Gutenberg refinement, Block Directory Concept, and MailPoet

It was another full week with lots of WordPress news. Today, we’re highlighting a cool WordPress newsletter plugin that had a big update. We’ll also see that Gutenberg got yet another polish and we’ll have a bunch of bonus links for you. Let’s check it out!

More Gutenberg refinement

The latest release of Gutenberg, version 6.1, added a lot of refinement to the editor. The two most noticeable changes are animations for when you move blocks, create a new block, delete them or remove them entirely. The second one is a speed optimization for when you’re typing long posts. Making typing 30% faster on long posts!

Block Directory Concept

In a previous roundup, I’ve mentioned work being underway to add an interface to the WordPress Dashboard to add and manage Blocks. Blocks being plugins that add specific functionality to the Block Editor. It was mentioned by Matt Mullenweg during his WordCamp Europe presentation as well. Mel Choyce has now published a lot more details into what this Block Directory could look like over at Make WordPress Core blog. Detailing with lots of screenshots, she demonstrates what the flow of managing blocks on your site could look like. Mind you, they’re still concepts, but you get a good of idea of where this is going!

MailPoet, a second start

Mailpoet is a plugin that allows you to send a newsletter from your WordPress sites. It was quite popular back in the days and disappeared a little bit off our radar. After a long rewrite, their new version seems to be getting traction again. They recently announced a new free plan that includes their in-house sending service. According to Kim Gjerstad, the co-founder, they want to grow their active websites faster. Also noteworthy, 25% of their users are using WooCommerce. Check it out if you’re in the market for a WordPress native newsletter option.

Bonus Links

The post Gutenberg refinement, Block Directory Concept, and MailPoet appeared first on Yoast.

People of WordPress: Ugyen Dorji

You’ve probably heard that WordPress is open source software, and may know that it’s created and run by volunteers. WordPress enthusiasts share many examples of how WordPress changed people’s lives for the better. This monthly series shares some of those lesser-known, amazing stories.

Meet Ugyen Dorji from Bhutan

Ugyen lives in Bhutan, a landlocked country situated between two giant neighbors, India to the south and China to the north. He works for ServMask Inc and is responsible for the Quality Assurance process for All-in-One WP Migration plugin.

He believes in the Buddhist teaching that “the most valuable service is one rendered to our fellow humans,” and his contributions demonstrates this through his WordPress translation work and multi-lingual support projects for WordPress.

Bhutanese contributors to the Dzongkha locale on WordPress Translation Day

How Ugyen started his career with WordPress

Back in 2016, Ugyen was looking for a new job after his former cloud company ran into financial difficulties.

During one interview he was asked many questions about WordPress and, although he had a basic understanding of WordPress, he struggled to give detailed answers. After that interview he resolved to develop his skills and learn as much about WordPress as he could. 

A few months passed and he received a call from ServMask Inc, who had developed a plugin called All-in-One WP Migration. They offered him a position, fulfilling his wish to work with WordPress full-time. And because of that, Ugyen is now an active contributor to the WordPress community.

WordCamp Bangkok 2018

WordCamp Bangkok 2018 was a turning point event for Ugyen. WordCamps are a great opportunity to meet WordPress community members you don’t otherwise get to know, and he was able to attend his first WordCamp through the sponsorship of his company.

The first day of WordCamp Bangkok was a Contributor Day, where people volunteer to work together to contribute to the development of WordPress. Ugyen joined the Community team to have conversations with WordPress users from all over the world. He was able to share his ideas for supporting new speakers, events and organizers to help build the WordPress community in places where it is not yet booming.

During the main day of the event, Ugyen managed a photo booth for speakers, organizers, and attendees to capture their memories of WordCamp. He also got to take some time out to attend several presentations during the conference. What particularly stuck in Ugyen’s mind was learning that having a website content plan has been shown to lead to 100% growth in business development.

Co-Organizing Thimphu‘s WordPress Meetup

After attending WordCamp Bangkok 2018 as well as a local Meetup event, Ugyen decided to introduce WordPress to his home country and cities. 

As one of the WordPress Translation Day organizers, he realized that his local language, Dzongkha, was not as fully translated as other languages in the WordPress Core Translation. That is when Ugyen knew that he wanted to help build his local community. He organized Thimphu’s first WordPress Meetup to coincide with WordPress Translation Day 4, and it was a huge success!

Like all WordPress Meetups, the Thimpu WordPress Meetup is an easygoing, volunteer-organized, non-profit meetup which covers everything related to WordPress. But it also keeps in mind the Bhutanese Gross National Happiness four pillars by aiming to preserve and promote their unique culture and national language. 

Big dreams get accomplished one step at a time

Ugyen has taken an active role in preserving his national language by encouraging his community to use WordPress, including Dzongkha bloggers, online Dzongkha news outlets, and government websites.

And while Ugyen has only been actively involved in the community for a short period, he has contributed much to the WordPress community, including:

  • becoming a Translation Contributor for WordPress Core Translation for Dzongkha;
  • participating in the Global WordPress Translation Day 4 Livestream and organizing team;
  • inviting WordPress Meetup Thimphu members and WordPress experts from other countries to join the local Slack instance;
  • encouraging ServMask Inc. to become an event sponsor;
  • providing the Dzongkha Development Commission the opportunity to involve their language experts.

When it comes to WordPress, Ugyen particularly focuses on encouraging local and international language WordPress bloggers; helping startups succeed with WordPress; and sharing what he has learned from WordPress with his Bhutanese WordPress community.

As a contributor, Ugyen hopes to accomplish even more for the Bhutan and Asian WordPress Communities. His dreams for his local community are big, including teaching more people about open source, hosting a local WordCamp, and helping to organize WordCamp Asia in 2020 — all while raising awareness of his community.


This post is based on an article originally published on HeroPress.com, a community initiative created by Topher DeRosia. HeroPress highlights people in the WordPress community who have overcome barriers and whose stories would otherwise go unheard.

Meet more WordPress community members over at HeroPress.com!

How to add HowTo Schema to your how-to article

You might know that structured data in the form of Schema.org can do wonders for your search results. It also forms the basis for an ever-increasing amount of new and exciting developments on the search engine front. Google has said many times that structured data is beneficial. Today, we’re going to look at a relatively new and exciting piece of structured data: the HowTo Schema. This is a how-to about a how-to on HowTo: HowToCeption!

Did you know Yoast SEO now comes with structured data content blocks for the WordPress block editor? You can automatically add HowTo and FAQ structured data to your content! »

What is structured data?

Structured data is a sort of translator for search engines — it adds context to code. Schema.org is a so-called vocabulary, in other words, a dictionary. By adding Schema.org search engines can instantly figure out what every piece of content means, semantically speaking. This gives search engines the power to do cool stuff with your content, like highlighted snippets in search results, the Knowledge Graph or the carousel. There’s structured data for books, articles, courses, events, jobs, local businesses, music, recipes, products, reviews et cetera. Structured data is getting more important by the day and we’ll see more types emerge in the coming years.

If you want to learn more about structured data and find out how to implement it yourself so you can win those coveted rich results, you can enroll in our Structured data training!

What is HowTo structured data?

According to Schema.org, a HowTo is “an instruction that explains how to achieve a result by performing a sequence of steps.” You can use HowTo structured data to mark up articles that come in a how-to form, but that are not recipes. If there is an element of consumption, it should be a recipe.

HowTo Schema.org was introduced in April 2017 and has now made its way to Google’s search engine. Google is always looking at structured data to do cool stuff with, so it’s easy to see why HowTo is an awesome addition to the roster. How about this, since your Google Home can now read your structured data powered recipes out loud, why shouldn’t it be able to read that how-to on how to fix a leaky faucet or change the busted lights in your kitchen cabinet? Google already has an action that works with smart displays. Google has confirmed that it supports new forms of search results snippets, like FAQs or frequently asked questions, Q&As and How-Tos.

That’s cool and all, but isn’t there a lot of code involved in building a how-to page with valid structured data? Yes, but Yoast SEO has an answer to that. Read on, my friend!

How to add HowTo structured data using the WordPress content block in Yoast SEO

Looking for an easy way to add it HowTo structured data to your WordPress site? Well, you’re in luck as we have one! In Yoast SEO, we’ve introduced the concept of structured data content blocks for WordPress’ new block editor. These blocks, including one for HowTo and FAQ structured data, automatically add the necessary code to the pieces of content that you add to this block. Of course, it validates perfectly in Google’s Structured Data Testing tool. Now adding structured data to your how-to article is as easy as filling in the fields!

Here’s how to add a how-to to your site:

  1. Open a post in the block editor or add a new one

    The HowTo content block only works in the WordPress block editor.

  2. Hit the + button and pick the Yoast SEO HowTo content block

    You can add your how-to anywhere you want.

  3. The HowTo content block appears on your screen

    In the block, you’ll find a way to add a total time it takes to do this how-to (optional), a description field, a first step and a step description. You can also add an image per step, delete it and move it up and down the list.

  4. Add the first step

    Give it a relevant, descriptive title and fill in more details for the step, if necessary. Determine if you can make the how-to step made more understandable by adding a relevant image. Sometimes, it might be better to add an image to every step.

  5. Add a second step, a third step and a fourth step

    Add as many steps as you need to get this how-to task done. Need to switch steps around? Use the little up and down arrows next to the Add image button. To delete one, simply hit the trashcan button.

  6. And the structured data? It’s added automatically!

    Really? Yup! You can test it in the Structured Data Testing Tool.

  7. Ready? Check and publish!

    Once you are done, re-read the how-to and publish when ready. Check it to see if everything is in order and easy to understand for your user. If not, make improvements.

  8. Test the how-to in Google’s Rich Results Testing Tool

    You can use Google’s Rich Results Testing Tool to see how your how-to might look in the search results. Here’s an example for our article on How to build an FAQ page.

Testing in the Structured Data Testing Tool

Here you see the result in Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool. Of course, this screenshot is truncated, as the HowTo part of the structured data is fully integrated in the graph Yoast SEO renders. This makes for a beautifully interconnected piece of code, but also very long:

A truncated screencap of the steps in the how-to

Adding structured data to your site with WordPress or Google Tag Manager

In general, adding structured data requires you to edit the code of your pages. For most people, that requires help of their developers. As you see, there is an easier way. Yoast SEO adds a lot of structured data by itself, but you can also add structured data via the dedicated Yoast SEO structured data content blocks for the block editor.

In addition, or if you don’t use WordPress, you can add structured data via the tags, triggers and variables available in Google Tag manager. What’s more, this way of adding your data gives you an extra amount of flexibility as you can save your variables and reuse them or even dynamically fill them. There are loads of options to explore. Annelieke wrote a post on how to add structured data to your site with Google Tag Manager.

Read our Yoast SEO Schema documentation to see how we work with structured data and how you can extend this.

It’s easy to build a how-to with valid structured data

This was cool, right? Well, you can use this for yourself, but keep in mind that it might take a while for search engines to pick this up. Even then, it’s hard to predict if search engines will do anything at all with your structured data. Using the various testing tools give you a good idea of validity of your structured data, but if it leads rich results is up to search engines!

Read more: Structured data: the ultimate guide »

The post How to add HowTo Schema to your how-to article appeared first on Yoast.

How to Yoast your post

Do you want your articles to be as well optimized as possible? Do you aim for that number 1 position in the search results? And do you madly chase traffic and clicks? It’s not easy to achieve all these things entirely on your own, but luckily, Yoast is here to help. In this post, we’ll talk you to the process of optimizing your post in the best possible way. We’ll explain the five steps on how to Yoast your post.

Writing comes first, Yoast comes second

Optimizing your post is important, but should never come first. Writing has three phases. It doesn’t really matter if you’re writing a blog post or an article, or a novel even. First, you prepare, then you write and finally you edit. In that final editing phase, you will be able to Yoast your post.

Preparation is key

Before you start writing an article you should ask yourself some questions: What will be the main message of your post? What do you want to tell people? And: who are my readers? What search terms do I want to be found for?

You need to know who you are writing for and what their goal, or search intent is. What does that mean for the keywords you should use to be found in the search engines? You should take some time to think about what you want to tell your audience and what the structure of your text will look like. Preparing your blog post is crucial. If you do not think about these questions long and hard, you’ll make mistakes like addressing the wrong audience, focusing on the wrong keywords or writing an article that’s badly structured and unfocused.

Write your content

After you’ve thoroughly prepared your blog post or article, you can start the writing phase. Make sure to start with filling out your focus key phrases and synonyms. What are the terms you want to be found for?

Writing should be something you just do. In the preparing-phase you have thought about what you’re going to write, so, in the writing phase, you should just go with the flow. Don’t overthink. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. You’ll have the third – and most important phase- to correct and Yoast your post.

Editing: let’s Yoast it!

In the final phase, the editing phase, you’ll be able to really Yoast your post. So, let’s look at the five steps you should take in order to optimize your post to the max.

  1. Make sure your text is readable

    The first step on how to Yoast your post is to check out our readability analysis. You could keep an eye on our readability analysis during your writing phase too, if you like. If your overall readability analysis is green, you’re good to go. But, perhaps, you use sentences that are a little bit too long. Or, you have been using the passive voice too often. Correct those readability issues and make your text nice and easy to read. Check out our article about the readability analysis for more tips.

  2. Check out your snippet preview

    You want people to click on your results in the search result pages. In order to make your result stand out, you need to write a kickass meta description. Let people know they’ll find what they’re looking for on your site! So make an effort and choose a title and a meta description that really stands out. Read our article on how to use Yoast SEO to write an awesome meta description if you want more practical tips.

  3. Which SEO bullets need improvement?

    The third step on how to Yoast your post is to check out the SEO analysis. Which aspects of your SEO need improvement? Perhaps you should use your keyword or its synonym a bit more often? Or maybe you’re already overdoing it? What about headings and images?

    Check out the problems and improvements the Yoast SEO analysis indicates. Usually, you can easily make some tweaks that’ll make your copy a little better optimized for the search engines. But don’t overdo it! You do not need all green bullets. If your overall SEO bullet is green, you’re good to go!

  4. Add those internal links

    To really Yoast your post, we would advise you to take some time to think about your internal linking structure and to work on improving it. Are you linking to your most important articles? Are you linking to the articles that are most closely related to the article you’re currently writing? Make sure your site structure is tip-top. This will pay off in terms of rankings. Read more about the power of internal linking in our article about why you should use Yoast internal linking.

  5. Read and reread!

    Our SEO analysis is a tool. It is not just any tool, we’ve thoroughly evaluated all of the checks in a recent recalibration project. That being said, it remains a tool. You should always think for yourself. Read your blog post after you’re done editing and optimizing. Reread it. Let other people read it. That’s the final step to get your blog post to that next level.

Yoast your post

Writing is hard. Optimizing your post is hard. Yoast tries to make it a bit more easy for you. We’ll check things and make suggestions for improvements. We’ll help you to Yoast your post. But in the end, it’ll always remain hard work.

Good luck! Let’s Yoast it!

The post How to Yoast your post appeared first on Yoast.

Yoast SEO 11.6: HowTo Schema update and UI changes

Yoast SEO 11.6 is out today. Of course, we did the regular round of bug fixing, but the focus of this release is two-fold: a new, much easier to use tabbed interface for the meta box and an updated HowTo structured data content block for WordPress. Find out all about Yoast SEO 11.6!

Looking for an extra pair of hands to help you improve your site? Yoast SEO Premium is all you need. Get it now for 11.6% off! »

UX improvements to the meta box

This summer, we’re steadily improving the user interface and user experience of the Yoast SEO meta box. As this is the spot where you probably spend quite some time, we have an obligation to make it easy to use and discover.

After moving the focus keyphrase field to the top of the meta box in Yoast SEO 11.3 and introducing the new mobile snippet preview in Yoast SEO 11.4, you’ll now find a new menu at the top of the box, including a new set of tabs. As of today, this is how the meta box looks in the Classic Editor:

In Yoast SEO 11.6, you’ll notice that we’ve changed the old vertical alignment of menu items to a horizontal one. This makes it easier on the eyes and improves the findability of the features.

In addition, you’ll notice that the old content optimization tab in the meta box is now two tabs: one called SEO and the other Readability. Both have smiley icons that light up showing you the status of that particular post. The naming of the tabs should be self-explanatory, but inside the SEO tab you’ll find the snippet preview and SEO-related checks. The Readability tab has everything related to improving the language of your post.

Look forward to more graphical changes soon!

Revamped HowTo structured data implementation

The free Yoast SEO structured data content blocks for the WordPress block editor make it incredibly easy for you to add specific content with automatically attached Schema structured data. Want to build an FAQ and get those cool new featured snippets from Google? Use our FAQ content block. Want to enhance your how-to guides with valid structured data and build a page without breaking a sweat? Use our HowTo content blocks.

In Yoast SEO 11.6, you’ll see that the new HowTo blocks are nicely following Google’s latest changes. In addition, all the structured data code generated will now also end up in the graph of your website. This tells search engines that your how-to page is connected to the rest of your site. For more information on this, please see the Yoast SEO 11.0 release post or read our Schema documentation.

An empty HowTo content block in the block editor. Just fill in the fields to get going

Schema fixes

The updated HowTo content blocks are the star of this release, but we’ve also fixed several Schema related bugs. For instance, we fixed a bug where the Schema @id for Person turned out to be incorrect on posts when author archives where disabled, or the one where the Schema would contain WebPage instead of CollectionPage for a latest posts homepage and the static posts page type. Another one concerned a bug where the Organization and Article Schema nodes outputted incorrectly when a website didn’t set the name and/or logo of the organization.

Security fix

Yoast SEO 11.6 also fixes a security issue regarding term pages in WordPress. Unfiltered code was allowed in some fields. This, however, does not pose a problem for single user sites. In specific cases, on multisite installs, this might become an issue because of the way user roles function.

Update to Yoast SEO 11.6

Yoast SEO 11.6 brings more structured data enhancements, including a much improved HowTo structured data content block. We’re continuing our work on the Schema standard and hope to have more to show soon. Don’t forget to check out the blocks.

The post Yoast SEO 11.6: HowTo Schema update and UI changes appeared first on Yoast.

WP-CLI webinar, Post Status Notes, Google Site kit, and more plugin news

Last week was a busy week, with lots of things happening in the WordPress Community. Which means several different news items to cover today! We’ve got an awesome webinar and two cool plugins to discuss and that’s not all… Let’s get started!

WP-CLI webinar

WP-CLI is the command line interface for common WordPress tasks and more. I discussed WP-CLI in a previous post, which you can read if you haven’t heard of it. Alain Schlesser, who is the main developer on the project, will do a live webinar tomorrow, together with SiteGround. You still have time to sign up and it’ll be the best way to learn about this wonderful tool and how to use it.

Post Status Notes now free

Post Status, most commonly known for their wonderful newsletter and Slack Community, announced that they have opened up their Notes section on their website. It is this Notes section that powers their newsletter. I highly recommend to check it out if you’re looking for even more WordPress news.

FullPage plugin for Gutenberg

Ever since WordPress’ new block editor launched, at the end of last year, we’re seeing more and more projects interact with it. Last week, I discovered a plugin that allows you to create a full-screen page in Gutenberg. This looks like an interesting approach to create landing pages with the block editor. If you haven’t seen it, I’d suggest you take a look at the video here.

Rediscover microblogging

Microblogging (which is, basically, a way for you to own your short-form content) is very easy to do on platforms like Twitter or Instagram. However, in the world of WordPress, it has become a little cumbersome to log in, go to posts, start a draft, write a few sentences and then go through the publish flow. msgWP is working on a solution for this, by using Telegram messages to be published straight to your WordPress blog. They’ve not yet released their plugin yet, but you can try their demo to see what it’s like.

Google launches Site Kit

Google announced the developer preview of Google Site Kit on Github. It’s launching the plugin on Github first, to allow WordPress developers to test-drive the plugin and try out Site Kit’s compatibility with other plugins. Site Kit was announced at WordCamp US 2018, and aims to bring all of Google’s relevant products together in one environment. If you want to take the plugin for a spin, find it on GitHub here.

The post WP-CLI webinar, Post Status Notes, Google Site kit, and more plugin news appeared first on Yoast.

The Yoast SEO configuration wizard

Have you ever done a fresh install of Yoast SEO for WordPress on your WordPress website? Or perhaps you haven’t installed Yoast SEO yet, and you’re wondering what to expect? Perhaps the better question would be: have you ever tried our Yoast SEO configuration wizard? Our wizard takes care of all the little things that you should configure in Yoast SEO. Things that you might forget in your eagerness to get started with your newly set up website. But how do you start the configuration wizard? And what exactly do we cover in each step? Let’s dive in!

Where can I find the Yoast SEO configuration wizard?

Of course, you want to jump right in and configure the plugin, using that Yoast SEO configuration wizard. Once you have installed the Yoast SEO plugin, you’ll see this notification in Yoast SEO > General > Dashboard:

The configuration wizard helps you to easily configure your site to have the optimal SEO settings.
We have detected that you have not finished this wizard yet, so we recommend you to start the configuration wizard to configure Yoast SEO.

There is a link in this message, which takes you to the Yoast SEO configuration wizard.

Configuration wizard notification in Yoast SEO dashboard

Note that if this isn’t the first time you’re using the configuration wizard, you’ll still find a link to run the wizard again, but the message will instead say:

Want to make sure your Yoast SEO settings are still OK? Open the configuration wizard again to validate them.

The wizard

Once you’ve opened the wizard, we’ll guide you through the steps via a few questions. If you answer these, we’ll implement the right settings for your website, based specifically on your answers.

Step 1: Is your site ready to be indexed?

Yoast SEO configuration wizard step 1

The first question determines whether you want your site to be indexed or not. The reason we ask, is that one of the most important checks in our plugin determines whether Google can index your site or not. Google needs to be able to reach your website and index it, unless you don’t want that. And there could be good reasons why you might not want that: perhaps you’re working on a development site, on a staging server or just don’t want the public to see your site yet. If that’s the case, no problem! Just set your preference in the first step of our wizard, then click ‘next’ to continue.

Step 2: What kind of site do you have?

Yoast SEO configuration wizard step 2

In the next step, we will ask you about the type of site you have. It could be a blog or an online shop, but might as well be a news site or a portfolio.

One of the reasons we ask this question is because it’s essential for you to take a moment and think about this. What is your site about? Having a clear idea of this will help you focus on what’s important for you site.

Let’s take yoast.com, for example. We have two different sections on our website yoast.com:

  • Our blogs: an SEO blog and a dev blog. In these blogs, we share knowledge about both SEO and software development in all its facets.
  • Our online shop. We run an online shop and you’ll find our premium plugins and online courses in there.

Following our mission, “SEO for everyone”, both parts of our website are equally important. Sharing knowledge is our main goal. We use our products to provide even more insights and tools, or to deliver our knowledge to you in a structured package.

So, decide for yourself what your answer to this question should be. That’ll make it easier to configure several features of our plugin and, in fact, of your website later on. For us, as plugin developers, the information we get from this question is also useful for future improvements. For instance, it can help us to prioritize future additions to our plugin for specific types of sites.

Step 3: Is it you or an organization?

Yoast SEO configuration wizard step 3

For the right metadata, we ask you to choose between organization and person here. Is your website about you, or an organization you represent? If you are a person, we would like to include your name. If you are a company, you can add the name and logo.

This information will be included in the metadata of your website, with the goal to provide Google with the right information for their Knowledge Graph. The Knowledge Graph is the block of information you see on the right-hand side of the search results, for instance when you do a company search for Sony or Apple.

In addition to your name or company name, we also ask you to let us know which social profiles you have. Again, so we can provide Google with the right information for their Knowledge Graph. Google seems keen on delivering answers to their visitors right away, so you’d better make sure your information is on Google.

With social being a part of the Knowledge Graph, and your website being linked on all your social profile pages, be sure to fill this out as completely as possible.

Step 4: To show or not show posts and pages

Yoast SEO configuration wizard step 4

The description in the image below is pretty clear: this is where you can set posts and pages to hidden or visible for the search engines. If you already know that you don’t want posts on your site to show up in the search results, you can set this to ‘no’. Not sure? Read more about indexing in Yoast SEO.

Step 5: How many people are publishing content on your site?

Yoast SEO configuration wizard step 5

We want to know if your website has multiple authors. There’s a reason for that: when your site only has one author, WordPress will still generate author pages. And if you write all the content on your blog yourself, your blog page will show the exact same collection of posts as your author page. Which, indeed, is duplicate content.

We call something duplicate content when the majority of a page is the same as the content on another page. Google will get confused, won’t know what page to rank first, and might decide to rank both a bit less. You obviously want to prevent that. As we can guide you in this case, we added this check to our Yoast SEO configuration wizard.

Step 6: Optimizing your page title

This step in the wizard asks you to think about your branding. The website name you enter here is the name that our default page title template will put at the end of each page title. The default page title template looks like this:
title - page - sep - sitename

Yoast SEO configuration wizard step 6

The last part of that template is sitename, and that’s what you fill out here. Be sure to add it, but keep it short, so the focus will be on the page or post title. It’s nice to have some of your branding in here so people will recognize your pages in the search result pages. If they already know you and your site, they’re more likely to click on one of your links.

The third part of the page template is sep, which stands for separator. A page title that follows our template could be “Some title of a post – Yoast”. The hyphen in there is the separator you set at this step in the Yoast SEO configuration wizard. Using an uncommon separator might make you stand out from your competitors in the search result pages. You could also choose to pick the smallest separator, to squeeze in another character or two.

Read more: Titles and meta variables in Yoast SEO »

Step 7: Awesome tips and new products in your inbox

Yoast SEO configuration wizard step 7

As SEO is an ongoing process, our goal is to keep you up-to-date on any changes in Google’s search result pages or Google’s algorithm. We do that by posting on our SEO blog, but also with our newsletter. In the newsletter, we highlight new developments in search, in WordPress, and in our company – if relevant. Simply insert your email address, and we’ll keep you in the loop on all things SEO!

Step 8: Upsell: you might like…

Call it whatever you want (upsell, spam, useful information), but we have to tell you about our premium plugin in our configuration. Because we deliver incredibly useful SEO extras with that premium plugin, for a reasonable price. To name but a few:

  • Better keyword optimization, because you can optimize not only for your focus keyword, but also for synonyms, and taking word forms into account.
  • What about a redirect manager? We’ll not only show you your 404s, but will also make it very easy to redirect, and thereby fix them.
  • Social previews, so you’ll know exactly what your website will show on Facebook and Twitter, and the option to tweak that.
  • A year of updates for all premium features, so your entire plugin will always be 100% up-to-date.
  • Email support for as long as you have Premium. This means you can email our 24/7 support team with any questions you have about the plugin.
Yoast SEO Configuration wizard step 8

In addition, we offer some hands-on online courses to improve your SEO game even more. Be sure to check them out; you can always decide later which SEO aspects you want more guidance on.

Step 9: Get started with the Yoast SEO and readability analysis

All the steps above have one goal: prepare you and your website for SEO. But while this wizard will help you get the general settings of your plugin right, your job optimizing your content is far from done.

Yoast SEO configuration wizard step 9

If you have used our plugin before, you’ll know it also analyses your content in real time, while you write your posts or pages. On the page/post edit screen, where you write your content, you’ll find this analysis in the sidebar and the so-called meta box. For more insights into how to use the SEO and readability analysis, we finish our Yoast SEO configuration wizard with a helpful video. It tells you more about that specific part of the plugin, so you don’t just set it and forget it. Be sure to watch that video!

The configuration wizard makes things easier for everyone

Now you know why you should give our Yoast SEO configuration wizard a spin, and why it asks certain questions. The wizard’s got you covered by setting things correctly under the hood of your website, so you can focus your efforts on optimizing your content.

Ready for the next step in using Yoast SEO? Check out our beginner’s guide to Yoast SEO. And, if you want to learn all the ins and outs of our plugin, get the Yoast SEO for WordPress training!

The post The Yoast SEO configuration wizard appeared first on Yoast.

15 questions about ranking factors – Yoast webinar recap

People are always talking about ranking factors. You know, the secret ingredients to Google’s magic algorithmic formula. If you know them and find a way to please these factors, you’re well on your way to that coveted number one spot — or so people seem to think. In general, chasing all these individual ranking factors is not a good tactic. Focusing on building the best site is. We thought it’d be a cool idea to play a game of “is-a-ranking-factor” in our latest webinar. Here are the results!

Haven’t watched the webinar?

If you haven’t watched the ranking factor webinar, please do. Jono Alderson gives an incredible introduction to ranking factors, why people are talking about it, and what we should be talking about. After that, Jono and Joost get to pick cards with questions about possible ranking factors. Their answers are very insightful! You can find it on YouTube and embedded below.

The ranking factor FAQ

To guide you through this minefield, we collected some of the ranking factors we mentioned on the show in this FAQ. Let’s kick things off with an answer to the question: What are ranking factors?

What are ranking factors?

Ranking factors are all the elements that search engines take into account to rank a specific page in the search results. This concerns technical considerations, content quality, site structure, links, user signals, user experience, reputation and many, many other elements. The number of factors that search engines take into account is unknown but run in the hundreds and maybe thousands.

Is user experience a ranking factor?

Joost de Valk: User experience is a ranking factor. User experience, however, is not something you can rate on a 0 to 10 scale. The problematic thing with a lot of these factors is that they’re all both direct and indirect ranking factors. If your user experience is horrible, no one will ever link to you. If your user experience is excellent, probably more people are willing to recommend you to their friends, search for you again and go back to your website. All these things tie in together.

If UX is a ranking factor how does Google determine that?

Jono Alderson: This is interesting because they’re not on your site measuring your site are they? So there’s a lot of conspiracy theories that they might read your Google Analytics or insights from Chrome, but that’s probably not true. What they are looking at when they visit your site is content, structure, speed, layout, color schemes et cetera. Not only that, but they’re also looking for those critical short clicks, bounce backs and pogo-sticking. They do check if people visit five other web sites when they visit this one. They’re analyzing their own search results. But it’s hard for them to quantify UX because they’re not there. They’re trying to work it out from the outside in.

Is word count a ranking factor?

Jono: There’s not one true answer for this. The point is, you need the right amount of content for answering the question that the user has. There’s no answer to how many words a post should need. There’s no obvious maximum and more isn’t necessarily better but more than enough is a good answer. If you can write 500 words on a topic and that feels right, then definitely don’t stop at 200. But in some cases, a short answer is what you want. 

Joost: At some point, I chose to put a minimum word count into Yoast SEO for a reason. I think most algorithms still need a bit of content to be able to determine a topic. If you don’t have enough content, then determining a topic becomes very hard. So don’t get too hung up about an absolute amount.

Is the weather a ranking factor?

Joost: If you think about this you’d say no, of course not. The weather doesn’t impact rankings. That’s true, not directly. But if you sell air-conditioning, people search differently during a heat wave than in regular weather conditions. Now, they’re looking for “ships today” or “delivered by tomorrow.” So it’s an outside factor. The weather influences the way people click. It changes their behavior and that click behavior can dramatically impact rankings quite quickly. All because of how Google works with these things. So the weather can influence rankings, but the question is can you play into it in a good way. That’s probably a lot harder, although not impossible.

Is bold text a ranking factor?

Jono: I think once upon a time somebody thought it was. People thought it was a good idea to put the keywords they want to rank for in bold because Google would  “recognize” those and deem them important. I don’t think it ever worked like that. Somehow, there are still people doing it. Maybe it correlates as being a _bad_ ranking factor. If you’re bolding your keywords instead of thinking about how to make this text good and readable, you’re probably making things worse.

Is bounce rate a ranking factor?

Joost: I think that bounce rate is a result of a lot of things happening on your site. It’s a very measurable thing and it’s one of the results of good user experience. Bounce rate is often misunderstood. There’s a couple of different things at play here. People search, then click on your website and going back to the search results and click on the next result. They didn’t find a result they liked so they bounced back to SERPs. This is called pogo-sticking and I think that is an important thing to look at.

It’s also about bounce rate in general, because there might be a certain number of people who come to your site and immediately click away because of whatever it is you have on your site, whether that is a pop-up or you have a horrible design. Fixing your bounce rate by genuinely improving your site is helpful and it will help you regardless of whether your rankings get better. 

Jono: Obviously, there are scenarios where bounce rate is fine. If you have a great article that answers the question the user has they come to read it and go away. That’s not a bad experience, because that’s what we want to happen. Plus, there’s something worth dwelling on here, which is the mental model we all have that somebody searches something and then clicks on a result isn’t how people behave. They search than change their search, they search again, they click on five different results and they see all these different brands and all these different pages and it’s that experience that decides whether they bounce and how they feel about the experience. That’s how we need to be thinking about search and optimizing. It’s not just why did they bounce from my site, but what was their experience and what role did I play in it.

Is site speed a ranking factor?

Jono: Yes, site speed is a ranking factor. Google has confirmed in various publications that site speed affects the ranking position of your site. Now they do say that’s only the case when you are very slow, so it only affects a tiny percentage. But site speed is a huge part of user experience. All research says that people prefer fast web sites. So even if site speed isn’t a huge ranking factor the experience users have of your site is. It means they’re more likely to read, less likely to bounce, more likely to link, etc. It is a huge part of user experience.

Is having a meta description a ranking factor?

Joost: The question is, does having a meta description by itself make you rank better? I don’t know whether we can answer that with a yes or no. If you’re lucky, your pages get a meta description in the search results underneath the title of your site. If you’re lucky, because in a lot of cases Google will show something else. So changing it might not directly impact what’s shown there. If it’s shown there and it’s good, it might influence the CTR from the SERPs to your website. So it might influence the number of people reaching your site, therefore, it might help your rankings overall et cetera.

Is having a progressive web app (PWA) a ranking factor?

Jono: Regarding progressive web apps, if you do it well and you take advantage of the technology, maybe that will affect your rankings, but is it a ranking factor? You might become eligible for rich results or use functionality that’s integrated into the search results. You might get the ability to book your restaurant directly from the search results, which might mean more people have a good experience, which gets you more good reviews, which might make you rank higher. It’s a technological platform, it’s not a thing that ranks you better or not but it unlocks capabilities for sure.

Can Google understand text and evaluate the quality of a text?

Marieke: I do think that Google knows what quality text is. They employ linguists. They know about language. They know that people can only have twenty words in their short-term memory, so longer sentences will be hard to read.

Joost: One of the things that our linguistic team learned while doing research, is that it’s hard to get the topic out of a text if the text is poorly written. So even if a text is more eloquent and uses more fancy words, it might actually be harder to figure out what the text is about. I think that good, readable and understandable text has a higher chance of getting Google to understand what it’s about.

Does CSS styling or the visual layout of the page influence ranking?

Jono: Google tries to understand pages like humans do. They have a famous patent called The Reasonable Surfer. Here, they look at the layout of the page and try to assess what’s what. They know that a link in a photo is probably less relevant than a link in the header. They go further than that. We know they render the page, we know they process and parse all the CSS, we know that broken layouts and hiding things impact things. So yeah, they are looking at the design. How that manifests in the system: who knows. Your CSS might impact your rankings. So if you have an ugly shade of pink as the background for your page or all your stuff is moving or half of it is invisible, that’s an issue.

Is having multiple languages a ranking factor if you offer products in more than one language?

Joost: I don’t think it’s necessarily a ranking factor. I do think that if you do all the technical stuff around multilingual SEO well and you have a page ranking well in English and you have a page in Spanish then the fact that you have an English page that hreflangs correctly to that Spanish page might be helping that Spanish page. In that case, it’s not the fact that you have multiple languages, but it’s the fact that you have multiple places in which you can rank and gather links and whatnot. Having a translated version of your website can be beneficial.

All this talk about ranking factors and no mention of links?

Joost: I still feel that links are the result of other stuff you do. So if you do PR well, if you do your marketing well, if you do a lot of these things and then you get links as a result. It is important to remember that the time of getting links artificially is over. At least for the English-speaking market and maybe in a few other languages. Unfortunately, in other languages, like in Dutch, getting a ton of spammy links still works when the other sites aren’t very good. When you have strong competition it becomes impossible to rank against them.

A final note on ranking factors

When Google was much simpler, it was easy to spot the specific tactics or patterns which you could use to get ahead of the competition. You could tweak your page titles, get some more links and what not. But that’s not how it works anymore — Google is too sophisticated. The secret is to focus less on all these individual tactics and focus more on becoming the best result for your users.

Google doesn’t want site owners trying to reverse-engineer how they rank sites. They simply want better sites. They want better results for their users and that makes it harder to know what will have impact and what not. It also means that you’ll almost always benefit from improving your site. Understand your audience and solve their problems.

We don’t want to say that ranking factors don’t exist. They do exist. They’re real, but we are saying that if you’re focusing on which ranking factors you should be optimizing for you’re probably missing the big picture. You need to work on the overall quality of your website. Every one of your pages has to be awesome and there’s no faking that. You have to be the best result for each phrase you want to be found for. Getting all of that right requires a lot of hard work and a holistic approach to SEO.

The post 15 questions about ranking factors – Yoast webinar recap appeared first on Yoast.

What is an exit survey and why should you use it?

When you’ve welcomed your visitors to your website, you want them to stay and to hang around and, eventually, you want them to convert. Converting could mean subscribing to your newsletter, making an appointment or buying one of your products. Or maybe you have a totally different goal for your website. 

But what do you do when visitors leave your website without completing your main goal? How do you find out why they are leaving? Is it a lack of information or is your product too expensive? To find out, you could set up an exit survey and add it to your website. In this blog post, we’ll tell you how.

What is an exit survey?

An exit survey is the type of survey you show visitors when they are about to leave your website. For example, you can make the survey pop up when a visitor moves their mouse cursor upwards and towards their browser toolbar. This is usually the moment that people leave your site. 

At that time, you can ask your visitors why they are leaving. It’s very valuable to get information about why people leave your website and why they didn’t complete your website’s goal or a page specific goal. 

Are visitors leaving my website quickly?

To find out if your website’s content meets the needs of your visitors, the first step is looking into your data. In Google Analytics, you can easily see what pages or posts have the highest bounce rate and what pages or posts have the highest exit rate:

In this example, you could set up an exit survey for the 2 pages with both high bounce rates and high exit rates. However, if you take a closer look at such pages, sometimes the high bounce rates or exit rates can easily be explained. Looking at our own Yoast.com website, quite a few blog posts have high bounce rates and exit rates. This often means that visitors were looking for specific information and found the information in the first blog post and then left. In this case, a high bounce rate or exit rate isn’t always bad. Of course, we work on different aspects of those posts to make visitors click to other pages and posts too, but the priority isn’t that high.

What pages should you start with?

Looking at the data, you could categorize some of your website’s pages or posts. At Yoast.com, we’ve sometimes grouped several blog posts to get more responses in a short time. If you have similar content, you could do this too. For example, when you’re running a shop, you could run an exit survey on all your category pages to find out what visitors think of those pages.

Think of what pages bring the most benefit for your company and start with those. For example, when over 50% of your visitors leaves the cart before finishing the order, you’re missing out on revenue. So, you’ll understand why you should choose the pages that have the highest priority for your website.

Exit survey questions

What questions you ask depends on the type of page. Think of the main goal of your page and what information you want from visitors leaving this page. Here are some examples per type of page:

Cart

  • What’s preventing you from completing your purchase today?
  • Do you have any questions before completing your purchase?

Product page

  • What information is missing or would make your decision to buy easier?
  • What is your biggest concern about purchasing this product?

After a purchase

  • Was there anything about our checkout process we could improve?
  • Which other options did you consider before choosing (product name)?

Informational page/blog post

  • Were you able to find the information you were looking for today?
  • How likely are you to recommend us to a friend or colleague and why?

Hopefully, you’ll now have some inspiration to get started!

What to do with all the answers

Maybe you’ve read our blog post about top task surveys as well. In that article, we’ve explained what steps you need to take to analyze all the answers you get from an online survey.

The approach for an exit survey doesn’t differ much from the top task survey analysis. In short:

  1. Categorize the answers
  2. Discover the biggest problems
  3. Set up an action plan
  4. Make improvements to the specific pages -A/B test the improvements when your website is big enough-
  5. Keep an eye on the results!

Tools to start your own exit surveys

There are several tools that allow you to create a survey like this. We’re currently using Hotjar, but we’re planning to create our own design and implement it with Google Tag Manager. Other tools we know for setting up online surveys are:

On their sites, they offer a clear explanation of how to use these tools to perform an exit survey.

Have you ever set up an exit survey on your own website? If so, were you surprised by the answers? Let us know!

The post What is an exit survey and why should you use it? appeared first on Yoast.

Gutenberg 6.0, WPGraphQL, and WP Engine news

WordPress 5.2.2 launched last week, but of course, that wasn’t the only news happening. There was a lot going on in the world of WordPress as it was the week of the largest WordCamp Europe (over 2800 attended!). Let’s see what happened this last week!

Gutenberg 6.0

The Gutenberg project kept publishing improvement after improvement and it saw the release of version 6.0 last week. The most important new features are the polished Widgets screen and an improved Group block. This release also features a layout picker for the Columns block, allowing the user to choose from pre-defined layouts or to start from scratch.

Diving deeper into WPGraphQL

A couple of months ago, in a previous roundup, I mentioned the WPGraphQL project. And, a few of you reached out to me privately about that. Particularly about what the project aims to do and how to use it with WordPress. Now, I could, of course, write out an extensive explanation of what the possibilities are, but why bother if there’s a great video that does all the explaining for me:

To demonstrate that the WPGraphQL project is getting a lot of traction, Jason Bahl, the lead developer working on the project, announced that he’ll be joining the Gatsby team to work on the WPGraphQL project full-time.

Post Status Online event

Post Status, of PostStatus fame, has announced their first online conference. They’re going to stream 14 presentations which will also be downloadable. It’s also a great opportunity to chat with like-minded folks. Post Status Publish focuses on web professionals and will take place on July 8 & 9. You can learn more about the event here.

WP Engine news

One of the most prominent managed WordPress hosting companies out there, WP Engine, had a lot to share over the last couple of weeks. First, they launched DevKit, a WordPress local development environment and build toolkit, that seamlessly works with WP Engine and encourages better and faster code. Go check it out if you haven’t yet. It’s a pretty cool tool.

They also announced them acquiring another respected WordPress hosting company called Flywheel. Pretty big news in the world of WordPress hosting companies.

Bonus links

The post Gutenberg 6.0, WPGraphQL, and WP Engine news appeared first on Yoast.