Gutenberg tips

Another week, another roundup! We saw WordPress’ growth hit an important milestone last week, and an interesting proposal was made concerning available blocks in the editor. Let’s see what that’s all about! In this edition of my roundup, I also share a few more tricks about the Block Editor itself. And, last but not least, I have a bonus link for you again. Of course I do!

WordPress now powers one-third of the web!

Last week, Joost published an article on the WordPress.org site about WordPress now powering ⅓ of the web. Well, technically it’s ⅓ of the top 10 million sites, but still, that’s a staggering amount of WordPress sites out there now. Go check out his post to learn more.

Block Directory

An interesting proposal for a Block Directory was published on the Make WordPress Core blog that has the potential of being big:

A new type of WordPress plugin that provides blocks and nothing else: Single Block Plugins. These will be hosted in a separate Block Directory section of the Plugin Directory. They will be JavaScript-based, and each plugin will register a single Block. And they will be searchable and installable from within the Gutenberg editor itself.

Alex Shiels

If you’d like to find out more about what this proposal is about, go on and read Alex’ post.

Gutenberg tips and tricks

In a previous roundup, I shared some tips on using Gutenberg. Today I have a few more tips to share on how to best make use of the new Block Editor.

Reusable blocks

The WordPress Block Editor comes with a feature that’s called ‘Reusable block’. This feature allows you to define one specific block or a combination of blocks to be saved and reused anywhere else on the site.

When would you use that, you ask? Maybe you want to highlight one of your products on several pages. Or you have certain posts that need some sort of disclaimer at the bottom. Instead of having to write that same paragraph from scratch every single time, you write it once, save it as a reusable block and select it where needed.

You can save a block to your reusable blocks by clicking ‘More options’ (the icon with three dots in the bar directly above your block) then ‘Add to reusable blocks’. Once you’ve done that, you can find the reusable block when adding a new block. It’ll be at the end of the list under the tab, ‘Reusable’, with the name you gave it.

Use your reusable blocks on other sites

Now that you know how to create reusable blocks, it’s time we make this a bit more exciting! Did you know you can export your reusable blocks from one site and import them on another? Yes, you can! This is how: to access your blocks, click on the icon with the three dots in the top-right corner. Then, select Manage All Reusable Blocks and you’ll be taken to an admin interface where you can export your blocks into a JSON file.

You can import that same JSON file in another site via the same admin interface screen. Isn’t that neat?

Line break, but no new paragraph in Gutenberg?

Here’s a complaint I hear a lot: “Whatever I do, I can’t add a line break without creating a new block”.
Sometimes you just want to go to a new line without creating an entirely new block. Just like I did at the beginning of the previous sentence. It may feel like that’s impossible, but it isn’t. Hitting Shift+Enter creates a line break without a new block. It’s that simple.

Bonus link

Maybe I’m talking to the wrong crowd here, but even if I’m helping just one of you out there, I’m a happy man :)

So, this one is for those of you who develop plugins on Github, but have to jump through all kinds of fancy hoops to have those plugins committed to the WordPress.org repo. Our friends at 10Up have released a wonderful solution that allows you to publish your code on Github and only Github.

Their solution makes use of Github’s Action. Once you’ve set up your action and added your WordPress.org credentials, it will actually publish your newly created tag to the WordPress repo. I call that a win! So, if this is for you, go and check out Github Actions for WordPress.

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One-third of the web!

WordPress now powers over 1/3rd of the top 10 million sites on the web according to W3Techs. Our market share has been growing steadily over the last few years, going from 29.9% just one year ago to 33.4% now. We are, of course, quite proud of these numbers!

The path here has been very exciting. In 2005, we were celebrating 50,000 downloads. Six years later, in January 2011, WordPress was powering 13.1% of websites. And now, early in 2019, we are powering 33.4% of sites. Our latest release has already been downloaded close to 14 million times, and it was only released on the 21st of February.

Graph showing the growth of WordPress market share relative to other CMS's like Joomla, Drupal and others. Starting at just over 10% in January 2011 to 33.4% now.
WordPress market share on the rise over the last 8 years. Image source: W3Techs.

Over the years WordPress has become the CMS of choice for more and more people and companies. As various businesses use WordPress, the variety of WordPress sites grows. Large enterprise businesses all the way down to small local businesses: all of them use WordPress to power their site. We love seeing that and we strive to continuously make WordPress better for all of you.

We’d like to thank everyone who works on WordPress, which is built and maintained by a huge community of volunteers that has grown alongside the CMS. This incredible community makes it possible for WordPress to keep growing while still also remaining free. And of course, we’d like to thank all of you using WordPress for using it and trusting in it. To all of you: let’s celebrate!

How does Google understand text?

On Yoast.com, we talk a lot about writing and readability. We consider it a very important part of good SEO. Your text needs to satisfy your users’ needs. This, in turn, will help your rankings. However, we rarely talk about how Google and other search engines read and understand texts. In this post, we’ll explore what we know about how Google analyzes online text.

Are we sure Google understands text?

We know that Google understands text to some degree. Think about it: one of the most important things Google has to do is match what the user types into the search bar to a search result. User signals alone won’t help Google to do this. Moreover, we also know that it is possible to rank for a phrase that you don’t use in your text (although it’s still good practice to identify and use one or more specific keyphrases). So clearly, Google does something to actually read and assess your text in some way or another.

What is the current status?

I’m going to be honest. We don’t really know how Google understands texts. The information simply isn’t freely available. And we also know, judging from the search results, that a lot of work is still to be done. But there are some clues here and there that we can draw conclusions from. We know that Google has taken big steps when it comes to understanding context. We also know that it tries to determine how words and concepts are related to each other. How do we know this? On the one hand, by analyzing some of the patents Google has filed over the years. On the other hand, by considering how actual search results pages have changed.

Word embeddings

One interesting technique Google has filed patents for and worked on is called word embedding. I’ll save the details for another post, but the goal is basically to find out what words are closely related to other words. This is what happens: a computer program is fed a certain amount of text. It then analyzes the words in that text and determines what words tend to occur together. Then, it translates every word into a series of numbers. This allows the words to be represented as a point in space in a diagram, a scatter plot, for example. This diagram shows what words are related in what ways. More accurately, it shows the distance between words, sort of like a galaxy made up of words. So for example, a word like “keywords” would be much closer to “copywriting” in this space than it would be to “kitchen utensils”.

Interestingly, you can do this not only for words, but for phrases, sentences and paragraphs as well. The bigger the data set you feed the program, the better it will be able to categorize and understand words and work out how they’re used and what they mean. And, what do you know, Google has a database of the entire internet. How’s that for a dataset? With a dataset like that, it’s possible to create reliable models that predict and assess the value of text and context.

Related entities

From word embeddings, it’s only a small step to the concept of related entities (see what I did there?). Let’s take a look at the search results to illustrate what related entities are. If you type in “types of pasta”, this is what you’ll see right at the top of the SERP: a heading called “pasta varieties”, with a number of rich cards that include a ton of different types of pasta. These pasta varieties are even subcategorized into “ribbon pasta”, “tubular pasta”, and several other subtypes of pasta. And there are lots and lots of similar SERPs that reflect the way words and concepts are related to each other.

The related entities patent that Google has filed actually mentions the related entities index database. This is a database in which concepts or entities, like pasta, are stored. These entities also have characteristics. Lasagna, for example, is a pasta. It’s also made of dough. And it’s a food. Now, by analyzing the characteristics of entities, they can be grouped and categorized in all kinds of different ways. This allows Google to better understand how words are related, and, therefore, to better understand context.

Practical conclusions

Now, all of this leads us to two very important points:

  1. If Google understands context in some way or another, it’s likely to assess and judge context as well. The better your copy matches Google’s notion of the context, the better its chances. So thin copy with limited scope is going to be at a disadvantage. You’ll need to cover your topics exhaustively. And on a larger scale, covering related concepts and presenting a full body of work on your site will reinforce your authority on the topic you specialize in.
  2. Easier texts which clearly reflect relationships between concepts don’t just benefit your readers, they help Google as well. Difficult, inconsistent and poorly structured writing is more difficult to understand for both humans and machines. You can help the search engine understand your texts by focusing on:
    • Good readability (that is to say, making your text as easy-to-read as possible without compromising your message).
    • Good structure (that is to say, adding clear subheadings and transitions).
    • Good context (that is to say, adding clear explanations that show how what you’re saying relates to what is already known about a topic).

The better you do, the easier your users and Google alike will understand your text and what it tries to achieve. Especially because Google seems to basically be trying to create a model that mimics the way us humans process language and information. And yes, adding your keyphrase to your text still helps Google to match your page to a query.

Google wants to be a reader

In the end, the message is this: Google is trying to be, and becoming, more and more like an actual reader. By writing rich content which is well-structured and easy to read and is clearly embedded into the context of the topic at hand, you’ll improve your chances of doing well in the search results.

Read more: SEO copywriting: the ultimate guide »

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Yoast SEO 10.0: Meet the new SEO analysis

It’s been in production for many months, capped off with two months of beta testing, and now it’s finally here: Yoast SEO 10.0! Yoast SEO 10.0 features a new SEO analysis, based on thorough research and fine-tuned with your feedback. More than 100.000 people helped us test this release to make it our best yet. Thanks, everyone! Please welcome to the stage: Yoast SEO 10.0 and its state-of-the-art SEO analysis.

We’d like to celebrate the release of Yoast SEO 10.0 with you. Get 10% off Yoast SEO Premium — today only!

Why change the SEO analysis?

SEO is never done. SEO changes constantly. While the basics keep fairly static, a lot of the playing field is different from years ago. We’ve learned a lot over the years about SEO in general, the importance of language, information extraction, and content analysis, among other things. One thing we learned, was that we should put more effort into researching our recommendations. Turned out we could improve communication about why we do what we do. That’s one of the things we wanted to fix in our new SEO analysis.

Almost a year of research went into Yoast SEO 10.0. We turned every nook and cranny of the SEO analysis upside down and inside out. We combined the insights of many SEO experts, linguists, developers and content specialists with research and common sense to come up with a set of improvements. All this lead to this moment, the release of a new SEO analysis in Yoast SEO 10.0. As of today, optimizing your content with Yoast SEO 10.0 is a lot more realistic.

What changed in Yoast SEO 10.0?

There were so many findings that we spread the development of features. One of the main focus points was improving the way we analyze and handle languages. Yoast SEO had to get smarter. These were no easy fixes, so these were developed separately by our team of linguists. That’s why we launched parts of the new SEO analysis earlier, like keyword distribution, word form and synonym support in Yoast SEO 9.0. The bulk of the changes coming from this project, however, are in this release, Yoast SEO 10.0.

Here are some of the changes you’ll notice once you start optimizing content with 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.

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 [doggie]. 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.

Gone from the SEO analysis:

We’ve deprecated the assessments that check the length of your URL and whether your URL contains stopwords.

The rest of the assessments of the SEO analysis remain unchanged. You can find all the different checks in Yoast SEO on the assessment overview page.

New Premium feature: Stale cornerstone content filter

Yoast SEO Premium users also get a new feature: the stale cornerstone content filter. We already offered the possibility to mark your most important posts as cornerstone content, but we’re adding a feature that helps you keep that content fresh. The stale cornerstone content filter helps you keep these updated. It gives you a notification in the WordPress post overview once a cornerstone content article hasn’t been updated in over six months. Here’s how you can use the stale cornerstone content filter.

People love the new SEO analysis

We’ve been beta testing the new SEO analysis with you, our valued user. Many of you gave us very detailed feedback on their experiences with the new SEO analysis. Of course, there are always improvements to be made, but in general, users are positive about the new SEO analysis. Here are a few of the reactions we got, republished with permission:

Yoast has continued to improve the way they help content producers like myself achieve better SEO with respect to our articles and reviews. I’ve grown to trust their prowess in staying up to date with changes in best practices as it relates to Google and other search engines. As a result, my SEO writing has improved, and I tend to trust their opinions when it comes to subtle shifts in content and formatting recommendations. Their newest SEO analysis changes are no exception.

Clint DeBoer, Lakeland, USA

I thought the previous version was good in that it improved the way I wrote and presented my webpages and blogs. However, in my opinion, the new version is more user-friendly and produces better results. I rate it 5 stars.

Jurie Fourie, Pretoria, South Africa

I think Yoast SEO analysis is an awesome tool that has helped improve my online writing immensely. I can’t imagine doing what I love to do without the help of Yoast’s SEO analysis. Yes, it’s a pain in the behind at times. But at the end of the day, SEO analysis is that omnipresent, yet silent content editor and writing coach we all need. Thank you Yoast for building such an outstanding product.

Rod Thomas, Lake Forest, USA

Yoast is constantly analyzing their processes to help me optimize my content. I like that they don’t waste my time with unnecessary analysis. Everything is on point and relevant.

Keith Lauby, Gainesville, USA

I think especially the live marking of text areas is a really good thing. For instance for transition words or keyword distribution, the analysis a tremendously helpful. When I change something, I see the effect it has in real time with no save or refresh necessary. It’s demanding but fun to work with Yoast!

Jacqueline Pohl, Berlin, Germany

It was a great tool before, now it feels more polished and more helpful.

Julia Kaldenhoff, Versailles, France

Keeping the SEO analysis updated

You might think we’d rest on our laurels for a bit after all this hard work, but that’s very far from the truth. Part of the why of this project was to fully update the SEO analysis and to make it easier to keep it up to date. SEO is never done, so we’re never done improving the best SEO plugin out there! We keep researching, testing and tinkering until the end of our days. And, of course, there are a couple of search engines we closely follow that sometimes like to shake things up. We’re ready for that!

How did this come about?

Want to know more about the background of this project? We’ve made a documentary about the process, which you can view below. Or you can read Marieke’s behind the scenes post — she was the project’s lead.

Update now!

That’s Yoast SEO 10.0 for you. We’ve revamped the SEO analysis and made it more relevant and helpful for you. We’ve enriched the feedback you get, so you can improve your content in a more natural, realistic way. Enjoy this new release! As always, we’re open to feedback and we’ll continue to fine-tune our releases based on user feedback.

We’d like to thank all participants in our beta test and, of course, you, for using Yoast SEO!

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The stale cornerstone content filter: keep your core content fresh!

Sometimes it’s the little things that count. The new SEO analysis introduced in Yoast SEO 10.0 also comes with a new feature for Premium users: the stale cornerstone content filter. This handy little tool monitors the posts you’ve marked as cornerstone content and warns you if they haven’t been updated for six months. As you know, cornerstone content is extremely important and keeping these up to date imperative. That’s why we remind you to do so!

Need help keeping your cornerstone content in tip top shape?
You’re in luck! While celebrating the release of Yoast SEO 10.0, you get 10% off Yoast SEO Premium! Now is the best time to get access to all awesome features.

It’s your most important content — treat it so!

Cornerstone content forms the heart and soul of your site. This is your crucial content that you want to rank in search engines. This content should show how authoritative you are on your chosen subject. You should give cornerstone content extra special care and keep it updated so it doesn’t lose its edge or valuation.

But we get it — it’s easy to forget things like this. There’s always so much work do on your site. That’s exactly why we introduced this stale content filter. It helps you keep essential content on your site fresh and updated. As you’ve marked specific articles as cornerstone content — thus being very important to you and your audience —, we treat them differently. Thanks to the cornerstone analysis, we grade them stricter and now also keep track of whether you keep them updated or not. If you haven’t done that in six months, we show a notification reminding you to do that. Easy, right? If not, read our article on how to keep your content fresh.

How does the stale cornerstone content filter work?

The stale cornerstone content filter is incredibly easy to use as you don’t have to do anything! If you’re anything like us, you’ll never notice it as we try to keep our ultimate guides — our cornerstone content — updated at all times. But if one should slip through the net, we’ll now see it in the post overview of our WordPress dashboard. Just to the left of the cornerstone content filter you’ll find the stale content filter. Does it have a number next to it? Then you have one or more articles that haven’t been updated in at least six months. Click on the filter to see the posts in the post overview.

See the screenshot below:

The stale cornerstone content filter unearths all cornerstone content that hasn’t been updated in over six months

Then what? Well, that’s up to you! It’s high-time to start working on that post. The least you can do, is read it again critically to see if it is still factual, accurate and relevant. If so, and nothing has changed in your company, market or niche that could warrant an update process, just make some small changes and save the post — the notification will be gone. But in most cases, there’s a lot that can happen in six months and it will be a good idea to reevaluate your content and add, delete or rewrite parts of it. It’s also a good idea to come up with a strategy for your cornerstone content.

Always strive for the best!

If you want to rank, you need to put your heart and soul into your work. Your site must be of impeccable quality, full of high-quality, engaging and relevant content. And that’s a lot of work. We know, because we are in the same position as you. Sometimes, we too find ourselves struggling to keep up and making sense of this never-ending stream of content. Luckily, little helpers like the stale content filter helps to keeps us on our toes!

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WordPress 5.1.1 Security and Maintenance Release

WordPress 5.1.1 is now available! This security and maintenance release introduces 10 fixes and enhancements, including changes designed to help hosts prepare users for the minimum PHP version bump coming in 5.2.

This release also includes a pair of security fixes that handle how comments are filtered and then stored in the database. With a maliciously crafted comment, a WordPress post was vulnerable to cross-site scripting.

WordPress versions 5.1 and earlier are affected by these bugs, which are fixed in version 5.1.1. Updated versions of WordPress 5.0 and earlier are also available for any users who have not yet updated to 5.1.

Props to Simon Scannell of RIPS Technologies who discovered this flaw independent of some work that was being done by members of the core security team. Thank you to all of the reporters for privately disclosing the vulnerabilities, which gave us time to fix them before WordPress sites could be attacked.

Other highlights of this release include:

  • Hosts can now offer a button for their users to update PHP.
  • The recommended PHP version used by the “Update PHP” notice can now be filtered.
  • Several minor bug fixes.

You can browse the full list of changes on Trac.

WordPress 5.1.1 was a short-cycle maintenance release. Version 5.1.2 is expected to follow a similar two week release cadence.

You can download WordPress 5.1.1 or visit Dashboard → Updates and click Update Now. Sites that support automatic background updates have already started to update automatically.

In addition to the security researcher mentioned above, thank you to everyone who contributed to WordPress 5.1.1:

Aaron Jorbin, Alex Concha, Andrea Fercia, Andy Fragen, Anton Vanyukov, Ben Bidner, bulletdigital, David Binovec, Dion Hulse, Felix Arntz, Garrett Hyder, Gary Pendergast, Ian Dunn, Jake Spurlock, Jb Audras, Jeremy Felt, Johan Falk, Jonathan Desrosiers, Luke Carbis, Mike Schroder, Milan Dinić, Mukesh Panchal, Paul Biron, Peter Wilson, Sergey Biryukov, and Weston Ruter.

New commenting plugin option, a book release, and a WordPress milestone

It’s time* again for a new roundup of WordPress news! Today I’m sharing a new commenting plugin for WordPress, the release of a new book about Object Oriented Programming in WordPress. The WordPress Project also crossed an imported milestone this week. Keep on reading and you’ll learn all about it!

New commenting plugin option

For a very long time when you, for whatever reason, wanted to replace the default WordPress commenting you basically only had Disqus as an option. We used to have IntenseDebate as well, but even though the site is still up, that really doesn’t look like a modern and solid solution.

Luckily, we have a new option again in the shape of ReplyBox. It’s a super lightweight solution and does a wonderful job delivering a robust commenting system. How lightweight you ask?

I’d say that’s quite impressive, right?

If you’re in the market for a smarter commenting system, you should definitely check them out!

Gutenberg expands on block editor location

Gutenberg 5.2 was released last week and it introduces a new @wordpress/block-editor module that allows building block editors to live outside the post editor context and even outside the WordPress Admin context. Meaning, we’ll be able to use the Gutenberg editor interface in other places besides the actual place where you craft your content. You can read more about in the release post for Gutenberg 5.2.

WordPress book on object-oriented programming

One of the advantages of WordPress moves towards updating its minimum PHP requirement is the opportunity to make better use of smarter coding. Object-oriented programming (OOP) is one of those things. To help you learn OOP, Carl Alexander published a book last week that will teach you the fundamentals of object-oriented programming using WordPress concepts, as well as getting familiar with the terminology.

200 Languages!

During WordCamp Nordic’s Contributor Day, 16 new languages were added to translate.wordpress.org according to Petya Raykovska. With those 16 extra languages, WordPress can now be translated into 200 languages! That’s an amazing milestone.

That’s if for me for this roundup. Hope you enjoyed it!


*WordPress 5.1 actually released the first improvements to the Date/Time functions in WordPress, so technically, we’re better at handling dates and time now! Well, WordPress is, that is.

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How to use storytelling in a blog post

People like reading stories. Stories are a great way to captivate your audience. But how do you use stories in a blog post? And, how do you come up with ideas? In a previous post, I wrote about why you should use storytelling. In this post, I’ll give you 6 tips on how to start using storytelling in your blog posts.

But first, let’s start with a little story: 

Once upon a time, there was this young woman. Her name was Mary. Mary was a copywriter. She wrote wonderful content for travel agencies and several magazines. Mary used a lot of storytelling in her work. She was very good at it. But last week, her inspiration was terribly low. She was a bit ill. Nevertheless, her deadlines were approaching. Mary felt stressed. To meet her deadlines, she added some stories from her own experience to one of her articles. She was afraid her editor would frown upon that, but he actually loved it. And, so did her readers.

Tip 1: Use stories as examples

If you do not know how to start with storytelling, then start using stories as examples. Of course, you don’t have to start every story with ‘once upon a time’. You can use short anecdotes or stories from your readers to make a blog post more entertaining. Examples make your blog post lively and nice to read.

Tip 2: Get inspiration from your own world

Coming up with ideas for stories can be difficult. So, use the world around you for inspiration. A little talk with a neighbor, a funny thing your daughter did, something that happened during your lunch break: these are all little stories. Lots of the stories I use in my posts come from my own experiences. Mary, in the story I wrote at the beginning of this post, is actually me. The story about Wende, from my previous post about storytelling, really happened. Wende is my daughter. You don’t need to do extensive research for every story. Stories are everywhere.

Tip 3: Make sure your story aligns with the message of your post

If you use a story in your blog post, you need to make sure that the story aligns with the message of your post. Stories are fun and nice to read, but they only become powerful if they actually mean something. Every story has a meaning, something you want people to learn from that specific story. The meaning of the story should align with the message of your post.

The story about Mary I used in this post is about someone who is using storytelling. This post is about storytelling. Mary has a hard time coming up with ideas for a story. She decides to get inspiration from her own world and writes a personal story, which turns out nicely. In this post, I’m advising you to get inspiration from your own world and make sure to add a personal touch to a story. The story about Mary aligns with the message of this post.

Tip 4: Use the 4 elements of storytelling

A good story needs 4 elements: a character, a problem, an action, and a solution. If you write a story, try to put these four elements in it. You’ll probably do that without giving it much thought. Let’s look at the four elements of storytelling in a bit more detail:

You need to introduce a character. In my story that’s Mary. A main character that is perfectly happy does not make for a good story. The character should aspire to something or solve something. The character needs a problem. Mary’s problem was her lack of inspiration. The third thing you need is action. A story requires the main character to do something to solve the problem. Mary took a chance and added some personal stories to her copywriting. The last thing in a story is a solution. The solution is the end of the story. The problem or conflict should be solved. The readers liked her personal stories; Mary was successful.

Tip 5: Make it personal and relatable

Try to make your stories personal. Write a story about someone people can relate to. People like people. Stories are more powerful if people are able to emotionally relate to the main character. Add details, make your character into someone readers understand and relate to.

Tip 6: Add images

My last tip for powerful storytelling is to add images to your stories. If you tell a story about a person who is using your product, add a picture of this person. That’ll make the person easier to relate to. Add an illustration to your story. Illustrations will make the story easier to grasp. It will make your message more clear. And, it will make it more fun.

Conclusion on how to use storytelling

Storytelling doesn’t have to be a ‘grand thing’. There are many ways to implement it. Draw inspiration from your own experiences and write stories that fit the message of your post well. Using interviews is also a good way of telling a story. You’ll get a personal story through an interview. And if you would like to make your blog a little more personal or more fun, try to use anecdotes. Little stories. Things that happened to you. These little anecdotes, examples, personal experiences will just add that personal touch to your blog that makes it so much more enjoyable to read.

In the next post in this series about storytelling, I’ll give tips on how to use storytelling on an eCommerce website.

Read more: Blogging: the Ultimate guide »


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New, newer, newest: the All-around SEO training!

Yoast Academy has just released the All-around SEO training course! This course teaches you how to optimize every aspect of SEO. Content SEO, technical SEO, off-page SEO, image SEO… You name it, it’s included! And we’ll not only teach you the theory, but we’ll give you hands-on tips on how to tackle common real-life SEO problems as well. With this training, you’ll learn how to set up a proper, all-around SEO strategy!

You can get the course for $169, but only in the first week, so don’t wait too long!

What will I learn in the All-around SEO training?

A lot! The All-around SEO training really helps you cover all your SEO bases. Let’s take a look at the topics that are included in this training.

1. Content SEO

In this course, you’ll discover how to determine what keyphrases will drive traffic to your site. This training teaches you how to set up your own keyword research sheet, step-by-step. Moreover, we’ll walk you through all the steps of SEO copywriting. We’ll also show you how to set up or improve your own site structure, so your most important pages have the best chances of ranking. And you’ll learn how to optimize your images, both for your visitors and for search engines.

2. Technical SEO

The All-around SEO training teaches you how to improve your site speed, so your visitors don’t leave before they’ve even seen what you have to offer. Also, you’ll learn what structured data is, so you’ll know how to get those coveted rich results. In addition, you’ll learn how to make sure your site is secure, so your site won’t get hacked!

3. Off-page SEO

This course also teaches you to look beyond your own site. You’ll learn how to make sure other sites link to your pages, so search engines see you deserve a higher ranking. Furthermore, you’ll learn how to keep your audience engaged with email marketing. You’ll also discover how social media can get you even more traffic.

4. Beyond SEO

Finally, the All-around SEO training teaches you how to outsmart your competition by going beyond the usual SEO staples. We’ll teach you how to make sure you offer the best user experience, and how to get more customers or subscribers by conversion rate optimization. In addition, you’ll learn how to improve your site’s accessibility, so everyone is able to use your website, including people with a disability.

How is the course set up?

The All-around SEO training consists of eight modules, which are divided into several lessons. Each lesson contains interesting videos, in which our SEO experts – like Marieke van de Rakt and Joost de Valk – explain everything you should know. We’ve also created reading materials, in which we explore topics more broadly and use different examples from the ones we use in the videos. To complete a lesson, you take a quiz. These quizzes test whether you understand the theory and if you’re able to apply this knowledge to realistic example cases. Once you’ve finished the course, you’ll get a certificate and a badge you can display on your website.

Joost de Valk in the All-around SEO training

Why should I take the All-around SEO training?

If you want to get a head start in SEO, the All-around SEO training is for you. It teaches you about all SEO aspects – including topics that don’t get covered in the average SEO course, like email marketing, social media, UX and accessibility. The course even goes beyond the theory and teaches you useful and practical skills, so you can quickly improve the SEO of your site. It doesn’t matter whether you run a blog, online store, or another type of website – this course covers it all. If your goal is to make your site rank higher in the search results, the All-around SEO training is the right course for you.

Learn whenever you want, wherever you want

And just like every other Yoast Academy training course, the All-around SEO training is online and on-demand. This means you can do this course whenever you want, wherever you want. It’s all up to you!

Get it before the offer expires!

The All-around SEO training helps you improve all aspects of SEO on your site, so you can make your site rank higher in the search results. You can get the course by clicking the button below. It is temporarily discounted at $169 (that’s $30 off!), so get it before the offer expires!

The post New, newer, newest: the All-around SEO training! appeared first on Yoast.

Release schedules, selling digital downloads, and some bonus links

In this roundup, I’ll discuss what’s going on with the WordPress release schedule. I’m also highlighting a new e-commerce solution for selling downloadable items in WordPress. And of course, I carefully selected some bonus links for your reading pleasure. Let’s dive in!

WordPress Release Schedules

WordPress has typically seen three to four releases per year for the last couple of years. Last year, we saw a bit of change in this, with a whole bunch of point releases leading up to the big 5.0 release. But, as things are settling down again, there’s been discussions on what the future of release schedules should look like.

The Core team is asking for feedback and I would highly recommend you to weigh in if you have an opinion in the matter. The post already lists some pros and cons, but more input is always better!

Selling digital downloads

You can tell that e-commerce is getting more and more important for people with WordPress websites. My favorite plugin for managing downloads in WordPress, Download Monitor, recently saw the addition of a highly requested feature. Namely, the ability to sell downloads. They also recently added full support for the Gutenberg editor, btw!

It’s great to see more lightweight e-commerce solutions coming to WordPress. Of course, we already have plugins like Easy Digital Downloads, but it’s not that lightweight anymore. And there’s nothing wrong with that! But having more options to choose from makes for a thriving ecosphere.

Bonus links

An interesting article I came across, in the shape of a long read, discusses the fact that the Internet was built on the free labor of Open Source developers. And, it asks the question of whether that is sustainable. This quote, in particular, stood out for me:

“I’m looking at you, Fortune 1000 companies, the ones who have never lifted a finger to contribute to the open source community that gave you this gift.”

– Steve Marquess

The article gives a very good insight into the ideas behind Open Source, the principle and license WordPress and many other great software solutions are built on. The article raises a lot of great, critical questions that may help you get a better understanding of the underlying principles. Highly recommend reading!

One more link

One more link I’d like to share with you, in case you’re curious about the progress the new Marketing Lead for the WordPress Project, our founder Joost, has been making in the last month or so. Go check out Joost’s post and see for yourself what’s been done.

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