Crawl errors occur when a search engine tries to reach a page on your website but fails at it. Let’s shed some more light on crawling first. Crawling is the process where a search engine tries to visit every page of your website via a bot. A search engine bot finds a link to your website and starts to find all your public pages from there. The bot crawls the pages and indexes all the contents for use in Google, plus adds all the links on these pages to the pile of pages it still has to crawl. Your main goal as a website owner is to make sure the search engine bot can get to all pages on the site. Failing this process returns what we call crawl errors.

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Your goal is to make sure that every link on your website leads to an actual page. That might be via a 301 redirect, but the page at the very end of that link should always return a 200 OK server response.

Google divides crawl errors into two groups:

  1. Site errors. You don’t want these, as they mean your entire site can’t be crawled.
  2. URL errors. You don’t want these either, but since they only relate to one specific URL per error, they are easier to maintain and fix.

Let’s elaborate on that.

Site errors

Site errors are all the crawl errors that prevent the search engine bot from accessing your website. That can have many reasons,  these being the most common:

  • DNS Errors. This means a search engine isn’t able to communicate with your server. It might be down, for instance, meaning your website can’t be visited. This is usually a temporary issue. Google will come back to your website later and crawl your site anyway. If you see notices of this in your Google Search Console at crawl errors, that probably means Google has tried a couple of times and still wasn’t able to.
  • Server errors. If your search console shows server errors, this means the bot wasn’t able to access your website. The request might have timed out. The search engine (f.i.) tried to visit your site, but it took so long to load that the server served an error message. Server errors also occur when there are flaws in your code that prevent a page from loading. It can also mean that your site has so many visitors that the server just couldn’t handle all the requests. A lot of these errors are returned as 5xx status codes, like the 500 and 503 status codes described here.
  • Robots failure. Before crawling, (f.i.) Googlebot tries to crawl your robots.txt file as well, just to see if there are any areas on your website you’d rather not have indexed. If that bot can’t reach the robots.txt file, Google will postpone the crawl until it can reach the robots.txt file. So always make sure it’s available.

That explains a tad bit about crawl errors related to your entire site. Now let’s see what kind of crawl errors might occur for specific pages.

URL errors

As mentioned, URL errors refer to crawl errors that occur when a search engine bot tries to crawl a specific page of your website. When we discuss URL errors, we tend to discuss crawl errors like (soft) 404 Not Found errors first. You should frequently check for these type of errors (useGoogle Search Console or Bing webmaster tools) and fix ’em. If the page/subject of that page indeed is gone never to return to your website, serve a 410 page. If you have similar content on another page, please use a 301 redirect instead. Make sure your sitemap and internal links are up to date as well, obviously.

We found that a lot of these URL errors are caused by internal links, by the way. So a lot of these errors are your fault. If you remove a page from your site at some point, adjust or remove any inbound links to it as well. These links have no use anymore. If that link remains the same, a bot will find it and follow it, only to find a dead end (404 Not found error). On your website. You need to do some maintenance now and then on your internal links!

Among these common errors might be an occasional DNS error or server error for that specific URL. Re-check that URL later and see if the error has vanished. Be sure to use fetch as Google and mark the error as fixed in Google Search Console if that is your main monitoring tool in this. Our plugin can help you with that.

Very specific URL errors

There are some URL errors that apply to certain sites only. That’s why I’d like to list these separately:

  • Mobile-specific URL errors. This refers to page-specific crawl errors that occur on a modern smartphone. If you have a responsive website, these are unlikely to surface. Perhaps just for that piece of Flash content you wanted to replace already. If you maintain a separate mobile subdomain like m.example.com, you might run into more errors. Thing along the lines of faulty redirects from your desktop site to that mobile site. You might even have blocked some of that mobile site with a line in your robots.txt.
  • Malware errors. If you encounter malware errors in your webmaster tools, this means Bing or Google has found malicious software on that URL. That might mean that software is found that is used, for instance, “to gather guarded information, or to disrupt their operation in general.”(Wikipedia). You need to investigate that page and remove the malware.
  • Google News errors. There are some specific Google News errors. There’s quite a list of these possible errors in Google’s documentation, so if your website is in Google News, you might get these crawl errors. They vary from the lack of a title to errors that tell you that your page doesn’t seem to contain a news article at all. Be sure to check for yourself if this applies to your site.

Fix your crawl errors

The bottom line in this article is definitely: if you encounter crawl errors, fix them. It should be part of your site’s maintenance schedule to check for crawl errors now and then. Besides that, if you have installed our premium plugin, you’ll have a convenient way in WordPress and/or TYPO3 to prevent crawl errors when for instance deleting a page. Be sure to check these features yourselves!

Read more: ‘Google Search Console: Crawl’ »

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I remember my first time in Google Analytics. As a data lover, I enthusiastically clicked my way through the numerous tabs. Seeing terms like sessions, pageviews, users, bounce rate and so on. Being so enthusiastic, I didn’t really think about what these terms actually mean. And that’s pretty important, because without knowing what Google Analytics’ definition of the term is, you might draw the wrong conclusions. In this post, I’m going to discuss an important term in Google Analytics: a session. 

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What are sessions in Google Analytics?

If you think of the term session, what do you think it means? My definition is that it is a period in which a certain thing happens. Keep your own definition in mind and check if it equals Google Analytics’s definition of a session:

A session is a group of user interactions with your website that take place within a given time frame.

Cool, it’s pretty much the same as my definition. And that helps me with understanding what I’m looking at when dealing with sessions in Google Analytics.

Let’s break it down. If a visitor or user enters your website a session begins. Google Analytics records it and collects data from the very start. Within that session, a user can do a lot of things on your website that Google Analytics records, for instance, view pages, buy products, fill out forms and so on.

When does a session end?

Looking at the definition, you see that a session has a given time frame. This implicates that it can end after a certain period and that you can adjust when the session ends. A session can end because of one of three reasons:

  1. After 30 minutes of inactivity
  2. At midnight
  3. Campaign change

1. After 30 minutes of inactivity

By default, a session ends when a user did nothing on your site for 30 minutes straight. For example, a user looks at a page on your site, then reads a blog post and leaves that open without doing anything on that page for 30 minutes, the session ends. If after, for instance, 29 minutes a user interacts with the page, by clicking on a link or a menu item or something like that, the very same session is extended by another 30 minutes. So every time you interact with the site, the session is extended. If you don’t do anything for 30 minutes, it ends.

There are cases where 30 minutes is too short. If you have very long articles, for instance, people need more time than just those 30 minutes. There are also cases in which 30 minutes is too long, for instance for product pages in a shop. Luckily you can adjust the session timeout. Go to the admin section, at property level you’ll see an item about Tracking info. There you can find session settings:

adjusting session timeout in Google Analytics

As you can see, the minimum you can set is 1 minute, the maximum is 4 hours. If you want to have an idea about how long an average session on your site is, go to your audience tab, click overview and you’ll see a summary with a couple of statistics like Avg. Session Duration:

average session duration in Google Analytics

Before drawing conclusions, please check the date range you’ve set. Check for a month, or compare a couple months to see if the duration doesn’t change that much. You can use this information to set the right session timeout. Usually it makes most sense to set it at the average session duration.

2. At midnight

The second reason a session can end is simply because a new day is beginning. If a user is on your website and reads a post at 11:58 PM for instance, that session ends at 11:59:59 PM and a new session begins at 12:00 PM.

3. Campaign change

Users of your site come from different sources, like Google, Facebook or email. Sometimes they arrive on your site following a specific campaign link, for instance, if you’re running an AdWords campaign or you’ve added a utm_campaign parameter to a URL in your newsletter. Let’s say a visitor lands on your website by a certain AdWord paid keyword, then Google Analytics stores that campaign in its data. But if that same user goes to your site via a different campaign, the first session ends and a new session starts.

Now what?

Just knowing how much sessions you’ve got, isn’t that interesting per se. It gets interesting when you compare it with something. For instance, if you compare last month’s sessions with the month before that. Does it follow the same trend? And if you see a spike in sessions, do you know what caused that spike? Or compare weeks, do you see a drop in sessions in the weekends? You can also compare sources, which source drives most sessions to your site? And how many pages per session does every source have? What’s your most successful source of traffic when it comes down to sessions? There are a lot of questions you can ask yourself. My tip: ask the question first, then open up Google Analytics and try to find the answer.

Conclusion

If you want to be able to analyze your Google Analytics data you have to understand what the variables of this tool mean exactly. A session is a group of actions of one user in a given time frame. It starts when a user enters your site and it ends after a certain time of inactivity, a change of campaign or at midnight. You can set the time after which it should end, depending on the average time a user spends on your site.

Now go have a look at your sessions! Do you see anything remarkable?

Read more: ‘Understanding bounce rate in Google Analytics’ »

 

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You might have felt some tremors in the WordPress world. There is something brewing. Something called Gutenberg. It’s the new editing environment in WordPress and the impact it’s going to have will be massive. Some welcome it with open arms, while others are critical. There is also a large group of WordPress users who don’t have a clue what’s going on. Here, we’ll introduce Gutenberg.

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It’s the first step for a bright new future for WordPress

It’s something many people often gloss over, but Gutenberg is not just a new editor for WordPress. It’s the start of something much bigger. Gutenberg lays the groundwork for incredibly exciting developments. Gutenberg is stage one of a three-pronged roll-out strategy. First, WordPress will get a redeveloped editor, after that it the project will focus on page templates and in the final stage WordPress will become a full site customizer. You can imagine, this gives us endless possibilities and it is a necessary step to keep WordPress the #1 CMS for years to come.

Today, we’re focusing on stage one. The new Gutenberg editor will land in WordPress 5.0 sometime this year. As it stands now, it is not nearly finished, but loads of people are working around the clock to turn this editor into a solid and stable product. We have a big team working on it as well, both on the editor itself and our integration with it.

Opening Gutenberg for the first time

When you open the new editor for the first time you’re probably looking for the interface we have all grown accustomed to. That, however, is gone. We now have a very clean writing environment, with great typography and lots of space for your content to shine. On the right-hand side, you can open the settings — per document or per block — by clicking on the cog icon. Clicking on the three dots beside that cog lets you switch to the code editor so you can make your edits on the code side of things.

gutenberg blank canvas

Now, seeing this screen might cause you to turn around and run — please don’t. We all know people have a hard time changing from one thing that they know well to something new. Even Marieke had reservations regarding writing in Gutenberg, which she addressed in a post.

People find it hard to accept change when they don’t see why it’s necessary to change something that was working ok. Well, in this case, it’s relatively easy to understand: to get ready for the future, WordPress needs to adapt. Gutenberg introduces concepts and technologies that help make WordPress future proof. Most visible right now? The concept of a block.

In Gutenberg, everything is a block

Gutenberg introduces blocks. Previously, your content lived inside one big HTML file and for every enhancement there had to be something new: shortcodes, custom post types, embeds, widgets and the like. All with their quirky interfaces and weird behavior. Now, you can build your content precisely like you make a LEGO set: all from one box, following a standardized and straightforward set of instructions. In the animated gif below, I’ll quickly show you some blocks and add an image as a block:

By using this blocks concept, you can now determine what every part of your content is. Not only that, you can define their specifications per block. So, for instance, you can turn a single line of text into a quote by changing its block type. After that, it gets a new set of options that you can set. You can change the type of quote, its placement, text decoration et cetera. This goes for all blocks. There are blocks for, among other things:

  • Paragraphs
  • Lists
  • Quotes
  • Headings
  • Code
  • Images
  • Galleries
  • Shortcodes
  • Columns
  • Buttons
  • Widgets
  • And a ton of embeds

Every block you make can get its own layout and settings. And you can save these as reusable blocks!

Gutenberg

Reusable blocks

One of the coolest things about Gutenberg is reusable blocks. Think of these as a completed block that you can save along with its settings. For instance, if you’ve made a cool looking layout for the intro of your blog articles, you can save this as a reusable block. After that, you only have to go to Add Block -> Saved to pick your reusable intro block. How cool is that!

This is an incredibly basic example, but you can think of a lot more complex uses for this! How about a complete gallery where you only have to drop in the images. Or a multi-column article template with great typography for killer blog posts. And of course, developers can hook into this as well, so there are bound to arrive some great blocks that’ll make our lives so much easier. There is no limit to this. This is all made possible because we have full control over all individual blocks.

Yoast SEO and Gutenberg

We’ve been heavily investing in Gutenberg since the beginning. We have several developers that are helping to improve Gutenberg full time. Also, we are actively researching how, why and where we should integrate Yoast SEO inside Gutenberg. Even for us, the possibilities are endless. We won’t be able to build everything we’re dreaming up right away, as we’re focusing on giving you the best possible basic integration from the moment Gutenberg gets released. But, keep in mind, there is a lot more to come from us!

Let The Gut Guys explain Gutenberg for you

Two of the most active Yoasters in the Gutenberg development team is our UX designer Tim and software architect Anton. These guys are so passionate about Gutenberg that we’re featuring the dynamic duo in an exclusive video series called The Gut Guys — Gut as in ‘good’. They will show you around the Gutenberg editing experience and explain the why and how of the new editor. We’re regularly adding new installments. Watch it and subscribe!

Need more? Check this essential talk

We know thinking and talking about Gutenberg can be tiring, but that’s mostly because we are keeping those thoughts in the now. We should most definitely look at the broader picture and see where Gutenberg can take WordPress. To explain that, I’d like to ask you to invest 45 minutes of your time in watching this essential talk by Morten Rand-Hendriksen.

Conclusion to what is Gutenberg?

There’s no beating around the bush: Gutenberg is coming. We’re getting ready for it and you should as well. The new editor will probably take some getting used to and it might break some stuff, but in the end, we will get a much more streamlined environment with a lot of cool possibilities down the road.

The most important thing you can do right now is installing the plugin. Play with it, test it, break it. Add every issue you find to Gutenberg’s GitHub: things that don’t work or should work better. We need as many eyes on this as we can, so we need you. Don’t just talk and yell: contribute! Your contributions will make or break this project.

Read more: ‘Gutenberg: Concepts for integrating Yoast SEO’ »

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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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Maintaining a website is hard work, and to do it right, you have to be skilled in many things: writing, editing, SEO, marketing (if you own a business) and perhaps even a bit of coding, to name but a few. But that’s not all. If you handle and collect the data of your site’s visitors, you should also familiarize yourself with relevant laws on data protection and privacy.

In April 2016, a new regulation on privacy and data protection was adopted by the European Parliament and the European Council. After a transition period of two years, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will become enforceable from 25 May 2018 onward. This means you can get a fine if you don’t comply with the GDPR.

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It’s important to note that the GDPR doesn’t just apply to organizations located within the EU. It also applies to organizations located outside of the EU, if they offer services or products to, or monitor the behavior of people residing in the EU. The consequences of this law for you and your business depend on the kind of data you handle and if (and how) you get consent for that. So, what to do when preparing for the GDPR? Let me give you my take on the subject in this week’s Ask Yoast!

Joerg Gastmann emailed us his question on the GDPR:

At YoastCon 2017, Dixon Jones mentioned that certain plugins collect data about users and this might cause problems with the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). What should a webmaster do to avoid legal penalties for using plugins, like Jetpack, that process statistical/user data on their servers?

Watch the video or read the transcript further down the page for my answer!

Preparing for the GDPR

“Well, you don’t get a penalty specifically for the fact that these plugins are using that data. You get a penalty for not getting your user’s consent for doing that. So you should get your user’s consent, or stop doing that. Some of these things you can put into your general terms of service because they’re required for your business to work.

But if you’re doing things like profiling people based on what they visited, based on information they’ve given you them about them, then you should really dive into the GDPR. This is not something I can easily answer in a couple of minutes. It’s a lot of work. There are a lot of people that are very hard at work, making sure that we can do all the things in WordPress that you should be able to do under the GDPR. So yeah, dive in, consult a lawyer- I’m not a lawyer. Good luck!”

Ask Yoast

In the series Ask Yoast, we answer SEO questions from our readers. Have an SEO-related question? Maybe we can help you out! Send an email to ask@yoast.com.

Note: please check our blog and knowledge base first, the answer to your question may already be out there! For urgent questions, for example about our plugin not working properly, we’d like to refer you to our support page.

Read on: ‘Yoast and the GDPR’ »

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Team Yoast often attends WordCamps and other conferences. We’d like to keep you updated on the highlights of these events and share the knowledge we gained and the fun we had there. In March we went, for example, to WordCamp Oslo, WordCamp AntwerpWordCamp RotterdamWordCamp Kathmandu and The Social Conference. We’ve picked some of the highlights for you. Read on!

Want to meet us and know which events we’ll be going to soon? Check out our events page

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WordCamp Oslo

Remkus de Vries, our remote colleague from the north of the Netherlands, went even higher up north to Norway to join WordCamp Oslo. Of the presentations he watched, the very first one by Magne Ilsaas was the one that stood out the most for him:

“Magne talked about Gutenberg, the printing press, and how it sparked a revolution some 500 years ago. But of course, he also talked about Gutenberg as the new editing experience expected to ship with WordPress 5.0 and the opportunities and possibilities it brings. It’s a presentation that sparked a lot of conversations the rest of the day. I couldn’t agree with him more: Gutenberg will, indeed, revolutionize how we’re using WordPress.”

Want to know more about Gutenberg? Follow the knowledgeable Gut Guys on YouTube. We will be publishing about Gutenberg a lot more in the coming weeks, starting with Marieke. She will publish a post on content writing with Gutenberg soon!

WordCamp Antwerp

While Remkus was traveling north, other Yoasters went south to WordCamp Antwerp in Belgium. That’s where our sales superstar Anneloes found out everyone can contribute on a contributor day, no need to be a developer! She joined the WP Marketing team – an initiative which our marketing team had already joined on WordCamp Noord Nederland – and was thrilled by the friendly and helpful atmosphere she encountered.

karin

Our awesome Karin volunteering at WordCamp Antwerp

At WordCamp Antwerp, our Research Team Lead Annelieke gave a presentation on Multilingual SEO, not the easiest of topics. She guided visitors with international websites through the Multilingual and Multiregional forest to help them make the right sites rank in the right countries. She discussed hreflang, multilingual copywriting for SEO and more. Check the highlights of her presentation on this Twitter thread.

WordCamp Rotterdam

At Yoast we not only like sustainable SEO, we care about environmental sustainability too. And that’s the first thing we loved about WordCamp Rotterdam. It was held at the awesome venue BlueCity, the old swimming pool Tropicana, now a hotspot for environmentally-friendly entrepreneurs. There was no printed schedule, cookies were made from yesterday’s bread, and badges were recyclable and filled with plant seeds. Awesome!

A lot of Yoasters in Rotterdam!

At this event, Monique Dubbelman gave a live demo of Gutenberg, which is always good to increase awareness. The talk by Andree Lange on style tiles was of particular interest to the design team, offering a low barrier way to create a library of design elements for a project without having to spec out every little detail from the start. And Jules Ernst shared some illuminating examples of accessibility problems and how you can already improve your website’s accessibility a lot with a little bit of work.

The Yoast team organized the closing session of the event doing some live site reviews. Michelle, Annelieke, Tim and Judith scrutinized some of the visitors’ websites and sent them home with lots of practical tips to improve their SEO and sites in general. You can check the full session (in Dutch) on our Facebook page.

WordCamp Kathmandu

Our support engineer Suwash went to WordCamp Kathmandu in Nepal. He found the presentation of Chandan Goopta one of the most interesting:

“The talk focused on how we can optimize the server, use server commands, and add our custom scripts to monitor bottlenecks on site and fix those issues: sometimes external tools don’t exactly give the cause of why a site is acting slow. He talked not only about the optimized performance of a site but also enhanced page load time (less than 2 seconds load time) and more.”

Contributor day was the first in the history of WordPress Nepal community and there were around 115 attendees. Fond of giving support, Suwash joined as a Team Lead for Support focusing on encouraging attendees to contribute by answering support questions on the WordPress.org support forum.

Support engineer Suwash at WordCamp Kathmandu

The Social Conference

Dushanthi and Siobhan of Team Marketing also visited Amsterdam for The Social Conference, a day full of talks about different social media and how to use them. KLM kicked off with an awesome talk on using social media to give customers the best possible experience. They’re very advanced in using chatbots and providing relevant information through the most convenient channel. Another talk our team was pretty impressed by, was by outdoor gear brand Patagonia, on doing business in unconventional ways. More so: using your business as a tool for environmental activism. This talk hit home as their community building was so like our belief in Open Source.

A lot of the other talks were about changing algorithms like Facebook’s. As no-one knew anything other to say than ‘create engaging content’, we’re even more convinced of our message: as Facebook’s algorithm changes, SEO becomes crucial. The most important takeaway for us this day: if all else changes, your website is still in your control!

Go to WordCamps

We’ve had an awesome time at these conferences. We would encourage you to visit WordCamps as well. It as great oppurtunity to meet likeminded people, to contribute to WordPress and to learn a great deal from the talks. You can find WordCamps all over the world. Hope to meet you there!

Want to meet us at future events? Keep an eye on our events page

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After (re)defining the niche of my blog and creating a proper site structure with the needed categories, I felt as if I had reinvented my blog. I decided I wanted to publish at least three articles each week. This meant I would have to write 156 blog posts a year. That number sounds extremely daunting, as there have been times the past year I was struggling to come up with just a single blog post idea. How would I ever come up with enough ideas for cool blog posts? It’s all about finding inspiration. Today, I want to share my best tips so you can keep generating useful ideas.

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Tips and tricks for finding inspiration

I’m always amazed at bloggers who have a few hundreds or thousands of blog posts on their site. Where do they get their inspiration? How do they know what to write? I dove in, had a lot of fun, worried about my niche again, worried about the health of the people who inserted certain search queries and ended up with a list of blog post ideas. Let me show you how I did that.

Performance report in Google Search Console

Google Search Console shows you more than your crawl errors. Only recently I learned about the Performance report in GSC. It was once again my coworker Patrick who showed me this, although I could’ve known, as we have blog posts on this very subject. No wonder I heard my colleagues laugh when I kept staring at my screen in amazement and uttering: ‘Wow, this is so cool. This is awesome. I had no idea. This is brilliant! Thank you!’

The Performance report shows you the search queries people use that your site ranks on. There could be queries on the list that you have never even thought about writing about.

After looking at my list, I saw someone searched for [milkshake during pregnancy]. I’ve written about pregnancy and milkshakes, but not in that combination yet. This means that an article on milkshake recipes you can make at home that are safe to consume during your pregnancy could be a good idea. Another search result is [time capsule baby]. I don’t even know what it is. It got me worried at first, but now I’m excited to find out what it is. I’m sure the person who searched for this, didn’t want to put a baby inside a time capsule because that’s weird.

Content Idea Generator

Content Idea Generator won’t give you ready to go article ideas. At best it will point you in the right direction, at worst it will provide you with a few laughs. For example, I entered the term [baby]. As a mom, this is something that’s apparently on my mind all day — it’s not, by the way. The subject most on my mind is probably sleeping. And wine. Content Idea Generator gave me the following title: ‘Why babies are scarier than dating Taylor Swift’. I’m not sure what dating Taylor Swift is like, but I do know babies can be quite scary.

A content idea about [wine] gave me ’17 unexpected uses for wine’. I’d think it’s to drink, all other 16 uses would be a waste of good wine to me, but what do I know? Perhaps there are other ways than just to drink it!

Entering the [sleep] subject just left me kind of sad, because I ended up with ‘Why you’ll never succeed at sleep’. That’s disappointing. And accurate at the moment.

While the Content Idea Generator won’t give you immediately what you want, it’s sure to get your creativity flowing. If we take the last subject I entered, which is [sleep], I ended up with the following blog ideas in under two minutes:

  • How to fall asleep faster.
  • How to sleep like a baby — hah, see what I did there? I combined two subjects!
  • The definite guide to get your baby to sleep through the night — oh yeah, did it again!
  • Sleep problems? Try these six tips – and perhaps combine this with wine and link this to the ’17 unexpected uses for wine’. Double win!

Days Of The Year

I am in love with Days Of The Year. This site collects all the funny, bizarre and nice holidays the world has. Browsing their calendar gave me a list of close to thirty post ideas and that was only because I was being extremely picky. For example, today, April 5, is both caramel and deep dish pizza day. I didn’t even know deep dish pizza was a thing.

It’s also ‘Tell a lie day’ today. I could twist this one into a blog post for my niche and could write an article about all the lies I tell my son each day, or the lies I tell myself. You can easily lose a couple of hours while scrolling through that site. Keep your pen and notepad at hand, though, because it is bound to give you tons of inspiration. There are days available for every niche. Are you a fan of mythical creatures? April 9th is unicorn day. There’s also a leprechaun day and a howl at the moon day.

May 25th is towel day, which can give travel bloggers and lifestyle bloggers ideas for posts. Think of blog posts such as: ‘How to keep your towels soft’ or ‘With this information you will never buy the wrong towel again’. Or throw the word [towel] in the Content Idea Generator I described above, which will lead to hilarious posts such as: ’17 facts about towels that will impress your friends’. Or this one: ’18 things Spock would say about towels’; brilliant, as Towel Day is on the same day as Geek Pride Day.

Pinterest

Pinterest is a beautiful source of inspiration, especially for bloggers! I rediscovered Pinterest a few weeks ago. I had abandoned my account for quite some time, but after I read article after article about why Pinterest is important to bloggers, I got active again. I’ll cover my journey on Pinterest in another blog post, as I’m still trying a lot of things to see what it can do for me as a blogger.

Pinterest can help you find enough input for your next subjects. Search for keywords such as [blog post ideas], [blog ideas], or [what to blog about]. To get even more inspiration fast, include your niche in the search results. For example: [blog post ideas for moms], or [blog post ideas for lifestyle bloggers]. Bloggers like you and me write these guides, so often you can learn what works and what doesn’t. But please, be cautious as well. In my opinion, Pinterest is clickbait heaven. Falling into the trap of quantity over quality is easy. Keep your focus or you’ll lose track of time.

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Other ways to generate ideas

This is not the definitive list for generating ideas of course. There are a lot more ways to find inspiration, for example:

  • Find bloggers that inspire you. Make sure you do not copy their ideas, though. And give credit where credit is due.
  • Join Facebook groups that are related to your niche.
  • Join Facebook groups for bloggers.
  • Follow the ideas described in these posts:

What’s next?

With the above lists, I generated over 70 blog post ideas, and it took me only ten minutes of brainstorming. While not all of them are ready to turn into blog posts just yet as I need to do research, the goal to write at least three blog posts a week won’t be dependent on lack of ideas. The only way this could fail, is with the wrong planning.

Read more: ‘Why a blogger should focus on SEO’ »

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Tags and categories help us structure our content. You can often find these in the visual metadata at for instance blog posts, or in a list of clickable links in the sidebar of a website. Tags are sometimes represented as a tag cloud, although most websites refrain from using that element these days. There is a clear difference between tags and categories, but a lot of users mix them up. Now in most cases, that won’t matter for the end user. But for instance, in WordPress, there are some benefits by using categories for certain segmentations and tags for others. Here, I’d like to explain the difference between tags and categories.

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WordPress taxonomies

WordPress uses taxonomies for content grouping. The most common, default taxonomies in WordPress are categories and tags, but it’s also possible to create a custom taxonomy. We have written about these custom taxonomies before, so for background information, please read the post “What are custom taxonomies?

A taxonomy can be defined as “orderly classification” (Source: Merriam Webster). This indicates some hierarchy or structure, which often goes into categories. In WordPress, categories can be parents or children of each other. Often, tags in WordPress don’t have that structure and are often used quite randomly. If you don’t control how you add tags to posts, you will probably end up with a huge number of tags on your website. The downside of this is that a lot of tags are used only once, which makes the tag page the same as the post where you added the tag. This may create duplicate content or at least thin content.

The difference between tags and categories

Back to our original questions: what’s the difference? In an ideal world, we would use categories to group the content on your website into — say — eight to ten global segments. On our blog, these segments are for instance Analytics, Content SEO, eCommerce and Technical SEO. By maintaining a limited set of categories, you can keep your website, and your content focused. Now, of course, you can dissect the content even further, going to more particular groupings. For that, you should use tags.

WordPress describes the difference exactly like that:

  • Categories allowed for a broad grouping of post topics.
  • Tags are used to describe your post in more detail.

The fact that categories can be hierarchical means that there’s a bit more content structure to be made with just categories if that’s what you are looking for. You can have a group of posts about trees, and have a child category or subgroup about elms. Makes sense, right? It also means that you can have URLs like /category/trees/elms, which displays that structure right in the URL already. You can’t do this with tags. The tag in this example could be “Boston”. It’s unrelated to the tree’s characteristics but could indicate where for instance a photo of an elm in that post is located.

At least one category per post is required

There is one more difference between tags and categories in WordPress: you need to add at least one category to a post. If you forget to do so, the post will be added to the default category. That would be “Uncategorized” unless you set a default category in WordPress at Settings > Writing:

tags and categories: set a default post category

Please do so, as you will understand the default “Uncategorized” makes no sense to your readers. It looks like poor maintenance, right? With tags, you don’t have this issue, as tags are not obligated at all. You could even decide to refrain from using tags until you need them and even then perhaps use a custom taxonomy instead. In that case, you will have that second layer of segmentation without the limitation of tags. I hope that clarifies the difference between tags and categories!

Read more: ‘SEO basics: (The importance of) site structure’ »

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WordPress 4.9.5 is now available. This is a security and maintenance release for all versions since WordPress 3.7. We strongly encourage you to update your sites immediately.

WordPress versions 4.9.4 and earlier are affected by three security issues. As part of the core team's ongoing commitment to security hardening, the following fixes have been implemented in 4.9.5:

  1. Don't treat localhost as same host by default.
  2. Use safe redirects when redirecting the login page if SSL is forced.
  3. Make sure the version string is correctly escaped for use in generator tags.

Thank you to the reporters of these issues for practicing coordinated security disclosurexknown of the WordPress Security Team, Nitin Venkatesh (nitstorm), and Garth Mortensen of the WordPress Security Team.

Twenty-five other bugs were fixed in WordPress 4.9.5. Particularly of note were:

  • The previous styles on caption shortcodes have been restored.
  • Cropping on touch screen devices is now supported.
  • A variety of strings such as error messages have been updated for better clarity.
  • The position of an attachment placeholder during uploads has been fixed.
  • Custom nonce functionality in the REST API JavaScript client has been made consistent throughout the code base.
  • Improved compatibility with PHP 7.2.

This post has more information about all of the issues fixed in 4.9.5 if you'd like to learn more.

Download WordPress 4.9.5 or venture over to Dashboard → Updates and click "Update Now." Sites that support automatic background updates are already beginning to update automatically.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to WordPress 4.9.5:

1265578519, Aaron Jorbin, Adam Silverstein, Alain Schlesser, alexgso, Andrea Fercia, andrei0x309, antipole, Anwer AR, Birgir Erlendsson (birgire), Blair jersyer, Brooke., Chetan Prajapati, codegrau, conner_bw, David A. Kennedy, designsimply, Dion Hulse, Dominik Schilling (ocean90), ElectricFeet, ericmeyer, FPCSJames, Garrett Hyder, Gary Pendergast, Gennady Kovshenin, Henry Wright, Jb Audras, Jeffrey Paul, Jip Moors, Joe McGill, Joen Asmussen, John Blackbourn, johnpgreen, Junaid Ahmed, kristastevens, Konstantin Obenland, Laken Hafner, Lance Willett, leemon, Mel Choyce, Mike Schroder, mrmadhat, nandorsky, Nidhi Jain, Pascal Birchler, qcmiao, Rachel Baker, Rachel Peter, RavanH, Samuel Wood (Otto), Sebastien SERRE, Sergey Biryukov, Shital Marakana, Stephen Edgar, Tammie Lister, Thomas Vitale, Will Kwon, and Yahil Madakiya.

These past few weeks were all about the 7.0 release of Yoast SEO. That release brought many changes and made a lot of SEO work easier to understand and do. In 7.1 we fixed some bugs, improved the importers and added a new language to our roster: Portuguese. Yoast SEO 7.2 — out now — is taking it a bit easier. No substantial new features, but enough improvements all around.

Better import from All in One SEO Pack

Over the past few releases, we’ve been steadily improving and enhancing the data importers in Yoast SEO. We’re slowly getting there and Yoast SEO 7.2 adds another new enhancement to one particular importer: the one for All in One SEO Pack. As of now, we can import noindex, nofollow and OpenGraph tags from this WordPress SEO plugin. Also, we’ve fixed a bug that could overwrite existing Yoast SEO data when importing data from All in One SEO Pack.

Bug fixes in Yoast SEO 7.2

As always, we ran into bugs that we needed to fix. Some we uncover ourselves, while others are handed to us by our highly valued community. In Yoast SEO 7.2, we needed to fix several bugs. Some are very small, like the Ryte notification that didn’t go away when users turned the feature. But some are more serious, like a bug where attachments connected to password-protected posts ended up in the sitemaps.

A couple of other fixes were related to the wpseo_robots filter where setting a page to noindex did not correctly remove the canonical element. In Yoast SEO Premium, there were issues regarding the handling of changes in parent/child relationships of pages; we have resolved these all. Of course, you can check the changelog for Yoast SEO 7.2 to see what else was fixed.

What are you waiting for: update now!

With every release, we keep the ball rolling at Yoast HQ. We’re finetuning, fixing and improving anywhere we can. Since Yoast SEO is open source, you can help us make Yoast SEO even better. Why don’t you follow our GitHub account to see what we’re working on? If you have issues, features request or enhancements don’t be afraid to post them. Please follow the instructions in the Yoast Contribution Guidelines.

This wraps up our bi-weekly release update. We now just have one more assignment for you: update now!

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