WordPress is open source. Yoast SEO is open source. At Yoast, we’re open source fanboys (and fangirls). We’ve talked about it, we’ve written about it. And still, lots of people do not know why open source is so unique. Most people do not even know what open source software is or how it’s made. That’s why we’re starting a series of interviews with people that love open source as much as we do. We’ll even search outside of WordPress. Let’s start this series with an interview with our very own Joost de Valk, founder and CEO of Yoast.

Q. Why is open source important to you?
“Open source is important to me because it’s what allowed me to learn how to code. I learned to write code by looking at other people’s code. Another reason why open source is so very important to me is that I have a deep feeling that this is how software should be developed and how knowledge should be shared. This might sound a bit grand, but as human kind, it just doesn’t make sense to develop the same things over and over again.”

Q. In what way do you contribute to open source projects?

I actively contribute to WordPress Core myself. In addition, as a company, we contribute to open source platforms by donating development time, design time, marketing time and money.

Q. Who is your open source hero?

“Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia. He’s a hero because he open sourced Wikimedia, the platform on which Wikipedia is build. In a way – with Wikipedia itself – he actually open sourced all knowledge. That’s just really awesome.”

Q. Do you have to be a developer to be involved with open source?

“No, absolutely not. Every open source project needs copywriters, translators, marketers, designers and project managers in order to succeed. Also, we need people with lots of other skill sets for, for instance, organizing a conference. I think that at Yoast, about half of our contribution is not code.”

Q. When and what was your first open source contribution?

“My first open source contribution was a test case for WebKit, the core of Safari and Chrome. This was at the end of 2005. I’ve written hundreds of test cases for WebKit and I started blogging about that on WordPress.”

Q. Does open source say anything about the quality of a product?

“Open source itself is not a guarantee of quality. There’s good and there’s bad open source software. However, with open source software, you’ll always be able to hire a developer to work on a product, even if a product is abandoned. You’ll never end up with a completely dead product because you can always reach the code. I think that is a major advantage of open source software as compared to closed source software.

Q. How do you learn from open source software?

“Open source code is visible to everybody. Because of that, you can learn from other people’s code. You can see and learn from the solutions of other people. Working on open source projects also means that you can discuss and collaborate with others who are working on the same product.

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The developers at Yoast learn from each other, but they also learn from all the other developers in the WordPress ecosystem. Because of that, because they learn from so many, different developers, they quickly improve themselves. They become better developers. I really think that people severely underestimate how important this is.”

Who’s next?

Any ideas on whom to interview next? Which open source fanatic should I reach out to? Let me know!

Read more: Why our mission is: SEO for everyone »

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While we’re still only at the start of the Gutenberg adventure, we’re presenting an awesome, brand-new feature for the new WordPress editor today. Meet the Yoast SEO structured data content blocks! The content blocks automatically add valid structured data code to the content that is added to these blocks. Our initial line-up consists of How-to and FAQ content blocks, plus address and map blocks for our Local SEO plugins, but we’re looking to add more in the future.

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Yoast SEO: the #1 WordPress SEO plugin Info

Adding structured data in Gutenberg

Structured data is important but pretty hard to implement. By adding Schema.org structured data to your pages you can tell search engines exactly what’s on there. For most people implementing it comes down to asking their developer to hard-code it into the site. Or learning to master Google Tag Manager so you can inject the necessary code into your pages — this is what we teach you in our Structured data training. This complexity is one of the reasons structured data has been struggling to reach critical mass, even though Google has been pushing it for years. This is now changing with Gutenberg structured data content blocks in Yoast SEO 8.2!

As of today, we’re adding that structured data metadata automatically to the content that’s added to two new Gutenberg blocks inside Yoast SEO, namely How-to and FAQ. Local SEO and WooCommerce SEO have blocks for addresses and maps. So, if you have an FAQ page on your site you can now build these pages inside Gutenberg. Yoast SEO will automatically add the necessary Question Schema.org to that block. The same goes for How-to. Build your how-to article with the How-to content block in Gutenberg, including all the necessary steps and even images, and see a valid piece of structured data appear in the source of your page. It is now easier than ever for Google to find and understand that particular piece of content. Fantastic, right?

Our CEO Joost de Valk and CTO Omar Reiss explain the how and why of Yoast SEO structured data content blocks in this interview »

How-to structured data

How-to structured data is a fairly new addition to the Schema.org vocabulary. You use it to mark up content that teaches you how to do something following a series of steps. This could be how to cat-proof your apartment or how to install Yoast SEO Premium or something else entirely. We published a post a while back on how to add how-to structured data to your how-to articles. Please read that if you need more background information.

The structured data content blocks come with default styling, but we made it easy for you to change these. Our UX designer Luc wrote a post detailing how you can give the How-to content blocks your own styling so they fit right in with the rest of your site. There will be a post about styling your FAQ content blocks later on.

Using the Gutenberg How-to structured data content blocks is incredibly easy.

  1. Choose the Yoast SEO structured data block for How-to
  2. Type the description for the how-to
  3. Enter the time needed to do the how-to
  4. Fill in the first step title
  5. Fill in supporting text for the step
  6. If necessary, add an image using the Add image button
  7. Hit the Add step button to add a new step
  8. Use the Insert step button to insert a new step between existing steps
  9. Done? Save your draft!

Here’s an example how-to on how to install Yoast SEO Premium:How-to content blockAnd here’s what Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool says of that page:the result in the structured data testing toolEpic, right? Remember, due to restrictions by Google it is not possible to add more than one How-to content block on a page.

Want to dive into the mark-up and styling of our HowTo block? Read this post from our UX designer Luc.

FAQ structured data

If you have a section on your site for frequently asked questions — an FAQ— then you’ll enjoy the new FAQ structured data content block. Schema.org/Question is “A specific question – e.g. from a user seeking answers online, or collected in a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document.” You can now easily add the structured data needed for search engines to understand FAQ content. Just fill in the questions, add the answers and maybe an image if needed. Hit publish and your perfectly structured FAQ block is ready!

Local SEO & WooCommerce SEO with Gutenberg blocks

Of course, we had to give some of our other SEO WordPress plugins some Gutenberg love as well. Do you own a local business or are you doing a lot of local SEO? If so, you need our Local SEO or WooCommerce SEO plugins. These plugins help you to improve your site so it can more easily rank in your local search results.

Today, the two local SEO plugins get structured data content blocks for Gutenberg as well: you can now add valid structured data to your site by adding the new address block. The fields will appear automatically if you’ve filled in the fields in the plugin settings. Of course, you can finetune what you do and don’t want to appear. In addition, you can use the new Google Maps structured data content block to easily add a good looking map with structured data to your site.Address content block

More to come

Gutenberg’s block-based design makes it a very interesting platform to design for. These structured data content blocks are our first tools specifically built for the new WordPress editor. We hope to expand our offering of structured data blocks in the near future. We can’t wait to bring you blocks for job postings, events and recipes, among others! And please, do give us your feedback so we can make these blocks even more awesome.

Polish readability analysis

Yoast SEO 8.2 also brings a new supported language: Polish! We can now analyze text written in Polish and make suggestions to improve the readability. In addition, we will now also suggest articles to link to using our internal linking tool in Yoast SEO Premium. The Polish readability analysis was made possible by contributions from the community. We’re thankful for the great support from the people at Macopedia, who sent us word lists which make a vital part of our analysis. We’re always super enthusiastic when people in the community show us their love for our products and also a commitment to the open source spirit by contributing to our code base!

Bug fixes and enhancements

As always, we’ve fixed a couple of annoying bugs. This time we focused on fixing bugs related to slugs, user input incorrectly triggering analyses, zooming issues on iPhones and several others. You can read up on them in the changelog. We do want to thank mt8, who helped us fix a bug related to OpenGraph images that wouldn’t correctly show for the front page in a couple of situations.

Update now!

Yoast SEO 8.2 is a very exciting release. With the launch of the structured data content blocks for Gutenberg, we’re heading into unknown and very exciting territory. We can’t wait to see what you do with the current set of blocks and hope to bring even more blocks to you in the near future. Try it, tell us what you think and enjoy using Yoast SEO 8.2!

Read more: Why you should buy Yoast SEO »

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In Yoast SEO 8.0 you’ve met with the Yoast SEO Gutenberg sidebar. Since the 8.1 release, you can see the snippet preview in action in this sidebar. These are our first step of integrating Yoast SEO with Gutenberg. But there is more to come. Shortly, we’ll also introduce a whole new concept: Yoast SEO content blocks. In this interview with our CEO Joost and CTO Omar we explore content blocks: What are they? What do they have to do with SEO? And what are Yoast’s plans with blocks? Let’s go! 

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Q. We’ve heard the term content blocks often lately. Can you explain what those blocks are?

Omar: Blocks are single components that you can use in the Gutenberg editor. You can see them as separate content items. With these items you can structure your content and build a page. A bit like you’re building a page with pieces of LEGO. Every content block can have its own styling and meta data. Because of this, a block becomes more valuable and this opens up lots of opportunities, also in terms of SEO.

gutenberg

Creation of content in blocks with Gutenberg

Q. What opportunities of blocks are you referring to?

Omar: For us, the advantage lies mostly in the meta data you can include in a block. You can add structured data to your content block, for instance. With structured data you tell search engines in a schematic way what your content is about: is it a recipe, a book or a film? Structured data exists for many things (entities): products, but also blog posts, Q&A’s or How to‘s. You can find them all on schema.org.

Joost: Let’s say you have a Q&A section on your site. If you add structured data to you Q&A block it’s directly clear to Google that this block provides answers to certain questions and what these questions and answers are. Therefore it’s easier for Google to match them up with a certain query. Because of the structured way it’s set up it’s easier to point to an answer directly, which could be an advantage for voice search as well. Voice search typically works well if it can read out loud one singular answer to a question.

Q. If you have content blocks with structured data, does that increase your chance of ranking?

Joost: We can’t say that it will instantly make you rank higher. It will help Google understand your content better, which is always good and might give you an edge. And, of course, structured data is essential, if you’d like to get rich results in the search engines. We also suspect that if you have a page that is schematically divided into blocks with their own – related – keywords, it might be easier to make your page rank for multiple related keywords too.

Q. Ok, sounds great. But how is this connected to Yoast SEO?

Joost: We’re developing Yoast SEO content blocks with schema.org meta data. Shortly, we’ll launch the first blocks: FAQ blocks and How to blocks. This means you’ll be able to select such a block in the Gutenberg content editor. The block will help you fill out all the necessary data for that specific entity. In case of the How to, for instance, it will have fields for the time it’ll take and steps that are required. And, of course, it will add the applicable structured data to those fields. This ensures your content is offered the best way possible to search engines.

Omar: What’s more, it helps content creators and editors to provide the most complete information in a structured way on their site. Some content creators intuitively add all relevant information in their content, but if you use content blocks with structured data you’re sure you’re adding all necessary information to, for instance, your recipe or job posting.

With the introduction of schema blocks, we’re adding content elements to Yoast SEO for the first time. We’ll make sure those elements are well structured and themable. Our front-end developers and UX-designers are currently working on creating tutorials for theming these blocks. Of course we’ve given these elements basic default styles to make sure they can be used out of the box.

Q. What are your plans with them for Yoast SEO? What kind of blocks are you thinking of?

Omar: We have no restrictions, we’ll try to do as many as possible. In addition to the How to and FAQ block, we’re transforming the widgets and shortcodes in our Local SEO plugin to make them available as blocks too. We’ll work first on blocks which we can dogfood on Yoast.com, like Job posting and Event. After that we’ll just go for the popular ones, like Recipe.

Q. It all sounds amazing, aren’t there any drawbacks as well?

Joost: Blocks are very easy to reuse on different pages. But how will Google deal with that? Will search engines see it as duplicate content? With a single banner or buy button they’ll work it out, but what about reusing the same ‘how to’ on multiple locations on your site? Will Google see that as duplicate content? We’re very curious about that, because it’s not possible to canonicalize a single block yet.

6. Does this concept only exists in WordPress or in other CMS’s too? Will we go to a future where there will only be blocks?

Omar: Some other CMS’s are block based already. But most of them are less intuitive than Gutenberg will be. WordPress needs to make this move as well to be able to compete with website builders. It’s nice to see that Drupal is planning to include Gutenberg in their CMS as well, because they see how promising it is.

Joost: The block philosophy of Gutenberg is just very powerful, as the example above shows. So it’s interesting to see where this will go from here. I don’t believe that the future will only be blocks though, pages will still be a thing!

Read more: What is Gutenberg? »

The post Are content blocks the future? And, what’s the benefit for SEO? appeared first on Yoast.

It can be quite a search to find the perfect WordPress theme. One that has a design you like, is nice and fast, and has all the functionalities you need. So, imagine you’ve finally found a theme you like, that answers all your needs, only to realise you’re not happy with the way it generates the category pages. Terribly frustrating, right?

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You know that category pages are important for your SEO efforts, so you want them to be to your liking. But what can you do? Is creating a clever workaround a good solution? And how is your SEO affected when you do that? In this Ask Yoast, I’ll discuss what you should consider before you go for a fix like that.

Saurabh emailed us a possible workaround for creating a category page:

I can’t style my category pages the way I want because they are dynamically generated. I thought of the following workaround: creating a regular page for each category, styling it and adding a blog module to show the right items and redirecting the default category to these pages. Is that a good solution, SEO wise?

Watch the video or read the transcript further down the page for my answer!

Building your category pages

“Well, from an SEO perspective, it might work, but it might make changing themes later on, really a bit of a hassle.

So, I would not do that. I would just go with the theme that already allows you to do what you want to do on the category pages themselves. That probably means you have to go with a bit more of a builder, something like DV, or Elementor or Beaver Builder which allows you to do a lot more on those pages. Good luck!”

Ask Yoast

In the series Ask Yoast, we answer SEO questions from our readers. Do you have an SEO-related question? A pressing SEO dilemma you can’t find the answer to? Send an email to ask@yoast.com, and your question may be featured in one of our weekly Ask Yoast vlogs.

Note: you may want to check our blog and knowledge base first, the answer to your question could already be out there! For urgent questions, for example about the Yoast SEO plugin not working properly, please contact us through our support page.

Read more: Using category and tag pages for SEO »

The post Ask Yoast: Workaround to create category page appeared first on Yoast.

With the launch of Yoast SEO 8.0, we’re revealing our first real integration of with Gutenberg. We’ve been working on this for a long time, and it hasn’t always been easy. Today, we’d like to take you behind the scenes of what it took to bring Yoast SEO to Gutenberg, why we took the approach we did, and how you can follow in our footsteps. Find out how we designed Yoast SEO for Gutenberg.

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Yoast SEO: the #1 WordPress SEO plugin Info

Don’t know what Gutenberg is? Catch up by reading our Gutenberg explainer article.

The long road

Before we get to the juicy details, a little history (feel free to skip ahead):

Around this time last year, I was made aware of the Gutenberg project by the Yoast leadership. My task was to envision how Yoast SEO could best integrate with this new editor experience. I spent some time playing around with it, and I was impressed by the new UI. The concept of blocks is really cool, both in design as well as functionality. Our conclusion at the end, however, was: this is nowhere near ready for any plugin to integrate with it.

The problem was two-fold:

  • Gutenberg was in its early stages, with layout and functionality changing every week.
  • It seemed as if minimal effort was put into thinking about how plugins should integrate.

It was understandable; the Gutenberg team was still prototyping. But their planning suggested it would launch by the end of the year, so we immediately treated it as an MVP that wasn’t ready.

Over the course of the next few months, we created a project team and started participating in the Gutenberg GitHub repo. We helped out in architecture discussions, made designs, and took the lead on building an API that allows plugins to register their sidebar, as well as building a modal component for when you need more space.

It took us a while to align our internal processes with that of the Gutenberg team. Over time we’ve become better at working together with them, and we’re still working side-by-side to improve the UI, UX and accessibility of Gutenberg to great effect.

We also started the Gut Guys video series, to inform people about this coming change to WordPress.

Best laid plans…

So how do you adapt a plugin as big as Yoast SEO to this entirely new environment?

Our initial plan was to integrate everywhere. Instead of being contained in a single metabox, could we break our plugin apart and put all the pieces in context? Maybe even some kind of SEO mode revealed at the flip of a switch like the gadgets in a James Bond car. This was a fascinating idea; it would mean we could give feedback exactly where it was relevant. Unfortunately, to date, this is still a bit difficult. We expect this will improve as Gutenberg gets closer to its release date.

So instead, we came up with a different solution: if every plugin has to integrate into the sidebar, the least we can do is give them their space, right? The sidebar isn’t very wide, and on small screens the default sections already fill the entire screen, let alone if you imagine a dozen plugins piling up in there, fighting for the top spot.

So we built the sidebar API. This gives you an entire blank sidebar to play with. You can pin it to the interface for quick access, and it puts your plugin in the spotlight.

After that, we began to adapt each feature of the Yoast SEO metabox to work in the sidebar.

Remastering Yoast SEO

We wanted to stick as close to the Gutenberg design language as we could so that the integration would appear seamless. Fortunately, Gutenberg uses a lot of modern design patterns and these mirrored things we were already doing in MyYoast. So merely by modernizing the UI and choosing JavaScript as the base, Gutenberg gave us the opportunity to unify our design across platforms much easier than we could before.

metaboxNeedless to say though, having to fit a 640px metabox into a 280px sidebar isn’t easy. But it did force us to cut away a lot of the cruft. We used to have tabs above the metabox, tabs on the side of the metabox, sections within sections – it was a lot. When moving things to the sidebar, we had to be as economical with space as we could.

Collapsible headers

For the analysis, we introduced collapsible headers for each section. This vertical design helps keep things organized and focused. It’s also a much nicer pattern to work with in an increasingly mobile world. Similarly, Readability is no longer a separate tab but appears right above the focus keyword analysis.headers in gutenberg

And even when collapsed, you can see your focus keyword and the resulting SEO score at a glance. We hope to bring this back to the publish box again too, so you can always keep an eye on your SEO.

Because some of these sections have a lot of features, we had to bump the font size of the headings up to 16px (from the default 13px for sidebar text and headings). That was one of the details where we intentionally departed from Gutenberg’s design language to improve the clarity of our interface.

The toggle and the input fields, too, are little details where we chose to use our version instead of the default Gutenberg one to give things a bit more depth and usability.

New smileys

We also introduced smileys to the bullets, to improve the clarity for people with visual impairments. Our accessibility expert Andrea is very pleased with those.

Multiple focus keywords

Since we can’t do horizontal tabs anymore in the sidebar, we’ve made adding multiple focus keywords an inline action. Whenever you’ve added a keyword, the option to add another one appears just below it. It only shows precisely what is needed, and that saves space.additional keyword

Cornerstone content

You’ll find the cornerstone content setting in its own section, with some extra explanation text. We’ve added this kind of context to every section so you can get a quick idea about what each section does, and a link to learn more if you want.

cornerstone content toggle

Internal linking

Internal linking is now also integrated into the meta box instead of being a separate section. We have a lot of exciting ideas with this feature in the future.

gutenberg sidebar internal linking

Snippet and social previews

The snippet and social previews present a unique challenge because you cannot reduce these to 280px. If we want to give you an accurate preview of a post on Facebook or Twitter, you have to see it exactly as it will appear. Therefore these functions are still in our ‘old’ meta box format. But we’ve got a plan for this in Yoast SEO 8.1 – which brings us to the next section:

What’s next

This new version of the Yoast SEO meta box is a big step forward in design, but you could argue that regarding functionality it hasn’t changed all that much, and you’d be right. But just as the Marvel Cinematic Universe operates in phases, so too is this just Phase One of our Gutenberg integration timeline.

The first thing we’ll be doing for Yoast SEO 8.1 (regarding our Gutenberg integration) is introducing modals.

New modal in GutenbergThis will put Google, Facebook, Twitter et al. into one convenient box that will appear over the content. This will provide plenty of space to house everything, and it will all be presented with the new UI and template variables introduced in Yoast SEO 7.7.

dockWith these modals in place, we can entirely switch from our classic metabox to our new sidebar – that is, if you want, because we’ll offer the ability to toggle between the two. And that includes the classic editor. All of the above design improvements will come to the current WordPress editing experience too, so even if you decide not to use Gutenberg, you will still be able to enjoy our improved interface.

We’re also updating our extensions like News SEO and Local SEO to work with Gutenberg. These settings will soon also be available in the sidebar, and come with some accessibility improvements too.

howto structured data with yoast seoAnother thing we’re working on are some blocks that make it easy to add Schema support for specific types of content. The how-to block above is one of the first but we’ve got more planned, stay tuned.

What you can do now

You may not have a whole team of developers at your disposal, but you can still do a few things to prepare your plugin or theme for Gutenberg.

First of all, check if your plugin works well with Gutenberg

Like we said, plugins will by default appear as a classic metabox in Gutenberg, and should still work if they don’t do too many fancy things. But check that. Install the Gutenberg plugin right now and see how your plugin or theme handles it.

Learn how you can make your plugin or theme compatible with Gutenberg

Basic compatibility with Gutenberg shouldn’t be a lot of work. There isn’t a ton of official documentation yet, but here are a few helpful links:

If you want to get a bit more technical:

Start thinking in blocks

Not everything about a plugin needs to be put in the sidebar. You can solve a lot of things with custom blocks. We’re building a few too for specific Schemas and Local SEO widgets. So spend some time using Gutenberg and building different things with it, so you get a feel for how blocks work. It might give you some unexpected ideas.

As a designer, take advantage of this Sketch template for WordPress mockups by 10up. It already includes Gutenberg interface elements to get creative within your mockups.

For developers, there is a great block starter kit by Ahmad Awais, and Atomic Blocks has some fun custom blocks to look at for inspiration. Shortcodes too are an excellent fit for blocks. Gary Pendergast wrote a useful script that shows how you can convert shortcodes into blocks.

Start small

Above all, start small. If your plugin or theme isn’t broken, don’t go crazy rebuilding it in React. Try making a custom block, and play around with the sidebar elements until you are comfortable with this new design language. That design language is still evolving every day, so stick with the basics. Use what there is and see what you can build with it.

Dream big

The future of Gutenberg goes well beyond just text editing. Eventually blocks will also be available in sidebars and maybe even directly in the WordPress customizer. If you’re a little creative, you can already use Gutenberg for page layouts now. Atomic Blocks offers some useful layout blocks for example and a theme that goes with it. And heck, look at what XWP made with a few custom blocks. If you’re up for it, this could be a chance to pave the way for modern design in WordPress.

The future of WordPress is exciting. We can’t wait to see what you make with it.

Read more: What is Gutenberg? »

The post How we designed Yoast SEO for Gutenberg appeared first on Yoast.

Please welcome the Yoast SEO Gutenberg sidebar! Update to Yoast SEO 8.0 and you’ll see our first steps to the – Gutenberg – future. If you’ve activated the Gutenberg plugin you’ll find a brand new version of the Yoast SEO meta box, in the sidebar! Not on Gutenberg yet? We’ve got good news for you too: we gave the existing Yoast SEO meta box a more intuitive design and a cleaner appearance so it’s easier to use for everyone. Here, we’ll explain everything: what you’ll encounter in this update if you’re on Gutenberg and what if you’re not. On top of that, we’ll share a glimpse of what you can expect from us shortly! 

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Yoast SEO: the #1 WordPress SEO plugin Info

Why a Gutenberg sidebar?

Gutenberg is coming. Step one of Gutenberg is a new WordPress editor. This new editor gives you a brand new writing and editing experience;  you’ll be editing your content in blocks, instead of the one big field you’re used to. In the classic editor you’ve always found the Yoast SEO meta box below the post editor. But because of the block design in Gutenberg, most meta boxes will fit best in the sidebar. To make our meta box fit and work in the sidebar, we had to completely rethink and redesign it. The result of that we’re presenting you today!

While we were at it, we applied some of the changes required for the move to the sidebar onto the existing Yoast SEO meta box as well. These changes improve the usability and accessibility of our meta box and give it a cleaner and more organized look.

What happens if you run the Gutenberg plugin?

Are you using the Gutenberg plugin already? If you update to Yoast SEO 8.0 you’ll see two meta boxes: one below your post and one in the sidebar. This is not a bug, but our first move to a future where you can choose between showing one of the two. For now, we’re showing you the sidebar and the meta box below your post, as not all optimization options are available in both yet.

What happens if you don’t run the Gutenberg plugin?

You won’t see Yoast SEO in the sidebar if you don’t activate the Gutenberg plugin on your website. What you will see is a revamped, collapsible meta box below your post. We’ll get back to you on the revamped meta box further down this post. First, Yoast SEO in the Gutenberg sidebar!

So let’s dive in! If you run Yoast SEO and Gutenberg, you’ll now see collapsible Yoast SEO items in the sidebar. It’ll show a selection of the optimization areas you’re used to, nicely arranged next to your post. This will give you a convenient overview, in which the green smileys for Readability and Focus keyword will confirm if you’ve done a good job optimizing:

gutenberg sidebar yoast seo premium

The Gutenberg sidebar with collapsible sections. Please note that Add additional focus keywords, Internal linking suggestions and Insights are premium features.

Let’s go through the sections one by one!

Readability

As you probably know, Yoast SEO assesses the readability of your copy by checking your text for use of passive voice, sentence length, paragraph length and more. If you click on Readability in the sidebar, this section will unfold and you’ll see the assessments you’re used to, right there, next to the copy you’re creating. This prevents you from scrolling up and down a lot and makes reading and implementing the feedback on your writing much easier.

Focus keyword

If you click on Focus keyword in the sidebar the SEO analysis of your text will unfold. Here you can enter your focus keyword and Yoast SEO will analyze your content for those terms:

Are you using your keyword often enough and in the right places? Like your title, alt text and a heading? Have you added internal links? You can find these assessment here, conveniently placed next to the text you’re writing. 

Are you using Yoast SEO Premium? Then you can add possible synonyms and up to 5 related keywords! Just click on + Add synonyms or + Add another keyword, if you’d like to add them.

Cornerstone content

The next section of the Gutenberg sidebar is Cornerstone content. Here you can indicate if the post you’re working on is one of your most important articles. Marking your content as cornerstone content will help you create the best content for these posts and link often enough to them. Just move the toggle to the right if your post is cornerstone content.

If you use Yoast SEO premium, you’ll find two more sections in the sidebar: Internal linking and Insights. 

Internal linking

Internal linking can help you create an awesome site structure, which is indispensable if you want to rank high. Yoast SEO premium’s internal linking tool makes linking to your (best) posts as easy as pie! This internal linking tool used to be in the sidebar already, but now it’s integrated into a collapsable section of the Gutenberg sidebar. So all your post optimization to do’s are in one place!

gutenberg sidebar internal linking

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Insights

Our insights tool runs through your copy and finds the most prominent words. If you’ve written a text and you want to make sure it stays on topic, you can check that with this tool. Do you see a lot of words that you don’t want to rank for with this post? Take another look at your post, because you might have lost focus somewhere along the way!

Insights in Yoast SEO Premium in the Gutenberg sidebar

The snippet preview and social previews

We hear you think: “So where can I find the snippet preview and my social previews now?” Well, those you can still find in the Yoast SEO meta box below your post, just like the advanced and video settings of Yoast SEO. Integrating those functionalities in the Gutenberg editor will require some more development work and will therefore be a second step.

The revamped Yoast SEO meta box

If you’re not using the Gutenberg plugin you’ll notice some significant changes too. While redesigning various sections of our meta box to fit into the sidebar, we realized the usability of the existing meta box would benefit from some of these changes too. So we applied some of the sidebar principles to the meta box as well. This resulted in a meta box with organized, collapsible sections where you can find the Yoast SEO tools you’re used to. When collapsed, they’ll provide a clear overview of the various optimization functionalities we provide for a post. Plus, the green smileys show you at a glance if you’ve done a good job optimizing:

collapsible yoast seo meta box

When you unfold one, it’s easier to stay focused on the optimization area you’re working on.

So, let’s unfold them one by one:

The snippet preview

The section on top is the snippet preview, where you can see what your post might look like in the search results. Not much changed here! You can still edit the SEO title, meta description and slug. It’s unfolded by default, so when you scroll down from your post you’ll directly see its most likely appearance in the search results:

snippet preview collapsible

Readability

Instead of finding the readability analysis in a separate tab, you’ll now encounter it as the second collapsible section. Check whether you’ve written a post that’s easy to read here:

collapsible readability meta box

Focus keyword

Where to add your focus keyword? In the third collapsible section you’ll find the field to enter the term you’d like your post to rank for. You’ll find your scores in the analysis results below the field, the way you’re used to.

focus keyword collapsible meta box

The next collapsible section is Add additional focus keyword. This is a feature that is only available to premium users. You can add up to five related keywords in this section. In addition to this, premium will enable you to add synonyms of your focus keyword too.

Cornerstone content

Have you written a post on your most essential topic, covering the core elements of your business? Make it your best post with our cornerstone analysis and don’t forget to link to it. Marking it as cornerstone content in the fifth collapsible section of the meta box will help you do so. Move the toggle to the right and give it a little extra!

cornerstone content collapsible

Insights

The last section we’d like to mention is Insights. Unfold it and find the most prominent words that you used in your copy. Check if you’ve staid on topic or digressed!

If you want to read more about the design choices we made check this post by our UX designer Tim.

What’s ahead?

Modals

As explained above we haven’t been able to move all sections of the Yoast SEO meta box to the sidebar yet. Some elements, like the snippet and social previews, require some additional development work. At the moment we’re, for instance, working on modals to be able to display accurate previews for snippets and social posts directly from the sidebar.

A sidebar for everyone!

Once all optimization functionalities are available in both the sidebar and current meta box, it’s up to you! Choose where you’d like to find Yoast SEO: below your post or in the sidebar? With a toggle you can select which interface you prefer. And by everyone we mean everyone, it doesn’t matter if you’re on Gutenberg, or not.

Gutenblocks

Now this is exciting! We’re working on our own Gutenblocks, something you’ll definitely hear more about soon. As we’ve explained Gutenberg uses blocks to build pages. A block can have its own styling, but also its own meta data, like structured data. So how awesome would it be if you could create a block with the correct structured data attached to it automatically? So Google will know instantly if your block is about a book, a recipe or a certain product?  You won’t need a developer anymore to add your schema.org data. If you think about this, the possibilities seem endless and opportunities are omnipresent. You can expect more from us on this soon. So keep a keen eye on our updates!

But first, update! Or check the changelog here.

Read on: Why you should buy Yoast SEO Premium »

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At Yoast we’re convinced readability is essential if you want to rank high and give users a pleasant experience on your website. That’s why we’re so happy we’re now capable of fully analyzing content in yet another language: Dutch! Plus, if you write in a language with diacritics, i.e. marks on a letter that indicate the pronunciation, like in mot-clé in French, we have some good news for you:  Yoast SEO is now able to identify those keywords too.

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Leesbare teksten in het Nederlands

In Yoast SEO 7.9.1 we’ve completed all Yoast SEO content checks for Dutch. By adding the final assessment: the passive voice check, we’re now able to fully check all assessments that belong to the readability and SEO analysis. We’ve added Dutch to the list of completed languages, as we’ve already did for English, Spanish, French, Russian, German an Italian. Dutch might not be the most-used language on the planet, but it’s dear to our heart being the native language of most Yoasters. We’re so glad we can now ban passiveness from our mother tongue too!

Improved keyword recognition

In addition to the above language enhancement, we’ve smashed some linguistic bugs. Our content analysis sometimes had trouble recognizing the keyword while it was there, leading to some frustration among users. For instance, if it was present in possessive form (e.g. `Natalia` in `Natalia’s fix`) or if it had special diacritics in the URL (e.g. mañana in Spanish) Yoast SEO would fail to recognize it. Also, it would have difficulties to find the keyword if it was flanked by a Spanish inverted exclamation and question mark. All these issues are solved now: ¡Con mucho gusto!

Contributions

Together with some skilled developers of our beloved WordPress community we’ve also took on some performance issues and other bugs to make our plugin run smoother. We humbly thank Piero Bellomo and Jaska120 for contributing to the quality of Yoast SEO.

What’s ahead?

As we’ve already mentioned, exciting times are coming. Soon you’ll see how Yoast SEO will evolve thanks to Gutenberg. On top of that, we’re working hard to make Yoast SEO analyze your text the way Google does. Not something you’d want to miss. Stay tuned!

But for now, go update! Want to check the details first? Go read our changelog.

P.s. Did you know claiming your website on Pinterest is super easy with Yoast SEO?

Pinterest is one of the bigger – visual – search engines in the world. So as a blogger or online shop owner, promoting your imagery on Pinterest can bear fruit. If you prove to Pinterest that your website is yours by claiming it, this will give you added benefits. Pinterest will show your profile picture on your Pins and, most importantly, you’ll get access to Pinterest Analytics. This will give you lots of insights and ways to use this tool more effectively.

It can be a hassle to verify your website on Pinterest if you’re not a developer though, because you’d need to add the verification code to the <head> section of your site. But with Yoast SEO everyone can do it! We’ve updated the link to Pinterest’s guidelines on the Pinterest tab in the social section of Yoast SEO. Just follow those and you’re all set!

Read more: Why you should buy Yoast SEO Premium »

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If you’re serious about your WordPress website, you have run a page speed test at some point. There are many variations of these tests out there. Some more convenient and true to your target audience than others. But they all will give you a pretty decent idea of where you can still improve your site. 

Certain speed optimizations may come across as “technically challenging” for some of you. Luckily, you have set up a WordPress website. And one of the things that make WordPress so awesome is the availability of WordPress plugins. Some free, some paid, but they all will help you to simplify difficult tasks. In this article, we’ll first show you a couple of page speed tests so you can check your page speed yourself. After that, we’ll go into a number of speed optimization recommendations. And show you how to solve these using just plugins.

Running a page speed test

Running a page speed test is as simple as inserting your website’s URL into a form on a website. That website then analyzes your website and comes up with recommendations. I’d like to mention two of those, but there are much more tests available.

  1. Pingdom provides a tool for speed testing. The nice thing is that you can test from different servers. For instance, from a server that is relatively close to you. Especially if you are targeting a local audience, this is a nice way to see how fast your website for them is.
  2. Google Lighthouse is a performance tool that lives in your browser. Click right on a page, choose Inspect and check the Audits tab in the new window that opens in your browser. Here, you can test speed for mobile device or desktop, and on different bandwidths for example. The test result looks like this:
    Google Lighthouse test result
    Small remark: most sites appear slower in Lighthouse. This is because Lighthouse emulates a number of devices, for instance, a slow mobile/3g connection. (see the second bar in the screenshot above). With mobile first, this is actually a good thing, right?

Before Lighthouse, Google PageSpeed Insights already showed us a lot of speed improvements. They even let you download of optimized images, CSS and JS files. As you are working with WordPress, it might be a hard task to replace your files with these optimized ones though. Luckily, WordPress has plugins.

There are many, many more speed testing tools available online. These are just a few that I wanted to mention before going into WordPress solutions that will help you improve speed.

Optimizing your page speed using WordPress plugins

After running a page speed test, I am pretty sure that most website owners feel they should invest some time into optimizing that speed for their website. You will have a dozen recommendations. These recommendations differ from things you can do yourselves and some things that you might need technical help for.

Image optimization

Your speed test might return this recommendation:image optimization for speed
Images usually play a large part in speed optimization, especially if you use large header images. Or if your site is image-heavy overall. It’s always a good idea to optimize these images. And it can be done with little quality loss these days. One of the things to look for is, like in the page speed test example above, images that are in fact larger than they are shown on your screen. If you have an image that covers your entire screen, and squeeze that into a 300 x 200 pixels spot on your website, you might be using an image of several MB’s. Instead, you could also change the dimensions of your image before uploading. And serve the image in the right dimensions and at a file size of some KB’s instead. By reducing the file size, you are speeding up your website.

Setting image dimensions in WordPress

WordPress comes with a handy default feature, where every image you upload is stored in several dimensions:Settings > Media
So if you want all the images in your posts to be the same width, pick one of the predefined ones or set your custom dimensions here. Images that you upload scale accordingly to these dimensions and the image in the original dimensions will also be available for you.

If you load, for instance, the medium size image instead of the much larger original, this will serve an image in a smaller file size, and this will be faster.

Image optimization plugins

There are also a number of image optimization plugins (paid and free) for WordPress available, like Kraken.io, Smush or Imagify. These might, for instance, remove so-called Exif data from the image. That is data that is really interesting for a photographer and will contain information about what settings the camera used to make that photo. Not really something you need for the image in your blog post, unless perhaps if you are in fact a photographer. Depending on your settings, you could also have these plugins replace your image with an image that is slightly lower in quality, for instance.

Some of these aforementioned plugins can also help you resize your images, by the way. Test these plugins for yourself and see which one is most convenient to work with and minifies your image files the best way. For further reading about image optimization, be sure to check this post about image SEO.

Browser cache

Another issue that comes across a lot in page speed tests is browser cache optimization.
Pingdom browser cache recommendation
Browser cache is about storing website files, like JS and CSS, in your local temporary internet files folder, so that they can be retrieved quickly on your next visit. Or, as Mozilla puts it:

The Firefox cache temporarily stores images, scripts, and other parts of websites you visit in order to speed up your browsing experience.

Caching in WP Super Cache

Most speed optimization plugins help you to optimize this caching. Sometimes as simple as this:
WP Super Cache
The Advanced tab of WP Super Cache here has a lot of more in-depth configuration for that, but starting out with the set defaults of a plugin is usually a good start. After that, start tweaking these advanced settings and see what they do.

Note that WP Super Cache has an option to disable cache for what they call “known users”. These are logged in users (and commenters), which allows for development (or commenting) without caching. That means for every refresh of the website in the browser window, you will get the latest state of that website instead of a cached version. That last one might be older because of that expiration time. If you set that expiration time to say 3600 seconds, a browser will only check for changes of the cached website after an hour. You see how that can be annoying if you want to see, for instance, design changes right away while developing.

Other WordPress caching plugins

I mention WP Super Cache here because it’s free and easy to use for most users. But there are alternatives. WP Fastest Cache is popular as well, with over 600K+ active installs. It has similar features to optimize caching:
WP Fastest Cache
A paid plugin that I also like is WP Rocket. It’s so easy to configure, that you’ll wonder if you have done things right. But your page speed test will tell you that it works pretty much immediately straight out-of-the-box. Let me explain something about compression and show you WP Rockets settings for that.

Compression

Regardless of whether your page speed test tool tells you to:

  • Try to minify your CSS files,
  • minify the JS files of your site,
  • minify your HTML files or
  • enable (GZIP) compression

These recommendations are all compression related. It’s about making your files as small as possible before sending them to a browser. It’s like reducing the file size of your images, but for JavaScript or CSS files, or for instance your HTML file itself. GZIP compression is about sending a zipped file to your browser, that your browser can unzip and read. Recommendations may look like this:
Minify recommendation Lightspeed
In WP Rocket, the settings for compression look like this:
WP Rocket - Compression
Again, a lot is set to the right settings by default, as we do in Yoast SEO, but even more can be configured to your needs. How well compression works, might depend on your server settings as well.

If you feel like the compression optimization that is done with any of the plugins mentioned above fails, contact your hosting company and see if and how they can help you configure compression for your website. They will surely be able to help you out, especially when you are using one of these WordPress hosting companies.

Serving CSS and JS files

One more thing that speed tests will tell you, is to combine (external) CSS or JavaScript files or defer parsing scripts. These recommendations are about the way these files are served to the website.

The combine option for these files is, like you can see in the WP Rocket screenshot above, not recommended for HTTP/2 websites. For these websites, multiple script files can be loaded at the same time. For non-HTTP/2 sites, combining these files will lower the number of server requests, which again makes your site faster.

Deferring scripts or recommendations like “Eliminate render-blocking JavaScript and CSS in above-the-fold content” are about the way these scripts are loaded in your template files. If all of these are served from the top section of your template, your browser will wait to show (certain elements of) your page until these files are fully loaded. Sometimes it pays to transfer less-relevant scripts to the footer of your template, so your browser will first show your website. It can add the enhancements that these JavaScripts or CSS files make later. A plugin that can help you with this is Scripts-to-Footer. Warning: test this carefully. If you change the way that these files load, this can impact your website. Things may all of a sudden stop working or look different.

We have to mention CDNs

A Content Delivery Network caches static content. With static content, we mean files like HTML, CSS, JavaScript and image files. These files don’t change that often, so we can serve them from a CDN with many servers that are located near your visitors, so you can get them to your visitors super fast. It’s like traveling: the shorter the trip, the faster you get to your destination. Common sense, right? The same goes for these files. If the server that is serving the static file is located near your visitor (and servers are equally fast, obviously), the site will load faster for that visitor. Please read this post if you want to know more about CDNs.

There are many ways to optimize page speed in WordPress

Page speed tests will give you even more recommendations. Again, you might not be able to follow up on all of these yourself. Be sure to ask your expert in that case, like your web developer or agency, or your hosting company. But in the end, it’s good that you are using WordPress. There are many decent plugins that can help you optimize the speed of your website after a page speed test!

Read more: Site speed: tools and suggestions »

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Say hi to a brand new version of Yoast SEO! As it’s summertime, our hard-working developers went out on a collective bug hunt. Together with the community – we’re so happy to be part of – they’re giving their all to make our plugin work better for everyone using it. For instance, to make the various sections of all Search Appearance tabs collapsible, so they’re easier to scan and edit. On top of that, we’re preparing for exciting times to come! What about Gutenberg? And further development of our best-known feature, the content analysis? 

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Yoast SEO: the #1 WordPress SEO plugin Info

Less scrolling in Search Appearance

The Search Appearance section of Yoast SEO is a true power tool. It allows you to control which sections of your site should appear in the search results and what they will look like. For instance, you can choose to hide certain archives from the search results or to set a template for SEO titles for your product pages. If you have an extensive website though, all different sections and options could create a long list on a tab. On the content types tab, you could already collapse the various content types. Now, we added this functionality to the other tabs as well, for example the archives tab:collapsible sections yoast seo search appearance

This way you’ll have a better overview, making it easier to select and edit the section you want to work on. Also, we’ve improved the accessibility of these collapsible sections, as they should work for everyone.

Bugs killed

When working on this release, we again realized how fortunate we are to be part of the WordPress community. No fewer than 4 voluntary contributors went together on this bug hunt with us. A big thanks to schurigbainternetdawnbirthmikeschinkel to help us fix stuff. Mad props to all of you!

One of the issues we fixed was a residue of our 7.7 release. In that update we introduced the new snippet variables in the snippet preview and templates of the Search appearance tab. In some instances, templates would not be saved correctly though, causing the default template to show under a post or page. This is one of the issues we resolved in Yoast SEO 7.9. Did this bug – or any of these annoy you? Update and get rid of them now!

Preparing for Gutenberg

Slowly but surely Gutenberg is heading our way. Not sure what Gutenberg was again? Check Edwin’s post about Gutenberg here. Gutenberg will have an impact on everyone using WordPress. Whether you’re a copywriter, editor or plugin developer.

Of course our own plugins need to be ready to integrate seamlessly with the Gutenberg editor when it’s there. Not something to take lightly! So we have a special team that’s fully dedicated to make sure we’re ready when Gutenberg is. They’re completely rebuilding all parts of the Yoast SEO plugin in the JavaScript library React, amongst others. Soon we’ll be able to tell and show you more on this. So make sure to keep an eye on our updates.

Working towards a more complete content analysis

Our 7.8 release was all about adding synonyms and keyword distribution in Yoast SEO Premium. Our plugin is now able to recognize synonyms of your focus keyword in English and sees how you’ve distributed them throughout your copy. This was just the first step to a more complete content analysis and understanding of the topic of a text. Apart from identification of synonyms we’re working on morphology (other forms of the same word) and related words recognition and an entire recalibration of our SEO analysis. Curious about the changes that lie ahead? Marieke sheds light on them here.

Read more: Why every website needs Yoast SEO »

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In the latest version of Yoast SEO Premium, we’ve released a new feature: synonyms. In the next months, you can expect even more updates making our SEO analysis smarter and more advanced. These changes will help you to write awesome, engaging content that’ll rank in the search engines. In this post, I’ll explain to you why we added synonyms to Yoast SEO and what changes lie ahead.

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Why you should use synonyms

Google is getting really good at understanding what texts are about. If you want to rank for a certain term, for example for ‘SEO’, Google will know that ‘Search Engine Optimization’ is pretty much the same thing. It makes sense to use them both. Synonyms make sure a text is nice and easy to read.

A few years ago, we added the multiple focus keyword functionality to Yoast SEO. Multiple focus keywords were often used to optimize for synonyms as well. We feel that the new synonym-functionality is a better solution to optimize for synonyms. Read my post about the difference between multiple focus keywords and synonyms if you want to know more.

Why is the exact match focus keyword still important?

Google understands synonyms, but that does not mean that focus keywords are not important anymore. Every SEO strategy should start with keyword research. You should know what words your audience is using when they are searching. The exact match keyword should be the keyword or keyphrase that your audience is using most often. That’s also the thing they expect to find. The exact match is always a little bit more important than the synonyms, just because your audience uses these words instead of others.

Vocabulary people are using is important. If people are searching for volunteering, they’ll probably not click on civic participation, although the two are supposed to be synonyms. Some words are more high-end than others and might not fit your audience as well. In your keyword research, you should take this into account. What words are your audience using?

In our SEO analysis, we’ll treat the exact match focus keyword different from the synonyms. Read more about that in our release post.

Keyword distribution

Along with the new support for synonyms, we’ve added a new keyword distribution check. Before, we would just count how often you used the keyword with our keyword density check. If you used it 4 or 5 times in the first paragraph and then never again, you could have gotten all green bullets from us. That’s no longer true.

We now have a check to see whether you’ve distributed your use of your focus keyword (or its synonyms) evenly across the text. This makes sure you stay on topic throughout your text, which will increase your chance of ranking.

Roadmap for the SEO analysis

Context is the SEO word of 2018. Google is getting really good at determining what a text is about. Google understands plurals and singulars. It has a related entities database. We’re working hard to make Yoast just as smart as Google is.

Embed synonyms in our SEO analysis

We now released our keyword distribution check in which synonyms are taken into account. We’re currently determining in which other checks we should take synonyms into account as well. Of course, we’re open for suggestions and opinions.

Morphology: plurals and more

In the past weeks, our awesome developers have built morphology recognition. This enables our analysis to recognize singulars, plurals, and other forms of the same word. So, if you want to rank for the focus keyword ‘link’, Yoast SEO will (in the near future) recognize ‘links’ and ‘linking’ as a similar keyword. We’ve built this for English and are planning to do so for more languages. We’re currently testing how to integrate this new morphology recognition into our SEO analysis.

Related keywords

The multiple focus keyword functionality is not optimal yet. In the near future, we’ll change this functionality into related keywords. You can optimize your post for a specific keyword and take synonyms into account. Next to that, you can optimize for related keywords. These are not your main keywords and not exact synonyms, but you still want to use them regularly.

We know that Google has a related entities database. If you’re searching for ‘tagliatelli’, results with the words ‘spaghetti’ and ‘pasta’ could also turn up. It’s smart to focus on related keywords when you’re writing a post. So, if your post is about ‘tagliatelli’, including ‘pasta’ and ‘spaghetti’ will probably help in your ranking as well.

We are currently working on modifying our multiple focus keyword functionality into related keyword functionality.

Recalibration of the SEO analysis

In the past year, we’ve been working on a recalibration of our SEO analysis. Many of the checks in our SEO-analysis were established based on our own experience in the SEO industry.  We wanted to be able to account for every check in our analysis more thoroughly. A team of linguists, developers, and SEO-experts dove into scientific literature and SEO blogs in order to re-assess all of our checks. The recalibration resulted in some changes in the checks of our analysis. For instance: the keyword distribution check was added as a result of it. We’re planning to release the new SEO analysis in September of this year.

Big improvements in our SEO analysis are coming

Context is gaining importance in 2018. That’s why we invest heavily in improving our SEO analysis. At the end of this year, we can really account for context in your blog posts and articles. This could mean that some of your articles that get green bullets now, will have orange or red bullets later on. That does not mean that your content became worse. It only means that we’re able to give you better, smarter feedback on your writing.

Read more: ‘Keyword research: the ultimate guide’ »

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