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!

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

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Yesterday we released a new add-on to Yoast SEO: Fact check for Yoast SEO 1.4. Were you getting excited to use it already? Then we’re very sorry to disappoint you, but it’s an April Fools’ joke. Or is it…? Our dear colleagues Danny and Irene genuinely built this plugin. Read this short interview and learn why and how they did that!

Is the Fact Check plugin a joke?

Yes. We’ve created Fact Check as an April Fools’ joke. The plugin is not to be taken seriously, except when you are planning on writing posts about conspiracy theories.

Irene and Danny, working on our Fact Check add-on

Irene and Danny, doing some daily fact checking

Why did Yoast make this plugin?

A couple of years ago, when we were writing the code for the Yoast SEO readability analysis, we thought of all the cool things we could do with the text analysis. Almost all the building blocks we needed for this April Fools’ plugin were already there in our library. We even came up with almost all of the current conspiracy checks back then. However, we’d never built it. Until now. We thought it was a fun idea for an April Fools’ joke. Besides, it gave us the possibility to learn some things about Webpack, Grunt and Babel and extending the existing Yoast SEO plugin.

Will the plugin do my website or my SEO any harm?

No, not at all. The added checks in Fact Check for Yoast SEO only add some bullets with feedback. As long as you don’t actually add conspiracies in your texts, having this plugin in your WordPress install will not change a thing.

How could we have known that this is a joke?

The plugin was released on April 1st. That should be a dead giveaway. Furthermore, the version is 1.4. Also, in the release video we’ve put a couple of hints. The most visible hint was the ‘I want to believe’ wallpaper on the computer in the background. Next to that, there was a Beatles record on the table. The cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is rumored to contain a number of hints that confirm that Paul McCartney is dead. We’ve also put a subliminal message on one of the screens. In the shots of the screen of the notebook, you can read ‘Don’t let Google fool you, buy Yoast SEO Premium!’ if you pause the video at the right moment. Finally, the outro of the video contains a number of beeps. These beeps are morse code, and spell out “April 1”.

Can I still trust Yoast?

Of course you can. We like the occasional joke, but we understand a lot of people use our software daily and rely on our feedback in Yoast SEO or Yoast SEO Premium. That is why we created a separate plugin for this joke, instead of interfering with the workings of Yoast SEO itself.

What can I use this plugin and its code for?

The Fact Check plugin is a nice example of how easy it is to extend the Yoast SEO plugin. The plugin is, like most of our software, open source, and everyone who would like to know how it works, can take a look at the code, or fork it into a new project. You can find the code on GitHub.

The post Is Fact Check for Yoast SEO a joke? appeared first on Yoast.

With a significant new milestone and some great improvements to WordPress as a platform, this month has been an important one for the project. Read on to find out more about what happened during the month of March.


WordPress Now Powers 30% of the Internet

Over the last 15 years, the popularity and usage of WordPress has been steadily growing. That growth hit a significant milestone this month when W3Techs reported that WordPress now powers over 30% of sites on the web.

The percentage is determined based on W3Techs’ review of the top 10 million sites on the web, and it’s a strong indicator of the popularity and flexibility of WordPress as a platform.

If you would like to have hand in helping to grow WordPress even further, you can get involved today.

WordPress Jargon Glossary Goes Live

The WordPress Marketing Team has been hard at work lately putting together a comprehensive glossary of WordPress jargon to help newcomers to the project become more easily acquainted with things.

The glossary is available here along with a downloadable PDF to make it simpler to reference offline.

Publishing this resource is part of an overall effort to make WordPress more easily accessible for people who are not so familiar with the project. If you would like to assist the Marketing Team with this, you can follow the team blog and join the #marketing channel in the Making WordPress Slack group.

Focusing on Privacy in WordPress

Online privacy has been in the news this month for all the wrong reasons. It has reinforced the commitment of the GDPR Compliance Team to continue working on enhancements to WordPress core that allow site owners to improve privacy standards.

The team's work, and the wider privacy project, spans four areas: Adding tools which will allow site administrators to collect the information they need about their sites, examining the plugin guidelines with privacy in mind, enhancing privacy standards in WordPress core, and creating documentation focused on best practices in online privacy.

To get involved with the project, you can view the roadmap, follow the updates, submit patches, and join the #gdpr-compliance channel in the Making WordPress Slack group. Office hours are 15:00 UTC on Wednesdays.


Further Reading:

If you have a story we should consider including in the next “Month in WordPress” post, please submit it here.

While developing and benchmarking for new releases of Yoast SEO, we keep a keen eye on requests made by users. An issue that consistently raises concerns is the uprise of fake news. So today, we present Fact Check for Yoast SEO 1.4 Beta, a free add-on for our Yoast SEO plugin.

Download Fact Check for Yoast SEO 1.4 Beta»

Why this add-on?

Fake news is on the rise and it’s a world-wide problem. People and companies are losing grip on on the authenticity of sources and the trustworthiness of their message. What sources are authentic? What makes a source reliable? And more importantly: how do you decide for yourself?

Currently, the Yoast SEO plugin runs several checks on your content. Readability, the use of keywords and internal linking: we help you optimize your text. Today, we’re launching an add-on that adds multiple new checks to the original ones: so-called fact checks.

At Yoast we believe that you should be the best result. And the best result has to be true. Fact Check for Yoast SEO integrates seamlessly with Yoast SEO and Yoast SEO Premium. This plugin scans your text and gives you feedback about the stated facts. This will allow you to only write believable content.

Test our beta!

Please help us test this beta, so we can publish it on the WordPress repository soon. If you find a bug or would like to help improve this plugin, you can leave your feedback by creating an issue hereLike Yoast SEO, the Fact Check add-on is open source. The source code can be found on GitHub.

Download Fact Check for Yoast SEO 1.4 Beta »

Installation instructions

1. Download the zip above.
2. In the WordPress backend, go to Plugins > Add new > Upload plugin.
3. Click ‘Choose file’ or ‘Browse’ (depending on your browser).
4. Select the zip and click ‘Install now’.
5. Click ‘Activate plugin’, and you’re ready to go.

The post Get our new free plugin: Fact Check for Yoast SEO 1.4 Beta appeared first on Yoast.

Today’s Ask Yoast will discuss a problem that may be familiar to you if your site is in a non-ASCII language, like Arabic, Persian, Hebrew and many other languages. You work hard to write good, SEO-friendly URLs, so people will click to your website. However, when your site is linked to or shared, for instance on social media, the slug doesn’t show the right characters. Instead, it changes into a long string of percent signs, capitals and numbers.

To give you an example: check out this link to an Arabic Wikipedia article on SEO. In the address bar, it looks good:

arabic URL in address bar

However, when I try to copy it into this post, it turns into this:

arabic URL copy-pasted

Of course, a slug like that looks weird and a bit unsettling: it doesn’t tempt people to click, and doesn’t reveal much about the content of a page either. So, if you come across this problem with your non-ASCII slugs, what are your options for dealing with this?

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Ahmed Saad emailed us on this subject:

My site’s content is in Arabic and that means that the slug looks very bad when it’s shared on social media. Should I change the URL language to English so it looks better or does that hurt my SEO?

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

Dealing with bad slugs for Arabic URLs

‘I honestly don’t have a good answer to that because this slug is not good for your SEO either. This slug doesn’t really entice people to click. I guess that the best solution would be to get the shortest slug as possible in Arabic, because you can have i18n URLs. But support for that is not always as good across CMSes.

If that doesn’t work then you can certainly fall back to English, or to an English ‘way’ of writing your Arabic strings, which is something that a lot of Indian languages do. 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 more: ‘How to create SEO-friendly copy in a foreign language’ »

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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.

Want to learn how to use Yoast SEO best for your site? Get our completely renewed Yoast SEO for WordPress training

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. 

Optimize your site for search & social media and keep it optimized with Yoast SEO Premium »

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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’ »

The post How to use Yoast SEO to write an awesome meta description appeared first on Yoast.

Your site needs to be up and running if you want to be found in search engines. If you aren’t blocking anything — deliberately or accidentally — search engine spiders can crawl and index it. You probably know that Yoast SEO has lots of options to determine what does and doesn’t need to be indexed, but did you know it also has a check that monitors your site’s indexability? This is the indexability check, provided by our good friends at Ryte.

Optimize your site for search & social media and keep it optimized with Yoast SEO Premium »

Yoast SEO: the #1 WordPress SEO plugin Info

What does it do?

The indexability check checks regularly if your site is indexable. You can find the Ryte indexability check on your site’s dashboard inside the Yoast SEO Posts Overview box. It is straightforward to use as it is just a colored bullet showing the indexability status of your site:

  • Green: All is well, your site is indexable.
  • Grey: Yoast SEO hasn’t been able to determine the status of your site.
  • Red: Your homepage cannot be indexed, and you should look into this immediately.

Dashboard overview Yoast SEORemember, something is up if you should ever get a red bullet. If you do get one, and you are sure your site should be indexable, please check if your site is available by running a Mobile-friendly test by Google. Your site should appear if it is indexable. If it does, it might be that Ryte had the hiccups.

Should Google be unable to run the test, you could hit the ‘Analyze entire site’ button in your WordPress backend and follow the instructions given by Ryte. Sign up with them and give your site the once-over. The phenomenal Ryte suite gives you loads of advice on how to cope with indexability errors and more.

A grey bullet means that your server is unable to connect to the Ryte servers to get the indexability status of your site. There are several reasons why this could be the case. Please see the Indexability check fails post on our knowledge base for more information on how to evaluate and fix this.

What do I have to do to get it?

We add this check automatically when you install Yoast SEO. Find it in your WordPress dashboard. If it doesn’t show a green bullet, you can manually run a check by clicking ‘Fetch the current status’ button inside the Yoast SEO Posts Overview box.

If you don’t need the Ryte indexability check, you can always turn it off. Go to General > Features in Yoast SEO and switch the Ryte integration button to off.

Yoast & Ryte

Ryte & Yoast SEO

Ryte offers a free indexability check for Yoast SEO users. This way, you can quickly see that your site is still reachable for both search engines and visitors. If you need help fixing technical SEO issues or if you are in need of a great suite of SEO tools to help you fix or improve your rankings, you can always sign up for the free Ryte introductory plan. Just hit the purple ‘Analyze entire site’ button and follow the instructions!

Read more: ‘SEO basics: What is crawlability’ »

The post Yoast SEO & Ryte: Checking your site’s indexability appeared first on Yoast.

On March 6, we released a major update of our Yoast SEO plugin. This update was aimed at making SEO easier and more understandable for our users. We removed quite a few settings and options. In other cases, we changed the names of settings making them easier to understand for non-technical users. All in all, the reactions on this update were rather positive. We received some questions as well, mostly about why we removed certain settings and options. In this post, I’ll explain why we chose to remove those settings. 

Get the most out of Yoast SEO, learn every feature and best practice in our Yoast SEO for WordPress training! »

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If there’s a button, people want to click it

The main reason why we deleted settings is because in 99% of the cases it should not be altered. But if you give people a toggle or a button, generally they’ll think they have to do something with that toggle or button. Totally understandable. If I have a new watch and it has many fancy buttons, I’d also want to know what they’ll do. By offering all those settings, we gave the impression that our users needed to do something with these settings.

The things we removed were the things people should not worry about: the things that didn’t make much of a difference in their chance of ranking in the search engines. These buttons and toggles were rather useless anyway.

More agreement on proper SEO settings

Working on our new online Yoast SEO plugin training helped us to make the plugin more understandable for a large audience. We had to really make an effort when explaining the settings in videos and text. And we noticed we had a hard time explaining some of the things. It made us question and reassess our decisions. That process lead to a lot of the changes made in the plugin release of March 6.

On top of that, there was another reason why we decided to remove quite a few settings from our plugin. For a long time, the SEO community had strong and opposing opinions about the need of, for example, XML sitemaps. Because of these different opinions, we always offered different options, allowing people to make their own SEO choices. As the profession of SEO matured, SEOs reached more consensus on what things were important to rank high in the search engines. As those influences are rather clear nowadays, we were able to make those changes in the plugin. Important changes, because now, the ease of use of our plugin is improved.

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. Not only those big international companies with large marketing budgets, but also that small online shop with handmade toys. We believe every idea should get a fair chance in the search results.

When developing our plugin, we always keep our mission in mind. And that’s the reason why we recently decided to make some big changes in our plugin. We really hope that more people will be able to benefit from our plugin. If you really want to know all the ins and outs of Yoast SEO, I would strongly advice you to buy and follow our online plugin course. It will help you to get the most out of our plugin. Because, although we deleted quite a few settings, we still have a lot of toggles, settings and choices left :-) Good luck!

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