Pop-Up Livestream on February 22

As mentioned in this post, Matt will host a livestream on February 22 during Bangkok daylight hours. He opened an invitation to any speaker who was affected by the cancellation, and the livestream will include the following fine people: Imran Sayed, Md Saif Hassan, Muhammad Muhsin, Nirav Mehta, Piccia Neri, Umar Draz, and Francesca Marano as well as a Fireside Chat and Q&A with Matt Mullenweg & Monisha Varadan.

This should be a great way to get to hear from some speakers who have yet to share their knowledge on a global stage. WordPress is enriched by a multitude of experiences and perspectives, and I hope you are as excited as I am to hear new voices from a part of the world that is frequently underrepresented in the WordPress open source project. 

Also exciting, the WordCamp Asia team has announced that they’re aiming for January 2021, so please mark your calendars now! This small but mighty team of trailblazing organizers has shown great resilience over the years they’ve spent, building toward this event. I am personally grateful for the hard work they’ve done and have yet to do, and can’t wait to thank them in Bangkok next year.

Timeless SEO tips: 6 universal SEO tactics that never go out of fashion

Things are always on the move in the SEO world. Google regularly updates its algorithm and the competition is never far behind. So if you’re not sure about the latest best-practices, wouldn’t it be nice to have a list of timeless SEO improvements to focus on? We thought it might be! Arm yourself with these timeless SEO tactics and you’ll never go wrong.

1. Stay on the light side

If you’re desperate for quick results, you may be tempted to use blackhat SEO tactics. Well, don’t! Never, ever buy links, try to trick search engines or visitors with redirects or spam links on other sites. It may work for a short while, but search engines actively discourage this kind of thing, so it always backfires in the end and harms your rankings. You don’t want those tricks or bought links coming back to haunt you, do you?

Here at Yoast, we advocate Holistic SEO, which means you need to be the best result! Give your visitors high-quality content, a great user experience and a secure, technically superior website. It may take more time and effort, but it’s much more sustainable in the long run. Let’s take link building as an example: approached holistically, you produce quality content that people actually want to share. You can then reach out to relevant websites to see if they’ll consider linking to you. The links you’ll get this way will be much more valuable than any link you can buy. So go the extra mile and stay on the light side of SEO. Your website will benefit in the long run.

2. Optimize your site speed

In SEO, faster is better. We’re pretty confident that this will always be the case, as people expect to get content served to them quickly. Nobody likes waiting, even for a split second, so it always pays to invest time in improving your site’s speed.

There are several ways to speed up your WordPress site. We can’t cover them all in this article, but a good start is to install a caching plugin. This keeps static parts of your site saved on your server, and serves users these lighter HTML pages instead of processing the relatively resource-intensive WordPress PHP scripts. There are both free and paid caching plugins available and they can significantly speed up your site.

Read more: Improving site speed: tools and suggestions »

Images are another factor that’s often overlooked as people build their website. Big, high definition images will take a long time to load, while most of the time, a lower resolution image will do just fine. Always take the time to resize your images using an image optimization plugin.

And a final speed optimization tip: if your visitors come from all over the world, it may be worthwhile to use a CDN (or Content Delivery Network). It’ll direct visitors to the servers closest to their location, thereby greatly improving loading times. 

3. Work on excellent content

Another timeless SEO tip: don’t compromise on the quality of your content. Create the best quality content that you can, and consistently review and improve on it wherever possible. SEO isn’t just about improving your website, it’s also about beating the competition. In many cases, this means content that’s only ‘good enough’ simply won’t do. You have to demonstrate your expertise and stand out from the crowd. That means a big investment of time and effort; research into your topic, your audience and what they’re looking for.

Keep reading: It’s not enough to ‘write content’-you have to publish resources »

You may not always be able to do this right away, which is why you need to keep improving your articles, so they become valuable resources for your audience. How? Well, that all depends on your topic and what you’re trying to achieve. It’s always a good idea to ask yourself whether your questions would be answered by visiting your pages, and whether it aligns with what you’re seeing in the search results. These next tips will also help you improve the overall quality of your content.

4. Keep your audience in mind

Whether the aim of your website is to help you sell your product, or to attract followers for your blog posts, you will only succeed if you focus on what your audience wants and needs. That’s something that isn’t going to change, as search engines always aim to give users what they’re looking for. This is evident from the growing importance of search intent, so doing keyword research without first considering search intent is no longer an option. Are you really offering searchers what they’re looking for when they type in their search term -your keyword? Are they looking for information or to take action, and what do they need from you? Take a good look at the search results for your keywords to answer those questions.

There’s another reason to really focus on what your audience needs: the competition for people’s attention is fierce. So users can be picky, and they want to know whether you can solve their problem, or what they will get out of reading your blog post. They don’t much care about your product-related jargon, or why you want them to read your blog post. So, don’t overlook your visitor’s perspective in your SEO copy. That also includes not writing too much ‘I’ in your content. Make it about your user, not yourself!

Read on: Engaging your online audience: 8 practical tips »

5. Improve your internal linking structure

It’s always a good idea to make it easy for search engines to crawl your site to work out which articles are most important and to help your users find what they’re looking for. That’s why you can’t go wrong by improving your internal linking structure. Make sure that your most important articles also have the most internal links pointing to them. And don’t forget to add links to your most recent posts, to avoid orphaned content. It’s key to make sure that links are relevant to the context of a post or they won’t make sense to either the search engine or the user.

6. Keep your content well-maintained

A final timeless SEO tip: staying on top of your content maintenance always pays off. Not only will you save yourself the effort of cleaning up a load of posts in one go, but your content also stays fresh and relevant. Both search engines and users like that! What’s more, keeping track of your content and the topics it covers helps you avoid keyword cannibalization. And, you don’t want to impair your own chances of ranking by offering too much similar, competing content.

Of course, cleaning up is not generally people’s favorite task, so this is easier said than done. It helps to approach things systematically. Do a site search for one of your most important keywords and see what comes up. Do articles overlap, and do you still need to keep everything? How are pages performing? You’ll probably see some articles that can be deleted or merged. Doing this regularly helps to keep on top of things.

Timeless SEO: Be the best result! 

In the end, these timeless SEO tips boil down to the same thing: if you want to rank, you need to put effort into being the best result. Search engines may change their algorithms, but they ultimately want to offer their users what they’re looking for: high quality content that’s up to date and served on a fast loading website with no dirty tricks. It may seem like a lot of work, but at least it’s a clear objective to work on, right? So, let’s get on with it!

Keep on reading: WordPress SEO: the definitive guide »

The post Timeless SEO tips: 6 universal SEO tactics that never go out of fashion appeared first on Yoast.

WordPress 5.4 Beta 2

WordPress 5.4 Beta 2 is now available!

This software is still in development, so we don’t recommend running it on a production site. Consider setting up a test site to play with the new version.

You can test WordPress 5.4 beta 2 in two ways:

WordPress 5.4 is slated for release on March 31, 2020, and we need your help to get there!

Thank you to all of the contributors that tested the beta 1 development release and provided feedback. Testing for bugs is an important part of polishing each release and a great way to contribute to WordPress.

Some highlights

Since beta 1, 27 bugs have been fixed. Here is a summary of a few changes included in beta 2:

  • Block editor: Columns in the Block Library that have unassigned-width will now grow equally.
  • Block editor: The custom gradient picker now works in languages other than English.
  • Block editor: When choosing colors is not possible, the color formatter no longer shows.
  • Privacy: The privacy request form fields have been adjusted to be more consistent on mobile.
  • Privacy: The notice offering help when editing the privacy policy page will no longer show at the top of All Pages in the admin area.
  • Site Health: The error codes for failed REST API tests now display correctly.

Developer notes

WordPress 5.4 has lots of refinements to polish the developer experience. To keep up, subscribe to the Make WordPress Core blog and pay special attention to the developers’ notes for updates on those and other changes that could affect your products.

How to Help

Do you speak a language other than English? Help us translate WordPress into more than 100 languages!

If you think you’ve found a bug, you can post to the Alpha/Beta area in the support forums. We’d love to hear from you!

If you’re comfortable writing a reproducible bug report, file one on WordPress Trac, where you can also find a list of known bugs.

Yoast SEO 13.1: Schema.org structured data enhancements

Yoast SEO 13.1 and WooCommerce SEO 12.6 are out today! In these two updated SEO plugins, you’ll find several fixes and enhancements, mostly focused at improving our Schema.org structured data implementation. In this post, you can learn more about the latest versions of Yoast SEO and WooCommerce SEO.

Yoast SEO 13.1

Back in Yoast SEO 11.0, we launched an innovative and expansive Schema.org implementation for Yoast SEO. For the first time ever, we can build a complete graph for a site and present it to a search engine on a silver platter. In subsequent releases, we fine-tuned the structured data implementation and we are continuously making improvements. You can find more technical detail on our implementation on Schema.org markup documentation.

In Yoast SEO 13.1, we’ve fixed a number of bugs and added a couple of enhancements in our Schema.org implementation. For one, we now set the Schema HowTo name and Article headline to the post title with a fallback to “No title”. In addition, we’ve added the inLanguage property to the Schema CreativeWork pieces. We try to determine the language of a specific piece of content in various ways, including the WordPress site language settings. This paves the way to handle a form of internationalization using Schema.org structured data.

WooCommerce SEO 12.6

Today, we’re also releasing WooCommerce SEO 12.6. This time, we’ve fixed a number of bugs and enhanced the Schema.org implementation. In WooCommerce SEO 12.5, we added the possibility to add a product identifier to your product, which makes it possible to output that number in the product Schema.org. In the 12.6 release, we’ve added some explanatory copy above the input fields for GTIN, ISBN et cetera to make this feature a little clearer.

At the end of this week, we’ll be raising the price of the Yoast WooCommerce SEO plugin. Are you serious about selling online? Get it today for only $49! That’ll save you some serious $$$. Don’t miss this chance…

Another enhancement to the structured data powers is the possibility to choose if you want to display the price in Schema.org structured data and OpenGraph with tax included. Simply check the box for the setting and you’re good to go.

WooCommerce SEO now lets you choose between tax or no tax for output in structured data

For bug fixes, we fixed a bug where the internal linking and additional keyphrase functionality went missing from the product edit page. Also, we fixed a bug where the meta description and Twitter and Facebook description could still contain HTML tags and redundant spaces.

Update your plugins

That’s it for today’s releases! We’ve enhanced both Yoast SEO and WooCommerce SEO, while also fixing a number of bugs. Please review the changes and update the plugins at your convenience. Thanks for using Yoast SEO!

The post Yoast SEO 13.1: Schema.org structured data enhancements appeared first on Yoast.

People of WordPress: Kori Ashton

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.

The beginning

Kori Ashton

In 1998, Kori created her very first HTML website. Her dad was creating websites for a living at the time. She needed a website for her band because she wanted to be a rockstar. Under his training, and with a little bit of self-teaching, she learned how to build a website.

She had been aware of WordPress since 2005, and, in 2008 a client specifically hired her as a freelancer to develop a WordPress website. Kori went straight to Google and taught herself how to build a WordPress website over a single weekend. She really enjoyed the experience of working with WordPress.

My mind was absolutely blown when I saw the drag and drop options inside of menus to create dropdowns and a form builder. 

Kori Ashton

She suggested to her dad that WordPress could be a solution for their customers who wanted to be able to access their own websites. Previously, they had found this was not as easy for clients unless they had specific software and knew how to code. So, Kori and her dad worked to learn WordPress over the next few years. 

Then in 2012, Kori and her parents launched their new business, WebTegrity, in San Antonio, Texas, US. It started out small: just Kori and her parents. Soon, they started subcontracting design work and quickly continued to grow their team.

Going big time

Even though the business was in a saturated industry in San Antonio — over 700 freelancers and agencies were providing similar services — Kori and her parents were able to sell their company five years later, with a multi-million dollar valuation. There were a few choices they made early on that led to that success.

1. They picked a niche: WordPress specialists 

At the time, there were no WordPress-specific agencies in San Antonio. They emphasized the fact that WordPress was the only CMS their company would use. Prospective clients looking for a different type of CMS solution were not the right fit for their business. They also offered on-site, WordPress training and weekend workshops that were open to anyone (including other agencies) as one of their revenue streams. They soon were established as a city-wide WordPress authority.

2. They cultivated a culture

Kori wanted a great culture and environment in her company and to make that happen, she needed to hire the right people. She believes you must be careful about who you bring into the culture of your business, but particularly when hiring leaders into that community. You can’t teach passion so you’ve got to find people that are excited about what you do. You also need to look for integrity, creativity, a love for solving problems, and an eagerness to keep getting better. 

You can teach code all day long, but be sure to find people with the right hearts to join your community and then train them up the right way. This way you will grow your culture in a healthy way.

Kori Ashton
Kori and her two sons

3. They learned how to build sustainable revenue streams

Like many other web development agencies, WebTegrity started out with the “one-time fee and you’re done” business model. This business model is known for unpredictable revenue streams. Hearing about recurring revenue business models at WordCamp Austin was a lightbulb moment for Kori. She started drafting a more sustainable business model on the way back home. 

Support packages were key to their new business plan. Clients needed ongoing support. They decided to include at least 12 months of post-launch support into their web development projects. This doubled their revenue in one year and allowed them to even out their revenue streams.

4. They knew the importance of reputation

Kori believes that every client, whether they have a $5,000 or a $50,000 budget, should get the same type of boutique-style, white glove, concierge relationship.

Every single project results in the absolute best solution for a client’s needs. In addition to that, offering training helped boost their reputation. Explaining the lingo of the web development and SEO fields and showing the processes used, added transparency. It helped set and meet expectations and it built trust. 

5. They proactively gave back to the community

Tori heard Matt Mullenweg speak about Five For The Future at WordCamp US. He encouraged people in the audience who make a living using WordPress, to find ways to give back 5% of their time to building the WordPress software and community. Matt talked about how firms and individuals could give back to the community. He suggested, for instance to:

  • start a WordPress Meetup group
  • present at a Meetup event 
  • facilitate a Meetup group where maybe you’re just the organizer and you never have to speak because you’re not a fan of speaking
  • help organize a WordCamp
  • volunteer at a WordCamp
  • write a tutorial and tell people how to do WordPress related things 
  • run a workshop
  • make a video
If you’re making an income using WordPress, consider giving 5% of your time back to building the software and/or the community.

This gave Kori another light bulb moment. She could make videos to give back. So her way to give back to the WordPress community is her YouTube channel.

Every Wednesday, she published a video on how to improve your online marketing. This made a huge impact, both inside the WordPress community, but also in her own business.

Understanding

So, in summary, how did Kori and her family turn their business into a multi-million dollar buyout in just five years? 

Ultimately, it was about understanding that you have to build value. About keeping an exit strategy in mind while building your business. For instance when naming your company. Will it stand alone? Could it turn into a brand that you could sell as an independent entity?

  • Think about revenue streams and watch sales margins.
  • Be sure to include healthy margins. 
  • Don’t hire until you have no further option.
  • Make sure to structure your offerings in such a way that you’re actually recouping your value. 
  • Understand entrepreneurship, watch Shark Tank, read more tutorials, watch more videos.
  • Get involved in the WordPress community. Get to know its core leaders, the speakers that travel around to all the WordCamps. Start following them on Twitter and try to understand what they’re sharing. 

In the end, the fact that Kori was so active in the San Antonio community helped enable the sale.

We just kept hammering on the fact that we were the go-to place here in San Antonio for WordPress. We kept training, we kept doing free opportunities, going out and speaking at different events, and people kept seeing us. We kept showing up, kept giving back and kept establishing ourselves as the authority.

Kori Ashton

Contributors

Alison Rothwell (@wpfiddlybits), Yvette Sonneveld (@yvettesonneveld), Abha Thakor (@webcommsat),  Josepha Haden (@chanthaboune), Topher DeRosia (@topher1kenobe).

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 learn SEO: 7 tips for effective learning

SEO: they say it’s the key ingredient to online success. But if you’re a beginner, two questions might pop up in your mind: 1) Can you learn SEO (hint: you can) and 2) how do you learn it? Like most skills, you learn SEO by finding the right resources, setting goals, planning, using learning strategies, practicing and evaluating. Does that sound like a lot? Don’t worry! Here, we’ll give you some tips for a flying start in SEO.

Firstly, we’d like you to meet Maya. We’ll use her case to guide you through an effective learning journey!

Meet Maya

Maya is a culinary enthusiast who enjoys discovering restaurants and discussing the food with friends. Recently, her friend Nick suggested she should start a website and write restaurant reviews. Such a fun idea, Maya thought.

Nick makes websites for a living, and Maya’s heard him talk over and over about the importance of SEO. She figures it is quite important and decides to go online and learn more. A quick search is enough to flood her with information. So many sources, so much to read and go through. And on top of that, she’s beginning to realize that SEO is quite a layered topic. Where should she even begin? Should she order a book, read posts, or get a course? 

SEO courses: a great starting resource

When you’re starting with SEO, and you set out to search for knowledge, you may get overwhelmed. As a beginner, it is difficult to make sense of it on your own. To spare yourself the hardship, you could follow an online course. An online SEO course is a good beginner’s resource because: 

  • An online course typically contains bite-sized lessons that move from basic to more complex. That ensures you understand each concept before you move on to the next one. 
  • Ideally, a course is created by instructors whose goal is to make sure the material sticks in your memory. 
  • Following and completing a course is not only educational, but it can also bring satisfaction and increase motivation.

So, Maya could begin by following a course such as SEO for beginners. Wait a minute! Did you read through all of this just so that we can promote a (free) course to you? No! Although, we do think that, for a beginner, a course is the most logical choice. Still, it is up to you to choose your path. If you decide to use online resources, make sure they are trustworthy. Don’t forget to take a closer look at the source, what they say about it online, and perhaps check some ratings and reviews.

Whether you are using an online course, a book, or online posts, there are some strategies you can use to direct your learning.

Tips on how to learn SEO

1. Set goals

A successful learning journey begins with goals. Goals, especially challenging ones, are most likely to motivate you to persevere and reach the finish line. When setting goals, you should ask yourself a crucial question: What do I want to accomplish, and what goal will help me get there?

Maya wants to learn SEO, so she can apply it to her website and ensure good rankings. SEO is complex, and to master it, she will need to dive into all of these topics: 

Let’s assume that Maya decided to take the SEO for beginners’ course. Then, her main goal can be – Finish the SEO for beginners course. But, if she has very little time, perhaps this goal is too general. To make it more concrete and manageable, she can make a separate goal for each lesson. Ideally, her goals should be specific, meaningful, and attainable. For example, this can be her goal for the first lesson: 

I will complete the lesson on Search engines in the last week of March to understand how search engines work, which can help me make my site findable. 

Or,  for the Keyword research lesson, her goal can be:

I will complete the lesson on Keyword research in the first week of April, to be able to analyze my audience and my competition because that will help me decide which keywords to use in my first post. 

Knowing precisely what, when, and why she wants to accomplish something can keep her motivated. And, specific goals are easier to evaluate compared to more general ones. 

Now, you try it, use the same formula: I will [insert how and what you will do] in/by [insert time], because [insert reason].

2. Make a plan 

Goals are even more powerful when you make a plan on how to accomplish them. A helpful planning strategy is implementation intentions, which uses a simple If…then formula. Its purpose is to get you to think about the best time and the conditions that allow you to learn. In that way, you can set a realistic and concrete plan that should be easy to follow. 

Maya, for example, has a full-time job. Learning SEO will be something she will need to do in her free time. Lately, she has been doing yoga after coming home from work, and that energizes her. So, her implementation intention can look like this: If I am done with my yoga practice, I will dedicate two hours to SEO. 

What is your situation? Can you evaluate your schedule and decide when the best time for you to learn is? 

3. Don’t binge-learn

Most of us binge series. Streaming services have enabled us to. It can be tempting to also binge (or cram) learning. Get as much information as possible, as fast as possible. It’s fast, so it must work, right? Well, no. Learning needs to be slow and spaced. By spacing learning, you allow the material to get etched in your long-term memory. Later, when you encounter a problem or a new situation, you can summon the knowledge from your memory to come up with solutions. 

Let’s check back in with Maya and see what her spaced learning schedule for the SEO for beginners course looks like: 

Week 1 of the SEO for beginners course

Day 1: How search engines work (watch the videos and read the text)
Day 3: How search engines work (re-read the text and do the quizzes)
Day 5: Holistic SEO (watch the videos and read the text)
Day 7: Holistic SEO (re-read the text and do the quizzes) 

Week 2 of the SEO for beginners course

Day 1: Re-do the quizzes for the How search engines work and Holistic SEO lesson. Start the Yoast SEO plugin lesson. 
Day 3: Keyword research (watch the videos)
Day 5: Keyword research (read the texts and do the quizzes) 
Day 7: Keyword research (read the texts and try to apply the tips in practice) 

Could this approach work for you? Try it and find out!  

4. Actively ask yourself questions 

Self-explanation means pausing while learning and thinking about the topic. You can do that by simply asking yourself questions such as  “Why does this work this way?”. Then, instead of looking up the answer, try to answer it to yourself from memory. It may sound crazy, but it works!

Maya tried this strategy too. For example, when learning about keyword research, she asked herself – Why is keyword research necessary? And When should I do keyword research? By asking the questions, she prompted her mind to start organizing the information. That allowed her to make sense of it and made sure she understood the material. With that knowledge, she was able to apply keyword research in a breeze.

5. Use what you learn

Speaking of application, you probably know that no matter how much theory you learn, it will not mean a lot unless you start using it. So, as soon as you feel you’ve understood a concept, put it to the test. With SEO, there are many opportunities to get working straight away.

We go back to Maya, who has just learned the basics of copywriting and she went ahead and wrote a text. Then, she used Yoast SEO to check the quality of her writing. She immediately got feedback on readability, the use of voice, length of sentences, and subheading distribution, among other things. Such feedback helped her learn and improve immediately!

6. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Feedback is a good way to learn. So ask for it! You can easily send your site to a friend or a colleague and ask them to give you their impression. Let them go through it and be the judges of your texts or your site structure. If you dare, you could even post the site on forums or social media to ask feedback from a more general audience.

7. Evaluate

When you feel that you have completed all your goals, it will be good to evaluate what went well and what could have gone better. Did you stick to your goals? Was your planning too ambitious? Could you apply what you learned? Did you need help, and did you ask for it? Learning about your learning in this way can help you improve and be even more effective next time! 

How did Maya do? By setting goals, planning, using learning strategies, and evaluating, she successfully finished the SEO for beginners course. She was also busy practicing while learning, so she is almost ready to launch her site. How exciting! 

Are you ready to get learning? If you are up for an adventure and you feel like you can do more, check out our Yoast academy training subscriptions and learn away! 

Read more: How to start with SEO »

The post How to learn SEO: 7 tips for effective learning appeared first on Yoast.

WordCamp Asia Cancelled Due to COVID-19

I’ve arrived at the difficult decision to cancel the inaugural WordCamp Asia event, which was planned to take place in Bangkok on February 21st. The excitement and anticipation around this event have been huge, but there are too many unknowns around the health issues unfolding right now in the region to explicitly encourage a large public gathering bringing together over 1,300 people from around the world.

We’re going to explore if speakers — including myself — can do our sessions with the same content and at the same time that was originally planned, just online instead of in-person so we can achieve our goal of bringing the pan-Asian community closer together without putting anyone’s health at additional risk.

Regardless, I greatly appreciate the work everyone — from organizers to attendees,  speakers to sponsors — put into making this a big success. So many people have come together to create an event to inspire and connect WordPressers, and I am confident that this passion will carry through into the event next year. Our thoughts are with everyone affected by the virus so far, and we sincerely hope that everything is resolved quickly so that this precaution looks unnecessary in hindsight.

WordPress 5.4 Beta 1

WordPress 5.4 Beta 1 is now available for testing!

This software is still in development, so we don’t recommend running it on a production site. Consider setting up a test site to play with the new version.

You can test the WordPress 5.4 beta in two ways:

WordPress 5.4 is slated for release on March 31, 2020, and we need your help to get there!

While the primary goal for 2020 is full-site editing with blocks, contributors to WordPress are working across every area of the project to ensure the software continues moving forward.

Testing for bugs is an important part of polishing the release during the beta stage and a great way to contribute. Here are some of the big changes and features to pay close attention to while testing.

Block Editor: features and improvements

WordPress 5.4 Core will merge ten releases of the Gutenberg plugin. This means there’s a long list of exciting new features. Here are just a few:

  • Two new blocks: social links and buttons.
  • More color options for Button, Cover, Group and Column blocks .
  • A Welcome Guide modal.
  • Tools for adding featured images in the Latest Posts block.
  • Easier navigation in the block breadcrumbs.

Some additional changes to make note of:

  • On mobile, the toolbar stays on top, so you can’t lose it.
  • Easier image sizing in the Gallery block.
  • Drag-and-drop images into the featured-image box.
  • Several new APIs.
  • Friendlier offline error messages on REST API request failures.
  • Table block captions.
  • You can now color just parts of the text in any RichText block.

Accessibility improvements

  • Easier multi-block selection. 
  • Support for changing an image’s title attribute within the Image block.
  • Easier tabbing. This had been one of the editor’s biggest accessibility problems, but now tabbing works with the block’s sidebar.
  • Visual switch between Edit and Navigation modes and enable screen reader announcements.

To see all of the features for each release in detail check out the release posts: 6.6, 6.7, 6.8, 6.9, 7.0, 7.1, 7.2, 7.3, 7.4 and 7.5.

Continuing efforts to improve performance

The block editor team has achieved a 14% loading time reduction and 51% time-to-type reduction, for a particularly sizable post (~ 36,000 words, ~1,000 blocks) since WordPress 5.3.

Wait! There’s more

Site Health

When a project powers 34% of the world’s websites, there must be a focus on security. This is why contributors continue working so hard on the Site Health Project.

WordPress 5.4 adds a widget on the dashboard that warns administrators of potential issues that could affect their site’s performance or security. A call-to-action button directs them to the Site Health screen for details and suggested fixes.

Accessibility improvements

WordPress strives to improve accessibility with every release, and this release is no different. Version 5.4 will contain the following accessibility enhancements:

  • Better focus management in Menu, Customizer and Site Health screens, to fix some existing keyboard navigation issues.
  • Easier keyboard navigation for better semantics in the Media modal.
  • An easier-to-read Privacy Policy Guide.

For Developers

5.4 also contains a bunch of developer focused changes.

Calendar Widget

The HTML 5.1 specification mandates that a <tfoot> tag must follow <tbody> tag (which was not the case in the calendar widget). WordPress 5.4 moves the navigation links to a <nav> HTML element immediately following the <table> element in order to produce valid HTML.

apply_shortcodes() as an alias for do_shortcode()

Instead of using do_shortcode(), apply_shortcodes() should be utilized instead. While do_shortcode() is not being deprecated, the new function delivers better semantics.

Better favicon handling

Now favicon requests can be managed with more flexibility. Administrators can choose a favicon in the Customizer, or upload a /favicon.ico file. The WordPress logo will always load as a fallback.

Other changes for developers

  • Clearer information about errors in wp_login_failed.
  • Site ID has been added to the newblog_notify_siteadmin filter for multisite installs.
  • Support has been added for the required WordPress and PHP version headers in themes.
  • Embed support has been added for TikTok.

Keep your eyes on the Make WordPress Core blog for  5.4-related developer notes in the coming weeks, breaking down these and other changes in greater detail.

So far, contributors have fixed more than 255 tickets in WordPress 5.4 with more to come.

How You Can Help

Do you speak a language other than English? Help us translate WordPress into more than 100 languages!

If you think you’ve found a bug, you can post to the Alpha/Beta area in the support forums. We’d love to hear from you! If you’re comfortable writing a reproducible bug report, file one on WordPress Trac where you can also find a list of known bugs.

Beyond exact keyword matching: optimize your text naturally

Our green bullets are addictive. We get that. While these green bullets help people to optimize their texts for the search engines, we don’t want people chasing only our bullets and losing track of their texts. We do want to nudge them and help them get that text as SEO-friendly as possible. In this blog post, I’ll tell you about the most pressing frustration that our customers experience and the solution we developed for that problem.

“Yoast SEO does not recognize my focus keyphrase”

Imagine this: You’re trying to optimize your post for the term [guinea pig]. In your text, you’ll probably use guinea pig (singular) and guinea pigs (plural). However, if your focus keyword is the singular [guinea pig], the keyword density check does not recognize your plurals and will punish you with a red bullet! That’s so annoying and unfair!  

In this text snippet, I use guinea pigs three times and guinea pig only one time. That means I get a red bullet…

Yoast SEO Premium analysis

In the premium analysis, plurals and past tense are recognized as the same keyword and treated as such in our analysis. Also, when you use your keywords in a different order, like ballet shoes and shoes for ballet, our analysis still recognizes them as well. In the premium analysis, both guinea pigs and guinea pigs are highlighted:

The premium analysis recognizes both the singular and plural versions of my keyword: no red bullet!

What does the premium analysis do? 

Our SEO analysis -in the premium version – automatically detects whether or not you use different word forms of your focus keyphrase. It’ll recognize singular and plurals, but also different tenses of verbs, and adjusts your keyword optimization scores accordingly. What’s more, it’ll find your keywords, even if a few function words separate them.

Let’s look at yet another example. If your focus keyphrase is [playing with your cats], it will recognize that keyphrase in the sentence ‘You can use toy mice to play with your cat‘. Or, if you want to optimize for [games for cats] it will recognize it the sentence, ‘Another game your cat will love …’ as well.

At Yoast, we have a team of linguists working on this functionality. As you can imagine, recognizing past tenses and plurals works very differently in different languages. The word form functionality is currently available in English and German. But we are working on Dutch and Spanish, too.

What about synonyms and related keywords?

Focusing on exact matching keyword feels a bit outdated. Google is able to recognize different word forms and synonyms too. We know that Google even understands related concepts. If you add synonyms and related keywords to your focus keyphrases, the Yoast premium analysis will take these into account as well. Read more about this in our post about how to use synonyms and related keywords.

Write naturally

The whole idea behind our premium analysis is that you can write naturally and still optimize for the search engines. Our plugin will give you little nudges to optimize your text a bit more, without tempting you to chase the green bullets with exact keyword matching. This means: no more awkwardly rewriting your sentences, so the SEO analysis picks up on your keyword. No more wondering if you really didn’t use your keyword often enough, or if the plugin simply doesn’t recognize every instance. 

Why is this a premium feature?

Recognizing plurals and past tense isn’t easy. And it’s different for all languages. It is a lot of work. That’s why we have an entire team of linguists working on it, making sure we’re adding more and more languages.

This does not mean that the free version is ‘wrong’ in any way. It’ll help you to focus on the correct focus keyphrases. However, it is not able to recognize the different word forms. Luckily, you are. So, if you’re using the free version, feel free to ignore the keyword density check if you’re mixing plurals and singulars of your keyword.

Read more: “Yoast SEO hates my writing style!”- 6 common misconceptions about Yoast SEO »

The post Beyond exact keyword matching: optimize your text naturally appeared first on Yoast.

Yoast SEO 13.0: Behind the scenes improvements

Today, we’re releasing Yoast SEO 13.0. This release is one in a series of releases focusing on improving our code and fixing issues — most of them behind the scenes. In addition, we’re also updating our Local SEO plugin to version 12.7 and WooCommerce SEO to 12.5. Let’s go over a couple of changes in Yoast SEO 13.0, Local SEO 12.7 and WooCommerce SEO 12.5!

Quality assurance

Good quality code leads to fewer bugs and a more stable product. For some time now, we’ve been steadily rebuilding and reshaping several parts of our plugins to make them more solid and more secure. Juliette Reinders-Folmers is one of the driving forces behind this project. She helps our development teams grow and improve their work. In Yoast SEO 13.0, you can find several of Juliettes advancements, with a lot more to come.

Enhancements in Yoast SEO 13.0

A number of enhancements made it in Yoast SEO 13.0. For one, Yoast SEO now hides the Facebook settings when Open Graph is disabled. This means you no longer see something you’ve disabled yourself. Also, we’ve added a success state to the paginated comments alert that now lives in the Health Check center. This means you will also see the paginated comments check when you’ve set the paginated comments up correctly.

Improvements WooCommerce SEO 12.5

For our WooCommerce SEO plugin, we’ve improved and extended many parts of the Schema structured data implementation. We’ve updated the review and offer Schema output, plus we’ve extended the product output. Specifically, we added a productID to the product output and we’ve added different gtin (Global Trade Item Number) attributes to products.

Also, you can now set a specific product in WooCommerce SEO as a book. Giving it a valid ISBN number, it sets the Schema output to [ Product, Book ]. This way, the Product can have the attributes of both schema.org/Book and schema.org/Product, and thus it can have an ISBN attribute and a price etc.

Last but not least, we’ve added a product:condition meta tag to the OpenGraph output. The default condition is new but you can change this to, for instance, used using the new Yoast\WP\Woocommerce\product_condition filter. We’ve also added a product:retailer_item_id meta tag to the OpenGraph output for Facebook Catalog usage.

Improvements in Local SEO 12.7

Work also continues on our Local SEO WordPress plugin. Today, we launch version 12.7. In this version, we fixes a number of bugs and cleaned up the UI and UX for entering an API key and calculating the location’s latitude and longitude. This makes the whole process of determining your location and validating your Maps API a lot clearer. See the screenshot below.

Setting an API Key has become a lot easier

Update now to Yoast SEO 13.0

Yoast SEO 13.0, WooCommerce 12.5 and Local SEO 12.7 aren’t huge releases, but they bring welcome improvements behind the scenes. We’re continuing our work in improving our processes, our code and our features to keep Yoast SEO the #1 WordPress SEO plugin for years to come.

The post Yoast SEO 13.0: Behind the scenes improvements appeared first on Yoast.