Networking for bloggers: why, how and where

As a blogger, you are probably doing your best to grow your audience on a daily basis. You’re optimizing for Google, Pinterest, social media and you do your best to set up and maintain a social media strategy. But, if you want to take your blog to the next level, there’ll come a point you will need the help of your fellow bloggers. In this post, I will explain why you need a network, as well as how and where to build it.

Want to expand your network? YoastCon 2019 is the perfect occasion to grow your network. Meet like-minded people and work on your blog’s SEO at the same time! Don’t worry about going alone, we even have single tables where you can get in touch with fellow bloggers, site owners and Yoast folks easily. See you on February 7 & 8 in Nijmegen! 

Why you need to network as a blogger

We all know that writing is one of the most lonely professions in the world. Although blogging may not seem as lonely at first glance – you engage with your readers on a daily basis – there’s a high chance you work alone.

As a writer, you often live inside your head. Your audience will only ever see your end result: a blog post or social media post. They won’t see the process of you thinking up your idea, killing your darlings or debating whether to write a certain article. You often take those decisions by yourself, or run them by your spouse or best friend.

While this is a valid approach, someone who is not ‘in the business’, can only help to a certain extent. While it’s often worth it to discuss certain ideas with your personal network, you’ll probably only ever touch the surface.

You might, for example, contemplate archiving your entire Instagram profile to start with a clean slate. Your best friend thinks you’re stupid, while you see bloggers around you do this and grow their following rapidly over the course of several months. And you might be left wondering if you’re cut out for this thing called ‘becoming an influencer’. If you’re at this point, you need a network of people who are like-minded.

At Yoast, I have a lot of colleagues to talk to whenever I need help. I know which person I should ask about SEO, which person knows a lot about Google Analytics and who can help me out when I broke my laptop – again. You need that kind of network for your blog as well. It’s very helpful to create a network so you can discuss certain topics: from SEO to developing websites, and from press releases to personal invitations. If you want to grow, you need a network.

How to network as a blogger

Truth be told, we’re in it for us. This means that everyone you’ll meet, is in it to gain something for themselves. This could be knowledge, reputation, information, cash, products or something else.

Knowing this, you’ll understand you can’t just go to someone you don’t know and ask them for that piece of information you want. You might not get an answer or, in the unlikely chance you do get one, it probably is an evasive one. You need to adopt an open source kind of mentality while networking. This means that you’ll share your knowledge with the world and eventually will receive information in return.

I’ll take myself as an example. Although I knew quite a few bloggers online, my network didn’t really grow until I went to a Dutch blog conference last June, to speak about SEO. I told the crowd that I was going to share my secrets with them, and told them, honestly, how weird it felt to do that, because I might very well kill my own blog this way.

Strangely, or perhaps not so strange at all, the opposite happened. My blog took off and with it, my network expanded tremendously. People knew where to find me, how to find me, and, also, that I was willing to help look into issues or questions.

I answered each question I got, because I love helping out. Did I request favors for each question I answered? No. Was I offered help in return for answering questions or solving issues? You bet! Often, I told people not to worry about it, that I loved to help and that I’d be sure to let them know if they could help me out. And I took people up on their offer, twice now. One of them even got me an invite for a press event of the Walt Disney Company – I mean, it’s Disney!

Where to network as a blogger

You might feel very willing to network with your fellow blog colleagues out there, but where to find them? If you’ve been on your own for a very long time, it can be tricky to get started. Don’t worry; there are various places where you can network as a blogger, both offline and online.

Online networking as a blogger

As your blog lives online, the easiest way to create a network is online as well. There are a lot of Facebook groups for bloggers in all sorts of niches and all kinds of languages. They’re created by bloggers like you and me. Try to find the groups where you can help other bloggers. I, myself, am in various groups, where I answer questions about the Yoast SEO plugins, SEO in general, WordPress or technical questions, as these are things I can help others with. In return, people help me when I have questions about Pinterest, Instagram or about certain press events that I’d like to attend.

Offline networking as a blogger

Offline networking is even more important than building a network online. While online it’s perhaps easier to mingle in discussions on forums, Facebook, or in Twitter conversations, the deeper and longer lasting connections will often start offline. Have you considered going to a local WordPress meetup, a WordCamp or a blog event in your city or country? These can be quite valuable – trust me, this is where the good stuff happens! If you’re unsure where to start, let me suggest YoastCon.

YoastCon for offline networking

YoastCon is a conference organized by Yoast. It focuses on SEO for all types of websites. I can guarantee you it will certainly focus on blogs as well! The conference will take place 7 and 8 February 2019 in the Netherlands. You’ll not only learn all there is to know about SEO from the very best in the field, there’s also plenty of networking opportunities.

Value your network!

Networking is not about transactions. It’s about building relationships, about finding the people you wish to work with and affiliate yourself with. It’s extremely valuable to invest in networking and maintaining relationships with your fellow bloggers. You never know when they’ll cross your path again or what you could mean for each other in the future. I would love to hear how you go about this, especially if it’s your fulltime job. And of course, let me know if I’ll see you at YoastCon! I would love to meet and talk in real life.

Read more: Caroline’s Corner: Work on your blog’s foundation »

The post Networking for bloggers: why, how and where appeared first on Yoast.

How to check site speed

Learning how to check your site speed doesn’t need to be daunting. This short guide will give you the basics, and point you in the right direction.

There’s no single metric

The first thing to understand is that there is no single metric or measurement for ‘speed’. There’s no simple number which you can use to measure how quickly your pages load.

Think about what happens when you load a website. There are lots of different stages and many different parts which can be measured. If the network connection is slow, but the images load quickly, how ‘fast’ is the site? What about the other way around?

Even if you try to simplify all of this to something like “the time it takes until it’s completely loaded“, it’s still tricky to give that a useful number.

For example, a page which takes longer to ‘finish loading’ may provide a functional ‘lightweight’ version while the full page is still downloading in the background. Is that ‘faster’ or ‘slower’ than a website which loads faster, but which I can’t use until it’s finished loading?

The answer is, “it depends”, and there are many different ways in which we can think about or measure ‘site speed’.

Understanding the loading process

From the moment when you click on a link (or hit ‘enter’ in your URL bar), a process begins to load the page you requested.

That process contains many steps, but they can be grouped into broad stages which looks something like this:

The “one second timeline” from Google’s site speed documentation

While Google’s documentation might be a bit ambitious about the timings of these stages, the model is helpful. Essentially, the process can be described as three stages of loading.

1. Network stuff

First up, the physical hardware of your device needs to connect to the Internet. Usually, that involves moving data through transatlantic fibre cables. That means that you’re limited by the speed of light, and how quickly your device can process information.

It’s hard to measure or impact this part of the process!

2. Server stuff

Here, your device asks your server for a page, and the server prepares and returns the response.

This section can get a bit technical, as it’s focused on the performance of server hardware, databases and scripts. You may need to ask for help from your hosting provider or tech team.

We can measure the performance of the server with tools like NewRelic or DataDog, which monitors how your site behaves and responds from the ‘inside’.

They’ll provide charts and metrics around things like slow database queries and slow scripts. Armed with this information, you can get a better understanding if your hosting is up to scratch and if you need to make code changes to your theme/plugins/scripts.

The Query Monitor plugin for WordPress

WordPress has some great plugins for doing this kind of analysis, too – I’m a big fan of Query Monitor. This provides some great insight into which bits of WordPress might be slowing you down – whether it’s your themes, plugins, or environments.

3. Browser stuff

This stage is where the page needs to be constructed, laid out, colored in, and displayed. The way in which images load, in which JavaScript and CSS are processed, and every individual HTML tag on your page affects how quickly things load.

We can monitor some of this from the ‘outside-in’ with tools which scan the website and measure how it loads. We recommend using multiple tools, as they measure things differently, and are useful for different assessments. For example:

  • WebPageTest is great for providing a ‘waterfall’ view of the website, and how all of the assets load.
  • Google PageSpeed Insights is a bit simplistic, but it provides ‘real user metrics’ of your website, straight from Google.
  • Lighthouse for Chrome provides an incredibly sophisticated analysis of the performance and behaviour of the site, but it can be hard to digest!
  • Chrome Developer Console shows you exactly what’s happening as your site loads, on your computer, in your browser.

WebPageTest results for yoast.com

These kinds of tools are great for spotting things like images which need to be optimized, where your CSS or JavaScript is slow, or where you’re waiting for assets to load from other domains.

Universal metrics

Despite all of these moving parts, there are a few universal metrics which make sense for all sites to measure, and optimize for. These are:

  • Time until first byte, which is how long it takes until the server responds with some information. Even if your front-end is blazing fast, this will hold you up. Measure with Query Monitor or NewRelic.
  • Time until first contentful (and meaningful) paint, which is how long it takes for key visual content (e.g., a hero image or a page heading) to appear on the screen. Measure with Lighthouse for Chrome.
  • Time until interactive, which is how long it takes for the experience to be visible, and react to my input. Measure with Lighthouse for Chrome.

These are much more sophisticated metrics than “how long did it take to load”, and, perhaps more importantly, have a user-centric focus. Improving these metrics should correlate directly with user satisfaction, which is super-important for SEO.

A Lighthouse report for yoast.com showing key metrics

You can read more about these metrics in Google’s documentation.

Wrapping this into a process

  1. Use an ‘outside-in’ tool, like WebPageTest to generate a waterfall diagram of how the website loads.
  2. Identify bottlenecks with servers and the back end. Look for slow connection times, slow SSL handshakes, and slow DNS lookups. Use a plugin like Query Monitor, or a service like NewRelic to diagnose what’s holding things up. Make server, hardware, software and script changes.
  3. Identify bottlenecks with the front end. Look for slow loading and processing times on images, scripts and stylesheets. Use a tool like Google PageSpeed Insights or Lighthouse for Chrome for suggestions on how to streamline how the page loads.
  4. Use Lighthouse for Chrome to measure your key metrics, like time until first meaningful paint and time until interactive.

Have we missed anything? Let us know in the comments!

Read more: Improving site speed: Tools and suggestions »

The post How to check site speed appeared first on Yoast.

SEO Anti-patterns: 301 redirect all your 404s to your homepage

Sometimes I encounter new “SEO hacks” that people apply, that are actually anti-patterns. One of these new anti-patterns I noticed is the pattern of 301 redirecting all your 404 pages to your homepage. Let me explain why this is a lot like cleaning up your room by throwing everything into a drawer and what the better solution would be.

The premise of this SEO hack

The premise of this hack is that 404 errors are counted by Google, and that through some magic the number of errors on your site affects your site’s overall ability to rank. The solution, that really isn’t a solution, that people come up with is then to start 301 redirecting all error pages to their homepage. Let me quote some of the reasons people give for doing this:

to siphon Google Page Rank (TM) from missing pages to the homepage

If you care about your website, you should take steps to avoid 404 errors as it affects your SEO badly.

I have a website, every time I login to Google webmaster tools, I found many new discovered 404 error links, the problem is not in 404 errors itself, but when Google see them and count them for you!

Let’s be clear: we’ll be the first to tell you that you should keep an eye on your 404 errors and try to fix them where possible. Google indeed shows a graph of your 404 errors in Google Search Console and lowering the number of 404s on your site is often a good idea. That doesn’t mean that your site shouldn’t have any 404s.

Let me go back to my analogy of throwing everything into your drawer when your dad or mom told you to clean up your room. Everything, in this case, means not just the dirty clothes, or your toys, but also that half emptied milk carton, that half-finished sandwich, etc. You know what that makes your drawer when you clean up your room like that? A mess. And soon your whole room will start to stink because you cleaned up like that. This situation is no different.

I verified this with Google before I wrote this article, see John Mueller’s response:

As John explains: when you do this blanket redirect, all those URLs are treated as 404s. So none of them spread value. So the premises listed above are all wrong. On top of that, by 301 redirecting all your 404 pages, you throw away the opportunity to find real errors on your site and fix them.

Better solution to 404s

The better solution for this problem of having too many 404s is much more granular. You see, 404 redirects can exist for lots of reasons, and each of those reasons has their own “solution”. For instance:

  • Someone linked to an article and made a mistake in their URL. If you can redirect that wrong URL to the right article: do so.
  • You’ve deleted a page, you should think about that and act properly, we have an article on that.
  • Someone is trying whether your site can be hacked through a certain URL, that 404 is 100% the right thing to serve.
  • You have a lot of 404s on your site because you had a broken link in your template somewhere (all too common): fix that broken link. Then redirect all those 404s to the right page.
  • Someone is typing in random URLs on your site just to see if something exist: a 404 is right. Of course, then your 404 page could be helpful in guiding them to the right spot.

How common is this hack?

Unfortunately, all too common. I encountered at least 3 plugins with major user bases on WordPress.org that do this, and only this:

Together they account for 240,000+ sites that show this behavior and there are probably a lot more.

Stop 301 redirecting all your 404 pages

Now, don’t take this as though we’re telling you not to 301 redirect 404 errors. We’re telling you to do it granularly. There’s nothing wrong with having a few 404 errors on your site, and you should definitely keep an eye on them. The redirect manager in Yoast SEO Premium can make this really easy to do.

The post SEO Anti-patterns: 301 redirect all your 404s to your homepage appeared first on Yoast.

Don’t miss these SEO workshops at YoastCon (Feb 7 & 8)

YoastCon is just around the corner. We’re already starting to get nervous, excited and anxious. It’s going to be so very amazing. Our speaker line-up is crazy. We’ve managed to get together the very best of the SEO community in one place for two whole days. But besides these amazing speakers, we’ve also scheduled some kickass workshops you don’t want to miss. Read all about these workshops here!

Why workshops?

In the many, many talks you’ll be able to attend at YoastCon on February 7 and 8, you’ll probably get lots of SEO tips. Let’s put into practice these tips immediately! That’s what we’ll help you with in our workshops.

In all of these workshops, you’ll have to work yourself. Our team will be there to assist you and help you with your own site, right there at YoastCon. You’ll have every opportunity to ask questions to our SEO experts, because the groups will be small.

Get your YoastCon ticket nowOnly €499 (ex VAT) - limited availability!

Which SEO workshops?

You’ll be able to follow workshops on SEO copywriting, Site structure and Keyword research. In all of these workshops, our very own Yoast Academy team will help you out with your questions. We’ll give you a step-by-step tutorial on just how to write an amazing SEO-friendly text. Or, we’ll help you to rethink your site’s structure or to begin your keyword research. You can attend these workshops both in English and Dutch.

We’ll also host a workshop in which we’ll teach you the ins and outs of the Yoast SEO plugin. Are you getting everything out of it? There might be features you haven’t discovered yet, that can save you costly time. We’ll teach you how to use Yoast SEO to its full extent in this workshop. You can attend it both in Dutch and English.

On top of that, we offer workshops in which you can learn how to Review your own website. During this workshop, you’ll dive into your own website. How optimized is it? Are there any gaps or flaws? Learn what to do to make search engines love it! Our SEO team will teach you how to thoroughly review your own website. You can immediately bring all this new knowledge into practice. You can attend it both in English and Dutch.

Finally, we offer a workshop for developers: Thinking about code: creating a CMS using DDD. Are you experienced with programming and basic design patterns? Then this workshop is for you. You’ll take an architectural look at content management and explore creating your own CMS. It will be in English and will be conducted entirely on paper!

All workshops will take one hour and a half, except for the technical workshop which will take three hours.

Get your YoastCon ticket nowOnly €499 (ex VAT) - limited availability!

See you at YoastCon?

Want to know more about our workshops? Read all about it on our YoastCon Workshops page. Do not forget to claim your ticket! We’ll hope to see you at YoastCon!

The post Don’t miss these SEO workshops at YoastCon (Feb 7 & 8) appeared first on Yoast.

The beginner’s guide to Google Search Console

Do you have your own website or maintain the website of the company you work for? Of course, to do this right, you need to keep a keen eye on the performance of your website. Google offers several tools to collect and analyze data of your website. You probably have heard of Google Analytics and Google Search Console before. These tools are free to use for everyone maintaining a website and can give you very valuable insights about your website.

Why everyone with a website should use Google Search Console

Google Search Console has been created to easily track the performance of your website. You can get valuable insights out of your Google Search Console account which means that you can see what part of your website needs work. This can be a technical part of your website, such as an increasing number of crawl errors that need to be fixed. This can also be giving a specific keyword more attention because the rankings or impressions are decreasing.

Besides seeing this kind of data, you’ll get mail notifications when new errors are noticed by Google Search Console. Because of these notifications, you’re quickly aware of issues you need to fix.

Setting up an account

To start using Google Search Console, you’ll need to create an account. Within the new Google Search Console, you can click on ‘add a new property’ in the top bar:

Google search console - add property

Clicking on the ‘Add a property’ button, you can insert the website you want to add. Make sure you add the right URL, so with ‘https’ if you have an https website and with or without ‘www’. For collecting the right data, it’s important to add the right version:

When you’ve added a website, you need to verify that you’re the owner. There are several options to verify your ownership.

For WordPress users who use Yoast SEO we recommend using the ‘HTML tag’ method:

You can easily copy this code and paste it into the ‘Webmaster tools’ tab within the Yoast SEO plugin:

After saving this, you can return to Google Search Console and click on the ‘Verify’ button to confirm. If everything is ok, you’ll get a success message and GSC will start collecting data for your website.

Features in Google Search Console

Now you’ve set up your account what would be the next step? Well, it’s time to look at some of your data! We’ll explore some of the reports and information available in the rest of this article.

Performance

Within the performance tab, you can see what pages and what keywords your website ranks for in Google. In the old version of GSC you could see the data of a maximum of the last 90 days but in the new version, it’s possible to see the data up to 16 months. Keep in mind that the data is available from the moment you set up your account.

If you check the performance tab regularly, you can quickly see what keywords or what pages need some more attention and optimization. So where to begin? Within the performance tab, you see a list of ‘queries’, ‘pages’, ‘countries’ or ‘devices’. Each of those sections can be sorted by the number of ‘clicks’, ‘impressions’, ‘average CTR’ or ‘average position’. We’ll explain each of them below:

Google search console - performance

1. Clicks

The amount of clicks tells you how often people clicked on your website in the search results of Google. This number can tell something about the performance of your page titles and meta descriptions: if just a few people click on your result, your result might not stand out in the search results. It could be helpful to check what other results are displayed around you to see what can be optimized for your snippet.

The position of the search result also has an impact on the number of clicks of course. If your page is in the top 3 of Google’s first result page it will automatically get more clicks than a page that ranks on the second page of the search results.

2. Impressions

The impressions tell you how often your website in general or how often a specific page is shown in the search results. For example, in the GSC account of our own website, Yoast SEO is one of the keywords our website ranks for. The number of impressions shown after this keyword shows how often our website is shown for that keyword in the search results of Google. You don’t know yet what page ranks for that keyword.

To see what pages might rank for the specific keyword, you can click on the line of the keyword. Doing this for the keyword [Yoast SEO], the keyword is added as a filter:

Keyword filter

After that, you could navigate to the ‘Pages’ tab to see what pages exactly rank for this keyword. Are those pages the ones you’d want to rank for that keyword? If not, you might need to optimize the page you’d like to rank. Think of writing better content containing the keyword on that page, adding internal links from relevant pages or posts to the page, making the page load faster, etc.

3. Average CTR

The CTR – Click-through rate – tells you what percentage of the people that have seen your website in the search results also clicked through to your website. You probably understand that higher rankings mostly also lead to higher click-through rates.

However, there are also things you can do yourself to increase the CTR. For example, you could rewrite your meta description and make it more appealing. When the description of your site stands out from the other results, more people will probably click on your result and your CTR will increase. Keep in mind that this will not have a big impact if you’re not ranking on the first page yet. You might need to try other things first to improve your ranking.

4. Average position

The last one in this list is the ‘Average position’. This tells you what the average ranking of a specific keyword or page was in the time period you’ve selected. Of course, this position isn’t always reliable since more and more people seem to get different search results. Google seems to understand better and better which results fit best for which visitor. However, this indicator still gives you an idea if the clicks, impressions and the average CTR are explainable.

Index coverage

A more technical but very valuable tab within Google Search Console is the ‘Index coverage’ tab. This section shows how many pages are in the index of Google since the last update, how many pages aren’t and what errors and warnings caused difficulties for Google indexing your pages properly.

Index coverageWe recommend checking this tab regularly to see what errors and warnings appear on your website. However, you also get notifications when Google has found new errors. When you get such a notification you can check the error in more detail here.

You may find that errors are caused when, e.g., a redirect doesn’t seem to work correctly, or Google is finding broken code or error pages in your theme.

Clicking on the link, you can analyze the error more in depth to see what specific URLs are affected. When you’ve fixed the error you can mark it as fixed to make sure Google will test the URL again:

Submitted URL not found (404)

There are a few things you should always look for when checking out your coverage reports:

  • If you’re writing new content, your indexed pages should be a steadily increasing number. This tells you two things: Google can index your site and you keep your site ‘alive’ by adding content.
  • Watch out for sudden drops! This might mean that Google is having trouble accessing (all of) your website. Something may be blocking Google; whether it’s robots.txt changes or a server that’s down: you need to look into it!
  • Sudden (and unexpected) spikes in the graph might mean an issue with duplicate content (such as both www and non-www, wrong canonicals, etc.), automatically generated pages, or even hacks.

We recommend that you monitor these types of situations closely and resolve errors quickly, as too many errors could send a signal of low quality (bad maintenance) to Google.

AMP

Below the ‘Index coverage,’ you can find the ‘AMP’ tab. AMP stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages: lightning fast mobile pages. If you’ve set up AMP for your website you can check for errors in Google Search Console. Within this section you can see the valid AMP pages, the valid ones with warnings and errors:

AMP errorBelow the chart, the issues are listed. If you click on one of the issues, you can see the affected URLs. Just as in the index section of GSC you can validate your fix if you’ve fixed an issue.

Job Postings

Within this tab, you’ll be able to list your job openings and to track their performance. If there are any errors, you’ll see them in here. It’s not the most important feature of GSC, but it can be valuable for specific companies or websites.

Events

This section provides useful feedback on your structured markup for events. Events can be complex to tag up correctly, so this can be an extremely helpful report for finding out where you need to tweak details like dates and location!

Sitemaps

An XML sitemap is like a roadmap to all important pages and posts on your website. We think every website would benefit from having one. Is our Yoast SEO plugin running on your website? Then you automatically have an XML sitemap. If not, we recommend creating one to make sure Google can find your most important pages and posts easily.

Within the XML sitemap tab of Google Search Console you can tell Google where your XML sitemap is located on your site:

Add a new sitemap

We recommend everyone entering the URL of their XML sitemap into GSC to make Google find it easily. In addition to that, you can quickly see if your sitemap gives errors or if some pages aren’t indexed, for instance. Checking this regularly, you’re sure Google can find and read your XML sitemap correctly.

We recommend regularly checking the XML sitemap section in our plugin to manage which post types or taxonomies you’re including in your sitemaps!

Links

Within the links to your site section, you can see how many links from other sites are pointing to your website. Besides, you can see what websites link, how many links those websites contain to your site and lastly, what anchor texts are used most linking to your website. This can be valuable information because links still are very important for SEO.

Within the internal links section, you can check what pages of your website are most linked from other spots on your site. This list can be valuable to analyze regularly because you want your most important pages and posts to get most internal links. Doing this, you make sure Google understands as well what your cornerstones are.

Mobile usability

The mobile usability tab within this section shows you usability issues with your mobile website or with specific mobile pages. Since mobile traffic is rising all over the world, we recommend checking this regularly. If your mobile site isn’t user-friendly, lots of visitors will leave it quickly.

Manual Actions

The manual actions tab is the one you don’t want to see anything in. If your site is penalized by Google, you’ll get more information in here. If your site is affected by a manual action, you’ll also get messaged via email.

There are a number of scenarios which can lead to these kinds of penalties, including:

  • You have unnatural/bought links
    Make sure from and to your site are valuable, not just for SEO. Preferably your links come from and link to related content that is valuable for your readers.
  • Your site has been hacked
    A message stating your site’s probably hacked by a third party. Google might label your site as compromised or lower your rankings.
  • You’re hiding something from Google
    If you’re ‘cloaking’ (that is, intentionally showing different to content than to users, for the purposes of decieving either of them), or using ‘sneaky’ redirects (e.g., hiding affiliate URLs), then you’re violating of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
  • Plain Spam
    Automatically generated content, scraped content and aggressive cloaking could cause Google to blacklist your site.
  • Spammy structured markup
    If you use rich snippets for too many irrelevant elements on a page, or mark up content that is hidden to the visitor, that might be considered spammy. Mark up what’s necessary, and not everything is necessary.

Missing features in the new version of Google Search Console

As you might have noticed not all features are integrated yet into the new version of Google Search Console. Google explains that this could have two reasons: they may have found a better way of presenting the data or they’re still in the process of migrating the feature to the new version. As said before, we’ll update this post when there’s progress made in the migration.

The old version of GSC is still available for everyone. So, why should you switch back to the old version once in a while? We’ll list the features that are missing in the new version, but that seems valuable to keep an eye on, below.

Search appearance

From the ‘Search appearance’ section of the old Google Search Console, we miss the following features in the new version: ‘Structured data‘, ‘Rich cards‘, ‘Data highlighter‘ and the ‘HTML improvements‘.

If you’ve added structured data to your website we recommend checking the structured data tab of the old version regularly. Here you’ll see if all structured data is recognized by Google and errors will be listed. If you’ve added structured data meant for rich cards, you can check for errors in the rich cards tab. The data highlighter can be used to markup your pages without having to code yourself. You can read more in-depth about Google Search Console and structured data here.

In the last missing feature of the search appearance tab, the HTML improvements, you can easily check, for instance, for duplicate titles or quite short titles which can be improved. These listings can be an easy pick: optimizing your titles and meta descriptions might increase your rankings and CTR.

International targeting

The international targeting tab is important for websites who have pages in different languages and who target people in different countries or regions. When you’ve implemented hreflang to your website, you can check for errors within this section of GSC.

Crawl stats

In the crawl tab, you can find the sections ‘Crawl errors’, ‘Crawl stats’, ‘Fetch as Google’, ‘Robots.txt tester’, ‘Sitemaps’ and ‘URL parameters’.

It seems that you can find some crawl errors in the new index coverage tag but if we look at our account, we don’t see all crawl errors in the new version. This means that it’s important to check your crawl errors still in the old version of GSC. When you’ve fixed a crawl error you can mark it as fixed. The crawl stats aren’t included yet so you can find those stats in the old version.

The crawl stats tell you something about how many pages are crawled per day, how many kilobytes are downloaded per day and how many time was spent downloading a page. If one of the graphs seem to decrease, you know it’s time to do something about it.

The fetch as Google feature gives you the opportunity to see if Google can access a specific page correctly, how it exactly renders the page and if there are blocked resources on the page. You can test your pages both for desktop as for mobile to see the differences between those.

The robots.txt tester is made to add your robots.txt and to test if any errors or warnings seem to appear. You can also add specific URLs to check whether they’re blocked or not.

The sitemaps are already moved to the new version of GSC so it’s time for the last feature of the crawl tab: URL parameters. In the URL Parameters section, you can add parameters for your website and ‘tell’ Google how they should be handled. If you want to use this, we recommend reading the guidelines carefully. Don’t just add some parameters to see what happens. This can cause serious problems with your site’s SEO.

Security issues

Last but not least: within the security issues tab you’ll get a notification when your website seems to have a security issue.

Do you already use Google Search Console for your website? If not, we definitely recommend creating an account so you can start collecting data about your website. Do you think something is missing? Feel free to leave a comment!

Read on: How to make your site stand out in the search results »

 

The post The beginner’s guide to Google Search Console appeared first on Yoast.

Why you should try out the new Yoast SEO analysis

In next couple of months, Yoast SEO 10.0 will see the light of day. In it, you’ll find a brand new SEO analysis. One that’s based on thorough SEO research. Last year, we evaluated all existing assessments and added new ones to make the analysis reflect the search engines of today. You can now try out this brand new analysis! In Yoast SEO 9.4 you can easily switch from the current to the new analysis (and back). So, go ahead and see if your content meets the SEO standards of today! We’d love to hear your feedback.

Why a new analysis?

Search engines evolve. What used to be important a decade ago might not be relevant today. As search engines become smarter, our SEO analysis should too! That’s why we decided to test if all our checks are still relevant.

A multidisciplinary team, consisting of SEO experts, linguists and developers, scrutinized the SEO analysis: Are some SEO assessment redundant nowadays? Should we add new ones? Or change the weight of certain factors? We checked all of them, removed some, added a new assessment and adapted the calculations. For details on the changes in the new analysis, please check the release post of Yoast SEO 9.4.

This video shows why and how we changed the Yoast SEO analysis:

Why try it out?

This is your chance to find out if your content stands the test of time! Try the most advanced SEO analysis out there. See what happens to your posts’ scores. Are they still optimized, do you still get an overall green bullet for your post?

Of course, we tested this new version extensively. But before we push this change to millions of Yoast SEO users, we like to see how it works with your content. Your feedback will help us fine-tune the analysis before we release Yoast SEO 10.0.

What happens if you test?

First of all: don’t fret! Nothing will happen to your posts or their rankings. It’s just the SEO scores that will be recalculated. And that’s what we’re interested in. Did your scores change? Did you get more green or red bullets? How do you feel about the new assessment? Do you think the feedback you get on your content makes sense?

If you participate, we’d like to ask you some questions about your experiences. So, if you switch to the new analysis, you’ll receive two short questionnaires we’d like to ask you to fill out: one a couple of weeks after you switched, and one after you’ve been using it for a while. Please share your thoughts, because we value your feedback!

How do you participate in this test?

Switching is easy. Go to the Yoast SEO settings in the sidebar of your WordPress dashboard. Click on General and select the features tab. You’ll see this screen:

recalibration toggle yoast seo 9.4

Here you use the toggle to turn on the new Yoast SEO analysis. That’s it! Now your content will be analyzed according to the latest standards in SEO. Don’t like it? You can easily toggle back to the old analysis too!

Make sure that you are updated to Yoast SEO 9.4 in order to try the beta!

Any questions? Feel free to ask them in the comments!

Read more: Yoast SEO 9.4: Help us beta test the new Yoast SEO analysis »

The post Why you should try out the new Yoast SEO analysis appeared first on Yoast.

Yoast SEO 9.4: Help us beta test the new SEO analysis!

Over the years, we’ve learned a lot about SEO. We felt the impact quality content and a technically flawless site has on a successful SEO strategy, so we built tools that help you to improve your own site. We’ve developed a strong set of defaults that can be applied to a broad spectrum of sites. As with everything, after a while, you need to evaluate what you are doing and see if you can make improvements. That’s what we did — in Yoast SEO 9.4, you’ll find an updated SEO analysis that you can beta test. It will be released in Yoast SEO 10.

Help us test the new SEO analysis, due for Yoast SEO 10

SEO is always changing. What worked years ago, might not work anymore. Sometimes ‘rules’ have become stricter, while other times looser. Since there is no SEO rulebook, we need to rely on experience, common sense and expert insights to make the right decisions. We need to keep up-to-date so we can keep our plugin up-to-date so we can keep you up-to-date, so to say.

Our latest project does just that. We carefully selected several Yoasters from different backgrounds — SEO experts, content specialists, linguists and developers — to form the research team that needed to align Yoast SEO with the latest insights in SEO. The outcome of this research, combined with your feedback, inform the choices we make that will result in the release of a new and improved SEO analysis in Yoast SEO 10.

Ready to help? Great! Activate the beta analysis and fill in the questionnaires you’ll receive. We’ll use your feedback to make the final version even better! Here’s more information on why you should test the new SEO analysis.

We need you!

As mentioned, we need feedback. We’re not going to change anything without your input. By activating the beta analysis, you can provide us with insights into how you experience the new analysis. Please use the new version of the SEO analysis like you normally do and report back. You’ll notice that it grades your content slightly different. We’ve made it extremely easy for you to take part in our beta test. Here’s how you can start:

  • Switch on the toggle for the new SEO analysis in SEO > General > Features
  • We’ll automatically add you to a special mailing list
  • Start using the new SEO analysis
  • Fill out the questionnaires we send you periodically
  • Success!
  • Done testing? Simply turn off the beta analysis

What’s changing in the new Yoast SEO analysis?

The project team thoroughly researched current SEO knowledge. They evaluated other SEO tools and writing software and carefully looked at all the analyses in Yoast SEO. Together, they came up with a solid set of improvements for the plugin. You can read more about the project or watch the documentary that gives a great overview of the how and why.

We launched parts of the updated analysis already, like keyword distribution, word form and synonym support in Yoast SEO 9.0. The bulk of the changes, however, will be in Yoast SEO 9.4 — which will eventually become Yoast SEO 10. Here are some of the changes you’ll notice once you activate the new SEO analysis:

New assessment:

  • A new single H1 assessment: The single H1 assessment checks whether the body of the text contains an H1 at any position other than the very beginning.

Gone from the SEO analysis:

  • The assessments that check the length of your URL and whether your URL contains stopwords.

Changes to the SEO assessments:

  • Keyphrase density. This assessment now takes the length of the focus keyphrase into account, because it can be much harder to use a longer keyphrase in your text. In the new version, you’ll need to use your longer keyphrase less often in the text than a shorter keyphrase to get a green bullet. In addition, if you write in English, Yoast SEO Premium recognizes various word forms of your focus keyphrase — for instance, [dog], [dogs] or [dogged]. Naturally, your keyword density becomes higher. This is not because you are trying to over-optimize your text, but just because the plugin became smarter. We adjusted the formula so that you do not get penalized.
  • Outbound links. We now show a red bullet instead of an orange one whenever we find no external links in a text. The web is built on links and you can help sustain that by adding relevant outbound links wherever it makes sense.
  • Image alt attributes. As of now, the plugin not only looks at the number of images with alt text on a page but also whether the number of images with the keyphrase in the alt text falls within a certain percentage when you have multiple images, preventing you from over-optimizing.
  • Keyphrase in title. For various languages, we’ll now filter out function words that precede the keyphrase in the title. This means that if you use words like [the], [on] or [what] before your keyphrase in the title, it won’t affect your score. The analysis will understand that you use your keyphrase at the beginning of your title and you’ll get a green bullet.
  • Keyphrase length. In the new Yoast SEO analysis, languages without function word support can have longer focus keyphrases, because there might be function words like [the] or [for] between your content words.
  • Keyphrase in subheading. Depending on whether we’ve already added support for your language, different rules apply when it comes to checking if you used the focus keyphrase in the subheading or not. For supported languages, you need to use all content words in your subheading for it to be recognized as reflecting your topic. For non-supported languages, we will check if you used at least half of the words from your keyphrase within a subheading.
  • Text length. We’ve upped the word limit for taxonomy pages to a minimum of 250. This gives you more incentive to write enough, good quality content on your tag and category pages, making it easier for search engines to rank these pages.

You can find all the different checks in Yoast SEO on the assessment overview page. Please use the new SEO analysis like you always do and give us your feedback. Together, we make Yoast SEO better than ever!

What else is new in Yoast SEO 9.4

Yoast SEO 9.4 is mostly about the new SEO analysis, but you can find plenty of other enhancements and bug fixes under the hood. For instance, we’ve improved the accessibility of the analysis results and the Title Separator settings. We’ve fixed numerous bugs, including one where pagination elements were not shown in the Genesis theme. In addition, we’ve had a lot of help from Saša Todorović for this release, mostly with WooCommerce related improvements. You can find all the changes in the changelog for this release.

Update and help us improve the next generation SEO analysis!

There you have it. Yoast SEO 9.4 gives you a glimpse of what’s coming to Yoast SEO 10 in the near future. We took a long hard look at the current state of SEO and how Yoast SEO fits into that picture. Where necessary, we made changes that bring Yoast SEO into the now and maybe even the future. What’s more, you can help build that future! We would love for you to help us improve this new SEO analysis. Thanks!

Read on: Why try out the new Yoast SEO analysis? »

The post Yoast SEO 9.4: Help us beta test the new SEO analysis! appeared first on Yoast.

SEO in 2019: Improve, improve, improve

For most sites, SEO in 2019 is not much different from the past couple of years: you still need to improve the same stuff, but you do need to set the bar higher and higher. Competition is getting fiercer and Google — and your potential client — is getting better at recognizing true quality. Also, you need to take a step back to see if you are still reaching the right people at the right time. Search intent needs to determine your keyword research and content marketing decisions. Here, you’ll get a quick overview of SEO in 2019.

It’s all about quality

2019 is all about quality. Improving quality across the board should start with determining what exactly it is you do. Evaluate your products and services, and the way you describe these. Have trouble describing what you do? Well, maybe you need to go back to the drawing board. Your product must be excellent, as there is no use in trying to rank a sub-par product. No-one would fall for that. A killer product needs a killer site and a killer plan to get that site noticed.

SEO in 2019

I could talk about the rise of artificial intelligence, machine learning or conversational interactions, but I’m not going to do that. You should take note of these developments to see where search is heading, but for this moment, for most sites, it’s all about improving what you have right now. Site quality is key. So, these SEO trends for 2019 is not hyped up stuff, but subjects we’ve been hammering home for a while. Remember Holistic SEO?

A few weeks ago, we hosted our first live webinar titled ‘SEO in 2019’. Many of the points mentioned here were discussed in the webinar, so please watch it if you haven’t yet.

Mobile-first, yeah really

First up, 2019 is the year mobile-first truly is the default. Since Google switched over to mobile-first indexing, it judges your site by how it works on mobile, even when a lot of your traffic is from desktop. Give your mobile site special care. You should test whether your mobile site works just as well as your desktop site. Is the structured data functioning and complete? Do images have relevant alt-texts? Is the content complete and easy to read? Make it lightning fast, easy to use and useful.

Improve site quality

If you’ve been playing this game for a while, you’ve been working on your site for a long time. Over the years, there’s been a lot of talk about all the things you really should focus on because that’s what the search engines would be looking at. Experts claim to know a lot of the factors search engines take into account to rank a piece of content for a specific term. That’s simply not possible. While nobody knows exactly what happens behind the scenes of a search engine, you can look back over a greater period of time to determine trends. One thing that always keeps popping up?

Quality.

In 2019, your site needs to be technically flawless, offer a spectacular user experience and great content, targeted at the right audience at the right time in their user journey. And, of course, your site’s speed needs to improve. It also means incorporating and improving Schema structured data, as Schema.org is one of the key developments for next year.

Let’s go over some of the things you need to focus on in 2019.

Improve site speed

Site speed has been an important factor for a couple of years, but it is going to become critical. If you can’t keep up with your competition now, you’ll soon find yourself having a harder time keeping up if you’re not speeding up your site. If one of your competitors becomes a lot faster, you become slower by comparison, even when you’re not actually becoming slower. Improving loading time is a lot of work, but as it might make you much faster than the competition, it’s a very good tradeoff.

Enhance the user experience

Is your site a joy to use? Can you find what you need in a jiffy? Is the branding recognizable? How do you use images? Improving the user experience is a sure-fire way to make your — potential — customers happy. Happy customers make happy search engines!

Untangle your site structure

Loads of sites were started on a whim and have grown tremendously over time. Sometimes, all those categories, tags, posts and pages can feel like the roots of trees breaking up a sidewalk. It’s easy to lose control. You might know that keeping your site structure in check is beneficial for your visitors, as well as search engines. Everything should have its right place and if something is old, outdated or deprecated, maybe you should just delete it and point it to something relevant.

This year, you should pay special attention to your site structure. Re-assess your site structure and ask yourself if everything is still where it should be or are there improvements to be made? How’s your cornerstone content strategy? Is your internal linking up to scratch? Are redirects screwing with the flow of your site?

Implement Schema.org structured data

Structured data with Schema.org makes your content instantly understandable for search engines. Search engines use structured data to make connections between parts of your page and the world around it. It helps to provide context to your data. Besides making your site easier to understand, adding structured data to your site makes your site eligible for so-called rich results. There are many types of rich results, from star ratings to image highlights, and search engines continue to expand this. Structured data forms the basis of many of the most exciting developments of this moment, like voice search (speakable Schema!).

Implementing structured data is not very easy, but we’re working to get that problem solved. Our new structured data content blocks for the new WordPress block editor lets you automatically add valid structured data by simply picking a block and filling in the content. We now offer blocks for FAQ pages and How-to articles, with more on the way. In addition, we also have an online course on structured data.

Content quality

There is a ton of content out there — and there’s a lot of new content published every day. Why should your content be in the top ten for your chosen focus keyphrase? Is it really good enough to beat the competition?

Keep search intent front and center

Search intent is the why behind a search. What does this person mean to do with this search? Is it to find information or to buy something? Or maybe they’re just trying to find a specific website. Or is it something else entirely? Search engines are getting better and better at understanding this intent and the accompanying user behavior, although we need to help search engines pick the right version of our content. By determining the intent behind a search, you can map your keyword strategy to the specific intents a searcher has. Map these intents to your content and you’re good to go.

Re-do your keyword research

It’s high time to re-do your keyword research. There is bound to have been an enormous amount of changes in your market. Not only that, your company itself is bound to have changed. Not updating your keyword research is missing out on important opportunities. So go back and ask yourself these questions:

  • What changed in my company?
  • What changed in and around my audience?
  • What changed in people’s language?
  • What changed in where people search?

Content is context

Context is one of the most important words of the past year. Context is what helps search engines make sense of the world. As search engines become smarter and smarter, it is becoming more important to provide them with as much related information as possible. By offering the necessary context about your subject and entities, you can help search engines make the connection between your content and where that content fits in the grand scheme of things. It’s not just content; the links you add and how you add these links also provide context that helps search engines. Also, Schema provides another way to show search engines what’s connected.

By mapping the context of your subject, you might find you have a hole in your story. It could be that you haven’t fully explored your topic. Or maybe you found new ways of looking at it, or maybe science threw you a curveball. Who knows! Stay on top of your topic and incorporate everything you find. Sometimes, it also means going back through your old content to update, improve or fix things — or delete stuff entirely.

Re-assess the content and quality of your most important pages

If you are anything like us, you have been at this game for a while and produced loads of content in that time. That’s not a bad thing of course, unless you are starting to compete with yourself. Keyword cannibalization is one of the big issues these days. Content maintenance is a thing. Keep an eye on the search results of your chosen focus keyphrase. Do you have multiple articles in the top ten for a specific keyphrase? Well, that’s probably not what you want.

To find out how you are doing, you need to re-assess your content. Is everything in tip-top shape? Do you need to write more? Or less? Maybe combine several weaker articles in one strong one? Content pruning is going through your posts to see what you can take out to improve the rest. Sometimes, the best SEO strategy can be not to write more, but to improve what you have!

Hone those writing skills!

Quality content is well-written content. Quality content is original, in-depth and easy to understand. Search engines are getting better at determining the text quality of an article and make decisions based on that. Also, readers value well-written texts more and get a sense of trust from them. If content reads well and is factual and grammatically correct, it will come across more professional and people will be more likely to return to read more of your content. So, brush up those writing skills! We have an awesome SEO copywriting guide and an SEO copywriting course if you need help.

Search is on the move

As much as we’d like everything to happen on our website, it’s not. Depending on where you are and what you’re doing: your search engine optimization might need to happen elsewhere and not specifically in Google. For some searches and actions, search is moving beyond the website or social media platform. There are loads of devices that can answer a spoken question with a spoken answer. Devices that can book tickets for you or reserve a table. There are huge e-commerce platforms that seem to get the majority of product searches, not to mention all those app-based services out there. Visual search is also on the rise. Maybe these have value for you?

Conversational search (voice, assistants, bots)

Did you see that Google Duplex demo? That virtual assistant that called a barbershop to make an appointment for its owner? How cool was that, right? Well, that’s one type of conversation we can expect soon. Virtual assistants will become mainstream and voice search one of the easiest ways to search for stuff. We will even be able to turn a single question into a dialogue, complete with action points.

Conversational searches differ from the searches we type in the text field. When we ask a question out loud, we make it a full sentence, which we hardly do while typing. Not to mention that we often use a location and add a value to the voice search. It has to be seen if every company should adopt a voice search strategy. It is something you should look at, though. If it makes sense for you, please do!

(Progressive web) apps

Links to apps are continuing to pop up in search, especially on mobile. Loads of sites bombard you with links to their apps on the home screen. Some services are app-only, like Uber. Apps are everywhere, even Google is now testing structured data for software apps. What’s more, Google is expanding its own homepage on mobile with a Discover feed app.

Where’s an app, there’s a customer to reach. Uber might be the ultimate taxi hailing service, but why can’t a local taxi company replicate that? Apps offer another way — and sometimes better way — of reaching your audience. Depending on your product and market, it might be a good idea to look into apps. If you’re not willing to go down the native route, there’s always progressive web apps — which we’ll see a lot off this year!

Other platforms

Traditionally, a lot of search happens not on search engines, but social media and other types of platforms. Now, this past year we’ve seen a steady decline in traffic and conversion coming from social media. Totally different platforms are taking their place. YouTube is a powerful search engine, as is Amazon. And did you see the meteoric rise of alternative search engines like DuckDuckGo? People are getting more privacy-aware, which is a good thing! Depending on the searcher and his/her goal, platforms like these are becoming increasingly important. Surely, something to think about!

One system for getting traffic in 2019

Now, if we’d recap all this, what does it all boil down to? We know it sounds easy when you read it like this, but this is what you should keep in your head at all times:

  • You should have a fast, easily usable, technically flawless website with high-quality content that truly helps visitors.
  • This website needs to be supported by a brand that offers high-quality products and services.
  • Depending on your niche, this might also mean that you need an app strategy or a strategy for an external platform.

SEO in 2019: What’s next?

It’s easy to say that your site must be better than ever in 2019, because it’s true! Those ten blue links and rich search results are what it’s all about for most sites. The majority of traffic will still come from organic search. Social media traffic is down, conversational search is on the rise, but not big enough to put a dent in organic. So you have to keep improving your site in all the right places.

Of course, there’s a lot of other stuff happening at the same time and most of it concerns an ever-changing Google. Next year, we’ll start to see Google less as a search engine and more as a visual assistant — a person who lives in your phone and solves problems for you. And that’s what they want to get to. It’s been a promise for a long time, but now we’re starting to see it with all these rich results and answer boxes. This will be interesting to watch.

Have a great 2019!

The post SEO in 2019: Improve, improve, improve appeared first on Yoast.

How to kick-start 2019 as a blogger with big goals

2018 is the year I took my blog to the next level: I started a blog series here on yoast.com about SEO for bloggers, I made goals, achieved a lot and failed a few as well. I tried to plan, failed miserably and tried again, with success. In short: in 2018 I found my love for blogging (again) and experimented a lot. 2019 is approaching fast though and I want to prepare properly. I don’t want to make the same mistakes I made this year and I’d like to reach the goals and resolutions I’ve set. So, here’s a plan (for you and me) to kickstart 2019 as a blogger with big goals.

Write down your blogging goals

Whether you want to grow to 50,000 visitors a month, want to launch an eBook, get more collaborations, or all three: write down each and every single one of your goals of 2019. By writing down your goals, you’re already way more committed to them than by just saying them out loud. Take that advantage! Write them down somewhere where you’ll see them regularly, for example on your blog notebook or on a memo board in your office. Seeing goals regularly and thinking about them often, will help you stay on top of them.

Please note that your goal should be realistic. If you want to grow your audience and your blog has 500 visitors now, it might not be entirely achievable to aim for 100,000 visitors by December 2019. Especially, if you’re unsure about how to reach such a growth.

Plan time to work on your goals

The biggest thing we all face, is time. Particularly, if your blog is a hobby – or just not your main source of income – it’s often the first thing you put aside when life throws you a curveball. I didn’t publish blogs for almost two months on my personal blog as I was very busy with other projects, hobbies and making up excuses why I just couldn’t spend time on my blog.

Because I don’t want this to happen again in 2019, I need blog posts written in advance. That’s why I planned a blog weekend in the beginning of January. I’ve done this back in September as well and managed to write over 30 blog posts in just three days. So in January I booked a cottage together with a fellow blogger and we’ll spend our days writing. The goal? To create flow, creativity and content.

Focus on one task at a time

If you’re in a writing flow, you should continue to write, even if your blog post is finished. Do not fall into the trap of finishing your writing to start photographing and scheduling or promoting the blog post. Continue working on other blog posts! If you combine your tasks, you’ll be much more efficient. That could mean that you first write a few blog posts, then start photographing for all blog posts and then schedule or fine-tune them. You’ll switch less between tasks, which makes your focus and the results that much better.

I’ve spoken to bloggers who link certain days to certain tasks. On Mondays they’ll create their images; on Tuesdays they’ll focus on their Pinterest scheduling; on Wednesdays they’ll write new content and so forth. Because you’re focused, you’ll get things done much quicker. You have to find out if this works for you or not, it will help you get the tasks you otherwise wouldn’t do, on your to do list.

Finish your tasks

If you focus on one task at a time, the biggest trap you could fall in is never publishing some of your post. While I was writing in a cottage back in September, the internet was horrible. This meant I couldn’t schedule my posts properly, nor find stock photos if necessary. Now, I’ve only published 12 of the 32 blog posts I’ve written back then. Are the other 20 not worth publishing? No, they definitely are! I just never finished them. I’ve never proofread them, took photos, nor scheduled them. And now, I have an issue with even looking at those blog posts, as it all feels like a waste.

Lock up that critic (or befriend it)

Two of my most popular posts in 2018, were about the inner critic we all have inside of us. The first one was about why you should befriend your inner critic, the second one was why you should quit your blog now. Both got a lot of comments. Some of you were annoyed that I even dared say you should quit your blog and with every right so.

Often our biggest critic, is within us. If we want to grow, we should befriend it and be willing to silence it every once in a while. You can’t write blog posts in advance, if you let your inner critic out too often. You’ll never be able to finish everything, if you let the perfectionist in you speak all the time. Often ‘good enough’ really is good enough.

Find bloggers like yourself

To stay on top of your goals, it’s very helpful to have bloggers to chat to. The last year I met various bloggers like me on blogging conferences. I’ve even become close friends with a few of them. We often message each other for help, tips and the likes. Are you unsure why and if networking is something for you? I’ve written a post on the importance of networking as a blogger!

Reflect each month

Whenever you set your year goals, don’t forget you should set monthly goals and maybe even weekly and daily goals that link to the bigger goals. This way, your goal stays within reach and doesn’t feel like something in the far distance. You’ll make small progress with every step you take. By the end of each month, you need to check if you made progress and if it’s the progress you aimed for. If not, find out why you didn’t reach it. Did you aim too high? Or did you neglect to do what you should’ve done? Whatever the reason is, accept that sometimes you fail. You always have a new month and a new day to try again!

I would love to hear from you what your goals for 2019 are, how you want to reach them and what you would like to learn from me in 2019!

Read on: Blogging: the ultimate guide »

The post How to kick-start 2019 as a blogger with big goals appeared first on Yoast.

WordCamp US 2018, WordPress 5.0.1 and what’s next?

In case you missed it, WordPress 5.0 was released almost two weeks ago, one day prior to WordCamp US 2018 (December 7-9). At WordCamp US, Matt Mullenweg gave his yearly ‘State of the Word’, outlining what’s been going on with the WordPress Project. A reflection, but, most certainly also a look at the future. Let’s dive in!

WordPress 5.0.1 and what’s next?

As discussed before, WordPress 5.0 is the biggest change in WordPress in years. The introduction of the brand new Gutenberg editor into core is by far the biggest change we’ve seen in the writing experience. Since there are so many things hooked into the editor, this update has a lot of consequences. So many, that we at Yoast, in fact, recommend postponing updating to 5.0 to January. If you do decide to update now, we recommend you test WordPress thoroughly, but, again, we suggest you wait until January before updating to the 5.0 branch.

We’ve already seen the first update to the 5.0 branch in the shape of 5.0.1 which addressed a bunch of security issues. The next point release is scheduled for this Wednesday and this upcoming 5.0.2 release will focus on performance improvements. Specifically in relation to the new WordPress editor.

WordCamp US 2018

Team Yoast was present at the largest WordCamp in the United States in Nashville. We attended, sponsored, spoke at and volunteered for the second WordCamp edition in the Music City of the US. And it’s been a great one! There are a couple of talks I’d like to highlight:

  • Morten Rand-Hendriksen gave an inspiring talk about Moving the Web Forward with WordPress and introduced the WordPress Governance Project initiative. It’s an initiative that intends to explore how to effectively represent and embody the spirit of democratized publishing. With WordPress now having 32.5% market share, the project leaders’ decision-making processes need to be clearer than they are now. Anyone can sign up via this Google form to participate in future meetings.
  • Marieke and Joost co-presented an inspiring talk as well about the importance of valid business models to surround our (but any, really) open source community so it can thrive. Their presentation explained that a community becomes unstoppable when every company in an open source community gives back to it.
  • Gary Pendergast gave one of the first Gutenberg-related presentations on the first conference day with the title The Future of WordPress is Gutenberg. Gary brought up an interesting view stating that the next iterations in WordPress will move us closer to platform agnosticism. In other words, with Gutenberg, we’ll end up with true separation of content from presentation.

(As soon as these presentations are uploaded to WordPress.tv, I’ll update this post and link to these presentations directly.)

State of the Word

In his yearly ‘State of the Word’ at WordCamp US, Matt Mullenweg discussed a couple of interesting points that I’d like to highlight and share here:

  • As Matt Mullenweg demoed in a video how the new editor blocks offer a better experience, he showed a very nice example of copying and pasting from Microsoft Word and Google Docs into the WordPress editor. You should give a try if you’ve updated to WordPress 5.0.
  • There is now a dedicated section in the plugin repo where you can find plugins that provide Gutenberg blocks.
  • Gutenberg will be available in the mobile apps for WordPress, with a beta release expected in February 2019.
  • One of the goals of 2019 is to start working on optional auto-updates for plugins, themes, and major versions of WordPress.
  • WordPress will finally start updating its minimum PHP version. The proposed plan is to move to PHP 5.6 by April 2019 and to PHP 7.0 by as early as December 2019.

You can watch the 2018 State of the Word in full on YouTube.

Gutenberg phase 2

With Gutenberg now being the default editor in WordPress, you’d think that’s the last we’ll hear about the Gutenberg project, right? Well, not quite. During his State of the Word, Matt Mullenweg discussed the focus of the next phase of Project Gutenberg. Phase 2 is going to focus on Menus, Widgets and Customizer Integration.

I, for one, am very excited with everything Gutenberg already allows us to do, but this next phase makes me even more excited. How about you?

Read on: Should you update to WordPress 5.0 »

The post WordCamp US 2018, WordPress 5.0.1 and what’s next? appeared first on Yoast.