Last week was all about Mark Zuckerberg’s congressional hearing. There’s no point in denying that Facebook gathers lots and lots of data about individual users. That being said, all kinds of companies and governmental organizations are more than willing to use that data to have successful Facebook campaigns. So, is Facebook evil for gathering that data? And if so, aren’t websites willing to give that information to Facebook not equally evil? 

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Regulation always lags behind

When radio first emerged, companies sponsored most of the programs. Programs were one big advertisement. We call it a soap opera because a large soap factory sponsored it! Gradually, broadcasters sold advertisements in blocks, during commercial breaks. While some countries have laws concerning advertisement and commercials, most countries have councils that provide guidelines on what is allowed in commercials and what not. Advertisers, media people, and audiences talk with each other and figure out what is allowed and what not. And I think that’s what we need to do with Facebook advertising as well. We need to think, talk and set up new rules for this advertising game. Together. 

What is a tracking pixel?
A tracking pixel is an invisible 1×1 pixel on a website that records the activities of visitors. This pixel collects data about the visitor and shares it with, for instance, Facebook or Google. Often, visitors aren’t aware that the pixel is collecting their information and therefore there is quite a bit of criticism on this way of retrieving data.

The responsibility of companies

Facebook does not force a tracking pixel on websites. Nor does Google. And yet, lots of websites have one of each. That’s a choice. I am not saying it’s a wrong choice per se; I’m just saying it is a choice. And I do think that companies should take some time to think about the consequences of that choice. Do you want to use data gathered from people that visit your website to retarget these people on Facebook? You can’t be sure what Facebook does with that data, but you are handing it over to them.

At Yoast, we did have a Facebook tracking pixel on our website for some time. We did little with it. It did not feel right. It felt as like we were following our audience — stalking them. We discussed the use of the tracking pixel in our company and decided to remove it. This was long before the Facebook hearing.

Ignorance is no excuse

I am afraid lots of companies do not even know whether or not they have a tracking pixel. Marketing departments or agencies may have taken care of it without explaining how such a retargeting campaign works. I do think companies have a responsibility to know and to care. We are talking about collecting data on individuals; it’s valuable data of and about your visitors.

We should educate ourselves and our children. We all witness retargeting, so we should explain how it works. This is not rocket science. My 11-year old figured it out himself. He noticed advertising for the Fortnite computer game wasn’t on my Instagram timeline, while it appeared so very frequently on his. He wondered why. We should make a real effort to explain this stuff to children, to companies and governments. If people understand, we can have a meaningful conversation and raise the questions that matter.

Have the conversation

We have to raise ethical questions. What data are we allowed to collect from our audience? And with what purpose? Do we need to tell our audience about the tracking pixel on our website?

I don’t have the answers to these questions. Different people will come up with different answers. That’s the beauty of ethical questions. I am no expert, but you should read Morton Rand-Hendriksen’s’ article on using ethics in web design if you’re interested in this kind of stuff.

The bottom line is, we all need to think about it. We all need to talk about it. And in the end, we need to come to some consensus together. We need to make — and abide by — rules or laws to deal with these kinds of things.

So.. let’s talk!

Read more: ‘Social media for small business owners’ »

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Perhaps you’ve read about the related entities patent which was recently granted to Google, or perhaps you haven’t yet. You should read Dave Davies post about it on Search Engine Land and find out more about it. The related entities patent gives us valuable insights into how Google identifies relationships between content. So, in this post, I’ll try to explain a bit about the patent without making it all to complicated. And, I’ll discuss the importance of the patent for your content SEO strategy.

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What is a patent? Why is it important?

Google applies for a lot of patents. When the patent is granted, it gives us information on how they engineer their search engine. If you’re interested in that kind of thing, you should check out Bill Slawski’s site SEO by the Sea. This specific patent about related entities implies that related entities, related content, and relations in general are becoming more important.

It’s important to remember that we do not know exactly how Google has applied this specific patent in its search engine. We can only guess, test and speculate how Google will use it. The way the search engine works and how it serves the results to our search queries give us a lot of information though. Think of it as an educated guess.

So what does this mean? What does Google do with it?

In his post on Search Engine Land, Dave Davies explains beautifully how these related entities work. Google has an actual entity database in which it saves which concepts and which identities belong together. This database is ever growing, and Google learns more and more about how things are related to one another. This means that if certain concepts turn up together in content in various places on the internet, Google will save these in its entity database. This process is ongoing, which means that for some searches, you won’t get the same rich result as for others. Try searching for [types of cheese] and [types of shoes] to see the difference.

While Dave Davies was mainly talking about entities as big things – presidents, people, actors; I think that words, things and concepts could also be entities. Thinking of words and concepts as identities, which are also saved in that entity database, will have some consequences for copywriters and content SEOs. Of course, this is speculation. Nobody knows exactly which concepts are in fact treated as entities by Google.

google entities types of pasta

After typing [types of pasta] Google now shows this entity-based rich result

Clicking on Tagliatelle leads to relevant search results. A breadcrumb path shows the connection to the main subject

Let’s look at an example to figure out what it means if words and concepts are considered entities. Google will probably notice that in content about [tagliatelle], the words [pasta] and [spaghetti] will also appear rather often. These words will probably be linked together in Googles entity database. If someone is searching for [tagliatelle] in Google, content without the words [tagliatelle] but with the words [pasta] and [spaghetti] could also pop up in the search results. This would mean that the exact word matching would become less important. It’s all about context. And, we have seen this in the past few years. Google has become more and more adept at matching a search query to content without the exact search phrase in the text.

What does it mean for content SEO?

I think that the exact matching of a search query will become less important. Concepts, words and things related to a specific topic will become more important. By using the words, concepts and phrases related to tagliatelle in your post, you’re increasing your chances to rank for the term ‘tagliatelle’.

What about keywords?

That does not mean, however, that you should not focus on keywords anymore. Google is getting better at establishing what the audience is searching for. But you should know what your audience is searching for when you are writing. You should know which words, concepts and phrases they are using. And you should use those same words as well. You want your audience to recognize your text as an answer to their search query. You should keep on using the keywords and keyphrases that your keyword research provided. Don’t go overboard though, and use your keyword carefully.

Write an awesome text

I think the most important thing to realize is that a keyword is not a topic yet. It cannot be seen as an entity as it does not have the correct context. You’ll need an angle, a specific story around a keyword, a good idea to write a blog post. An idea in which the desired focus keyword could have a prominent place. You should think about your audience. What do you want to tell your audience? What’ll be the main message of your article? And what is the purpose?

If you write an original article, an article people would want to read; you’re probably already using all of the terms that are related to your keywords. It’s rather hard to write a blog post about tagliatelle without using the word [pasta]. You’ll use the related entities, simply because they are related. It’ll probably just come natural, as long as your trying to write an original text.

Think about synonyms, related words and concepts

Although I think that if you’re writing a good text with an original idea, you’ll probably already be using all the related concepts you should be using; you should also think of synonyms to your keyword. Take a moment and try to come up with a few alternatives for your keyword. Think of things that are strongly related to your keyword. Use these words in your text and you’ll probably increase your chances to rank. Besides, your content will be more pleasant to read as well!

Conclusion

Keywords remain essential. However, the exact matching of a keyword will become less important. And synonyms and related concepts will become more important. We don’t have a bullet for synonyms or related words in our SEO analysis yet. I guess that’s a hard one to establish. Could we do that? Does anyone have any suggestions?

Read more: ‘SEO Copywriting: the ultimate guide’ »

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Gutenberg is coming. It’s a really big thing in the world of WordPress. At Yoast, we are really busy making sure our Yoast SEO plugin integrates nicely with the new editor. So we talk and think and a lot about Gutenberg. But as a writer, I didn’t really use Gutenberg yet. And this made me wonder: What is it like to use Gutenberg? Does writing with Gutenberg feel any different? Is it easier? Will I have more fun? Is it a good writing experience? In this post, I’ll share my thoughts on the new editor from a writer’s perspective. 

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What is Gutenberg?

Gutenberg will become the new default editor of WordPress. The biggest change from the current editor is the introduction of blocks. In the new editor a paragraph, a title or a picture will be a block. You can add a new block, choose what kind of block it will be, and easily edit it the way you want to. Blocks are flexible and can be shifted dynamically around the page.

With the plus sign you can add a new block in the Gutenberg editor

Read more about the Gutenberg project on WordPress.org. The Gutenberg editor is going to be released in the 5.0 update of WordPress. It is not clear when exactly this update will appear, but it should happen somewhere in Spring 2018.

Starting out as a skeptic

I have to be honest. I was rather skeptical about Gutenberg. Prejudiced even. But, I installed the Gutenberg plugin on my personal website and started writing a blog post. Trying to be as open minded as possible. And, I can’t deny: it was really easy. I even forgot for a moment I was testing out a new editor. It didn’t feel weird or new to me at all. Main conclusion: I’m really enthusiastic about Gutenberg.

Intuitive and easy to use

The Gutenberg editor has an intuitive design. For me. And if it’s intuitive for me, it basically is intuitive for everyone. I am not that savvy. It didn’t take much effort to find out how to choose a new heading. It took me just a little bit of clicking to figure out how to insert a picture in my blog post. I could do all the things I do while writing a blog post, just as fast as I always do. At the same time, my screen was rather empty. I liked that. There was little distraction.

Some great advantages over the old editor

The Gutenberg editor has some great assets that could genuinely help people to write better texts. I like that every time you hit enter, a new block emerges. If you go on typing, you’ll create a new paragraph. In my opinion, most writers do not think enough about why they start a new paragraph. They just put whitespaces in when they feel like it. Hitting enter in Gutenberg will create a new block. I believe this will help people to think more about the structure of their text.

Hit enter and Gutenberg will create a new paragraph.

I also love the fact that the editing options are not hidden away at the top of your post. If I want to add a link in my text in the old editor, I have to go all the way to the top of my blog post. That’s a lot of scrolling.  I think I will add much more links to my text when using Gutenberg. Because it is so much easier. And adding (internal) links to your blog posts is important for SEO. Inserting pictures has become much easier too. 

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Some downsides…

I understand why dynamic blocks are appealing. And I do think the flexibility of the blocks will come in handy to get the correct place for a picture or a quote. However, I do not like the fact that it’s so easy to dynamically shift paragraphs and headings. I’m a bit scared that people then feel free to shift their paragraphs while writing. And, from my point of view, the best texts are written after the author carefully established the structure of his or her argumentation. No dragging and dropping there.

Another downside was my experience as I tried to copy and paste a text from Google docs in the Gutenberg editor. In the current editor it takes a lot of work to get the formatting of your article right. That did not work perfectly in Gutenberg either. It does strip out the superfluous HTML code though. Other things went well, like transferring headings, but some paragraphs were transformed in a single block, while other paragraphs were merged together in one block. I could not figure out why. As lots of writers won’t write in the WordPress backend, but in another editor, this experience should be really smooth. A flawless experience would be a tremendous improvement compared to the current editor.

Conclusion

For me, writing with Gutenberg was not all that different from writing in the old editor. And, scrolling down gave me the Yoast SEO meta box, with suggestions to improve my writing and SEO. Yoast SEO already works. The Gutenberg editor offer lots of chances to improve our plugin. We’re working on awesome redesigns to make the writing experience even more awesome. So stay tuned!

Read more: ‘User-testing Gutenberg’ »

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You’d like people to click on your result in Google rather than on the result of one of your competitors. That’s why you need to make sure your search result (a.k.a. your snippet) stands out from all of the other ones. So, how do you do that? How do you write an awesome meta description? How do you make people click your snippet? Here, I’ll tell you all about how to use Yoast SEO to write an awesome meta description. 

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What is a meta description?

A meta description is a description you manually add to your blog post or page. And it tells the reader (and the search engine) what your post is about. It contains up to 320 characters that summarizes a page’s content. Generally, search engines show the meta description in the snippet when the searched phrase is in the description. 

Recent changes

Google changed the rules concerning meta descriptions not that long ago. Nowadays, meta descriptions can be up to 320 characters. We’re currently carrying out research to figure out whether a 320 character meta description or the old fashioned 160 character meta description is the most SEO-friendly.

To be totally fair, Google certainly does not always show the meta description, even if you add one to your article with Yoast SEO. Sometimes Google just decides otherwise and generates something else. Google always wants to show the word people are searching for in the meta description. They usually light up in the snippet. Make sure you’ve done your keyword research properly and use the words people are searching for in your meta description. That’ll increase the chance of Google showing your kick-ass meta description.

Using Yoast SEO for your meta description

You can edit your meta description in the snippet preview in the Yoast meta box, that you’ll find under your post or page. If you want to write one, you should click on the “edit snippet” button. If you do that, the snippet editor will open. You’ll see input fields to edit the SEO title, the slug and the meta description: 

If you start typing in the meta description field, the snippet preview at the top of the snippet editor will also immediately show your new text. Underneath the meta description input field, there is a bar. It’s orange when you start typing and will become green when you’ve added enough information.

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What happens if you do not write one?

If you do not write a meta description, Google will generate one. That could be the first paragraph of your blog post, but it could be something else as well. We’d advise you to write one because it’ll increase the chances of showing an appealing snippet. This will positively affect the click-through rate (how many people click on your snippet). In many cases, however, Google will decide to show something else.

If you do not do anything with the meta description field in the Yoast SEO plugin, the snippet preview in the Yoast SEO plugin will still show a meta description. This one however, is NOT saved as a meta description by our plugin. It’s just an example for what your snippet could look like. 

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Don’t forget it!

It is important to create a good meta description. You should definitely make an effort of writing a good one. Google is getting more and more capable of determining the topic of texts. If Google decides to show something else, it’s usually not a very bad description. Still, a properly crafted meta description can increase the chances of people clicking on your snippet. And using Yoast SEO to write a meta description will help you influence that. So you just have to make the effort to write a good one!

Read more: ‘SEO basics: How to optimize a blog post’ »

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Today we released our new Yoast SEO for WordPress training. This online course will help you use Yoast SEO to its fullest potential. In this course we’ll train you on how to use all of the functionalities of our plugin best. And the most exciting news is, we decided to reduce the price of this online course! The old version was $99 a year and this new course will only be $39. Here I’ll explain why we decided to reduce it so drastically.

Get the Yoast SEO training Now$39 for course, certificate and badge

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SEO for everyone

The mission of Yoast is SEO for everyone. We believe the web will benefit from all people having an equal chance in the search results. Great ideas don’t always come from large companies but are created everywhere around the world. That’s why we believe that every idea should have a fair chance in the search results.

When developing our products, we always keep our mission in mind. That’s why we recently decided to make some big changes in our plugin. We noticed that some settings in Yoast SEO were hard to explain to a non-tech audience. In the 7.0 update of Yoast SEO we tried to make the plugin more user-friendly for everyone.

Creating high quality SEO courses

The Yoast SEO plugin covers most of the technical SEO challenges of a website. But to seriously compete with the large players, every website owner still faces numerous challenges. Our online courses are designed to help people conquer those problems. They’ll teach you everything there is to know about SEO and provide practice to improve your skills.

We are currently updating and improving all of our online courses. We’ve hired an amazing team that’s working full time on creating videos, texts and assignments that’ll help you understand SEO. The new course is suitable for everyone. We’ll start out with the very basics of the plugin and gradually explain everything you need to know.

Reduced prices

Using the Yoast SEO plugin to its full potential will allow everyone to have a fair chance in the search results. That’s what ‘SEO for everyone’ is all about. But not everyone will have enough money to buy an expensive plugin training. That’s the reason why we reduced the price of this one. We hope more people will be able to buy it and profit from it. We would love to give it away for free, but the salaries of our Academy team just need to be paid as well. The training will get regular updates. As the interface of the plugin changes, we’ll record new videos. (We’re already dreading the Gutenberg update, as that’ll really have some impact on the number of videos we’ll need to record).

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Conclusion

We reduced the price of our plugin training because it will allow more people to use Yoast SEO to its full extent. For the exact same reason, we improved the course, making it suitable for everyone to understand the ins and outs of our plugin.

And we’ve got some more news for you. We’re currently working on a new FREE online course. It will be an introductory course to SEO and we’re planning to release it somewhere in May of this year.

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Facebook can be a vital source of traffic for your website. Recently, however, Facebook announced that pages of business, brands, and news outlets would become less important in the news feeds of Facebook users. This could lead to a decrease in your views on Facebook and, therefore, in the traffic from Facebook to your website. What should you do if the traffic from your Facebook page is decreasing? Last week, I already mentioned the importance of SEO. But what else could you do? Here, I’ll share another five strategies to deal with decreasing traffic from your Facebook page.

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Why would the traffic decrease?

Facebook argues that users want to see the content of their friends and families, rather than news and the content of brands in their news feeds. That’s why Facebook is rolling out a big update in which the posts of friends, family and groups become more important and the content of businesses, brands and media will become less important.

Read more: ‘Changes in Facebook make SEO more important’ »

5 strategies to deal with decreasing Facebook traffic

If you notice a sudden drop in reach of traffic from Facebook to your website, don’t panic. Your competitors will probably notice a similar drop. I really think search will become more important, if Facebook will send less traffic to website. People still want to find that present for their mom, or that skirt to wear to a party. If Facebook does not show those in their timelines, they’ll start to search for it in Google. So reinforcing your SEO strategy will be very important. But what else should you do?

Engaging content

Facebook wants to show users content they care about. Content their friends care about. If your content gets a lot of engagement, it’ll probably do better in the news feeds. You should try and get people to share or comment on your Facebook post. But you shouldn’t go overboard; Facebook does not like it when people are pushed to share or comment. Writing high-quality content, content that people want to share with their friends is a good strategy.

Personal accounts

Brands and businesses are not always the most inspiring channels to follow. Lots of people do not want to follow a corporate account. They want to follow real people. Instead of focusing on your corporate Facebook page, you could also focus on spreading the word on the personal Facebook pages of colleagues and employees. Of course, they’ll have to be up for that. And, you should make sure that these personal Facebook pages keep their character.

At Yoast, we have lots of colleagues who are enthusiastic about WordPress and SEO. They often share the SEO posts Yoast publishes on the Yoast Facebook page. That’s a great way to increase both engagement and a  bigger audience.

Influencers

Another way of keeping up the traffic on Facebook is through influencers. Influencers are people who have a lot of followers. They usually post about a specific topic (fashion, celebrities, food). You can reach out to them and ask them to post something about your business on Facebook. For some influencers, you’ll need a budget. For others, offering them your product or service could be enough. Reaching out to (influential) people can be a good way of increasing your reach and traffic on Facebook.

Advertising

The changes Facebook is making will affect the organic (that is the non-paid) reach.  Advertising on Facebook is of course also a possibility. Advertising isn’t that expensive, and you can choose which audience you want to reach (people who like your page, people who do not know your business). I think advertising is a great way to stay visible on Facebook. For a few dollars, you can increase your reach. Make sure you spend your budget on well written, high-quality posts.

Other platforms

If Facebook is giving you a hard time, you could also focus your energy on alternative platforms. Instagram is a good alternative, especially if you’re focusing on a young(er) audience. Don’t forget to check out snapchat either.

Twitter and Pinterest also remain popular. And what about Reddit? It’s hard to say which social media will be most suitable for your business. That depends largely on your business and the preferences of your audience.

Facebook traffic decreasing

Businesses and brands will probably all notice differences in organic reach on Facebook. How significant these differences will be is hard to say. To make it even more complicated, Facebook also changed the way they measure organic engagement. It’s a good idea to keep looking for alternatives for your Facebook-marketing. Investing in SEO seems like an excellent idea! But advertising, writing engaging posts, influencer marketing or other platforms could be great options as well.

Keep reading: ‘Social media for small business owners’ »

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If you promote your website on Facebook, perhaps you’ve noticed some changes in the last few weeks. Or maybe you read about it online. Facebook changed its algorithm; messages of businesses and news outlets will become less important. In this post, I want to explain the consequences of the changes in Facebook’s algorithm. On top of that, I want to propose some strategies to cope with these changes and perhaps a sudden drop in traffic. My favorite strategy? Invest heavily in SEO.

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The Facebook algorithm changed? Why?

Facebook’s founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the changes on January 11th of this year. He writes:

“Recently we’ve gotten feedback from our community that public content — posts from businesses, brands and media — is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other.”

Zuckerberg states that Facebook users want to see the content of their friends and families in their news feeds, rather than that of news outlets and the content of brands.

It’s one of the reasons why Facebook is rolling out a big update in which the posts of friends, family and groups become more important and the content of businesses, brands and media will become less important. That would imply that brands, businesses and media will have a harder time reaching their followers. Their posts will have fewer views and less reach.

What do we notice so far?

It’s hard to say precisely to what extent a drop in organic reach for brands and businesses already took place. It seems like a drop in referrals to media-sites did happen. Media sites seem to get more traffic from Google now than from Facebook.

Blog posts from social media experts (e.g., AgoraPulse; Hootsuite) give the impression that a drop in organic Facebook reach is or will also be happening for brands and businesses. That could well be the case. Reading the announcement of Zuckerberg would imply that especially those brands and companies that have little interaction with their audience will be shown less in the news feeds of their followers.

To make matters more complicated, Facebook also changed the way they measure and report organic reach in the newsfeed. That makes it extra hard to assess whether or not the organic reach of your page has changed.

Read on: ‘How to optimize your Facebook reach’ »

What’s next?

For some websites, this could be a big deal. If you get a lot of traffic from Facebook, this algorithm change could decrease the amount of traffic you’ll be able to attract to your website.

But, to reassure you all: don’t panic. Your business is not the only one that’ll encounter this change. We all have to deal with it.

Some coping strategies

Investing in high-quality and engaging content on Facebook is a good strategy. If your followers reply to your posts and tag their friends, Facebook will probably show your post to many more people. And of course, you can always advertise on Facebook. Advertising on Facebook isn’t that expensive and will allow you to reach your audience, even if your content is not that engaging.

Invest heavily in SEO

In my opinion, the best response to a possible change in the Facebook algorithm is to invest in the SEO of your website. If Facebook is no longer the most important source of traffic to your website, other sources will become (relatively) more important. If people do not see the posts of your business or brand in their news feed, they’ll probably start searching for your products somewhere else. And Google (or another search engine) is the number one candidate for where people will search.

Let me explain how this works by introducing Jane:

Jane is a child psychologist. Her clients come from her local community. She has an active Facebook page. She posts little stories about her clients every day. This Facebook page brought her new clients. People started following Jane; they liked her posts, her tips, and her stories.  When their children needed counseling, Jane was the first one to pop into their heads. Her Facebook posts made sure that Jane’s practice was top of mind. 

The change in Facebook’s algorithm changes a lot in the way Jane got her clientele. Perhaps her Facebook posts will be shown less to her audience. People are still in need of a child psychologist, though. But if they do not find one in their news feed, what will they do? 

When in need of a child psychologist, people start to search for one elsewhere. They could turn to Google and search for ‘Child Psychologist.’  Jane, therefore, needs a kick-ass website with a proper SEO strategy to outrank her competitors. 

If businesses and brands get less attention in the news feeds of their users, traffic from Facebook to their websites will decrease, just as it did with the news. Google could become (relatively) more important.

Conclusion

I think it’s a bit too early to understand the changes in the Facebook algorithm fully. We’ll need some time to do some proper testing and research. I do think businesses and brands will get less attention in the news feeds. I just don’t know how significant the changes will be. It’s frustrating too. The only thing you CAN do is to make sure your website is awesome. Invest time in writing excellent content and create things people want to come to your website for. While doing that, don’t forget to make sure people can find you in the search engines. Time to set up that impressive new SEO strategy!

Read more: ‘Social media for small business owners’ »

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Today, we celebrate International Women’s Day. And, as we are celebrating, we offer a 11% discount on all of our products! In this post, I’ll first explain the importance of International Women’s Day. After that, I’d like to invite you all to celebrate International Women’s Day with us. Share your story about a WordPress woman who inspired you. You can leave your story in the comments or share  it on social #awesomeWPwomen.

So everyone, go grab your 11% discount today

We’ve come a long way!

When my grandmother was born, in 1917, women weren’t allowed to vote in the Netherlands. When my mother was born in 1952, married women weren’t allowed to work. But when I was born in 1981, I had all the same rights and opportunities my older brother had. Within three generations, the legal position of women in the Netherlands had changed tremendously. This was the work of lots of powerful feminists like Mary Wollstonecraft, Simone de Beauvoir, Wilhelmina Drucker and many many others. That’s why today, we should celebrate the progress of women’s rights we’ve made so far!

But still…A long way to go

Although a lot has improved for many women across the world, inequality between gender remains. Women still face sexual violence and gender discrimination. We’ve come a long way, but at the same time, we still have a long way to go. It remains important to strive for total equality. The best results will be achieved when the best, most qualified people are hired for the most important positions, regardless of their gender. Intelligence, perseverance, discipline, and capabilities instead of gender should decide who gets that one important job.

Women in tech

Gender inequality is especially persistent in the tech community. If you Google ‘Women in Tech statistics’ you’ll not find much to celebrate. Women are really, really underrepresented in the tech sector, especially in executive functions and management roles. They earn less, face sexual harassment and quit much more often. 

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What about WordPress?

The WordPress community is also a tech community. Nevertheless, it feels really open, really friendly towards women. At least that’s my experience. There are much more women at WordCamps than at other tech conferences. At WordCamps, at least 25% of the visitors are female. That’s a lot, compared to other tech conferences (yes, I know that’s sad). Some WordCamps even get a 50/50 rate for male and female speakers at their event. Still, there’s a lot of room for improvement, also in the WordPress community.

We need powerful role models

Solving the problem of gender inequality is not going to happen overnight. The causes for it lie within societal and cultural factors that are really hard to change. What we CAN do is to raise awareness of the inequality and the necessity to change it. At the same time, we should celebrate all of the successful women out there. We need powerful role models. We need to know and see women we can look up to.

A few weeks ago, my 8-year old daughter came home from her first lessons in coding. I asked her what she liked best. She started telling me about CSS and about what Irene – one of our developers at Yoast who was teaching the course – told her about it. And, that she wanted to learn to write code and be a developer just like Irene. For her, Irene was a role model. Somebody she could identify with. My daughter said: ‘I like Irene best, of course, because she is a girl. And because we have the same hair.’ 

Inspiring role models are always people we can identify with. Gender is a really important aspect of identifying. Let’s give our daughters those inspiring role models. Let’s give those female developers, female CEO’s and female presidents a big stage. That’s why international women’s day is important. That’s why it’s important to give a stage to as many women as possible on those tech conferences, on WordCamps. And that’s why I want a round of applause for some of the women from the WordPress community that serve as role models and inspirations (at least for me).

A big hooray for some of my big inspirations:

I am a very big fan of Julliette Reinders Folmer, who’s a consultant, developer, public speaker, a major contributor to WordPress and basically an all-round superhero. Thank you Julliette, for your leading role in the WordPress community and for being such an inspiration for me. You inspired and helped me to take the stage (on WordCamps) myself.

And, my daughter isn’t the only one who is very impressed by Yoast’s Irene Strikkers. Irene is a big inspiration for me too. Irene came to work at Yoast only two years ago and did not know how to write code. What she learned within those two years is so amazing. And I am totally sure she’s going to do many more amazing things in the years to come. Irene, you are an awesome WP woman!

Within the WordPress Community, we have so many more women to look up to. For example: Heather Brunner, Helen Hou-Sandi, Tammie Lister, Heather Burns, Rian Rietveld and Mika Epstein. But there are many, so many more. Which WordPress woman was an inspiration to you? And why? Please share your story in the comments or on social #awesomeWPwomen. Let’s give those awesome WP women that stage today!

My all-time biggest inspiration was born 8 years ago. My daughter Wende. She’s the brightest, most talented, most beautiful and funniest girl alive. She doesn’t understand gender inequality. And I don’t want her to ever understand.

Now, go grab your 11% discount!

Read more: ‘3 reasons why Open Source is awesome’ »

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Joost de Valk founded Yoast. For a long time, Joost was the only developer working on Yoast SEO. He came up with all the features and implemented all the code; he did everything. As the company grew, we created a large development team. Joost always remained part of the development team and came up with most of the new features, but he did not write much code himself anymore. Until this release. Joost de Valk wrote most of the code of the Yoast SEO 7.0 release himself. So why is that? And what makes this release so very special? Time to ask Joost de Valk some questions about Yoast SEO 7.0.

Why did you do the coding for this release yourself?

“I had promised myself to get more involved with the product again. The growth of the company had me preoccupied with other things, and I wanted to get back to the core business of Yoast SEO again. I enjoy writing code. It makes me happy.”

And, as you started out, you just decided to make it the biggest release in years?

“Well, as I was diving into the code we were also updating our online course on the plugin. So I was making all kinds of videos and screencasts explaining the plugin. I noticed so many things that were outdated or just not user-friendly. So many things were tough to explain. That process of making our online course gave me many ideas for improvements. And once I started improving, I came up with even more ideas. One thing led to the next… and the next…” 

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What did you like best about your coding adventure?

“I was in awe of the progress our development team has made. Working with them was great fun. Back in the days, it was just me and my computer. Now, somebody gets to review my code, and someone else does the acceptance test. That’s a great system. That process has made me a better developer. I learned so much in just these last few weeks. The team has become so much better.”

What thing in this release are you most proud of?

“We made solid progress in UX here. We had so many options and toggles in Yoast SEO. Most of the questions were asked in such a difficult way. They were so very technical, aimed at SEOs like I was myself when I first built the plugin. I think this release takes us a step closer to our mission: SEO for everyone. Our plugin isn’t just for SEOs and developers. Everyone should be able to use it. I feel we made it a lot more user-friendly with the new changes. That’s what I’m most proud of.”

What will the reactions of our users be? Were you nervous?

“No, I wasn’t nervous at all. We tested with users and the first responses were really positive. Everybody is enthusiastic. I do understand that some people will miss some old features and toggles. Some people might need to re-do some screenshots, I know we certainly have to. But overall, I don’t expect people to be upset by this release. It’ll make Yoast SEO so much easier to set up.”

Read more: ‘Yoast SEO 7.0: Making SEO easier for everyone’ »

The post The journey towards Yoast SEO 7.0 appeared first on Yoast.

Some of the things Yoast SEO does are pure magic. Lots of things are just taken care of after you’ve installed the plugin. You don’t have to do anything about that. Simply installing Yoast SEO will fix a lot of important technical SEO things for you. The content side of SEO, though, is something you should always do yourself. Yoast SEO will help you, but you’ll need to make an effort for it. So there’s a lot of work in it for you. In this post, I’m going to tell to you about the things you need to do yourself, in order to make your SEO strategy successful.

Configure Yoast SEO properly

First of all, you need to configure Yoast SEO correctly. You should be aware that the plugin can’t perform to its full potential if the settings of Yoast SEO aren’t optimal for your specific website. So, make sure that the configuration of Yoast SEO is, in fact, in line with your website. The configuration wizard helps you take care of a lot of these settings, you can read about what it does in this post

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Keyword research… always

The second thing you need to make sure of is doing your keyword research right. You need to know that you’re focusing on the words that people actually are searching for. If you’re optimizing for a term nobody uses, you can rank number one, but you still won’t have any traffic. And if you’re optimizing for a term that’s so competitive that you won’t ever be able to rank for it, then you won’t get any traffic as well.

Doing your keyword research means getting inside the heads of your audience. It also means knowing your competition and estimating your chances to rank for a certain keyword. Yoast SEO will help you optimize your content for your keywords, but figuring out what the right keywords are, is your job.

Read more: ‘How to choose keywords that’ll attract traffic’ »

Write awesome content

The third thing you need to do yourself is to write awesome content. And that’s something you have to do manually. Of course, you can outsource this, but it’s something somebody has to do. Yoast SEO actually helps you to write both SEO-friendly, as well as readable texts with the content and SEO analysis. So you should use this feature and make sure your text is well-optimized for the search engines. But adding great content is still something you need to do yourself, it won’t happen magically.

Internal linking

Another thing you’ll need to do yourself is take care of your internal linking structure. This is very important because a proper internal linking structure will make sure that Google understands your website. And you want Google to understand your website. Otherwise, you will be competing with your own content for a place in the search results.

Yoast SEO (premium) will help you to do that, with our internal linking feature. But it’s still something you need to be actually doing yourself. Yoast SEO will make suggestions for articles you could link to, but you still have to put them in your article.

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Social previews and redirects

Social previews and redirects are features in Yoast SEO that’ll help you improve your SEO. Your effort is needed in order to gain an SEO advantage from these features. Part of your SEO strategy will be a strategy on social media, so Facebook and Twitter. And Yoast SEO can help you make those posts on Facebook, but you still have to hit that button and write the content. Same goes for the redirects. If a page is outdated, you want to redirect it to another page. But it won’t happen just magically; you have to create those redirects yourself.

Don’t forget your competition

Even if they’ve done all the things I talked about, some people are unable to rank for a specific term. Why is that? Well, I think a lot of it has to do with competition. Some search terms are so competitive, and dominated by high-authority brands, that it’s terribly hard for a starting out blog to rank between them. If you want to rank for ‘holiday home Florida’ and you’re just starting out as a blog, you’re probably not going to rank right away. You need to have a whole strategy, in which you focus on long-tail search terms first. So, part of why you’re not ranking has to do with the competition.

On top of that, SEO sometimes takes a long time. Don’t despair if you’re not ranking overnight. It can take a little while before you start ranking for specific search terms. It’s a process that requires a strategy and it takes some time before you see the results.

Conclusion

SEO is a lot of work. Yoast SEO magically takes care of most of the technical SEO stuff. The content side of SEO is a different story though. You’ll need to make an effort to set up a successful content SEO strategy. There are a lot of things you should work on, in which Yoast SEO can actually help you and take you by the hand. And don’t forget: whether or not you rank for specific terms also depends on your competition in your specific niche. 

Keep reading: ‘The ultimate guide to content SEO’ »

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