The Month in WordPress: March 2020

The month of March was both a tough and exciting time for the WordPress open-source project. With COVID-19 declared a pandemic, in-person events have had to adapt quickly – a challenge for any community. March culminated with the release of WordPress 5.4, an exhilarating milestone only made possible by dedicated contributors. For all the latest, read on. 


WordPress 5.4 “Adderley”

WordPress 5.4 “Adderley” was released on March 31 and includes a robust list of new blocks, enhancements, and new features for both users and developers. The primary focus areas of this release included the block editor, privacy, accessibility, and developer improvements, with the full list of enhancements covered in the 5.4 field guide.

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

Releases of Gutenberg 7.7 and 7.8

It’s been another busy month for Gutenberg, this time with the release of Gutenberg 7.7 and 7.8. Gutenberg 7.7 introduced block patterns – predefined block layouts that are ready to use and tweak. This is an important step towards Full Site Editing, which is currently targeted for inclusion in WordPress 5.6. As a first iteration, you can pick and insert patterns from the Block Patterns UI, which has been added as a sidebar plugin.

Gutenberg 7.7 also includes a refresh of the Block UI, which better responds to the ways users interact with the editor. For more information on the User UI and Block Patterns, read this summary of the most recent Block-Based Themes meeting. Gutenberg 7.8, introduced on March 25, further enhanced this Block UI redesign. Both releases also included a suite of improvements, bug fixes, new APIs, documentation, and more!

Want to get involved in building Gutenberg? Follow the Core team blog, contribute to Gutenberg on GitHub, and join the #core-editor channel in the Making WordPress Slack group.

WordCamp cancellations and shift to online events

In early March, the Community team issued new recommendations for event organizers in light of growing concerns around COVID-19. Following this guidance, and with COVID-19 declared a pandemic, WordPress community organizers reluctantly but responsibly postponed or canceled their upcoming WordCamps and meetups.

As community events are an important part of the WordPress open-source project, the Community team made suggestions for taking charity hackathons online, proposed interim adjustments to existing community event guidelines, and provided training for online conference organizing with Crowdcast. The team is currently working on building a Virtual Events Handbook that will continue to support WordPress community organizers at this time. 

Want to get involved with the WordPress Community team, host your own virtual WordPress event, or help improve the documentation for all of this? Follow the Community team blog, learn more about virtual events, and join the #community-events channel in the Making WordPress Slack group.

Link your GitHub profile to WordPress.org

Last month, an experimental feature was added to Trac, WordPress Core’s bug-tracking system, to improve collaboration between Trac and GitHub. This month, to help make tracking contributions to the WordPress project across multiple locations easier, there is a new option to connect your GitHub account to your WordPress.org profile. This connection allows for more accurate acknowledgement and recognition of contributors. You can connect your GitHub account to your WordPress.org account by editing your WordPress.org profile.

For more information and instructions on how to connect your accounts, read the announcement post.

Modernizing WordPress coding standards

Defined coding standards is an important step in creating the consistent codebase needed to prepare for requiring PHP 7.x for WordPress Core. As such, coding standards have been proposed for implementation in WordPress Coding Standards 3.0.0. This includes new proposed standards for namespace declarations, import use statements, fully qualified names in inline code, traits and interfaces, type declarations, declare statements/strict typing, the ::class constant, operators, and more. 

Want to get involved or view the full list of currently proposed new coding standards? Visit and add your feedback to the post on updating the Coding standards for modern PHP and follow the Core team blog.


Further Reading:

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

How to make the transition to the block editor (from the classic editor) in WordPress

Are you considering switching from the classic editor to the block editor? That’s great, as the block editor will give you lots of possibilities to create awesome, high-quality and high-ranking content! Not sure how to go about this though? Don’t look any further. Here, we’ll guide you through the process of making the switch to the block editor step-by-step.

Did you know we just released a free online course about the WordPress block editor? If you want to learn all about creating awesome content with the block editor, you should definitely check it out!

Why should you transition to the block editor?

Before we explain how to make the switch to the block editor, let’s see why we think you should make the transition to the block editor. Using the block editor has quite a lot of benefits. For example, the block editor makes it easy to:

  • create user-friendly, high-quality content;
  • give your content a great structure, look, and feel;
  • add structured data to your posts and pages, so your content might show up as a rich result in the Google search results.

Read more: The block editor: Why you should be using it

How to switch to the block editor

Switching to the block editor should go smoothly. Especially, if you follow the steps below.

In this video, which is part of our new and free Block editor training, we explain the steps you should take when transitioning to the block editor. And of course, we’ll also describe them in this article!

Step 1: Test the block editor on your site

When you’ve decided you want to make the switch to the block editor, the first thing you should do is test the block editor on your site. The best way to test the block editor is to use a so-called staging site. A staging site is a copy of your live website that allows you to implement and test changes without affecting your real site.

How to create a staging site

So, how do you create a staging environment for your site? There are two easy ways to get one:

  • Ask your hosting company.
    The first way is to ask your hosting company to create one for you. Most hosts should be able to do create a staging environment for your site.
  • Use a WordPress plugin.
    If, for some reason, your hosting company isn’t able to create a staging site for you, you can use a WordPress plugin and create one yourself. If you search for ‘staging’ in the WordPress plugin directory, you’ll find tons of plugins that can do the trick. However, make sure you pick a plugin that’s trustworthy. That means: check the reviews, active installations, the last time it was updated, and its compatibility with your version of WordPress.

What to test in the staging environment

Once you’ve sorted your staging site, you can update it to the latest version of WordPress, which automatically comes with the block editor. Alternatively, disable the classic editor plugin, if you have that installed. To test the block editor, simply check what effect this has on your site. While testing, it’s important to pay special attention to the following:

  • Plugins
    It’s essential to check whether your plugins work correctly with the block editor. Most plugins have already adapted to the block editor, so make sure you’ve updated all your plugins!

    If you encounter a plugin conflicting with the block editor, the easiest solution is to check for an alternative. Is there a similar plugin available that is compatible with the block editor? Sometimes blocks can even replace certain plugins, so you could check the available blocks and see if you can find what you need. It’s handy to make a list of all the plugins that conflict with the block editor, so you can remove them from your real site before you make the transition.
  • Shortcodes
    Before the block editor came, people used shortcodes to add various features to a website. Shortcodes are like shortcuts to a pre-created and pre-defined code on your website. If you’ve used shortcodes, make sure they display correctly with the block editor. This is especially important if you use plugins that insert shortcodes.

Step 2: Switch to the block editor!

Once you’ve tested everything, you’re ready to make the switch! Make a backup of your site and update it to the latest version of WordPress. This automatically comes with the new block editor. If you’re using the classic editor plugin, simply disable the plugin to enjoy your new block editor experience!

What will happen to old posts and pages?

A question we regularly hear is: will switching to the block editor affect my old posts and pages that were created using the classic editor? The short answer is: no. 

However, the long answer is that the content of your posts and pages made in the classic editor will be converted into a single Classic block in the block editor. If you want the full block editor experience with your existing posts and pages as well, you can convert this Classic block into separate blocks.

How to convert the content of old posts and pages

To convert the content of your existing posts and pages into separate blocks, follow these steps:

  1. Select the Classic editor block in the post editing screen.

    By selecting the block, the top toolbar will appear.

  2. Click on the three vertical dots in the upper right corner.

    As shown in the image, a menu will appear.Converting old posts and pages menu item

  3. Click ‘Convert to Blocks’.

    WordPress will now scan your content for HTML tags to place every piece of your content into a corresponding block.

Send us your awesome block editor content!

Do you want to inspire others with the content you’ve created using the block editor? We want everyone to see the endless possibilities of the block editor, by featuring examples on our blog. Therefore, we’re asking you to send us the awesome content you have created using the block editor! Leave the URL in the comments below and spread that block editor love!

The post How to make the transition to the block editor (from the classic editor) in WordPress appeared first on Yoast.

WordPress 5.4 “Adderley”

Here it is! Named “Adderley” in honor of Nat Adderley, the latest and greatest version of WordPress is available for download or update in your dashboard.

Say hello to more and better.

More ways to make your pages come alive. With easier ways to get it all done and looking better than ever—and boosts in speed you can feel.

Welcome to WordPress 5.4

Every major release adds more to the block editor.

More ways to make posts and pages come alive with your best images. More ways to bring your visitors in, and keep them engaged, with the richness of embedded media from the web’s top services.

More ways to make your vision real, and put blocks in the perfect place—even if a particular kind of block is new to you. More efficient processes.

And more speed everywhere, so as you build sections or galleries, or just type in a line of prose, you can feel how much faster your work flows.

Two new blocks. And better blocks overall.

  • Two brand-new blocks: Social Icons and Buttons make adding interactive features fast and easy.
  • New ways with color: Gradients in the Buttons and Cover block, toolbar access to color options in Rich Text blocks, and for the first time, color options in the Group and Columns blocks.
  • Guess a whole lot less! Version 5.4 streamlines the whole process for placing and replacing multimedia in every block. Now it works the same way in almost every block!
  • And if you’ve ever thought your image in the Media+Text block should link to something else—perhaps a picture of a brochure should download that brochure as a document? Well, now it can.

Cleaner UI, clearer navigation—and easier tabbing!

  • Clearer block navigation with block breadcrumbs. And easier selection once you get there.
  • For when you need to navigate with the keyboard, better tabbing and focus. Plus, you can tab over to the sidebar of nearly any block.
  • Speed! 14% faster loading of the editor, 51% faster time-to-type!
  • Tips are gone. In their place, a Welcome Guide window you can bring up when you need it—and only when you need it—again and again.
  • Know at a glance whether you’re in a block’s Edit or Navigation mode. Or, if you have restricted vision, your screen reader will tell you which mode you’re in.

Of course, if you want to work with the very latest tools and features, install the Gutenberg plugin. You’ll get to be the first to use new and exciting features in the block editor before anyone else has seen them!

Your fundamental right: privacy

5.4 helps with a variety of privacy issues around the world. So when users and stakeholders ask about regulatory compliance, or how your team handles user data, the answers should be a lot easier to get right.

Take a look:

  • Now personal data exports include users session information and users location data from the community events widget. Plus, a table of contents!
  • See progress as you process export and erasure requests through the privacy tools.
  • Plus, little enhancements throughout give the privacy tools a little cleaner look. Your eyes will thank you!

Just for developers

Add custom fields to menu items—natively

Two new actions let you add custom fields to menu items—without a plugin and without writing custom walkers.

On the Menus admin screen, wp_nav_menu_item_custom_fields fires just before the move buttons of a nav menu item in the menu editor.

In the Customizer, wp_nav_menu_item_custom_fields_customize_template fires at the end of the menu-items form-fields template.

Check your code and see where these new actions can replace your custom code, and if you’re concerned about duplication, add a check for the WordPress version.

Blocks! Simpler styling, new APIs and embeds

  • Radically simpler block styling. Negative margins and default padding are gone! Now you can style blocks the way you need them. And, a refactor got rid of four redundant wrapper divs.
  • If you build plugins, now you can register collections of your blocks by namespace across categories—a great way to get more brand visibility.
  • Let users do more with two new APIs: block variations and gradients.
  • In embeds, now the block editor supports TikTok—and CollegeHumor is gone.

There’s lots more for developers to love in WordPress 5.4. To discover more and learn how to make these changes shine on your sites, themes, plugins and more, check the WordPress 5.4 Field Guide.

The Squad

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

The squad was joined throughout the release cycle by 552 generous volunteer contributors who collectively worked on 361 tickets on Trac and 1226 pull requests on GitHub.

Put on a Nat Adderley playlist, click that update button (or download it directly), and check the profiles of the fine folks that helped:

0v3rth3d4wn, 123host, 1naveengiri, @dd32, Aaron Jorbin, Abhijit Rakas, abrightclearweb, acosmin, Adam Silverstein, adamboro, Addie, adnan.limdi, Aezaz Shaikh, Aftab Ali Muni, Aki Björklund, Akib, Akira Tachibana, akshayar, Alain Schlesser, Albert Juhé Lluveras, Alex Concha, Alex Mills, AlexHolsgrove, alexischenal, alextran, alishankhan, allancole, Allen Snook, alpipego, Amir Seljubac, Amit Dudhat, Amol Vhankalas, Amr Gawish, Amy Kamala, Anantajit JG, Anders Norén, Andrés, Andrea Fercia, Andrea Tarantini, andreaitm, Andrei Draganescu, Andrew Dixon, Andrew Duthie, Andrew Nacin, Andrew Ozz, Andrew Serong, Andrew Wilder, Andrey Savchenko, Andy Fragen, Andy Meerwaldt, Andy Peatling, Angelika Reisiger, Ankit Panchal, Anthony Burchell, Anthony Ledesma, apedog, Apermo, apieschel, Aravind Ajith, archon810, arenddeboer, Ari Stathopoulos, Arslan Ahmed, ashokrd2013, Ataur R, Ate Up With Motor, autotutorial, Ayesh Karunaratne, BackuPs, bahia0019, Bappi, Bart Czyz, Ben Greeley, benedictsinger, Benjamin Intal, bibliofille, bilgilabs, Birgir Erlendsson, Birgit Pauli-Haack, BMO, Boga86, Boone Gorges, Brad Markle, Brandon Kraft, Brent Swisher, Cameron Voell, Carolina Nymark, ceyhun0, Chetan Prajapati, Chetan Satasiya, Chintesh Prajapati, Chip Snyder, Chris Klosowski, Chris Trynkiewicz (Sukces Strony), Chris Van Patten, Christian Sabo, Christiana Mohr, clayisland, Copons, Corey McKrill, crdunst, Csaba (LittleBigThings), Dademaru, Damián Suárez, Daniel Bachhuber, Daniel James, Daniel Llewellyn, Daniel Richards, Daniele Scasciafratte, daniloercoli, Darren Ethier (nerrad), darrenlambert, Dave Mackey, Dave Smith, daveslaughter, DaveWP196, David Artiss, David Binovec, David Herrera, David Ryan, David Shanske, David Stone, Debabrata Karfa, dekervit, Delowar Hossain, Denis Yanchevskiy, Dhaval kasavala, dhurlburtusa, Dilip Bheda, dingo-d, dipeshkakadiya, djp424, dominic_ks, Dominik Schilling, Dotan Cohen, dphiffer, dragosh635, Drew Jaynes, eclev91, ecotechie, eden159, Edi Amin, edmundcwm, Eduardo Toledo, Ella van Durpe, Ellen Bauer, Emil E, Enrique Piqueras, Enrique Sánchez, equin0x80, erikkroes, Estela Rueda, Fabian, Fabian Kägy, Fahim Murshed, Faisal Alvi, Felipe Elia, Felipe Santos, Felix Arntz, Fernando Souza, fervillz, fgiannar, flaviozavan, Florian TIAR, Fotis Pastrakis, Frank Martin, Gal Baras, Garrett Hyder, Gary Jones, Gary Pendergast, Gaurang Dabhi, George Stephanis, geriux, Girish Panchal, Gleb Kemarsky, Glenn, Goto Hayato, grafruessel, Greg Rickaby, Grzegorz Ziółkowski, Grzegorz.Janoszka, Gustavo Bordoni, gwwar, hamedmoodi, hAmpzter, happiryu, Hareesh Pillai, Harry Milatz, Haz, helgatheviking, Henry Holtgeerts, Himani Lotia, Hubert Kubiak, i3anaan, Ian Belanger, Ian Dunn, ianatkins, ianmjones, IdeaBox Creations, Ihtisham Zahoor, intimez, Ipstenu (Mika Epstein), Isabel Brison, ispreview, Jake Spurlock, Jakub Binda, James Huff, James Koster, James Nylen, jameslnewell, Janki Moradiya, Jarret, Jasper van der Meer, jaydeep23290, jdy68, Jean-Baptiste Audras, Jean-David Daviet, Jeff Bowen, Jeff Ong, Jeff Paul, Jeffrey Carandang, jeichorn, Jenil Kanani, Jenny Wong, jepperask, Jer Clarke, Jeremy Felt, Jeremy Herve, Jeroen Rotty, Jerry Jones, Jessica Lyschik, Jip Moors, Joe Dolson, Joe Hoyle, Joe McGill, Joen Asmussen, John Blackbourn, John James Jacoby, johnwatkins0, Jon, Jon Quach, Jon Surrell, Jonathan Desrosiers, Jonathan Goldford, Jonny Harris, Jono Alderson, Joonas Vanhatapio, Joost de Valk, Jorge Bernal, Jorge Costa, Josepha Haden, JoshuaWold, Joy, jqz, jsnajdr, Juanfra Aldasoro, Julian Weiland, julian.kimmig, Juliette Reinders Folmer, Julio Potier, Junko Nukaga, jurgen, justdaiv, Justin Ahinon, K. Adam White, kaggdesign, KalpShit Akabari, Kantari Samy, Kaspars, Kelly Dwan, Kennith Nichol, Kevin Hagerty, Kharis Sulistiyono, Khushbu Modi, killerbishop, kinjaldalwadi, kitchin, Kite, Kjell Reigstad, kkarpieszuk, Knut Sparhell, KokkieH, Konstantin Obenland, Konstantinos Xenos, Krystyna, kubiq, kuflievskiy, Kukhyeon Heo, kyliesabra, Laken Hafner, leandroalonso, leogermani, lgrev01, linuxologos, lisota, Lorenzo Fracassi, luisherranz, luisrivera, lukaswaudentio, Lukasz Jasinski, Luke Cavanagh, Lydia Wodarek, M A Vinoth Kumar, maciejmackowiak, Mahesh Waghmare, Manzoor Wani, marcelo2605, Marcio Zebedeu, MarcoZ, Marcus Kazmierczak, Marek Dědič, Marius Jensen, Marius84, Mark Jaquith, Mark Marzeotti, Mark Uraine, Martin Stehle, Marty Helmick, Mary Baum, Mat Gargano, Mat Lipe, Mathieu Viet, Matt Keys, Matt van Andel, mattchowning, Matthew Kevins, mattnyeus, maxme, mayanksonawat, mbrailer, Mehidi Hassan, Mel Choyce-Dwan, mensmaximus, Michael Arestad, Michael Ecklund, Michael Panaga, Michelle Schulp, miette49, Miguel Fonseca, Miguel Torres, mihdan, Miina Sikk, Mikael Korpela, Mike Auteri, Mike Hansen, Mike Schinkel [WPLib Box project lead], Mike Schroder, mikejdent, Mikko Saari, Milan Patel, Milan Petrovic, mimi, mircoraffinetti, mjnewman, mlbrgl, Morgan Estes, Morteza Geransayeh, mppfeiffer, mryoga, mtias, Muhammad Usama Masood, mujuonly, Mukesh Panchal, Nadir Seghir, nagoke, Nahid Ferdous Mohit, Nate Finch, Nazmul Ahsan, nekomajin, NextScripts, Nick Daugherty, Nick Halsey, Nicklas Sundberg, Nicky Lim, nicolad, Nicolas Juen, nicole2292, Niels Lange, nikhilgupte, nilamacharya, noahtallen, noyle, nsubugak, oakesjosh, oldenburg, Omar Alshaker, Otto Kekäläinen, Ov3rfly, page-carbajal, pagewidth, Paragon Initiative Enterprises, Pascal Birchler, Pascal Casier, Paul Bearne, Paul Biron, Paul Kevin, Paul Schreiber, pcarvalho, Pedro Mendonça, perrywagle, Peter Wilson, Philip Jackson, Pierre Gordon, Pierre Lannoy, pikamander2, Prashant Singh, Pratik Jain, Presskopp, Priyanka Behera, Raam Dev, Rachel Cherry, Rachel Peter, ragnarokatz, Rami Yushuvaev, raoulunger, razamalik, Remco Tolsma, rephotsirch, rheinardkorf, Riad Benguella, Ricard Torres, Rich Tabor, rimadoshi, Rinku Y, Rob Cutmore, rob006, Robert Anderson, Roi Conde, Roland Murg, Rostislav Wolný, Roy Tanck, Russell Heimlich, Ryan, Ryan Fredlund, Ryan McCue, Ryan Welcher, Ryo, Sébastien SERRE, sablednah, Sampat Viral, Samuel Wood (Otto), SamuelFernandez, Sander, santilinwp, Sathiyamoorthy V, Schuhwerk, Scott Reilly, Scott Taylor, scruffian, scvleon, Sebastian Pisula, Sergey Biryukov, Sergio de Falco, sergiomdgomes, sgastard, sgoen, Shaharia Azam, Shannon Smith, shariqkhan2012, Shawntelle Coker, sheparddw, Shital Marakana, Shizumi Yoshiaki, simonjanin, sinatrateam, sirreal, skorasaurus, smerriman, socalchristina, Soren Wrede, spenserhale, sproutchris, squarecandy, starvoters1, SteelWagstaff, steevithak, Stefano Minoia, Stefanos Togoulidis, steffanhalv, Stephen Bernhardt, Stephen Edgar, Steve Dufresne, Steve Grunwell, stevenlinx, Stiofan, straightvisions GmbH, stroona.com, Subrata Mal, Subrata Sarkar, Sultan Nasir Uddin, swapnild, Sybre Waaijer, Sérgio Estêvão, Takayuki Miyauchi, Takeshi Furusato, Tammie Lister, Tanvirul Haque, TBschen, tdlewis77, Tellyworth, Thamaraiselvam, thefarlilacfield, ThemeZee, Tim Havinga, Tim Hengeveld, timon33, Timothée Brosille, Timothy Jacobs, Tkama, tmanoilov, tmatsuur, tobifjellner (Tor-Bjorn Fjellner), Tom Greer, Tom J Nowell, tommix, Toni Viemerö, Toro_Unit (Hiroshi Urabe), torres126, Torsten Landsiedel, Towhidul Islam, tristangemus, tristanleboss, tsuyoring, Tung Du, Udit Desai, Ulrich, upadalavipul, Utsav tilava, Vaishali Panchal, Valentin Bora, varunshanbhag, Veminom, Vinita Tandulkar, virgodesign, Vlad. S., vortfu, waleedt93, WebMan Design | Oliver Juhas, websupporter, Weston Ruter, William Earnhardt, William Patton, wpgurudev, WPMarmite, wptoolsdev, xedinunknown-1, yale01, Yannicki, Yordan Soares, Yui, zachflauaus, Zack Tollman, Zebulan Stanphill, Zee, and zsusag.

Yoast SEO 13.4: Word form support for Dutch

In Yoast SEO 9.0, we launched an innovative new way to analyze your English language text using word forms. In Yoast SEO 10.1, we added word form support for the German language. Today, we’re glad to announce word form support for Dutch. Here, you can read why this is such an awesome addition to Yoast SEO 13.4.

Word forms?

Back in the day, Yoast SEO used to be rather picky — sometimes it had a hard time detecting the focus keyphrase in your text. For instance, if your focus keyphrase was [vegan pancakes], the plugin wouldn’t recognise instances of the word [vegan pancake] or [pancakes for a vegan friend]. Today, however, the WordPress plugin is so much smarter.

Now, your focus keyphrase doesn’t even have to be in an identical order. The plugin finds all parts of the keyphrase even if the words are split over a sentence.

Yoast SEO Premium takes it one step further. Using the Premium analysis, something like [How to make the fluffiest pancake that even the most critical vegans love] would count as well.

One of the coolest parts of this is that Yoast SEO Premium recognises all word forms of your keyphrase: [vegan], [vegans], [veganism] and more. This way, you don’t have to keep trying to awkwardly fit your focus keyphrase in your text. Simply write naturally and let Yoast SEO take care of the rest. The goal? To write a better text, while spending less time optimizing!

The same goes that other epic feature in Yoast SEO Premium, the possibility to add synonyms and related keyphrases to your post analysis. This too, makes it easier to write a rich, high-quality post that covers all aspects of your subject.

Word forms: now available in Dutch

As of Yoast SEO 13.4, users in the Dutch language can get in on the action too. For every language we add to the plugin, we need to adapt the analysis. Every language has its own sets of rules, you know? We have a team of linguists working on this and bringing you top notch language support.

How does this work in Dutch? Well, here’s Marieke explain it all for you — in Dutch this time!

Let’s take a look at an example! In the screenshot, you see the Premium analysis at work. The focus keyphrase for this example post is [spelen met katten]. If you look closely, Yoast SEO Premium won’t just find the exact match to that keyphrase, but also several variations.

If we look at the word [kat], or cat in Dutch, the plugin now recognises variants on that word as well. So this means, [katten], [kater] and [katjes], among other things, are correct instances of that keyphrase as well.

In the Premium analysis, you can add a number of related keyphrases to make the text analysis even richer. One of the outcomes of this, is that it helps to determine if you have distributed your keyphrases well across your text. All this helps you write the awesome your audience is looking for!

More information about the Yoast SEO analysis

We’ve written quite a few articles on word forms support and text analysis in Yoast SEO. Find why you need this super smart analysis in your daily life. Learn how synonyms and related keyphrases help enrich your articles. Marieke wrote an article on why you should go beyond exact keyword matching. Keen to learn more about the technology behind this? Read up on keyword stemming!

To cap if off, here’s the Dutch version of our infographic that explains the differences between synonyms, word forms and related keyphrases.

Update now to Yoast SEO 13.4

Yoast SEO 13.4 brings a big feature for all you Dutchies: full word form support! This state of the art analysis helps you write better text with a lot less effort. Writing and editing a great piece of content has now become much more natural.

Writing in English or German? But not familiar with the Premium analysis yet? Try it and tell us what you think!

Thanks for using Yoast SEO.

The post Yoast SEO 13.4: Word form support for Dutch appeared first on Yoast.

Building a brand for your business

At Yoast, we pride ourselves on our branding. I would go as far as saying that it has attributed a lot to our success. I also think that good and consistent branding needs to be talked about more, as it is one of the hallmarks of a great enterprise. Please let me explain why I think it’s important for a business to think about their branding and give some examples of what we did. Hopefully, it’ll inspire you to do better branding for your company!

What is branding?

First, let’s look at some definitions. The American Marketing Association on their site defines a brand as:

A brand is a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers.

Lexico defines branding as:

The promotion of a particular product or company by means of advertising and distinctive design.

On the scientific side, definitions range widely too. David Aaker, called the “Father of Modern Branding” by marketing text book writer Philip Kotler, defines branding as:

“Far more than a name and logo, it is an organization’s promise to a customer to deliver what a brand stands for…in terms of functional benefits but also emotional, self-expressive, and social benefits”

David Aaker in Aaker on Branding

So, branding is the whole package: the name, the images, the advertising, the story. Good branding associates your company and/or product with positive feelings. Some major brands even go as far as only promoting the feelings in their advertisements, because we all know what the product is. If you’re in that stage, you’ve reached true “brand recognition”. If you succeed in making people feel certain feelings because they’ve bought something from you, the way I feel when I drink a Diet Coke, for instance, you’ve hit the jackpot.

How do you measure branding?

As digital marketers, we tend to want to measure everything and we think we can measure everything equally well. I don’t think that’s the case for branding. You might have the budget to do large scale brand research, but only truly big brands usually have that kind of money. And when you’re doing that research, the bigger question is: what do you want to do with the outcome of that research?

To go one step deeper, we probably need to define better what we’d be measuring if we can measure anything. I find this brand knowledge pyramid in this article by P. Chandon from INSEAD very useful:

Brand knowledge pyramid which describes going from brand awareness, to strong, favorable & unique brand assocations to postitive & accessible brand evaluations, to intense & active brnad loyalty.

So, if you see the above pyramid, brand awareness is a pre-requisite for everything else. If people don’t consider you when they’re making a purchase, everything else you do to “charge” your brand is useless. More people searching for you online, which you can see through, for instance, Google Trends, is a good measure of brand awareness. Note that it is always relative to your competition. Comparing searches for “Yoast” with searches for “Coca-Cola” is both non-sensical and mostly just self-flagellation. However, comparing searches for “Yoast SEO” with searches for “WordPress SEO” makes much more sense, and luckily, it shows that we won that battle 5 years ago.

If you really want to measure the impact, I think the smartest thing to do for smaller businesses is just seeing whether more people search for your brand online.

The brand “Yoast”

Given our definitions above, the brand Yoast has two sides to it: the brand image and the “functional” aspects of the brand. The functional aspects are a result of the functionality of our product, the quality of our UX, the usefulness of our features. To be able to build a good brand, having at least one good product is a requirement. Of course, that product can be a news site, or information, or whatever you want it to be, but it has to be great. For the purposes of this article, I’m going to assume that’s a given. The great product is there and exists.

The brand name

Some things get lost in history, and that’s kind of funny. Yoast is how you pronounce my first name (Joost) if you’d pronounce it in English. Basically, toast with a Y. These days, people at conferences who don’t know this, sometimes introduce me as “this is Juiced from Yoast”, which always cracks me up. What’s most important though is that Yoast is short, it’s easy to remember and it’s unique in our space.

For a while, keyword domain names were all the rage in the SEO industry. If you want to include the most important keyword for your business, make sure you stick something on to it that makes it rememberable and unique. This will make it a lot easier for people to search specifically for you. Some examples of this are for instance SearchEngineLand and Search Engine Journal. While they both clearly have the keyword in their brand name, the addition does make it a lot easier to search for them. At the same time, they do have longer brand names because of that. If your company name is long, think of whether abbreviating it is a good idea. Some of the best brands in the world are abbreviations: KLM, IBM, H&M, AT&T. You might not even know the words behind some of those abbreviations!

Building the brand image

Mijke, our brand manager, was one of the very first people I hired when I started hiring people. Erwin, the illustrator behind all of our avatars and a lot of the other images you see on this site, followed soon after. From the very beginning, things like color schemes and logos were important. But, also our positioning on who we are in the world are things that we’ve deemed as very important.

Even before he was a Yoast employee, Erwin drew my avatar. Paul Madden created my very first avatar as a doodle at a conference, and while very nice, Erwin improved upon it quite a bit. Later, when Yoast started growing, we asked Erwin to create an avatar for every new employee. We still endeavor to do this, but admittedly we’re running quite a bit behind at the moment.

If you’re interested in our avatars, this infographic is quite interesting (click to enlarge as it’s rather big):

Logos, but also: so much more

In many ways, our avatars were more important at the beginning of Yoast than our logo was. Our avatars, with their recognizable style, immediately made clear that someone who responded somewhere was a Yoast employee. People remember our avatars while most people do not remember our older logo’s.

Image of the old Yoast logo and the current Yoast logo.
The old Yoast logo vs the current one

You cannot just create a logo and then be done with it, you’ll have to give it some more thought, and depending on how big your company is, sometimes even a lot of thought.

Our branding is in every post image we create. You won’t find a lot of stock photos on Yoast.com, we use custom made illustrations for every important aspect of our site. Illustrations that contain exactly what we want them to contain, and are examples for the world we want to live in. These illustrations also hang in our offices as decoration, and during the COVID-19 work from home episode, we allowed our employees to pick one and we sent them some of these illustrations to hang on their home walls. That’s when you know your branding does bring a sense of community, just as in the pyramid above.

Branding in the search results

One of the things that I’ve always been very keen on is doing proper branding in the search results. It’s really important that when someone is researching a topic and you rank for a lot of the terms in that topic, they see you rank. Even if they don’t click on the first result. This is why I’ve always said it’s very important to include your brand name in titles. This is another spot where a relatively short brand name will help you, as you’ve got just so much more space to add a meaningful title. Usually, it makes the most sense to add the brand name to the end of the title and make it easily distinguishable. This can be as simple as - Brand name, we chose to use • Yoast. I think it stands out just a bit more, but mostly because hardly anybody else uses it, so think about what works for you and pick something!

Another opportunity for branding is the knowledge panel that might show up for your brand. Knowledge panels are a type of rich results in the search engines. They are a great asset to have. Be sure to optimize everything you can in that if you have one!

Conclusion

So, we’ve seen that branding is more than just having a logo. Branding needs to consistent, as it is one of the hallmarks of a great enterprise. But, truly measuring the efforts your branding is hard. That’s why you should focus more on what it is you want to do with the outcome of the research. Branding in the search results is something relatively simple, which can result in a lot of brand recognition. Which steps will you take to do better branding for your company?

Read more: 5 tips to improve your branding »

The post Building a brand for your business appeared first on Yoast.

WordPress 5.4 RC5


The fifth release candidate for WordPress 5.4 is live!

WordPress 5.4 is currently scheduled to land on March 31 2020, and we need your help to get there—if you haven’t tried 5.4 yet, now is the time!

You can test the WordPress 5.4 release candidate in two ways:

For details about what to expect in WordPress 5.4, please see the first release candidate post.

Plugin and Theme Developers

Please test your plugins and themes against WordPress 5.4 and update the Tested up to version in the readme to 5.4. The priority in testing is compatibility. If you find issues, please be sure to post to the support forums so we can figure them out before the final release.

The WordPress 5.4 Field Guide is also out! It’s your source for details on all the major changes.

How to Help

Do you speak a language besides 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.

Update your cancelled or postponed events with Schema

The outbreak of COVID-19 led to a wave of canceled or postponed events. Some events made the switch from an offline event to an online one. As everyone is scrambling to look up the latest information on events online, it is important to have all the latest details on your website. Search engines can pick up these details and post the correct information in the search results. New Event Schema helps speed up this process.

Events structured data expanded quickly

In last week’s release of Schema.org 7.0, you can find several updates to the Events structured data. You can give your event an eventStatus of EventCancelled when it’s cancelled or an EventPostponed when it’s been postponed. In addition, you can also set a rescheduled event as EventRescheduled.

A new option is available for events that moved online: you can now update the eventStatus to EventMovedOnline. Here, you can also mark events as online-only by setting the location to VirtualLocation and set the eventAttendenceMode to OnlineEventAttendanceMode.

An example for YoastCon 2020

We had a new edition of YoastCon planned for April, 2020. As everything else, we rescheduled that to a date later in the year. I thought I’d let you see how one of these additions could look in code.

Below, you can find a part of the Schema code found on the YoastCon page. I’ve added the eventStatus, plus the corresponding EventRescheduled property. Also, I’ve added the old, plus the new date. Now, search engines know this event was rescheduled to a new date and can update the listing accordingly.

{
        "@type":"BusinessEvent",
        "@id":"https://yoast.com/yoastcon/#yoastcon",
        "mainEntityOfPage": {
            "@id": "https://yoast.com/yoastcon/#webpage"
        }
        ,
        "name":"YoastCon",
        "description":"Due to the recent COVID-19 health concerns both locally and among our (international) speakers, we're sad to announce that we're postponing YoastCon 2020.",
        "organizer": {
            "@id": "https://yoast.com/#organization"
        }
        ,
        "startDate":"2020-09-10T07:00:00+00:00",
        "endDate":"2020-09-10T07:00:00+00:00",
        "eventStatus": "https://schema.org/EventRescheduled",
        "eventAttendanceMode": "https://schema.org/OfflineEventAttendanceMode",
      "previousStartDate": "2020-04-21T19:00",
        "url":"https://yoast.com/yoastcon/",
        "image":"https://yoast.com/app/uploads/2019/10/YoastCon2020-600x338.png",
        "location": {
           "@type":"Place",
            "name":"Theater 't Moza\u00efek",
            "url":"https://www.mozaiekwijchen.nl/",
            "address": {
                "@type": "PostalAddress", 
		"addressLocality": "Wijchen", 	
		"addressRegion": "Gelderland", 
		"addressCountry": "The Netherlands", 
		"postalCode": "6602 HX", 
		"streetAddress": "Campuslaan 6"
            }
        }

Moving the event online

Many events now move to online-only, for the time being or completely. You can now let search engines know that the event has turned into an online event — or a mixed event with both an offline and an online component.

In the YoastCon example, I could move the event by adding an EventMovedOnline property, combined with a new VirtualLocation property with a link to the page where the event is happening online. Code is truncated.

"eventAttendanceMode": "https://schema.org/OnlineEventAttendanceMode",
      "eventStatus": [
        "https://schema.org/EventRescheduled",
        "https://schema.org/EventMovedOnline"
        ],
      "previousStartDate": "2020-04-22T19:00",
      "location": {
        "@type": "VirtualLocation",
        "url": "https://yoast.com/yoastcon/"

Of course, you can combine both online and offline locations of the event. Simply add the MixedEventAttendanceMode to the eventAttendanceMode and set both a virtual as well as a real location for the event. This might look something like this:

  "eventAttendanceMode": "https://schema.org/MixedEventAttendanceMode",
  "eventStatus": "https://schema.org/EventScheduled",
  "location": [{
    "@type": "VirtualLocation",
    "url": "https://yoast.com/yoastcon/"
  },
  {
    "@type":"Place",
        "name":"Theater 't Moza\u00efek",
        "url":"https://www.mozaiekwijchen.nl/",
        "address": {
            "@type": "PostalAddress", 
            "addressLocality": "Wijchen",   
            "addressRegion": "Gelderland", 
            "addressCountry": "The Netherlands", 
            "postalCode": "6602 HX", 
            "streetAddress": "Campuslaan 6"
}
}]

Google has a special page in on its developer website describing how to get your event in the search results correctly.

SpecialAnnouncement for broadcasting announcements

The new SpecialAnnouncement type lets governments announce important happenings, like the closing of businesses and public recreation areas. While the initial offering is focused entirely on the spread special announcements during the Coronavirus pandemic, this will be extended at a further date. Both Bing and Google accept SpecialAnnouncement and will highlight these pages in the results how they see fit. You can find more information on SpecialAnnouncement on Schema.org/SpecialAnnouncement.

We’re working on this as well

As you see, it makes a lot of sense to add this to your event pages. Unfortunately, at the moment Yoast SEO doesn’t have to option to add this code automatically. We’re working on that, though! Our structured data content blocks already let you build great FAQ pages and how-to articles, but we’re also working on blocks for events and recipes, among other things. In a while, you can add events and mark these as online, offline or mixed, while the correct structured data will be applied automatically.

Other things you can do to get provide accurate and up-to-date information

In the current COVID-19/Coronavirus pandemic, it is crucial to give people accurate information about your event or business. A lot things have changed, many people sit indoor and have to go online to find out which businesses they can still visit or which events take place when. So, please take a moment to bring all your listings up-to-date.

Please check your listings on Google My Business, Bing Places, Yelp, TripAdvisor et cetera. Also update your social media channels like Facebook and Twitter. In addition, it might be a good idea to put a COVID-19 related FAQ page on your website answering the most pressing questions on how your business or event is handling this crisis. The Yoast SEO FAQ content block helps you make such a page in an instant. It also automatically adds valid structured data that makes sure the FAQ shows up in Google. Use it to your advantage.

Also, make sure to read Google’s documentation on how to pause your business online in search during this crisis.

Stay indoors. Stay safe!

The post Update your cancelled or postponed events with Schema appeared first on Yoast.

WordPress 5.4 RC4

The fourth release candidate for WordPress 5.4 is live!

WordPress 5.4 is currently scheduled to land on March 31 2020, and we need your help to get there—if you haven’t tried 5.4 yet, now is the time!

You can test the WordPress 5.4 release candidate in two ways:

For details about what to expect in WordPress 5.4, please see the first release candidate post.

RC4 commits the new About page and updates the editor packages.

Plugin and Theme Developers

Please test your plugins and themes against WordPress 5.4 and update the Tested up to version in the readme to 5.4. The priority in testing is compatibility. If you find issues, please be sure to post to the support forums so we can figure them out before the final release.

The WordPress 5.4 Field Guide is also out! It’s your source for details on all the major changes.

How to Help

Do you speak a language besides 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.

Brand-new free online training: Block editor training

At Yoast, we are huge fans of the block editor. Admittedly -not right from the start-, but we’re now block-editor fanboys and fangirls. That’s why we created an awesome free block editor course! We hope it will help everybody to use the block editor to the fullest!

In this course, you’ll learn how to create awesome content with the new WordPress block editor! It adds thousands of new possibilities for creating posts and pages and it makes editing a lot easier. In the new Block editor training, we take you by the hand and guide you through the process of creating and publishing content with the new block editor. What’s more, we also show you some cool examples and explain how you can make the switch from the classic editor to the block editor. Ready to start learning?

What will you learn in the Block editor training?

In this online course, we teach you everything you need to know about creating well-designed, perfectly structured content with the new WordPress block editor. You’ll learn:

  • what the block editor is, why it was created and why you should be using it;
  • how to use the block editor: how to add, move, transform, group, reuse and edit blocks;
  • how to publish a post using the block editor;
  • how to add more blocks – and thus: functionalities – to the block editor;
  • how to switch from the classic editor to the new block editor and what you should pay attention to when transitioning;
  • everything about the future of the block editor – or project Gutenberg, like the goal of the project and the plans that have been announced.

We’ll take you by the hand and guide you through the process of creating a post with the block editor through practical screencasts, PDFs and assignments. To illustrate the endless possibilities of the block editor, we’ll also show you some awesome examples of content created with the new editor. 

How is the course set up?

The Block editor training is a hands-on and practical training that consists of three modules:

  1. What is the block editor?
  2. Using the block editor
  3. Extras

These modules are divided into several lessons. Each lesson contains interesting videos, in which our WordPress experts – like Marieke van de Rakt and Jono Alderson – explain everything you should know. The practical lessons in module 2 also contain screencasts, so you can see exactly what you should do. We’ve also created reading materials, in which we explore topics more broadly. To complete a lesson, you take a quiz or do a practical assignment. In this way, you’ll know for sure whether you fully understand the theory and whether you’re able to put your knowledge to practice. Once you’ve finished the course, you’ll receive a Yoast certificate and a badge you can display on your website.

Online & on-demand

The block editor training is an online and on-demand training, like every other Yoast SEO academy training course. This means you can learn whenever you want and wherever you want! And did we already mention it’s completely free of charge?

Start creating block-tastic content now!

After the Block editor training, blocks will no longer hold any secrets for you and you’ll be ready to outshine your competition with visually stunning blog posts and pages! Are you ready? Check your Yoast SEO academy courses overview or click the button below to start the course!

Want to take a deeper dive?

Yoast SEO academy offers more in-depth courses about SEO and WordPress too. Want to learn how to write texts that are a breeze to read for readers and search engines alike? We offer classes on SEO copywriting! Or do you want to find out what keywords are most effective for your site? Our keyword research classes will tell you how. With a Yoast SEO academy Premium subscription, you’ll have access to 11 specialist courses created by SEO experts. Check it out now!

The post Brand-new free online training: Block editor training appeared first on Yoast.

How to get your new WordPress site indexed

When you roll out the red carpet on a new website, you might be expecting visitors to start coming eagerly. In reality, before people start visiting your site, search engines need to find, index and rank it. In this article, I share some tips that could help you get your site indexed faster. 

A quick note before we go on. Although in the short term, there are some things you can do to get your site indexed faster, you mustn’t forget the long game. A sustainably high-ranking website depends in large part on creating remarkable content. Why? Because search engines want to find the best answer to the queries their users make. The site with the best content wins the race to the top of the search results. 

How do search engines work? 

To understand how to get your site indexed, it’s useful to know how search engines work. Search engines generate results in three main steps: crawling, indexing, and ranking. 

Crawling is the process of discovery done by crawlers, bots, or spiders. A computer program instructs crawlers on what pages to crawl and what to look for. When crawlers land on a page, they gather information and follow links. Whatever they find, they report back to the search engine servers. Then, the search engine tries to make sense of the page in order to index it. It looks at the content and everything it finds, it puts in a giant database; their ‘index’. 

Finally, ranking begins when you search for something online. So, the search engine algorithm looks through the index and filters the pages to find the best ones. We do not know the exact mechanics of the algorithm. Still, we know that search engines are especially enthusiastic about high-quality content and user-friendly, up-to-date pages.

Read more: What does Google do? »

Crawling, indexing and ranking never stop. As new pages keep pouring in, and as old ones get updated, the crawlers continuously crawl, and the search engines get new and improved ways to gather and display results

So, how can you speed up this process and help search engines find you quicker? An excellent way to start is submitting an XML sitemap in Google Search Console.

How to get your site found and indexed by Google:

  1. Create an XML sitemap with Yoast SEO

    An XML sitemap is a file that contains information about your website. In plain language, it is a list of your most important pages. It is a useful tool that helps Google find and explore your site. Yoast SEO can help you to create a sitemap. All you need to do is enable the XML sitemap option and the sitemap will be automatically generated. It’s quite a time saver!

  2. Set up an account with Google Search Console

    After you’ve created the sitemap, you need to tell Google about it. Google Search Console is a tool that can help you with that. To add your sitemap to the Console, you need to create an account. Yoast SEO can also help you get your site verified with Google Search Console.

  3. Add your sitemap to Google Search Console

    In Google Search Console, you will find the XML sitemap tab. There, you can add the sitemap you created, so that Google will know where to find it. If you update content on your site, your XML sitemap will be updated automatically.

  4. And/or, submit your most important individual pages in Google Search Console

    On top of this, you can ask Google to crawl individual pages too. In Google Search Console you’ll find the URL inspection tool, where you can ask Google to crawl or recrawl a URL. There’s a quota, so think about which pages are crucial for your business in terms of ranking and submit those here.

Why do you need an XML sitemap?

We mentioned that crawlers discover pages by following links. When you have a new website, you may face at least two issues. First, there are likely not that many external sites that point to your website. Second, you probably still don’t have a lot of content, so your internal linking and your site structure are not (yet) stellar. Without links, how can the crawlers come to your site? 

One solution to getting your site indexed is to create a sitemap right from the start and add it to Google Search Console. However, since you might still not have a lot of content, you should be careful with what you include in it. Although you can create sitemaps for videos, images, categories, and tags, it does not mean that you should necessarily do it. For example, you might have already set up some categories. But, for each category, you have just one post. In that case, creating a sitemap for your categories is not so useful, since the content does not give a lot of information, both to visitors and crawlers. 

It is important to note that Google may not crawl and index all the items in your sitemap. Still, we encourage you to create one, as we believe that you will benefit from it.

Getting your site indexed beyond Google

We told you how you could submit a sitemap with Google Search Console. But, it’s not the only search engine out there. So, how can you submit your sitemap to other search engines? It is easy with Yoast SEO. Other search engines also have Webmaster tools, where you can submit a sitemap and follow the performance of your site. Currently, you use Yoast SEO to add your site to:

What’s next? 

After you’ve created a sitemap and connected it to search engines with Yoast SEO, can you finally sit back, relax, and watch as visitors pour in? Not really.  As we said, you will have to continue making high-quality content. Don’t forget that you can also use social media to your advantage and strategically share your content there. Another important thing is getting links from other, preferably high-ranking websites. That means that you will need to work on your link building. Of course, don’t forget to apply holistic SEO strategies to your website to cover all SEO fronts and ensure high rankings.

Keep reading: How to rank high in Google »

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