it was fast and it had no ads. Didn’t take long before I was hooked. But a lot has happened in the past twenty years and a lot will happen in the next. Starting today, Google is looking to change search for the next twenty years.
Google’s Future of Search Event
On Monday, Google held a small event to celebrate its 20th anniversary and it took the opportunity to offer a sneak peek at the coming years. Google introduced three paradigm shifts in how it sees search in the future:
A shift from answers to journeys
A shift from queries to providing a queryless way to get information
Plus a shift from text to a more visual way of finding information
I’ll dive into this below.
Changing how search works: from answers to journeys
One of the biggest challenges search engines had to face was finding out what a user meant to do when he or she entered a specific search term. Search intent became some sort of holy grail that everyone was trying to get to first.
Today, we know all the different kinds of searches a user can do. We also know there are different stages in that process. One doesn’t often go from knowing hardly anything about a product to buying it in one single search, right? Weeks can go by before you enter the next step of the process. By matching your keywords and content to that intent, you can make sure your content fits, so to say.
Now, that journey will become the focal point for Google’s future of search. Increasingly, Google will know where you are in the journey, remember what you did and where you most likely want to go. In the end, it wants you to discover and consume more content — even without you specifically asking for it. We’ll see Google provide more and more content instead of just pointing to other pages. But, hopefully, you’ll be a good boy and visit the sites of advertising partners.
It was written on the wall for some time: Google uses AI to up its understanding of languages and uses that knowledge to power new types of search. We’ve been talking about context as one the most important terms in SEO for a while now here at Yoast. Now here’s confirmation that it really is all about what goes on around the terms you use in your content. Google Search Liaison Danny Sullivan said that the past months, Google has been using an AI method to better connect words to concepts. Danny calls these super synonyms. This type of 30% of the queries are affected by this type of search.
Ben Gomes, Google’s VP, Search, News and Assistant, explains this technique called neural matching:
“We’ve now reached the point where neural networks can help us take a major leap forward from understanding words to understanding concepts. Neural embeddings, an approach developed in the field of neural networks, allow us to transform words to fuzzier representations of the underlying concepts, and then match the concepts in the query with the concepts in the document. We call this technique neural matching. This can enable us to address queries like: “why does my TV look strange?” to surface the most relevant results for that question, even if the exact words aren’t contained in the page. (By the way, it turns out the reason is called the soap opera effect).”
Who knows, maybe your site can now show up in the search results without ever mentioning your keyword in your content once — just by providing all the context surrounding that particular topic, Google can match that to the query entered.
Searches without the exact words leading to the correct answer. Photo by Danny Sullivan
A Topic Layer for the Knowledge Graph
To make all these connections, Google introduced the Knowledge Graph years ago. The Knowledge Graph explores and understands connections between entities — i.e. people, places, things and facts about them. What it missed, was something that understands how these connections grow over time and change as people get to know more about the topic they’re interested in. That’s what they’re adding today in the form of the new Topic Layer.
Google’s new topic layer in the knowledge graph
Nick Fox, Google’s Vice President of Product & Design, Search and Assistant:
“The Topic Layer is built by analyzing all the content that exists on the web for a given topic and develops hundreds and thousands of subtopics. For these subtopics, we can identify the most relevant articles and videos—the ones that have shown themselves to be evergreen and continually useful, as well as fresh content on the topic. We then look at patterns to understand how these subtopics relate to each other, so we can more intelligently surface the type of content you might want to explore next.”
This new Topic Layer will power a lot of the changes that are coming to the search engine. You can easily see why it is getting incredibly important to know your subject inside out. Not only that, you need to know the world in which it lives and try to figure out how the connections are made exactly.
Manage searches and discover new content: Activity, Collection and Discover
Google’s new AI powers drive the innovation of new ways of surfacing and collecting search results. One of the features launched yesterday was the Activity tab. The Activity tab helps you retrace your steps in search. It shows you which sites you’ve visited during a particular session. This tab — visible only to you — will only appear on searches where it makes sense according to Google. It will arrive with suggested searches as well. Of course, you can always delete it.
Another way to keep track of what you are doing is by using the new Collections tab. This tab lets you collect searches from your Activity cards in groups so you can use them at a later date. Of course, you’ll also get content suggestions to deepen the knowledge of your subject/search etc.In the search results itself, searches that can result in a very broad result will now be supported by much more contextual information. Here’s Nick Fox again:
“Rather than presenting information within a set of predetermined categories we can intelligently show the subtopics that are most relevant to what you’re searching for and make it easy to explore information from the web, all with a single search.”
Google’s new and improved Discover feed
Another way AI will drive traffic is Google’s news feed on mobile — renamed Discover. It has proven to be a source of traffic for many sites. It now has over 800 million users and has sent 2.5 times more traffic to publishers over the last year. The feed will also use the new Topic Layer to uncover new articles relevant to the interests of the user. It suggests content without intent: the user might not even know he or she wanted to read this. The more you use it, the more it knows what you like. It even changes content based on the intent you show in search.
Moving to visual search
The move to a more visual style of search has been written in the stars for some time. Not just Google, but also Microsoft and Pinterest have been very active in this space over the past few years. Earlier this year, Google launched the new and improved Lens app. This AI-powered visual search tool can analyze text in photos and it can show you lookalikes of items in the photos all by pointing your camera to the item. Desktop search will now get a Lens feature as well, so you can analyze what’s in a photo and continue your search on that.
Google is also introducing featured videos into the results. These videos are carefully selected and should serve as an entry point into a subject. Google uses computer vision to analyze video’s and automatically select the pieces of a video that best fit the particular topic.
Tomorrow, 27th of September will see the release of a new desktop interface for Google image search. The interface will provide much more context surrounding the images and should make visually search much more satisfying. Related search terms will help you narrow down your search even more.
The last piece in the visual search puzzle is the launch of AI-rendered, AMP-powered Stories in the search results. Whether you love it or hate it, Google continues to push AMP. This time, we get AMP Stories in search. Stories are a concept done to death by other companies, like Facebook and Instagram, but Google wants to get publishers to adopt the story format as well. It won’t be long before this will be ad-supported of course.
On the surface, it might look as if search hasn’t changed a lot over the course of twenty years. We still enter a search term into a box on a white page, press enter and get results. How these search results are generated has always been a work in progress. The way they are selected and sorted will forever be in the hands of ever-changing algorithms. Google now wants to get more control over how people interact with search and its results. It is looking for more ways to get people inside the results and keep them there. Very interested to see how this plays out.
After introducing a slew of new features, an improved meta box, and fully supporting Gutenberg in the previous three releases, it’s time to take a little breather with Yoast SEO 8.3. That’s not to say that this release is nothing but fluff — one look at the changelog will make you think twice. This release is all about fixes and enhancements, a lot of them suggested by our loyal users. Let’s get going!
A big part of Yoast SEO 8.3 is about improvements as suggested by our users on GitHub. As you know, our plugin is open source, and we encourage everyone to add their fixes or enhancements to GitHub so we can do something with them. So, if you have a good idea for a feature, please add it! Encounter a bug? Please add it! While we find and fix a lot of stuff ourselves, we can’t fix something we don’t know about it, right?
In Yoast SEO 8.3, no less than five user contributions made the cut. These range from fixing the link to a particular article (thank you Nikhil Barar!), to the introduction of a new API function to get all the Yoast SEO-related capabilities (thanks Jory Hogeveen!). Today, we also like to thank Aminul Islam for fixing a bug related to the unwanted localization of the article:published_time and article:modified_time meta properties. Mathieu Aubin helped us remove the executable bits on SVN assets, which makes checking for malware/viruses and/or other types of unwanted files a lot easier and faster. Last but not least, Marco Lipparini found some inconsistent code. He changed the second argument of the wpseo_sitemap_exclude_empty_terms filter call to the correct type. This is used when determining which taxonomies should have a sitemap.
Changes to structured data content blocks
In Yoast SEO 8.2, we introduced an awesome new feature: structured data content blocks for WordPress’ new Gutenberg editor. These blocks make it incredibly easy to add structured data to your FAQs and how-to articles. Since these blocks are built from the ground up, they still need some fine-tuning. In Yoast SEO 8.3, we’re improving the way the plugin handles the structured data and fix some bugs in the process.
The most significant changes happen inside the FAQ structured data content block. We’ve reformatted the rendered code a bit to follow Google’s guidelines better. Here are the changes:
Changed the @context property from http://schema.org to https://schema.org structured data output.
Renamed the associatedMedia property to image.
Moved the @type and name properties to the root of the FAQ block’s output.
Nested the Question objects in the newly introduced mainEntity property in the FAQ block’s structured data output.
Removed the superfluous position property from the How-To block’s output.
Other fixes and enhancements
The long list of changes continues. We fixed several other bugs including one where snippet variables would not be replaced in the og:description of taxonomies after being added to the Facebook Description input field. You can see the rest of the bug fixes in the changelog of Yoast SEO 8.3.
Enhancements include a new option to add a colon as a title separator and you can find a new help text in the readability analysis. We’ve also added a setting and a filter (wpseo_duration_text) to the How-to structured data content block. Users can now edit the text that describes the time needed to perform the task you’re explaining.
Ready to update?
Yoast SEO 8.3 is not about new features, but it is chock-full of bug fixes and enhancements that improve how the plugin functions. We’d like to thank everyone how has contributed to this release. If you feel the need to help improve Yoast SEO, please check out our GitHub. Thanks for using Yoast SEO and happy updating!
Many, many sites have an FAQ page. This is a page where a lot of frequently asked questions get the appropriate answer. It is often a single page filled to the brim with questions and answers. While it’s easy to add one, it’s good to keep in mind that not all sites need an FAQ. Most of the times all you need is good content targeted at the users’ needs. Here, I’ll discuss the use of FAQ pages and show you how to make one yourself with Yoast SEOs new structured data content blocks for Gutenberg. You won’t believe how easy it is.
What is an FAQ?
FAQ stands for frequently asked questions. It is more often than not a single page collecting a series of question and its answers on a specific subject, product or company. An FAQ is often seen as a tool to reduce the workload of the customer support team. It is also used to show that you are aware of the issues a customer might have and to provide an answer to that.
But first: Do you really, really, really need an FAQ?
Usually, if you need to answer a lot of questions from users in an FAQ, that means that your content is not providing these answers and that you should work on that. Or maybe it is your product or service itself that’s not clear enough? One of the main criticisms of FAQs is that they hardly ever answer the questions consumers really have. They are also lazy: instead of figuring out how to truly answer a question with formidable content, people rather throw some random stuff on a page and call it an FAQ.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t use an FAQ. Numerous sites successfully apply them — even we use them. They do provide value. Users understand how an FAQ works and are quick to find what they are looking for — if the makers of the page know what they are doing. So don’t make endless lists of loosely related ‘How can I…’ or ‘How to…’ questions, because people will struggle to filter out what they need.
It has to be a page that’s easy to digest and has to have real answers to real questions by users. You can find scores of these if you search for them: ask your support team for instance! Collect and analyze the issues that come up frequently to see if you’re not missing some pain points in your products or if your content is targeting the wrong questions.
So don’t hide answers to pressings questions away on an FAQ page if you want to answer these in-depth: make an article out of it. This is what SEO deals with nowadays: provide an answer that matches your content to the search intent.
Questions and answers spoken out loud?
Google is trying to match a question from a searcher to an answer from a source. If you mark up your questions and answers with Question structured data, you tell search engines that this little sentence is a question and that this paragraph is its answer. Paragraph-based content is all the rage. One of the reasons? The advent of voice search. Google is looking for easy to understand, block-based content that it can use to answer searchers questions right in the search engine — or by speaking it out loud. Using the brand-spanking new Schema property speakable might even speed up this content discovery by determining which part of the content is fit for text-to-speech conversion.
How to build an FAQ page in WordPress via Yoast SEO content blocks
The best way to set up a findable, readable and understandable FAQ page on a WordPress site is by using the new structured data content blocks in Yoast SEO. These Gutenberg blocks make building an FAQ page a piece of cake. It even automatically adds the necessary structured data so search engines like Google can do cool stuff with it. But, if nothing else, it might even give you an edge over your competitor. So, let’s get to it!
Make a page in WordPress, add a title and an introductory paragraph. Now add the FAQ structured data content block. You can find the Yoast SEO structured data content blocks inside the Add Block modal. Scroll all the way down to find them or type ‘FAQ’ in the search bar, which I’ve highlighted in the screenshot below.
Step 2: Add questions and answers
After you’ve added the FAQ block, you can start to add questions and answers to it. Keep in mind that these questions live inside the FAQ block. It’s advisable to keep the content related to each other so you can keep the page clean and focused. So no throwing in random questions.
Step 3: Keep filling, check and publish
After adding the first question and answering it well, keep adding the rest of your questions and answers until you’ve filled your FAQ page. In the screenshot below you see two questions filled in. I’ve highlighted two buttons, the Add Image button and the Add Question. These speak for themselves.
Once you are done, you’ll have a well-structured FAQ page. Go to the frontend of your site and check if everything is in order. If not, make the necessary changes.
What does this look like under the hood?
Run your new FAQ page through Structured Data Testing Tool to see what it looks like for Google. Yoast SEO should generate valid structured data for your FAQ page. Here’s a piece of a page I made, showing one particular question:
It’s basically built up like this. The context surrounding the questions is an FAQPage Schema graph. Every question gets a Question type and an acceptedAnswer with an answer type. That sounds hard, but it’s not. All you have to do is fill in the Question and the Answer and you’re good to go! Let’s break it down:
context is Schema.org of course
The FAQ page content lives inside a graph
name: The question as written by you
answerCount: The number of answers counted. In our case that’s only one, but this will change if you have a Quora type of site where people can send in their own answers
acceptedAnswer: The answer that will show in search
text: The written answer for the question in this block
This translates to the code below as generated automatically by the Yoast SEO structured data content blocks. Now, Google will immediately see that this piece of content contains a question with an accepted answer. If you’re lucky, this might eventually lead to a featured snippets or another type of cool rich result.
"name": "An FAQ: How to use Yoast structured data content blocks"
"name": "What is SEO?",
"text": "SEO is the acronym for Search Engine Optimization. It's the practice of optimizing websites to make them reach a high position in Google's - or another search engine's - search results. SEO focuses on rankings in the organic (non-paid) search results."
"name": "What is crawlability?",
"text": "Crawlability has to do with the possibilities Google has to crawl your website. Crawlers can be blocked from your site. There are a few ways to block a crawler from your website. If your website or a page on your website is blocked, you're saying to Google's crawler: 'do not come here'. Your site or the respective page won't turn up in the search results in most of these cases."
Structured data is where it’s at. It is one of the foundations on which the web is built today and its importance will only increase with time. In this post, I’ve shown you one of the newest Schema additions, and you’ll be seeing this pop up in the search results sometime soon.
Since this is only an introduction to FAQ Schema, there are loads more properties to find on Schema.org. While not everything is available in Yoast SEO structured data content blocks, there’s a chance we’ll add some of those soon. You can always build on the groundwork that Yoast SEO lays down for you.
While we’re still only at the start of the Gutenberg adventure, we’re presenting an awesome, brand-new feature for the new WordPress editor today. Meet the Yoast SEO structured data content blocks! The content blocks automatically add valid structured data code to the content that is added to these blocks. Our initial line-up consists of How-to and FAQ content blocks, plus address and map blocks for our Local SEO plugins, but we’re looking to add more in the future.
Structured data is important but pretty hard to implement. By adding Schema.org structured data to your pages you can tell search engines exactly what’s on there. For most people implementing it comes down to asking their developer to hard-code it into the site. Or learning to master Google Tag Manager so you can inject the necessary code into your pages — this is what we teach you in our Structured data training. This complexity is one of the reasons structured data has been struggling to reach critical mass, even though Google has been pushing it for years. This is now changing with Gutenberg structured data content blocks in Yoast SEO 8.2!
As of today, we’re adding that structured data metadata automatically to the content that’s added to two new Gutenberg blocks inside Yoast SEO, namely How-to and FAQ. Local SEO and WooCommerce SEO have blocks for addresses and maps. So, if you have an FAQ page on your site you can now build these pages inside Gutenberg. Yoast SEO will automatically add the necessary Question Schema.org to that block. The same goes for How-to. Build your how-to article with the How-to content block in Gutenberg, including all the necessary steps and even images, and see a valid piece of structured data appear in the source of your page. It is now easier than ever for Google to find and understand that particular piece of content. Fantastic, right?
How-to structured data is a fairly new addition to the Schema.org vocabulary. You use it to mark up content that teaches you how to do something following a series of steps. This could be how to cat-proof your apartment or how to install Yoast SEO Premium or something else entirely. We published a post a while back on how to add how-to structured data to your how-to articles. Please read that if you need more background information.
The structured data content blocks come with default styling, but we made it easy for you to change these. Our UX designer Luc wrote a post detailing how you can give the How-to content blocks your own styling so they fit right in with the rest of your site. There will be a post about styling your FAQ content blocks later on.
Using the Gutenberg How-to structured data content blocks is incredibly easy.
Choose the Yoast SEO structured data block for How-to
Type the description for the how-to
Enter the time needed to do the how-to
Fill in the first step title
Fill in supporting text for the step
If necessary, add an image using the Add image button
Hit the Add step button to add a new step
Use the Insert step button to insert a new step between existing steps
Done? Save your draft!
Here’s an example how-to on how to install Yoast SEO Premium:And here’s what Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool says of that page:Epic, right? Remember, due to restrictions by Google it is not possible to add more than one How-to content block on a page.
If you have a section on your site for frequently asked questions — an FAQ— then you’ll enjoy the new FAQ structured data content block. Schema.org/Question is “A specific question – e.g. from a user seeking answers online, or collected in a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document.” You can now easily add the structured data needed for search engines to understand FAQ content. Just fill in the questions, add the answers and maybe an image if needed. Hit publish and your perfectly structured FAQ block is ready!
Local SEO & WooCommerce SEO with Gutenberg blocks
Of course, we had to give some of our other SEO WordPress plugins some Gutenberg love as well. Do you own a local business or are you doing a lot of local SEO? If so, you need our Local SEO or WooCommerce SEO plugins. These plugins help you to improve your site so it can more easily rank in your local search results.
Today, the two local SEO plugins get structured data content blocks for Gutenberg as well: you can now add valid structured data to your site by adding the new address block. The fields will appear automatically if you’ve filled in the fields in the plugin settings. Of course, you can finetune what you do and don’t want to appear. In addition, you can use the new Google Maps structured data content block to easily add a good looking map with structured data to your site.
More to come
Gutenberg’s block-based design makes it a very interesting platform to design for. These structured data content blocks are our first tools specifically built for the new WordPress editor. We hope to expand our offering of structured data blocks in the near future. We can’t wait to bring you blocks for job postings, events and recipes, among others! And please, do give us your feedback so we can make these blocks even more awesome.
Polish readability analysis
Yoast SEO 8.2 also brings a new supported language: Polish! We can now analyze text written in Polish and make suggestions to improve the readability. In addition, we will now also suggest articles to link to using our internal linking tool in Yoast SEO Premium. The Polish readability analysis was made possible by contributions from the community. We’re thankful for the great support from the people at Macopedia, who sent us word lists which make a vital part of our analysis. We’re always super enthusiastic when people in the community show us their love for our products and also a commitment to the open source spirit by contributing to our code base!
Bug fixes and enhancements
As always, we’ve fixed a couple of annoying bugs. This time we focused on fixing bugs related to slugs, user input incorrectly triggering analyses, zooming issues on iPhones and several others. You can read up on them in the changelog. We do want to thank mt8, who helped us fix a bug related to OpenGraph images that wouldn’t correctly show for the front page in a couple of situations.
Yoast SEO 8.2 is a very exciting release. With the launch of the structured data content blocks for Gutenberg, we’re heading into unknown and very exciting territory. We can’t wait to see what you do with the current set of blocks and hope to bring even more blocks to you in the near future. Try it, tell us what you think and enjoy using Yoast SEO 8.2!
Journalists have been using the inverted pyramid writing style for ages. Using it, you put your most important information upfront. Don’t hedge. Don’t bury your key point halfway down the third paragraph. Don’t hold back; tell the complete story in the first paragraph. Even online, this writing style holds up pretty well for some types of articles. It even comes in handy now that web content is increasingly used to answer every type of question a searcher might have. Find out how!
Most readers don’t have the time or desire to carefully read an article, so journalists put the critical pieces of a story in the first paragraph to inform and draw in a reader. This paragraph is the meat and potatoes of a story, so to say. This way, every reader can read the first paragraph — also known as the lead — and get a complete notion of what the story is about. It gives away the traditional W’s instantly: who, what, when, where, why and, of course, how.
The introductory paragraph is followed by paragraphs that contain important details. After that, follows general information and whatever background the writers deem supportive of the narrative. This has several advantages:
It supports all readers, even those who skim
It improves comprehension, everything you need to understand the article is in that first paragraph
You need less time to get to the point
It gives writers a full paragraph to draw readers in
Done well, it encourages readers to scroll and read the rest of the article
It gives writers full control over the structure
It makes it easier to edit articles
Here’s an example of such an intro. Marieke wrote an article called What is SEO? that answers exactly that question in an easy to understand way. She gives away the answer immediately, but also uses triggers to get people to read the rest of the article. Here’s the intro:
“SEO is the acronym for Search Engine Optimization. It’s the practice of optimizing websites to make them reach a high position in Google’s – or another search engine’s – search results. SEO focuses on rankings in the organic (non-paid) search results. In this post, I’ll answer the question “What is SEO?” and I’ll explain how we perform SEO at Yoast.”
The inverted pyramid is just one of many techniques you can use to present and structure content. You can use it to write powerful news articles, press releases, product pages, blog posts or explanatory articles, like we do.
This style of writing, however, is not suited for every piece of content. Maybe you write poetry, or long essays with a complete story arc or just a piece of complex fiction. Critics are quick to add that the inverted pyramid style cripples their creativity. But, even then, you can learn from the techniques of the inverted pyramid that helps you to draw a reader in and figure out a good way to structure a story. And, as we all know, a solid structure is key in getting people — and search engines — to understand your content. Marieke wrote a great article on setting up a clear text structure.
The power of paragraphs
Well-written paragraphs are incredibly powerful. These paragraphs can stand on their own. I always try to write in a modular way. I’m regularly moving paragraphs around if I think they fit better somewhere else in the article. It makes editing and changing the structure of a story so much easier.
Good writers give every paragraph a stand-out first sentence, these are known as core sentences. These sentences raise one question or concept per paragraph. Someone who scans the article by reading the first sentence of every paragraph will get the gist of it and can choose to read the rest of the paragraph or not. Of course, the rest of the paragraph is spent answering or supporting that question or concept.
It’s all blocks these days anyways
On the web, there is a movement towards block-based content. Google uses whole paragraphs from articles to answers questions in the search results with featured snippets or answer boxes. The voice search revolution is powered by paragraph-based content. Even our beloved WordPress CMS will move to a block-based new editor called Gutenberg. These blocks are self-contained pieces of content that search engines are going to enjoy gobbling up. We can even give these blocks the structured data needed to let search engines know exactly what content is in that block. Blocks are it — another reason you need to write better paragraphs.
Something else is going on: a lot of content out there is written specifically to answer questions based on user intent. Google is also showing much more questions and answers right away in the search results. That’s why it makes a lot of sense to structure your questions and answers in such a way that is easy to digest for both readers and search engines. This also supports the inverted pyramid theory. If you want to answer a specific question, do that right beneath that question. Don’t obfuscate it. Keep it upfront. You can answer supporting questions or give a more elaborate answer further down the text. If you have data supporting your answer, please present it.
How to write with the inverted pyramid in mind
The inverted pyramid forces you to think about your story: what is it, which parts are key to understanding everything? Even if you don’t follow the structure to the letter, focusing on the essential parts of your story and deleting the fluff is always a good thing. In his seminal work The Elements of Style, William Strunk famously wrote:
“Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail and treat his subjects only in outline, but that he make every word tell.”
In short, writing works like this:
Map it out: What are the most important points you want to make?
Filter: Which points are supportive, but not key?
Connect: How does everything fit together?
Structure: Use sub-headers to build an easy to understand structure for your article
Write: Start every paragraph with your core sentence and support/prove/disprove/etc these in the coming sentences
Revise: Are the paragraphs in the correct order? Maybe you should move some around to enhance readability or understanding?
Edit: I.e. killing your darlings. Do you edit your own work or can someone do it for you?
Publish: Add the article to WordPress and hit that Publish button
Like I said, not every type of content will benefit from the inverted pyramid. But the inverted pyramid has sure made its mark over the past century or more. Even now, as we mostly write content for the web this type of thinking about a story or article makes us focus on the most important parts — and how we tell about those parts. It forces you to separate facts from fiction and fluff from real nuggets of content gold. Try it out and your next article might turn out to be the best yet.
Two weeks ago, we launched Yoast SEO 8.0. In it, we shipped the first part of our integration with Gutenberg: the sidebar. That release was the foundation on which we are building the next parts of our integration with the new WordPress editor. In Yoast SEO 8.1, we introduce part 2: a Gutenberg-proof snippet preview. Also, a much better experience in the content analysis thanks to webworkers!
Yoast SEO 8.0, unfortunately, had to make do without a snippet preview inside Gutenberg. There were still some kinks to iron out before we could add that snippet preview to our WordPress plugin. The code for that new modal — the pop-up screen — had to be written from the ground up, exclusively for Gutenberg. That code has now been added to Gutenberg’s core so every WordPress developer can make use of the modal inside the new editor. How awesome is that!
Here’s what snippet preview pop-up inside Gutenberg looks like:
You see that it looks just like the regular Yoast SEO snippet preview. It has all the features you know and love, like the true-to-life rendering of your snippet on both mobile as well as desktop screens, SEO title field editor with snippet variables, slug editor and meta descriptions, also with snippet variables. To open the snippet preview, you simply click on the Snippet Preview button in the Yoast SEO Gutenberg sidebar.
Another cool thing now available in Gutenberg is the Primary Category picker. This has been a staple for many years in Yoast SEO. It lets you make and set the primary category for a post. This will be automatically selected whenever you make a new post. We will port more features over to Gutenberg shortly.
We, of course, have big plans for Gutenberg. There’s still a lot to be done and not everything we’re dreaming up is possible right now. Step by step, we’re turning Yoast SEO and Gutenberg into a dream combination. We’re not just porting over existing features to the new Gutenberg, but actively exploring what we can do and what we need to do that. In some cases that means we have to develop the support inside Gutenberg’s core ourselves, this way loads of developers can benefit from the results as well.
Speeding up the content analysis with webworkers
Speed = user experience. To keep Yoast SEO performing great, we added a dedicated webworker to our content analysis. Webworkers let you run a script in the background without affecting the performance of the page. Because it runs independently of the user interface, it can focus on one task and does that brilliantly. Webworkers are very powerful and help us to keep Yoast SEO stable, responsive and fast even when analyzing pages with thousands of words of content. Try it!
The update is available now
Yoast SEO 8.1 has a lot of improvements behind the scenes that should drastically improve how the plugin functions. We are dedicated to giving you the best possible user experience, while also improving our current features and laying the groundwork for new ones. And not to forget that new WordPress editor, right? Update and let us know what you think!