The Month in WordPress: May 2019

This month saw the 16th anniversary since the launch of the first release of WordPress. A significant milestone to be sure and one that speaks to the strength and stability of the project as a whole. In this anniversary month, we saw a new major release of WordPress, some exciting new development work, and a significant global event.


Release of WordPress 5.2

WordPress 5.2 “Jaco” was released on May 7 shipping some useful site management tools, such as the Site Health Check and PHP Error Protection, as well as a number of accessibility, privacy, and developer updates. You can read the field guide for this release for more detailed information about what was included and how it all works.

327 individual volunteers contributed to the release. If you would like to be a part of that number for future releases, follow the Core team blog and join the #core channel in the Making WordPress Slack group.

A Successful WordPress Translation Day 4

WordPress Translation Day is a 24-hour event organised by the Polyglots team where community members from all over the world come together to translate WordPress into their local languages. For the fourth edition held on 11 May, 183 brand new contributors joined the Polyglots team from 77 communities across 35 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, South America, and Oceania.

While the WP Translation Day is a great time for focussed contributions to localizing WordPress, but these contributions can happen at any time of the year, so if you would like to help make WordPress available in your local language, follow the Polyglots team blog and join the #polyglots channel in the Making WordPress Slack group.

Updated Plugin Guidelines Proposal

The Plugins team has proposed some updates to the guidelines for developers on the Plugin Directory. The majority of the proposed changes are intended to address significant issues faced by developers who do not speak English as a first language, making the Plugin DIrectory a more accessible and beneficial place for everyone.

The proposal will be open for comments until late June, so the community is encouraged to get involved with commenting on them and the direction they will take the Plugin Directory. If you would like to be involved in this discussion, comment on the proposal and join the #plugin review team in the Making WordPress Slack group.

Continued Gutenberg Development

Since the block editor was first released as part of WordPress Core in v5.0, development has continued in leaps and bounds with a new release every two weeks. The latest update includes some great incremental improvements that will be merged into the 5.2.2 release of WordPress along with the other recent enhancements.

In addition to the editor enhancements, work has been ongoing in the Gutenberg project to bring the block editing experience to the rest of the WordPress dashboard. This second phase of the project has been going well and the latest update shows how much work has been done so far.

In addition to that, the Block Library project that aims to bring a searchable library of available blocks right into the editor is deep in the planning phase with a recent update showing what direction the team is taking things.

If you would like to get involved in planning and development of Gutenberg and the block editor, follow the Core and Design team blogs and join the #core, #design, and #core-editor channels in the Making WordPress Slack group.


Further Reading:

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

Block Editor news and plugin tips

While we’re getting ready to see WordPress 5.2.2 released next week, today’s roundup focuses partly on the Block Editor. I’m also highlighting two plugins that work wonderfully with the Block Editor. One is for creating creative grid layouts and one is for ad management. Let’s dive in!

Block Library Project

The project for the Block Library in the Gutenberg editor, which allows for installing Blocks from within Gutenberg, is well underway. The end goal of the project is to have the WordPress.org API provide an endpoint for searching for blocks by name and description, and return metadata similar to that of plugins. Making it super easy to install blocks from within the Gutenberg editor.

Mel Choyce published an update on the Make WordPress Design blog outlining a workflow. Well worth checking out. Especially if you’ve already spent a lot of time in the new Block Editor.

Grids for the Block Editor

Speaking of the Block Editor, there’s a cool plugin I stumbled upon called Grids. It’s a sort of layout builder that helps you create visual structures in your page. From a simple layout made by adjacent columns, to more complex compositions.

Grids is entirely based on the Block Editor, which means you’ll be able to use it together with the big collection of content blocks that have already been created. It’s a pretty nifty plugin, if you ask me.

Site Health Manager

WordPress 5.2 introduced the ‘Site Health’ section in your ‘Tools’ menu. As is the case with all new features WordPress adds, soon, a new plugin will start playing with that :) Just like in this case. If you’d like more granular control over what is shown in the ‘Site Health’ section, then the Site Health Manager plugin is for you.

Adsanity

One of the very few plugins I recommend for managing advertisements on your site is Adsanity. It’s a premium plugin, but it’s one well worth paying for in my opinion. The plugin works as a light ad rotator plugin. It allows you, as the user, to create and manage ads shown on a website as well as keep statistics on views and clicks.

They recently released their 1.6 version, which makes the plugin integrate perfectly with the Block Editor as well as Beaver Builder, for instance. If you’re in the market for an ad manager, do check them out.

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Why and how to investigate the top tasks of your visitors

At Yoast, we continuously want to improve our website and our products. But how do you find out what makes them better? Sure, we need to fulfill the needs of our clients. But how do you know what your client’s top tasks are? Doing research is the answer! We love doing research because we get valuable insights out of it. Here, we’ll dive into one research type we use regularly: customer surveys and in this case, the top task survey.

How do you know what your customers need?

When we started working together with AGConsult on the conversion optimization of Yoast.com, they advised doing a top task survey. Research is always the first step in the conversion optimization process and you simply can’t get all relevant information out of plain data from, for instance, Google Analytics.

To know why your customers are visiting your website, you need your customers to talk to you. If you think, you now have to start a conversation with all your visitors, don’t worry. Luckily, there are several other ways to make your visitors talk to you. An example is setting up an online top task survey, which will pop up on your visitor’s screen as soon as you want it to pop up. For example, immediately after opening your website or after a couple of minutes.

The best question for your top task survey

To make sure you don’t influence your visitor’s answers, it’s important to ask an open question. By asking closed questions, you make your visitors choose between the answers you set up yourself. Although you can add an ‘other’ field, visitors are more likely to quickly choose a listed answer. That’s easier than putting their own opinion in an open field. So closed questions prevent you from getting to know all your visitor’s thoughts.

So, what question should you ask? Within the top task survey we perform on our own website, we always ask this question:

‘What is the purpose of your visit to this website? Please be as specific as possible.’

Popup top task survey which asks " What is the purpose of your visit to this website? Please be as specific as possible."

This pop-up will appear at the bottom right of the website, no matter what the landing page is. The above use of wording encourages visitors to really think about their specific purpose. Also the addition of ‘be as specific as possible’ often results in more valuable answers.

You could choose to only add this one question or you could choose to ask one more question to get more knowledge about your customers. For Yoast, within our top task survey, we always ask visitors a second question to tell us if they already use our most important product:

Example of an online top task survey which pops up on Yoast.com. It's a second question to know more about the customers

For other companies, it could be valuable to use this second question to get to know the age of visitors, the market they work in, etc. It all depends on what you want to do with the outcomes. If you’re not going to do anything with the answers on the second question, please use only one question in the survey. The fewer questions, the more visitors will participate.

What to do with all the answers

When you end the survey, you probably have lots of answers to go through. How do you start analyzing all these answers? We recommend to just start reading through the answers and try to set up categories while reading. Set up categories that cover lots of answers, don’t be too specific. You’ll need to find a pattern in your visitor’s answers. Only when you do this, you can create actional steps to optimize your website or your products.

To give an example, we’ve listed some of our own categories below:

  • Info/buying Yoast SEO plugin
  • Info specific feature
  • Info other plugins
  • Info about courses
  • Need help
  • Learn SEO

This might give you an idea when setting up your own categories.

The second step, after you categorize all answers, is setting up a plan. Now that you know which categories are the most important to your visitors, it’s important to optimize your website using that information.

For example, our own top task survey showed us that almost 25% of our visitors are looking for plugin related help. We already had a menu item ‘support’ which linked to our knowledge base, but after the survey, we had the idea of changing the name of the menu item into ‘help’ because lots of visitors named it help.

We set up an A/B test, comparing the menu item ‘support’ with the variant ‘help’ in the test. What do you think happened there? ‘Help’ was a winner! This shows again: knowing what your customers are looking for is the most valuable information you can get.

How often should you repeat this survey?

We believe it’s good to do a top task survey once a year. However, if you don’t change much on your website or in your products, every other year can be enough as well.

Every time you analyze the answers of a new top task survey, you get to know if you’re on the right track or if you need to shift your focus towards another product or another part of your website.

You can never do too much research!

Tools to start an online survey

There are several free and paid tools out there in which you can create a survey like this. We use Hotjar, but we’re planning to create our own design and implementing it with Google Tag Manager. Other tools we know for setting up online surveys are:

On their sites, they have a clear explanation of how to use these tools to perform a top task survey.

Have you ever performed a top task survey for your website? Did you find out anything that you didn’t know or what surprised you? Let us know!

Read more: Content SEO: How to analyze your audience »

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Yoast SEO 11.3: Even more enhancements

High-time for another release, namely Yoast SEO 11.3. This release features enhancements and bug fixes aimed at improving the way your favorite SEO plugin performs. In this post, you’ll find everything you need to know about Yoast SEO 11.3! Plus, a word on supporting older versions of WordPress and helping people upgrade their PHP versions.

But first: on supporting older version of WordPress

While developing Yoast SEO, we’ve always had a rule of supporting the two most recent versions of WordPress. This helped us focus our efforts on the platforms that needed it most. With the release of WordPress 5.0, we stretched that rule. We kept supporting WordPress 4.9, because we wanted to give users ample time to get ready to switch to WordPress 5.0 and its new editor — or keep using the Classic Editor, of course.

Now, as soon as WordPress 5.3 comes out, Yoast SEO will go back to supporting the two most recent versions — WordPress 5.2 and 5.3 in this case. We’d also like to urge users to upgrade their PHP software on their hosting platforms to at least 5.6, the minimum requirement of WordPress 5.2. Better yet, if possible, we’d like everyone to make the jump to the 7 series of PHP. Everyone will thank you!

Joost wrote a post explaining why we have this policy and why we’re deciding to go back to it.

With that said, let’s move on to Yoast SEO 11.3.

Enhancements and fixes

As in the last couple of releases, we’re still fine-tuning and improving our new Schema implementation. We launched this huge addition in Yoast SEO 11.0 and we’ve been stunned by the enthusiastic reception it got. But, of course, we won’t rest on our laurels just yet.

In Yoast SEO 11.3, we’re now letting users set an image for persons as well. Just go to SEO → Search Appearance → Knowledge Graph & Schema.org and pick or upload an image. This image will now be added to the structured data graph for this particular user.

You can now upload an image, photo or logo to go with the person

In addition, we fixed several bugs in the Schema implementation. These mainly concerned issues with setting and picking the Person for the site and the Schema output it generated.

Other enhancements in the plugin include a new wpseo_should_index_links filter which you can use to disable the link indexation. Plus, we’ve added support for builtin taxonomies so you can add the blog archive page to the breadcrumbs.

You can find all changes in the changelog for this release.

Update now and be sure to come back soon

So there you have it. Yoast SEO 11.3 is a release focused on ironing out some kinks to make your experience as smooth as possible. We added several enhancements that’ll prove beneficial for our Schema implementation, for instance. Try out Yoast SEO 11.3 and update whenever you’re ready!

One more thing. Seeing all these updates make you wonder why we release so often? Would you like to know why we have a two-week release schedule? Well, you’re not the only one. Soon, our very own Caroline will go into detail on how our development process functions and how the release schedule actually works. Stay tuned!

The post Yoast SEO 11.3: Even more enhancements appeared first on Yoast.

Happy sweet 16 WordPress, microblogging and Hello theme launch

We have a wide arrange of topics to discuss in this roundup. Everything from a perfect microblogging theme, to spinning up your WordPress hosting environment and lots in between. And, there are even some bonus links this time. Let’s dive in!

Happy Sweet 16 WordPress!

Today is an extra special day in the land of WordPress. It’s the 16th birthday of WordPress. It’s been 16 years since Mike Little and Matt Mullenweg released the first release of WordPress.

Elementor launches Hello theme

One of my favorite theme builders, Elementor, launched a theme in the WordPress repository that is fully compatibility with Elementor called Hello. It’s both a clean and lightweight theme that allows you to fully build the site whichever way you like.

For those of you wondering if there’s a place for Page Builders in this block-based editor era, I’d encourage you to play around with the Hello theme and the Elementor plugin and see for yourself. Both are freely available from within your WordPress Dashboards.

SpinupWP out of beta

About six months ago I mentioned an alternative solution for self-hosting your WordPress sites called SpinupWP. Last week, after having two developers working on it full-time for 15 months, 400 hours of design, and 300 beta users for six months, they finally launched out of beta. If you’re in the market for self-hosting your sites, you should check them out!

Microblogging

You might think that the only place where microblogging can take place is Twitter or Instagram, for instance. Well, microblogging – short messages that come in the form of a variety of content formats, including text, images, video, audio, and hyperlinks – also have a place in our favorite CMS: WordPress.

All you really need is a theme that makes your microblogging shine. And the Davis theme created by Anders Norén does exactly that.

Disable the WordPress blog

What if the site you’re building has no need for a blog? Well, there’s a plugin for that! The Disable Blog plugin to disables the blog functionality of WordPress. It does this by hiding admin pages and settings. It also redirects pages on both the front-end and admin side. Perfect for that static site you’re building.

Bonus links

  • When you want to share blog posts on social media, you need an image that matches your post. However, creating images for social media can be a pain. It is exactly this problem that Placid is trying to solve. It’s a premium solution, but it may be just perfect for you.
  • If you’ve ever needed a solution to create beautiful footnotes for your WordPress site, look no further. Footnotes Made Easy is the perfect, Gutenberg ready plugin for this.

The post Happy sweet 16 WordPress, microblogging and Hello theme launch appeared first on Yoast.

Should you keep old content?

Writing a blog post can be a challenge. It is hard work, but afterwards, you’re probably proud of what you have created. No way you are ever going to throw those beautiful articles away, right? But what should you do with blog posts that are really, really old? Should you keep all of those?

In this blog post, I’ll explain why you cannot keep all of your old content. Also, I’ll explain what types of content you should keep on your site and which kinds of articles should be deleted.

Why you cannot keep all your content

Even if your content is really awesome, you need to do some cleaning. Otherwise, you’ll be hurting your own chances of ranking in Google. You see, there are only a limited number of places in Google’s search results pages. Google will only show 1 or 2 results from the same domain in the search results for any specific query. If you’re a high authority domain, you might get away with three results.

If you have written 3 articles focussing on the same – or very similar – keywords, you are competing with yourself for those limited spaces in the search results. You’ll be confusing Google. That’s why you cannot blog endlessly about the same content and leave it be. You need to do some content management.

Read more: What is keyword cannibalization? »

Update, delete or merge?

There are three things you can do with old content. You can keep it, you can delete it or you can merge it. Not sure what to do? It all depends upon your content.

1. Update valuable content

Is an article still very valuable? Does it get a lot of traffic from Google? Is the post still in line with your site and your company? Old content that is still very valuable should, of course, be kept on your website. Do make sure that this content is updated on a regular basis. Your most important articles should never contain any outdated information. Setting reminders for yourself to update those evergreens every now and then is a great way to make sure your content is always up to date. 

Solve it with site structure

Keeping content on your website does come with a price, especially if you write a lot about similar topics. Make sure you add some structure and hierarchy to your website. If one of your pages or posts is much more important than the other one, you should treat it as such. Place that important page higher in your hierarchy. Link from less important pages to your most important page. that way you’ll be telling Google which article you want to rank highest with and you can keep both articles.

Keep reading: How to set up a cornerstone content strategy? »

2. Delete (and redirect) outdated content

Is an article outdated? Does it contain invalid information? Does it contain information that’s no longer informative? Every now and then you write about an upcoming event or you announce something new. After some time, these articles are pretty much useless. These types of articles should be deleted. Do make sure to redirect the article to something similar (or to the homepage if you cannot find an alternative).

3. Merge content

Have you written multiple articles about the same topic? Are they pretty much the same? Are they ranking for the same topics? These types of articles should be merged. Make one really awesome article out of the two (or three) you have written. Then delete (but do not forget to redirect) the old articles. I would write the new merged article on the URL that attracted the most traffic from Google.

Conclusion: continue to clean up

Checking, updating, structuring and deleting old content should be part of a process. Just like you need to clean up your kitchen closet every now and then, you also need to clean up your old content. As your site grows, you need to clean out the content and maintain the structure. This really needs to be a core element in every SEO strategy.

The post Should you keep old content? appeared first on Yoast.

How to do a one-page analysis in Google Analytics

I often get a request from our Blog team about one of their pages. Sometimes they want to know if the page has gotten more pageviews or they notice something weird and they want me to find out what’s going on. And this time they wanted more insight in the performance of one particular page. I want to share with you how I deal with this request.

So the other day I got a request to check the performance of our Blog homepage. We want to optimize that page so it fits better with the need of our audience. If you have an idea about that, you can leave your feedback in the comments section below this post.

Page level analysis

The first thing I had a look at is how ‘popular’ the page is and if it’s worth the effort to spend time and resources on this page. I went to the All pages report in Google Analytics, which you can find under Behavior –> Site content and did a cmd+F or ctrl+F search for the page https://yoast.com/seo-blog/. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for; it’s because it probably isn’t within the first ten results. So you need to expand your table first; you can do this on the right bottom of the table.

search for a page in Google Analytics

I notice it’s at position 32 if you look at the number of pageviews, which is a reasonably high position and thus worthy of further investigation. I also notice that in 6,327 of the cases it’s an entrance page, this means it’s in 35,3% of the cases the first page of the session (6,327 / 17,931 * 100).

You can also search for a specific post in the search bar to see just the metrics of that page but sometimes other pages show up as well.

Search for one page in Google Analytics

If the page is in blue letters, it means you can specify even further when clicking on it because it’s a link. Or you can use regex; regex stands for “regular expression”. Lunametrics made this fun regex guide that shows you how you can use regex in Google Analytics. It may sound a bit scary, but if you know the basics, it’s quite doable and will make your Google Analytics life a whole lot easier. Here’s how a regex would look if I just wanted the SEO blog homepage:

^yoast\.com\/seo-blog\/$

Use regex in the search bar in Google Analytics

But in this case, you can just as well click on the page to see just the metrics of that page. Try to understand what the metrics are saying and how it compares to the site’s average. In this case, for a page that’s built to guide people to blog posts of their interests, a bounce rate of 50.48% is fairly high. That means that in half of the cases, people didn’t do anything on that page! That’s not what the page is designed for.

I was also curious to see if this page gets a lot of mobile traffic, so I added a secondary dimension with the Device category. I then checked what the metrics told me.

Adding secondary dimension: device category in Google Analytics

About 10% of the page views come from a mobile device. You can see it has a higher bounce rate so checking the mobile experience is a good idea.

Trend analysis

And, I was curious to see how the page developed over time, so I added a wider timeframe to check if I saw something unusual. You can adjust the graph you’re seeing. Perhaps you’re interested if Bounce rate declined or not. You can select this metric and you’ll see the trend of the bounce rate of that page.

Adding a wider time frame in Google Analytics

Session level analysis

I then looked at this page from a page level. But, I had more questions about this page. If people are entering our site through this page, where are they coming from? So, I had a look from a session level perspective. I went to landing pages and did the same search as in the All pages report.

Finding a landing page in Google Analytics

It’s at position 65 and obviously has 6,327 sessions since we saw that in the All pages report at entrances. I once again looked at the metrics and tried to understand what they’re telling me. The number of pages per session, the bounce rate and the number of ‘new’ users. And I had a look at conversions.

I then dove in further, clicked on the page and added a secondary dimension: medium, so I could quickly see where traffic is coming from. I noticed that we have a lot of traffic that we don’t know the source of. So that’s something to explore further. In second position comes our plugin and third is organic search traffic. Which is interesting to see because I’m curious with what keywords people end up on that page and if we rank properly on that keyword or keyphrase. With that information, we can improve the SEO of that page even further.

Again, I had a look at bounce rates, pages per session, number of new users and possible conversions. Thinking about if the page is doing what it’s supposed to do.

Google Search Console analysis

I needed to go to Google Search Console to find information about the keywords or keyphrases the blog homepage ranks for. You go to your Google Search Console account and click on Search results. Then you set a filter that exactly matches the URL of your page, in our case: https://yoast.com/seo-blog/.

Adding a page filter in Google Search Console

You now see the queries and position of that page. Take a look at the metrics and try to understand what’s going on. It’s especially interesting if you have a lot of impressions but a low clickthrough rate (CTR).

Results of page filter in Google Search Console

Conclusion

What can we learn from this analysis? For one is that it’s worth the while to put some time and effort into this page. I learned that we can optimize the SEO of that page even further and that we can put some more effort into ranking for the keyword SEO blog.

I also noticed that it’s quite a popular page, but the bounce rate is too high for my taste. Especially when the goal of the page is to guide people to a blog post of their interest. So, there needs to be interaction with this page. We need to find out what people expect to find on this page. So, therefore, extra information is needed. That’s why we added a simple poll on this page, using Hotjar. We also created a heatmap with this tool to get a better understanding of how people behave on the page.

Combining data gives you a far more holistic view and will make sure you can draw more reliable conclusions. Data we can use to optimize the blog homepage even further. The perfect dataset doesn’t exist but we can try to get as far near perfection as possible.

The post How to do a one-page analysis in Google Analytics appeared first on Yoast.

WordPress 5.2.1 Maintenance Release

WordPress 5.2.1 is now available! This maintenance release fixes 33 bugs, including improvements to the block editor, accessibility, internationalization, and the Site Health feature introduced in 5.2.

You can browse the full list of changes on Trac.

WordPress 5.2.1 is a short-cycle maintenance release. Version 5.2.2 is expected to follow in approximately two weeks.

You can download WordPress 5.2.1 or visit Dashboard → Updates and click Update Now. Sites that support automatic background updates have already started to update automatically.

Jonathan Desrosiers and William Earnhardt co-led this release, with contributions from 52 other contributors. Thank you to everyone that made this release possible!

Alex Dimitrov, Alex Shiels, Andrea Fercia, Andrew Duthie, Andrew Ozz, Andrey “Rarst” Savchenko, Andy Fragen, anischarolia, Birgir Erlendsson (birgire), chesio, Chetan Prajapati, daxelrod, Debabrata Karfa, Dima, Dion Hulse, Dominik Schilling, Ella van Durpe, Emil Dotsev, ghoul, Grzegorz (Greg) Ziółkowski, gwwar, Hareesh, Ian Belanger, imath, Jb Audras, Jeremy Felt, Joen Asmussen, Jonathan Desrosiers, Jonny Harris, Josepha, jrf, kjellr, Marius L. J., MikeNGarrett, Milan Dinić, Mukesh Panchal, onlanka, paragoninitiativeenterprises, parkcityj, Peter Wilson, Presskopp, Riad Benguella, Sergey Biryukov, Stephen Edgar, Sébastien SERRE, Thorsten Frommen, Tim Hengeveld, Timothy Jacobs, timph, TobiasBg, tonybogdanov, Tor-Bjorn Fjellner, William Earnhardt, and Yui.

Common (beginner) mistakes in WordPress

WordPress, as a CMS, is great for people who are just starting with their first website. It doesn’t require users to write code, it’s SEO friendly and easy to manage. Still, there are a few mistakes many beginners make in WordPress. Actually, to be honest, these mistakes are not only made by beginners. That’s is why it’s time I shared a couple of common (beginner) mistakes in WordPress here.

1. Not changing your permalinks properly

It’s good to think about your permalinks before you actually start using WordPress. Permalinks (the name already gives it away) are meant to be permanent. So, once you’ve set them, you really shouldn’t change them again.

If you, however, do decide to change your permalinks, the URLs of your posts will change. This means search engines can no longer find your posts, as they’ve indexed the old permalink. Visitors coming to your site via search engines will end up on your site with an error message saying the post could not be found. The infamous 404 error message. You want to avoid those at all cost.

You have lots of options to choose from when deciding on a permalink structure. In most cases, however, the most simple one with just the /%postname%/ will suffice for an SEO-friendly URL.

Read more: How to change your WordPress permalink structure »

2. Forgetting to update

Between WordPress, all the plugins and themes, it can be hard to keep track of all the updates a website needs. Especially if everything is working smoothly, it can be hard to see the immediate value in taking the time to process those updates.

But keeping plugins, themes and WordPress itself updated is one of the most important tasks you have as a site owner. Updates not only bring new features but often times fix bugs and security issues. The absolute last thing you want to see happen is to end up with a hacked site, right?

Keep reading: WordPress Security »

3. Having too many plugins

There are more than fifty thousand plugins available in the WordPress repository, so you have a lot of options to choose from. Which makes it very tempting to install a plugin for every little thing you can think of. But that doesn’t come without a cost.

Not only will you have to keep all these plugins up to date, but there are other risks as well. Too many plugins doing fancy stuff can possibly slow your site down, which means you may end up with a slow website. So, evaluate carefully before you install a new plugin.

Technically, a single plugin can screw up your entire site. So it isn’t just about the number of plugins, but also about being careful about what you add to your site.

4. Not creating a child theme when making changes

When installing your WordPress website for the first time, you get one of the default WordPress themes. And perhaps this theme doesn’t suit your needs. So you’re on the lookout for a new theme.

You’ve found a new theme, installed it and it’s working fine. But, after a little while, you realize you want to change a few things. Before you dive into how to change your theme, you should create a child theme and make your changes in the child theme. By doing this, you’ll be sure that when your initial theme sees some updates, you won’t lose all your modifications.

If you follow the links in the previous paragraph, you can learn how to create your child theme yourself. But, as with many things within WordPress, there’s also a plugin that does it for you.

By the way, there’s a big chance you only want to do some CSS changes and the Customizer should suffice for this. That’s also a future proof way to change things about your theme.

5. Deleting content the wrong way

One of the most common mistakes occurs once you have your site up and running. You may want to delete posts or pages. They may no longer serve the purpose they used to and it makes good sense to remove those.

However, since the search engines have indexed your site, deleted content on your site will render the infamous 404 pages: page not found. So, make sure you delete pages on your site the right way. Our Yoast SEO Premium solves this problem for you, by the way.

Read on: What does the Redirect manager in Yoast SEO do? »

6. Not deleting the default content

When you first install WordPress, WordPress will create a ‘Sample Page’ and a ‘Hello World’ post for you. Make sure you delete the default sample page via the pages menu and the ‘Hello World’ post via the posts menu. Don’t be like any of these websites 😉.

Don’t make these mistakes!

There you have it. These are the most common (beginner) mistakes made in WordPress. Although you may have noticed a few things listed here that are not just mistakes beginners make. Make sure you avoid these and you’re well under way working on your WordPress site.

Keep on reading: WordPress SEO: The definitive guide »

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Supporting older versions of WordPress

As soon as WordPress 5.3 comes out, Yoast will only support 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’d kept alive for a little bit longer than usual to allow people to transition to WordPress 5.0 and the classic editor. I’d like to explain why we have this policy and why we’re deciding to go back to it.

Building software for WordPress can be incredibly complex. We work in a world where there are always a couple of versions of WordPress around. Next to that, plugins can do almost anything (which they do), which also means they can interfere with each other. Every site has a different combination of plugins, leading to tens of thousands of different combinations.

Modern code

At Yoast we pride ourselves in using the best tools available to build solutions for our users. With WordPress 5.2, the WordPress core team upped the minimum PHP requirement for WordPress from PHP 5.2 to PHP 5.6. We always want our software to work on the minimum requirements for WordPress, which means we could only use functionality from PHP 5.2 up until then.

Note: I know these version numbers and the fact that they’re so alike can become confusing. We’ve certainly had some confusion around that internally. I apologize for that in advance, but as you’ll understand, I can’t change these version numbers.

PHP is the language that most of the WordPress backend is built in. PHP 5.2 was released in 2006, while PHP 5.6 was released in 2014. As you can see, that’s 8 years apart, and 8 years is an incredibly long time on the internet.

By going back to our policy of only supporting the current and previous version, and thus only supporting WordPress 5.2 and 5.3, we allow ourselves to develop using PHP 5.6. Because we can use PHP 5.6 now, we can develop faster and more securely.

What does “support” mean?

When we say we don’t support an older version of WordPress it means we’ve stopped testing with it, and things are likely to break. It also means you won’t see Yoast SEO updates until you’ve updated your WordPress to a supported version.

My site doesn’t work with the classic editor

For a small portion of sites, I know this leaves them in limbo, which we hate. If you have a custom WordPress solution, built with old versions of plugins like Advanced Custom Fields (ACF), you might be “stuck”. Even though ACF has done an incredibly good job of migrating to Gutenberg, that might not “save” you.

While we think that sucks, we don’t really have any option for you other than to go to your website developer and explain them that this isn’t a state you want to stay in. You really should move to newer versions of WordPress. We will keep on supporting the Classic Editor for a few more years, so if they make it work with that, you’re good.

I don’t see any Yoast SEO updates

There are a couple of different reasons why you can’t see Yoast SEO updates. As said above: if you’re on an old version of WordPress, you will not see them. So update your WordPress first. If that’s not the case, please reinstall the plugin, simply delete it and install the latest version manually. That won’t delete any of your data, don’t worry.

Go and update your site!

So, if you’re on an old version of WordPress, go and update. Of course, before doing anything like updating plugins or WordPress, always make sure to test and back up your site!

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