Yoast SEO 12.5: Behind the scenes improvements

These last couple of months here at Yoast SEO HQ have all been about building better things. Behind the scenes, we’re making good progress at getting our flagship plugins ready for the future. While we’re busy building the future, we also stick to our regular two-week release schedule, which means it’s time to introduce Yoast SEO 12.5.

Fixing bugs and behind the scenes scaffolding

Yoast SEO 12.5 is one where most of the work went on behind the scenes. We’re working on improving our codebase and will be releasing something cool pretty soon. To get that done, we need to do some cleaning up. 

Besides getting ready for future releases, we’ve fixed a number of bugs. One of those bugs happened for terms where keywords and snippet preview data would be synced across all languages in a MultilingualPress multisite environment. Another bug misplaced visually hidden text in several elements inside the Snippet Preview. We’ve also deprecated the old Search Console integration as that won’t be returning in that same shape or form.

A reminder about support for older versions of WordPress 

With yesterday’s release of WordPress 5.3, we will return to our initial position of only supporting the latest two versions of WordPress. In this case, that’s WordPress 5.2 and WordPress 5.3, and not versions before that. This means we’ll end our support for WordPress 4.9, which we’ve supported longer than usual to allow people to transition to WordPress 5.0 and ease over people to the classic editor or block editor. Luckily, the vast majority of you have probably updated to the latest versions.

In WordPress 5.2, the core team upped the minimum PHP requirements from an ancient 5.2 to the slightly less ancient 5.6. By supporting the last two versions of WordPress, we can now develop our software using PHP 5.6. This means that we can develop faster and more securely. Read Joost’s post on supporting older versions of WordPress.

Update now to Yoast SEO 12.5

Yoast SEO 12.5 is a fairly basic release with lots of stuff going on in the background. We’ve fixed a number bugs and helped Yoast SEO get ready for future improvements.

The post Yoast SEO 12.5: Behind the scenes improvements appeared first on Yoast.

WordPress 5.3 “Kirk”

Album cover for WordPress 5.3 Kirk, showcasing a duotone red/cream Rahsaan Roland Kirk playing the saxophone on a red background.

Introducing our most refined user experience with the improved block editor in WordPress 5.3! Named “Kirk” in honour of jazz multi-instrumentalist Rahsaan Roland Kirk, the latest and greatest version of WordPress is available for download or update in your dashboard.

5.3 expands and refines the block editor with more intuitive interactions and improved accessibility. New features in the editor increase design freedoms, provide additional layout options and style variations to allow designers more control over the look of a site.

This release also introduces the Twenty Twenty theme giving the user more design flexibility and integration with the block editor. Creating beautiful web pages and advanced layouts has never been easier.


Block Editor Improvements

This enhancement-focused update introduces over 150 new features and usability improvements, including improved large image support for uploading non-optimized, high-resolution pictures taken from your smartphone or other high-quality cameras. Combined with larger default image sizes, pictures always look their best.

Accessibility improvements include the integration of block editor styles in the admin interface. These improved styles fix many accessibility issues: color contrast on form fields and buttons, consistency between editor and admin interfaces, new snackbar notices, standardizing to the default WordPress color scheme, and the introduction of Motion to make interacting with your blocks feel swift and natural.

For people who use a keyboard to navigate the dashboard, the block editor now has a Navigation mode. This lets you jump from block to block without tabbing through every part of the block controls.


Expanded Design Flexibility

WordPress 5.3 adds even more robust tools for creating amazing designs.

  • The new Group block lets you easily divide your page into colorful sections.
  • The Columns block now supports fixed column widths.
  • The new predefined layouts make it a cinch to arrange content into advanced designs.
  • Heading blocks now offer controls for text and background color.
  • Additional style options allow you to set your preferred style for any block that supports this feature.

Introducing Twenty Twenty

A desktop preview of the Twenty Twenty theme, showing both the front-end and the editor view.
A mobile image of the Twenty Twenty  theme, over a decorative backgorund of brown-grey bars.

As the block editor celebrates its first birthday, we are proud that Twenty Twenty is designed with flexibility at its core. Show off your services or products with a combination of columns, groups, and media blocks. Set your content to wide or full alignment for dynamic and engaging layouts. Or let your thoughts be the star with a centered content column!

As befits a theme called Twenty Twenty, clarity and readability is also a big focus. The theme includes the typeface Inter, designed by Rasmus Andersson. Inter comes in a Variable Font version, a first for default themes, which keeps load times short by containing all weights and styles of Inter in just two font files.


Improvements for Everyone

An icon showing an arrow rotating a square.

Automatic Image Rotation

Your images will be correctly rotated upon upload according to the embedded orientation data. This feature was first proposed nine years ago and made possible through the perseverance of many dedicated contributors.

A plus in a square, indicating health.

Improved Site Health Checks

The improvements introduced in 5.3 make it even easier to identify issues. Expanded recommendations highlight areas that may need troubleshooting on your site from the Health Check screen.

A email icon.

Admin Email Verification

You’ll now be periodically asked to confirm that your admin email address is up to date when you log in as an administrator. This reduces the chance of getting locked out of your site if you change your email address.


For Developers

Date/Time Component Fixes

Developers can now work with dates and timezones in a more reliable way. Date and time functionality has received a number of new API functions for unified timezone retrieval and PHP interoperability, as well as many bug fixes.

PHP 7.4 Compatibility

WordPress 5.3 aims to fully support PHP 7.4. This release contains multiple changes to remove deprecated functionality and ensure compatibility. WordPress continues to encourage all users to run the latest and greatest versions of PHP.

The Squad

This release was led by Matt MullenwegFrancesca Marano, and David Baumwald. They were enthusiastically supported by a large release squad:

The squad was joined throughout the twelve week release cycle by 645 generous volunteer contributors (our largest group of contributors to date) who collectively fixed 658 bugs.

Put on a Rahsaan Roland Kirk playlist, click that update button, and check the profiles of the fine folks that helped:

123host, 1994rstefan, 5hel2l2y, @irsdl, Aaron D. Campbell, Aaron Jorbin, Aashish S, Abhijit Rakas, abrightclearweb, acalfieri, acosmin, Adam Silverstein, Adam Soucie, Adhitya Rachman, ahdeubzer, Ahmad Awais, Ajay Ghaghretiya, Ajit Bohra, ajlende, Akira Tachibana, albertomake, Alex Concha, Alex Dimitrov, Alex Lion, Alex Sanford, Alexander Botteram, Alexandre D'Eschambeault, Alexandru Vornicescu, alexeyskr, alextran, Ali Ayubi, allancole, Allen Snook, Alvaro Gois dos Santos, Amanda Rush, amolv, Anders Norén, Andrea Fercia, Andrea Gandino, Andrea Grillo, Andrea Middleton, Andreas Brain, Andrei Draganescu, Andrew Duthie, Andrew Nacin, Andrew Nevins, Andrew Ozz, Andrew Taylor, Andrey Savchenko, Andrés Maneiro, Andy Fragen, Andy Meerwaldt, Angela Gibson, Anh Tran, anischarolia, Anthony Burchell, Anton Timmermans, Apermo, Arafat Rahman, arena, Ari Stathopoulos, Arun Sathiya, Asad, asadkn, Ashar Irfan, ashwinpc, Aslam Shekh, atlasmahesh, au87, Aubrey Portwood, augustuswm, Aurooba Ahmed, Avina Patel, Axel DUCORON, Ayesh Karunaratne, backermann1978, Bartosz Romanowski, Bego Mario Garde, Benjamin Intal, Benjamin Zekavica, bennemann, bgermann, Bhaktii Rajdev, bibliofille, Biranit, Birgir Erlendsson, bitcomplex, BjornW, boblinthorst, Boone Gorges, Boro Sitnikovski, Bradley Jacobs, Bradley Taylor, Brandon Kraft, Brent Swisher, Bronson Quick, bsetiawan88, Burhan Nasir, Carlos Bravo, Carolina Nymark, Catalin Dogaru, Cathi Bosco, Chandra Patel, Charlie Merland, Chetan Prajapati, Chetan Satasiya, Chico, Chintan hingrajiya, ChriCo, Chris Aprea, Chris Van Patten, Christian Chung, Christian Wach, christianoliff, Christoph Herr, cleancoded, cmagrin, codesue, CompileNix, Corey Salzano, courtney0burton, Cristiano Zanca, Csaba (LittleBigThings), D.S. Webster, daleharrison, Dan Foley, Dan Jones, DanBUK, Daniel Bachhuber, Daniel Jalkut (Red Sweater), Daniel James, Daniel Llewellyn, Daniel Richards, danieliser, daniloercoli, Danny van Kooten, Darren Ethier, darthhexx, Dave Parker, Dave Smith, Dave Whitley, davetgreen, David Aguilera, David Anderson, David Binovec, David Binovec, David Decker, David Herrera, David Rozando, David Shanske, daxelrod, Debabrata Karfa, Deni, Denis Cherniavsky, Denis Yanchevskiy, Dennis, Dennis Hipp, Dennis Snell, Derek Sifford, derweili, dfangstrom, Dharmin Shah, Dhaval kasavala, dhuyvetter, Diane Co, DiedeExterkate, Diego La Monica, digitalapps, Dilip Bheda, Dima, dingo-d, Dion Hulse, Dixita Dusara, Dominik Schilling, Drew Jaynes, Dukex, dushanthi, EcoTechie, Edi Amin, Eduardo Toledo, Ella van Durpe, Elliot Condon, Emerson Maningo, Emil Dotsev, Emil Uzelac, Enrique Piqueras, Enrique Sánchez, erikkroes, estelaris, evalarumbe, faazshift, Fabian Kägy, fblaser, Felipe Elia, Felix Arntz, Fencer04, flipkeijzer, Florian TIAR, Foysal Remon, Gal Baras, Garrett Hyder, Garth Mortensen, Gary Jones, Gary Pendergast, Gaurang Dabhi, Gennady Kovshenin, Gesundheit Bewegt GmbH, ghoul, girlieworks, glauberglauber, Glenn, GravityView, gregsullivan, Grzegorz Ziółkowski, gwwar, Hardeep Asrani, Hardik Thakkar, hardipparmar, Hareesh Pillai, Hareesh Pillai, harryfear, harshbarach, haszari, He Yifei, Helen Hou-Sandi, Henry Wright, herbmiller, herregroen, hirofumi2012, HKandulla, Howdy_McGee, hoythan, Hugh Lashbrooke, hypest, Ian Belanger, Ian Dunn, ianmjones, Igor Zinovyev, imath, Imran Sayed, intimez, Ipstenu (Mika Epstein), iqbalbary, Irene Strikkers, Isabel Brison, Ismail El Korchi, J.D. Grimes, jagirbaheshwp, Jake Spurlock, Jalpa Panchal, James Nylen, jameslnewell, janak Kaneriya, Janki Moradiya, janw.oostendorp, jared_smith, jarocks, Jarret, jave.web, javorszky, Jay Swadas, Jaydip, Jean-Baptiste Audras, Jeff Farthing, Jeff Paul, jeichorn, Jen Miller, jenkoian, Jeremy Felt, Jesper van Engelen, Jessica Lyschik, jffng, jikamens, jitendrabanjara1991, jkitchen, jmmathc, joakimsilfverberg, Job, jodamo5, Joe Dolson, Joe Hoyle, Joe McGill, Joen Asmussen, John Blackbourn, John James Jacoby, John Regan, jojotjebaby, Jonathan Champ, Jonathan Davis, Jonathan Desrosiers, Jonathan Goldford, Jonny Harris, Jono Alderson, Joost de Valk, Jorge Bernal, Jorge Costa, Joseph Scott, Josepha Haden, Josh Pollock, Joshua Noyce, JoshuaWold, Joy, jsnajdr, Juanfra Aldasoro, Juhi Patel, Juliette Reinders Folmer, Julio Potier, junktrunk, Justin Ahinon, Justin Tadlock, K. Adam White, kafleg, Kailey (trepmal), Kakshak Kalaria, Kamran Khorsandi, karlgroves, katielgc, kbrownkd, Kelly Dwan, Kelly Hoffman, Kerfred, kero, ketanumretiya030, kevIN kovaDIA, killerbishop, killua99, Kjell Reigstad, Knut Sparhell, kokers, Konstantin Obenland, Konstantinos Xenos, kuus, laurelfulford, lbenicio, leogermani, leonblade, lessbloat, Lindstromer, lllor, lordlod, LoreleiAurora, Luan Ramos, luciano-croce, luigipulcini, luisherranz, Luke, Luke Carbis, Luke Cavanagh, m1tk00, maartenleenders, Maciej Palmowski, Mahesh Waghmare, Maje Media LLC, malthert, manooweb, Manuel Augustin, Manzoor Wani, MarcGuay, Marcin Pietrzak, Marco Martins, MarcosAlexandre, Marcus Kazmierczak, marekhrabe, Marie Comet, Mario Aguiar, Mario Peshev, Marius Jensen, Mark D Wolinski, Mark Jaquith, Mark Uraine, Marko Heijnen, Martin Spatovaliyski, Martin Splitt, Marty Helmick, Mary Baum, masummdar, Mat Gargano, Mat Lipe, Mathieu Sarrasin, Matt Chowning, Matthew Boynes, Matthew Haines-Young, matthias.thiel, mattyrob, Matías Ventura, Maxime Culea, Maxime Jobin, maxme, Meet Makadia, mehidi258, Mehul Kaklotar, Mel Choyce, Melin Edomwonyi, meloniq, Michael Arestad, Michael Babker, Michael Nelson, Michael Panaga, michel.weimerskirch, Michiel Heijmans, Miguel Fonseca, Miguel Vieira, mihaiiceyro, Miina Sikk, Mikael Korpela, Mike Auteri, Mike Glendinning, Mike Hansen, Mike Jolley, Mike Reid, Mike Schroder, MikeNGarrett, Milan Dinić, Mobeen Abdullah, Mohsin Rasool, Monika Rao, Monique Dubbelman, Morgan Kay, Morten Rand-Hendriksen, Morteza Geransayeh, moto hachi ( mt8.biz ), mppfeiffer, mrmadhat, msaggiorato, mtias, Muhammad Afzal, Mukesh Panchal, munyagu, mzorz, nadir, Naveen Kharwar, Nayana Maradia, Ned Zimmerman, Neel Patel, Nextendweb, Niall Kennedy, Nick Daugherty, Nick Halsey, nicolad, Nicolas Juen, Niels de Blaauw, Niels Lange, Nikhil Chavan, nikolastoqnow, Niku Hietanen, Nilambar Sharma, Nishit Langaliya, Nitish Kaila, nmenescardi, noahtallen, notnownikki, Okamoto Hidetaka, Omaar Osmaan, Omar Reiss, onlanka, oxyc, ozmatflc, Paal Joachim Romdahl, Paragon Initiative Enterprises, Paresh Shinde, Pascal Birchler, Pascal Casier, patilvikasj, Patrick Baldwin, Paul Bearne, Paul Biron, Paul Schreiber, Paul Vincent Beigang, Pedro Mendonça, pepe, Peter Wilson, PhillipJohn, Pierre Gordon, pikamander2, Pilar Mera, Pinar Olguc, powerbuoy, Pramod Jodhani, Pratik, Pratik K. Yadav, Prem Tiwari, Presskopp, Priyank Patel, Quantumstate, Raaj Trambadia, Raam Dev, raboodesign, Rahul Vaza, Ramanan, Rami Yushuvaev, ramon fincken, RC Lations, rebasaurus, ReikoDD, Remco Tolsma, retrofox, Riad Benguella, Richard Korthuis, Riddhi Mehta, Rishabh Budhiraja, Robert Anderson, Robert Chapin, Robert Ivanov, rogueresearch, Roi Conde, Ronak Ganatra, Ronny Harbich, Roy Randolph, Roy Tanck, Ryan Boren, Ryan Kienstra, Ryan McCue, Ryan Welcher, Sébastien SERRE, samgordondev, Sami Ahmed Siddiqui, Samir Shah, Samuel Wood (Otto), Sanket Mehta, sarah semark, sarath.ar, saskak, sbardian, Scott Reilly, Sebastian Pisula, Seghir Nadir, Sergey Biryukov, Sergey Predvoditelev, sergiomdgomes, seuser, sgastard, Shady Sharaf, Shamim Hasan, Sharaz Shahid, Shashank Panchal, shawfactor, Shital Marakana, siliconforks, simono, sirreal, Sixes, Slava Abakumov, Slobodan Manic, smerriman, snapfractalpop, socalchristina, Soren Wrede, Spectacula, spenserhale, spuds10, Stanimir Stoyanov, Stefano Minoia, Stephen Bernhardt, Stephen Edgar, Steven Word, studyboi, Subrata Sarkar, Sudhir Yadav, Sultan Nasir Uddin, sun, svanhal, Swapnil V. Patil, swapnild, Sybre Waaijer, Sérgio Estêvão, Takayuki Miyauchi, Takis, Tammie Lister, tazotodua, technote, Tellyworth, Tessa Kriesel, them.es, Themezly, Thijs Hulshof, Thomas Kräftner, thomaswm, Thord D. Hedengren, Thorsten Frommen, Thrijith Thankachan, tigertech, Tim Carr, Tim Havinga, Tim Hengeveld, Timothy Jacobs, timph, tmatsuur, tmdesigned, TobiasBg, toddhalfpenny, Todor Gaidarov, Tom J Nowell, Tommy Ferry, Toni Viemerö, tonybogdanov, Tor-Bjorn Fjellner, torres126, Torsten Landsiedel, Towhidul Islam, trasweb, Travis Northcutt, travisseitler, triplejumper12, truchot, truongwp, Tugdual de Kerviler, Tung Du, Udit Desai, Ulrich, Utsav tilava, Vaishali Panchal, vbaimas, Venutius, Viktor Veljanovski, Vishal Kakadiya, vishitshah, vladlu, Vladut Ilie, vortfu, Vova Feldman, vrimill, w3rkjana, Webdados (Marco Almeida), WebMan Design | Oliver Juhas, Weston Ruter, William Earnhardt, William P. Davis, William Patton, withinboredom, worldweb, yanngarcia, Yannicki, yarnboy, yashar_hv, Yoav Farhi, yodiyo, Yui, Yvette Sonneveld, zaantar, zalak151291, Zebulan Stanphill, Česlav Przywara, Айрат Халитов 🔥, and 水野史土.

Also, many thanks to all of the community volunteers who contribute in the support forums. They answer questions from people across the world, whether they are using WordPress for the first time or since the first release. These releases are more successful for their efforts!

If you want learn more about volunteering with WordPress, check out Make WordPress or the core development blog.


Thanks for choosing WordPress!

People of WordPress: Kim Parsell

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 Kim Parsell

We’d like to introduce you to Kim Parsell. Kim was an active and well-loved member of the WordPress community. Unfortunately, she passed away in 2015. Lovingly referred to as #wpmom, she leaves behind a legacy of service. 

Kim Parsell

How Kim became #wpmom

In order to understand how highly valued the WordPress community was to Kim Parsell, you have to know a bit about her environment.

Kim was a middle-aged woman who lived off a dirt road, on top of a hill, in Southern rural Ohio. She was often by herself, taking care of the property with only a few neighbors up and down the road.

She received internet access from towers that broadcast wireless signals, similar to cell phones but at lower speeds.

Connecting through attending live podcast recordings

By listening to the regular podcast, WordPress Weekly, Kim met members of the WordPress community and was able to talk to them on a weekly basis. The show and its after-hours sessions provided Kim a chance to mingle with the who’s who of WordPress at the time. It helped establish long-lasting relationships that would open up future opportunities for her.

Since she lived in a location where few around her used or had even heard of WordPress, the community was an opportunity for her to be with like-minded people. Kim enjoyed interacting with the community, both online and at WordCamp events, and many community members became her second family, a responsibility she took very seriously.

“Many members of the WordPress community became her second family, a responsibility she took very seriously.”

Jeff Chandler

One of the first women of WordPress

Kim is regarded as one of the first “women of WordPress,” investing a lot of her time in women who wanted to break into tech. She worked hard to create a safe environment sharing herself and her knowledge and was affectionately called #wpmom.

She contributed countless hours of volunteer time, receiving “props” for 5 major releases of WordPress, and was active on the documentation team. 

“Affectionately called #wpmom, Kim was an investor. She invested countless hours into the WordPress project and in women who wanted to break into tech.”

Carrie Dils
Kim at WordCamp San Francisco

Kim Parsell Memorial Scholarship

In 2014, she received a travel stipend offered by the WordPress Foundation that enabled her to attend the WordPress community summit, held in conjunction with WordCamp San Francisco. She shared with anyone who would listen, that this was a life-changing event for her. 

The WordPress Foundation now offers that scholarship in her memory. The Kim Parsell Memorial Scholarship provides funding annually for a woman who contributes to WordPress to attend WordCamp US, a flagship event for the WordPress community.

This scholarship truly is a fitting memorial. Her contributions have been vital to the project. Moreover, the way she treated and encouraged the people around her has been an inspiration to many.  

Her spirit lives on in the people she knew and inspired. Here’s hoping that the Kim Parsell Memorial Scholarship will serve to further inspire those who follow in her footsteps.

Drew Jaynes

Kim is missed, but her spirit continues to live on

Sadly Kim died just a few short months later. But her spirit lives on in the people she knew and inspired within her communities. The Kim Parsell Memorial Scholarship will serve to further inspire those who follow in her footsteps.

Contributors

@wpfiddlybits, @yvettesonneveld, @josephahaden, Topher Derosia, Jeff Chandler, Carrie Dils, Jayvee Arrellano, Jan Dembowski, Drew Jaynes

WordPress 5.3 RC4

The fourth release candidate for WordPress 5.3 is now available!

WordPress 5.3 is currently scheduled to be released on November 12 2019, but we need your help to get there—if you haven’t tried 5.3 yet, now is the time!

There are two ways to test the WordPress 5.3 release candidate:

For details about what to expect in WordPress 5.3, please see the first,  second and third release candidate posts.

Release Candidate 4 contains three bug fixes for the new default theme, Twenty Twenty (see #48450), and addresses the following:

  • The Twemoji library has been updated from 12.1.2 to 12.1.3 (see #48293).
  • Two regressions in the Media component (see #48451 and #48453).
  • One bug in the Upload component (see #48472)
  • Five bugs in the Block Editor component (see #48502)

Plugin and Theme Developers

Please test your plugins and themes against WordPress 5.3 and update the Tested up to version in the readme to 5.3. If you find compatibility problems, please be sure to post to the support forums so we can figure those out before the final release.

The WordPress 5.3 Field Guide has also been published, which details the major changes.

A new dev note has been published since the Field Guide was released, Use of the “wp_update_attachment_metadata” filter as “upload is complete” hook. Plugin and theme authors are asked to please read this note and make any necessary adjustments to continue working well in WordPress 5.3 or share any difficulties encountered on #48451.

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.

Google BERT: A better understanding of complex queries

By announcing it as the “biggest change of the last five years” and “one that will impact one in ten searches”, Google sure turned some heads with an inconspicuous name: BERT. BERT is a Natural Language Processing (NLP) model that helps Google understand language better in order to serve more relevant results. There are million-and-one articles online about this news, but we wanted to update you on this nonetheless. In this article, we’ll take a quick look at what BERT is and point you to several resources that’ll give you a broader understanding of what BERT does.

To start, the most important thing to keep in mind that Google’s advice never changes when rolling out these updates to its algorithm. Keep producing quality content that fits your users’ goals and make your site as good as possible. So, we’re not going to present a silver bullet for optimizing for the BERT algorithm because there is none. 

What is BERT?

BERT is a neural network-based technique for natural language processing (NLP) pre-training. The full acronym reads Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers. That’s quite the mouthful. It’s a machine-learning algorithm that should lead to a better understanding of queries and content. 

The most important thing you need to remember is that BERT uses the context and relations of all the words in a sentence, rather than one-by-one in order. So BERT can figure out the full context of a word by looking at the words that come before and after it. The bi-directional part of it makes BERT unique.

By applying this, Google can better understand the full gist of a query. Google published several example queries in the launch blog post. I won’t repeat them all but want to highlight one to give you an idea of how it works in search. For humans, the query [2019 brazil traveler to usa need a visa] obviously is about answering if a traveler from Brazil needs to have a visa for the USA in 2019. Computers have a hard time with that. Previously, Google would omit the word ‘to’ from the query, turning the meaning around. BERT takes everything in the sentence into account and thus figures out the true meaning.

As you can see from the example, BERT works best in more complex queries. It is not something that kicks in when you search from head terms, but rather the queries in the long tail. Still, Google says it will impact every one in ten searches. And even then, Google says that BERT will sometimes get it wrong. It’s not the end-all solution to language understanding.

Where does Google apply BERT?

For ranking content, BERT is currently rolled out in the USA for the English language. Google will use the learnings of BERT to improve search in other languages as well. Today, BERT is used for featured snippets in all markets where these rich results appear. According to Google, this leads to much better results in those markets.

Useful resources

We’re not going into detail into what BERT does, talking about its impact on NLP and how it’s now being incorporated into search, because we’re taking a different approach. If you want to understand how this works, you should read up on the research. Luckily, there are plenty of readable articles to be found on this subject. 

This should give you a solid understanding of what is going on in the rapidly developing world of language understanding.

Google’s latest update: BERT

The most important takeaways from this BERT news is that Google is yet again becoming closer to understanding language on a human level. For rankings, it will mean that it will present results that are a better fit to that query and that can only be a good thing. 

There’s no optimizing for BERT other than the work you are already doing: produce relevant content of excellent quality. Need help writing awesome content? We have an in-depth SEO copywriting training that shows you the ropes.

The post Google BERT: A better understanding of complex queries appeared first on Yoast.

2019 Annual Survey

It’s time for our annual user and developer survey! If you’re a WordPress user or professional, we want your feedback.

It only takes a few minutes to fill out the survey, which will provide an overview of how people use WordPress. We’re excited to announce that this year, for the first time, the survey is also available in 5 additional languages: French, German, Japanese, Russian, and Spanish. Many thanks to the community volunteers who helped with the translation effort!

The survey will be open for 4 weeks, and results will be published on this blog. All data will be anonymized: no email addresses or IP addresses will be associated with published results. To learn more about WordPress.org’s privacy practices, check out the privacy policy.

The Month in WordPress: October 2019

October has been a busy month with preparations for WordCamp US as well as the next major release of WordPress. Read on to find out about all that work and more.


WordPress 5.2.4

On October 14, WordPress 5.2.4 was released as a security release fixing 6 security issues. The fixes were backported to earlier versions of WordPress as well, so they’re available for sites not yet upgraded to 5.2.

This kind of release is only possible because people report security issues responsibly so that the Core team can address them. You can find out more specific information about the fixes on the release documentation page.

Want to get involved in building WordPress Core? Follow the Core team blog, and join the #core channel in the Making WordPress Slack group.

WordPress Style Guide Proposal

Early in the month, the Design team proposed adding a style guide for the WordPress brand that can be used across all of WordPress.org and anywhere the brand is represented. Work then began on putting the style guide together, and the current iteration is now available for viewing.

Work on this style guide is ongoing, and the latest update allows it to support multiple languages so that it can be used by more people.

Want to get involved in contributing to this style guide? You can do so via the GitHub repo, as well as follow the Design team blog, and join the #design channel in the Making WordPress Slack group.

WordPress 5.3

WordPress 5.3 has seen active development over the past month, with a release date set for November 12. You can download and test the release candidate to get a taste of what to expect—this is largely what final release will look like.

This is a big release with a number of exciting and important updates. Among them are significant changes to the look of the admin interface, enhancements to the block editor that will affect developers of themes and plugins, large improvements to the way that Core processes images, updates to cater for some functions specific to PHP 7.4, improvements to the Site Health feature, and many more improvements that are all documented in the WordPress 5.3 Field Guide.

In addition to these Core updates, the upcoming major release will also include the new default theme, Twenty Twenty.

Want to get involved in building WordPress Core? You can contribute by testing the upcoming release, as well as follow the Core team blog, and join the #core channel in the Making WordPress Slack group.

New Core Committers

Three new committers have been added to the WordPress Core organizational structure. Core committers are individuals who have direct access to the Core development code repositories in order to publish updates to the software.

The new committers are Ian Belanger (@ianbelanger), Timothy Jacobs (@timothyblynjacobs), and Joe Dolson (@joedolson). While Ian’s commit access is specifically for Core themes, both Timothy and Joe have full access to Core. This type of access is only given to individuals who have proved themselves with high-quality contributions and a deep understanding of how the WordPress project works.


Further Reading:

Have a story that we should include in the next “Month in WordPress” post? Please submit it here.

Managing access to Yoast SEO with SEO roles

It may be one of Yoast SEO’s lesser-known features: SEO roles. A site admin can determine in the backend of WordPress who gets access to the various settings and features of Yoast SEO. This makes for a more fluid and flexible access protocol for different kinds of users on a site. It is no longer a one-size-fits-all solution, but a more tailored one. SEO roles make Yoast SEO even more powerful for every type of user. Here, we’ll explain why these roles are so awesome.

Managing user roles in Yoast SEO

It used to be quite the challenge to use Yoast SEO in a larger site environment. As an admin, you’d have to choose between offering users full access to the plugin or just access to the SEO post editor part. That means a regular user couldn’t use the redirect manager, for instance, and had to ask an admin for help every time he or she wanted to add, change or delete redirects. We’ve seen it happing here at Yoast as well. Of course, there’s a whole range of possible permissions in between. Yoast SEO provides the option for two roles that make this a lot easier to manage: the SEO manager and SEO editor, in addition to the admin who determines who gets to see what.

Roles and capabilities

Roles in Yoast SEO consist of one or more capabilities, like:

  • managing options (this gives you full access),
  • managing redirects,
  • editing advanced metadata,
  • access to the bulk editor.

The SEO editor, for instance, can now make redirects, but cannot change the settings of the plugin or access the advanced metadata editor of Yoast SEO. This way, the SEO editor has more access than a regular user, but less than the SEO manager who can manage settings as well. If you use a permission or role manager plugin for WordPress like Justin Tadlock’s excellent Members plugin, you get even more fine-grained control over the capabilities within Yoast SEO. This way, you can mix and match capabilities in any form you’d like.

In Yoast SEO Premium, we’ve also added the capability to manage redirects without having to be an administrator. By activating this, users within a specific role get full access to the redirect manager. No longer do site managers have to be swamped with redirects requests by site editors, they can manage those themselves. Personally, I like that a lot. By adding some magic code to the plugin, the redirect manager now shows up in the WordPress sidebar menu, even if your Yoast SEO menu is hidden by default. How cool is that?!

Managing your site has never been easier

The SEO roles in Yoast SEO make it incredibly easy to give more people working on your site access to the features and settings they need, without granting them full access. Does your site editor need to edit advanced metadata? No? Block it in Yoast SEO. Does he or she need to manage redirects and do large-scale SEO optimizations with the bulk editor? Great, grant him or her access to these parts of the plugin. You can do this and more – all from the admin dashboard of Yoast SEO!

Read more: Yoast SEO 5.5: Introducing SEO roles »

The post Managing access to Yoast SEO with SEO roles appeared first on Yoast.

Update or delete? Cleaning up old content on your site

Sometimes, content on your website becomes irrelevant or out of date, and you need to decide whether to update it or delete it. It’s part of your regular content maintenance activities. There are several ways to go about this and this article helps you decide what’s the best solution for your old content!

Update old content that is still valid

Let’s start with an example: On our blog, we have an article on meta descriptions that needs constant updating to keep it relevant. We just have to make sure it stays up to date with all the changes Google keeps making to the way it handles meta descriptions. Sometimes it seems they can be a bit longer and sometimes they seem to go back to the old length again.

Our post helps writers and editors to write meta descriptions, even though the advice changes over time. Although the article itself might be what we call cornerstone content, its content must be updated to keep up with the latest standards – constantly.

You can easily create new, valuable content from your old posts if you update it and make it current again: old wine in new bottles, as the saying goes. You could, for example, replace older parts of that content with updates, or you could merge three old blog posts about the same subject into one new post. If you do this, please remember to redirect the old post URLs to the new post, using a 301 Redirect. More on that later.

Read more: Keep your content fresh and up to date »

Delete irrelevant posts or pages

It’s likely that you have old posts or pages on your site that you don’t need anymore. Think along the lines of a blog post about a product you stopped selling a while ago and have no intention of ever selling again, an announcement of an event that took place a long time ago or old pages with little or no content – so-called thin content pages.

These are just some examples, but I’m sure you know which posts and/or pages I’m talking about. This old content adds no value anymore, now or for the foreseeable future. In that case, you need to either tell Google to forget about these old posts or pages or give the URL another purpose.

When I talk about deleting old content, I don’t mean just pressing “delete” and then forgetting about it. If you do that, the content might show up in Google for weeks after deletion. The URL might actually have some link value as well, which would be a shame to waste.

So, what should you do? Here are two options:

“301 Redirect” the old post to a related one

When a URL still holds value because, say, you have a number of quality links pointing to that page, you want to leverage that value by redirecting the URL to a related one. With a 301 Redirect you’ll tell search engines and visitors there’s a better or newer version of this content elsewhere on your site. The 301 redirect automatically sends people and Google to this page.

Say you have an old post on a specific dog breed. You need to delete it, so the logical next step would be to redirect that post to a newer post about this dog breed. If you don’t have that post, choose a post about the closest breed possible. If that post isn’t available, you could redirect it to the category page for these posts (e.g. “dog breeds”) and if that is also not an option, redirect to the homepage. That last one might be about “pets”, for example. It’s a bit of a last resort though, there probably are better options on your site.

Creating a 301 Redirect (for instance in WordPress) isn’t hard, but doing it with Yoast SEO Premium is easy as pie. If you don’t have it yet, find out about all the extras that are in Yoast SEO Premium here.

Tell search engines the content is intentionally gone

If there isn’t a relevant page on your site you can redirect to, it’s wise to tell Google to forget about your old post entirely by serving a “410 Deleted” status to Google. This status code will tell Google and visitors the content didn’t just disappear; you’ve deleted it with a reason.

When Google can’t find a post, the server will usually return a “404 Not Found” status to the search engine’s bot. You’ll also find a 404 crawl error in your Google Search Console for that page. Eventually, Google will work it out and the URL will gradually vanish from the search result pages. But this takes time.

The 410 is more powerful in the sense that it tells Google that the page is gone forever, never to return. You deleted it on purpose, period. Google will act on that faster than with a 404. Read up about the server status codes if this is all gibberish to you.

Keep reading: How to properly delete a page from your site »

Do you have old content to deal with?

Cleaning up old content should be part of your content maintenance routine. If you don’t go through your old posts regularly, you’re bound to run into issues sooner or later. You might show incorrect information to visitors or hurt your own rankings by having too many pages about the same topic, increasing chances of keyword cannibalization, which is a lot of work to fix later on. Therefore, go through your old posts, and decide what to do: update, merge or delete!

Good luck cleaning up your site.

Read on: Should you keep old content? »

The post Update or delete? Cleaning up old content on your site appeared first on Yoast.

WordPress 5.3 RC3

The third release candidate for WordPress 5.3 is now available!

WordPress 5.3 is currently scheduled to be released on November 12 2019, but we need your help to get there—if you haven’t tried 5.3 yet, now is the time!

There are two ways to test the WordPress 5.3 release candidate:

For details about what to expect in WordPress 5.3, please see the first and second release candidate posts.

Release Candidate 3 contains improvements to the new About page, bug fixes for the new default theme, Twenty Twenty (see #48450), and 9 fixes for the following bugs and regressions:

  • Four bugs in the block editor have been fixed (see #48447).
  • Three Date/Time related bugs have been fixed (see #48384).
  • A regression in date_i18n() has been fixed (see #28636).
  • An accessibility color contrast regression for primary buttons when using alternate admin color schemes was fixed (see #48396).

Plugin and Theme Developers

Please test your plugins and themes against WordPress 5.3 and update the Tested up to version in the readme to 5.3. If you find compatibility problems, please be sure to post to the support forums so we can figure those out before the final release.

The WordPress 5.3 Field Guide has also been published, which details the major changes.

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.