The welcoming community of WordPress

“I came for the software and stayed for the community.” In this episode of our series Why we love WordPress, I’ll show you what’s behind the software we love. Software isn’t writing itself (yet), and behind WordPress is a great number of volunteer teams working on the software and everything around it. These people are the driving force behind WordPress. Together they form a big (online) family, one that I hold very dear. And today, I want you to meet my family!

WordPress is more than software

Usually, when we speak about WordPress, we’re referring to the software. We’re referring to the code that you can install and use to build your website on. This nifty piece of software is also called ‘WordPress Core’ because it’s at the core of everything we do. Core is built by hundreds of developers. But the WordPress project isn’t limited to the Core. It isn’t limited to the code. It’s a lot bigger than that!

When you went to download WordPress over at wordpress.org, you visited the main platform for WordPress. It’s built and maintained by people on the Meta team. Or, maybe you’re Dutch and went to nl.wordpress.org, which is the same platform but translated by people on the Polyglots team.

Then, after downloading and installing WordPress you probably decided that you want a custom theme for your brand new website. So, you go over to the themes section on wp.org and pick one of the free themes listed. All of these themes are built by people and companies who offer them for free, and all are reviewed by the people on the Theme Review Team before they’re offered to you. The same goes for all of the 56,000+ plugins listed. They are all reviewed by volunteers on the plugins team.

Are you getting an idea of the number of volunteers involved with WordPress? Great! Now consider I’ve only mentioned a few of the 18 (!!) teams working on the WordPress project. As you can see, people are at the heart of the WordPress project. People, volunteers, who are willing to put in all this effort to help themselves and each other. For so many people to work together on one project successfully, you need a strong sense of community. WordPress has exactly that.

Who are these people?

In WordPress, you’ll find people from all walks of life, all trades and all levels of expertise. Each and every one of them has their own reason to be involved with the project. Maybe it’s to learn from experts in their field, maybe they love open source, want to improve the web for millions of people worldwide, or to give back to the project that’s giving them a lot. Everyone has their own story to tell, and I can only encourage you to listen to those stories.

What I found they all have in common is a great passion for their area of expertise in the WordPress project. And it’s the positive energy they bring to the project that makes WordPress what it is today. Most contributors to WordPress started out as users of the software, who found a problem and started fixing it. It’s that collective mindset of wanting to make WordPress better for everyone that defines both the people and the project.

Some of them found their job through contributing to WordPress. Others are now employed just to work on the project. Some are building websites and submitting patches to resolve the problems they’re running into. Others have their day jobs in completely different fields but contribute their spare time for the fun of contributing.

Regardless of their reasons, WordPress is thriving because of the passion of its contributors, the WordPress community.

Joining the WordPress community

I know. Reading about the energy the community gives makes you want to join it. And you know what the best part is? You’re most welcome! The WordPress community is a friendly, inclusive, and welcoming bunch that would be happy to have you.

Back in 2013 when I was completely new to WordPress, one of the most experienced contributors to WordPress told me this; “All you have to do to be part of the community is show up. And here you are. Welcome!”.

If you want to be part of this group of amazing people too, all you have to do is find something you’re passionate about, something that’s currently broken you want to fix, or something that you see can be improved in WordPress. Listen to the conversations in teams, especially when you don’t know what to work on yet. Show up, and start doing the work. Talk to the people on the team about your ideas and you’ll find they’ll be the first to welcome you in.

Meeting the community

Much of what’s happening in WordPress is happening online. So you can meet the WordPress community from basically anywhere with an internet connection.

Make WordPress and Slack

Make WordPress is the central location for all the teams in the WordPress community. Each team has its own blog and its own handbook. The handbooks are the ‘playbooks’ for each team. They describe what the team does, how it’s done, and how to get started as a new contributor to the team. So it’s a great place to learn about all the teams.

Day-to-day communication within and between teams happens in Slack. Slack is chat software, based on IRC – for those of you old enough to remember it, like me. Everyone who has a wordpress.org account can join the WordPress Slack. Almost 35.000 WordPressers now have an account on the WordPress Slack. This makes it a great place to meet, have discussions, and share information for everyone involved with WordPress.

Social media

Meeting people who are working with WordPress -obviously- isn’t limited to the official channels. You can find WordPress user groups on Facebook and LinkedIn, check out tutorials on YouTube, and follow WordPressers on Instagram and Twitter. Who knows, you might even find TikTok videos on WordPress. All of these networks allow you to interact with the people behind WordPress.

Is everything happening online then?

Well, the timing for that question is interesting, given the current state of the world with the COVID-19 pandemic. However, under normal circumstances, there are also great opportunities to meet in person. These -mostly local- events come in two flavors; Meetups and WordCamps.

Meetups

WordPress meetups are highly local events where WordPress enthusiasts, users, students, developers, configurations, and everyone who has ever touched or is planning to touch, WordPress can go. They’re mostly free events that are organized in the evening once a month, or every couple of months to talk about WordPress and the things you can do with it. You can find all the official WordPress Meetups on meetup.com. If there’s one near you, I can highly recommend you to go check it out!

WordCamps

The bigger version of a meetup is a WordCamp. They’re usually one or two days long conferences featuring presentations about a wide variety of WordPress-related topics. The conference tickets are kept low-cost with the help of amazing sponsors. Again, if you really want to get involved, this is the place to be! And I’m not just saying that for the (after)parties

You can check out all the upcoming WordCamps on wordcamp.org/schedule. And if you want to know where to go to meet Team Yoast, you can check out our calendar!

The impact of COVID-19 on offline events

Since the COVID-19 virus pandemic started, in-person events worldwide have been canceled. But when you have a community filled with positive energy, anything can happen. Anything will happen. And so, the events that used to be offline, are now moving online through Zoom, YouTube Live, and other video and streaming services.

One of the known effects of the pandemic on people, especially on those who are self-employed, is loneliness. It’s amazing to see how the WordPress community is handling that. I often see people check in on each other, just have a quick chat and keep others involved. It’s absolutely heartwarming. It’s also people from the WordPress community who started Big Orange Heart, a charity focusing on mental health support for remote workers. And while this initiative started well before COVID-19, it’s extra important in today’s world.

Why we love the WordPress community

The WordPress community is a global group of thousands of enthusiasts who share a passion for the WordPress project. Because WordPress is open source, it attracts friendly, open and welcoming people. WordPress is thriving because of the energy these people bring, and that’s why we are actively involved in, and absolutely love the WordPress community!

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Why we love WordPress: User-friendliness

At Yoast we love WordPress for multiple reasons. That’s why we decided to make a series of articles about the reasons we love WordPress, starting with an important one: user-friendliness. I’ve tried my share of closed and open-source content management systems. From simple text file based systems 20 years ago to in-house developed closed source solutions. But never before have I felt the ease of the five minute WordPress install. Let alone that a whole bunch of WordPress hosts now offer 1-click WordPress installs.

Regardless of how you feel about block editors, politics, and front-end editing, even you must admit that WordPress is very user-friendly. No matter what customers ask for, there is a solution to be found for it in the WordPress eco-system. Be it a template, a plugin, or a small piece of code.

Even for people that are not tech-savvy at all, installing and customizing a website is just not that hard. And to help you along the way you can find tips, tricks, and manuals on every WordPress related website.

Countless design options in WordPress

Currently, there are thousands and thousands of free designs (themes) available for your website. Convenient filters help you pick the right template. But that’s not all. These themes can easily be altered using a so-called Child theme. Even starting web developers can create tailor-made websites this way, while still benefiting from the updates that are available for the original theme they chose.

If you’re lazy, like me, tweaking a design using a plugin like Simple Custom CSS is even simpler. Provided that you know your way around CSS.

The option for anyone to create a fully tailored, awesome design is absolutely one of the features that make WordPress so user-friendly.

There’s a plugin for that

For me personally, plugins were the single reason to dive into WordPress back in 2011. Because I’m not a developer. HTML and CSS are my game, I can read and copy a bit of JS and PHP and that’s basically it. But WordPress and all its plugins made creating and selling full functional websites “easy” for me.

I worked from my attic and served a bunch of local and nationwide customers. A friend of mine, who had a morning show on a local radio station, asked me to create an answering machine for his website. A way for people to talk into their computer’s mic and send him an audio file per email. I was really lost, as I did not know how to code. But then I remembered the thousands of plugins. Could it be..? After a 5 minute setup, the answering machine button on his website was up and running.

That’s the usability of WordPress. It’s what we, the plugin developers, all make possible on that wonderful platform that WordPress is.

Creating and publishing content

All the links in this article show that help is always a click away. The reach and “size” of WordPress still baffles me. At this moment 34% of the top 1 million websites are built with WordPress. That literally means that thousands and thousands of people work with WordPress, contribute to WordPress, share knowledge about WordPress. Perhaps even on a daily basis. But let’s get back to creating and publishing that content.

After all the fun stuff of setting up your website, it needs content. Creating that content is probably the toughest job for every website owner. It’s writing that content in the amazing block editor, but also just coming up with ideas, collecting these in a content planning, writing the right way, and optimizing this content for SEO.

WordPress is used by websites great and small. No matter if you publish a blog post every day, or have a static website that needs updating every other year, WordPress is your go-to tool. Without any technical knowledge, WordPress allows you to do everything mentioned above, or just change that one line stating “copyright 2019” into “2020”.

In my years of working with WordPress, I think I was asked twice to explain how to write a page and publish it in WordPress. Both times, it took the customer less than 5 minutes to say “never mind, I get it”. It wasn’t WordPress that triggered that question, it was the fear of a new system. I think that the block editor makes getting to know a new system even more intuitive. And hey, you may have a different story. But this post is about why I believe WordPress is such a user-friendly platform ;-)

Shout-out to the WordPress Community

There is so much more friendliness in WordPress, and that’s why I want to do a special shout-out to the WordPress community. Besides talking about the user-friendliness of WordPress, it’s important to highlight the user-friendliness in WordPress.

WordPress has such an open and welcoming community. It’s a pleasure to meet friendly users during WordCamps and e-meet these people on Twitter and Slack whenever you feel like reaching out. At Yoast, we have an integrations channel where we collaborate with other plugins and even in this COVID19 time, we regularly reach out to other members in the WordPress space to talk about business, websites, software development, marketing opportunities, and our personal life. And that’s user-friendliness at it’s best.

Recap of WordPress user-friendliness

This article gives you an insight into why I believe WordPress is such a user-friendly platform. To summarize, WordPress makes installing and customizing a website possible for everyone. Not only can you customize your design by choosing your own theme, but there are also plugins for almost any website feature you can think of. Furthermore, WordPress makes it easy to publish content and provides plugins to help you optimize your content. Lastly, because WordPress is such a widely used platform, you can always find support and friendliness within its worldwide community of users. So if you’re new to the community, or thinking of joining, welcome! Perhaps I’ll talk to you soon on Slack or Twitter!

Read more: A beginners guide to WordPress »

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

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

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

Why should you transition to the block editor?

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

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

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

How to switch to the block editor

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

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

Step 1: Test the block editor on your site

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

How to create a staging site

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

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

What to test in the staging environment

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

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

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

Step 2: Switch to the block editor!

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

What will happen to old posts and pages?

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

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

How to convert the content of old posts and pages

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

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

    By selecting the block, the top toolbar will appear.

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

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

  3. Click ‘Convert to Blocks’.

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

Send us your awesome block editor content!

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

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

Brand-new free online training: Block editor training

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

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

What will you learn in the Block editor training?

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

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

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

How is the course set up?

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

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

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

Online & on-demand

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

Start creating block-tastic content now!

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

Want to take a deeper dive?

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

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

How to get your new WordPress site indexed

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

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

How do search engines work? 

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

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

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

Read more: What does Google do? »

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

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

How to get your site found and indexed by Google:

  1. Create an XML sitemap with Yoast SEO

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

  2. Set up an account with Google Search Console

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

  3. Add your sitemap to Google Search Console

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

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

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

Why do you need an XML sitemap?

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

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

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

Getting your site indexed beyond Google

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

What’s next? 

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

Keep reading: How to rank high in Google »

The post How to get your new WordPress site indexed appeared first on Yoast.

How to install a WordPress plugin

Plugins are pieces of software you can add to your WordPress site. They can change or improve the functionality of your website in various ways. For instance, you can install plugins to easily build forms, optimize your site for search engines or improve the security of your site. As a WordPress user, you’ll surely need to install a plugin at some point. So, how do you do that? We’ll guide you through that process here!

From the plugin directory or manually

There are two ways to install plugins on your website. You can either install a plugin from the WordPress plugin directory or upload a plugin you have downloaded from a third-party. Free and approved plugins, such as Yoast SEO, are featured in the WordPress plugin directory. Installing those is super easy, as you’ll see below. Installing paid plugins, such as Yoast SEO Premium, works a bit differently but isn’t hard either. Let’s get to it!

Want to install a Yoast plugin? Check out How to install Yoast SEO or How to install Yoast SEO Premium, or take a look at the complete overview of installation guides for our plugins.

How to install a plugin from the WordPress directory

Let’s start with installing a plugin from the WordPress directory. Just follow these simple steps:

  1. Access the WordPress plugin directory

    In the WordPress backend, go to the admin menu. Hover over the Plugins menu item, and select Add New from the fly-out menu. The WordPress plugin directory will appear.

  2. Find the plugin you want

    Use the filter tabs in the toolbar, or search for plugins by typing in a keyword, author, or tag in the search box.

  3. Check the quality of the plugin

    Each plugin is featured in a box with basic information. A good quality plugin will have good reviews, a high number of active installations, frequent updates, and it will be compatible with your version of WordPress.

  4. Install the plugin

    Click the Install Now button in the plugin box. Once the installation is complete, the Activate button will replace the Install button. In addition, the plugin will appear on the Installed Plugins screen.

  5. Activate the plugin

    Clicking Activate is crucial for the plugin to work. You can activate the plugin in the plugin box by clicking the Activate button when the installation is complete. Alternatively, you can click the Activate link in the Plugins overview screen.

Prefer a video? Check out the video below to find out how to install a plugin, in this case Yoast SEO:

New to WordPress? Don’t worry! Our FREE WordPress for beginners training is here to help. Find out how to set up your own site, learn the ins and outs of creating and maintaining it, and more. This training is part of our free training subscription, take a look at all online SEO training subscriptions!

How to upload a WordPress plugin manually

The WordPress plugin directory shows a lot of plugins, but it does not have all of them. You can also find some cool plugins on third-party sites. We also offer some premium plugins, for example, Yoast SEO Premium. But no worries, you can still easily add these plugins to WordPress. To upload a plugin to WordPress, follow these steps:

  1. Download the plugin from the third-party site
    Note that you will need to download the plugin in a .zip format. Otherwise, the upload may fail. If the plugin is not available for download in that format, contact the plugin provider.
  2. Access the WordPress plugin directory
    In your site’s backend, go to the admin menu. Hover over the Plugins menu item, and select. Add New from the fly-out menu. The WordPress plugin directory will appear.
  3. Upload the plugin
    In the WordPress plugin directory, click the Upload Plugin button at the top of the screen. A new option will appear to add a file. Click the Choose file button, which will trigger a dialogue box to open. Find and select the file from your computer and click Open.
  4. Install the plugin
    Click the Install Now button, and the plugin will be installed.
  5. Activate the plugin
    Remember, you always need to activate a plugin after installing it. Go to your plugins overview, locate the plugin, and click the Activate link.

That’s it. Now go ahead and get that plugin you were looking for!

Read more: How to use WordPress: 12 common questions »

The post How to install a WordPress plugin appeared first on Yoast.

WordPress Site Health: What is it and where to find it?

WordPress 5.2 introduced a brand-new feature called Site Health. This is a tool that monitors the health of your site and notifies you of any issues or improvements to make. It is important for you to keep an eye on this page as this is where all major plugins will drop their notifications as well. Let’s dive in.

What is Site Health?

Site Health is a tool in WordPress that helps you monitor how your site is doing. It consists of two parts: a Status screen and an Info screen. You can find the Site Health tool via Tools > Site Health in your WordPress backend. In addition to WordPress’ checks, plugin developers can also integrate with Site Health.

As it gives critical information, you would expect it to show notifications in an additional way. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. At the moment, you can’t set an email reminder for it or find a widget on the dashboard. Luckily, the latter will be added in WordPress 5.4 due to arrive at the end of March 2020.

You can find Site Health in the Tools menu in your WordPress’ backend

Status page

Arriving on the Status screen, WordPress runs a performance and security analysis that checks your site and gives notifications and recommendations. At the top of the page, you’ll also notice a coloured circle that gives you an idea how healthy your site is. Seeing red? You’ve got work to do.

All the notifications are collapsable, so you can click on the title to see more information. You’ll also find links to more information about the issue and how to it.

Quickly get more context by clicking on a status message

Info page

On the second page, you’ll find an Info screen with detailed information about the configuration of your site. You can use this information to get help from your web host or developer when you run into trouble. Simply copy and past the information when needed!

Checking your WordPress settings is easy

Why should I care about Site Health?

Just as you should care about your own health, you should care about the health of your site. You could see Site Health as a kind of doctor — it finds problems and proposes solutions. These improvements range from upgrading your PHP version to deactivating unused plugins for security reasons and from implementing HTTPS to checking if the REST API is available. Simply click on a notification to see additional steps to take or more information about the check. You’ll also see which plugin notified you of the improvements.

In the future, Site Health will be the goto place for these kinds of checks and notifications. Increasingly, WordPress plugins will put relevant checks and notifications on the Site Health dashboard. This makes it a critical part of your journey towards building an awesome, secure and up-to-date site.

Yoast SEO & Site Health

As of Yoast SEO 13.2, you’ll find some of our checks in Site Health. For instance, you’ll find the permalink check, the paging comments check, the default tagline check and the Ryte-powered indexation check in Site Health. We’ll probably move more checks to Site Health whenever that makes sense. In addition, we also warn you if your site can’t connect to MyYoast to activate Yoast SEO Premium.

Yoast SEO places several notifications on the Site Health status page

All about Site Health

Site Health might miss a little bit of visibility right now, but that doesn’t mean you can simply forget about it. A dashboard widget is on its way and there will probably be a lot more new stuff in the future to look forward to. For now, please keep an eye on Site Health so you and your site can enjoy a bit of good health!

The post WordPress Site Health: What is it and where to find it? appeared first on Yoast.

Move WordPress to a new domain in 10 easy steps!

Sometimes, branding, technical or business decisions mean that you need to change your domain. If you’re not careful, a poorly managed move can really hurt your SEO. Thankfully, WordPress makes things pretty easy – here’s everything you need to do.

10 steps to move WordPress

This guide assumes that you’re moving from one domain to another. If your migration is more complex (e.g., a subdomain on one site, to a folder on another), you may need to adapt the instructions.

  1. Take a backup of everything

    There’s a lot that can go wrong if you’re not careful when you start moving files and databases around. If you run into problems, it’s best to make sure that you can hit a ‘reset’ button and restore a backup.

  2. Add a robots.txt file to the new site

    Upload a robots.txt on the new domain (or edit it through your Yoast SEO plugin settings), with the following contents:

    User-agent: *
    Disallow: /

  3. Copy everything across

    Get a copy of your files and a copy of your database, then move everything across to your new hosting environment. You may need to configure your storage and database settings!

  4. Configure your wp-config.php file

    Make sure that you have the right database settings for the new hosting environment, and add the following lines (replacing example.com with the new domain).

    define('WP_SITEURL', 'https://www.example.com');
    define('WP_HOME', 'https://www.example.com');

  5. Access and configure your site

    Now everything should be accessible on the new website; but you should definitely double-check, and make sure that all of your settings are correct.

    If you have a caching plugin or system, don’t forget to empty out all of the old data.

  6. Find and replace old domain values

    Install the Search and Replace plugin, and do a search and replace for your old domain name with your new domain name.

  7. Remove the robots.txt file on the new site

    Now that your website is set up and ready to go, you can remove the robots.txt file which is preventing Google from seeing it.

  8. Set up a redirect on your old site

    Use your tool of choice to set up a redirect on your old site, so that all requests to your old domain trigger a 301 redirect to (the same page on) the new domain. Test this thoroughly!

  9. Remove your old code and database

    Apart from whatever code or tools you’re using to power the redirect from the old site to the new one, you can remove all your old code, content and databases.

  10. Update external services

    Don’t forget to change the settings on all of your third-party accounts which reference or integrate with your website. They’ll need the new domain name!

That should be it, you’ve moved WordPress to a new domain. If you have any suggestions or spot things that I’ve missed, please note them in the comments!

Read more: 6 questions about redirects for SEO »

The post Move WordPress to a new domain in 10 easy steps! appeared first on Yoast.

The creation of our first digital story using the block editor

We write a lot of blog posts. And, not only about SEO topics, but also about our mission, company culture, and our broader vision. We hope that by writing those kinds of posts we can give you a glimpse into who we are as a company, and who we are as people.

But, blog posts are transient. We post them, and we might update them from time to time, but they’re part of an ongoing blog feed. You may miss them sometimes. And, that’s why we wanted to start documenting these values and ideals that power our company culture in a more permanent way. That’s where the idea for digital storytelling came in.

In this post, we’ll talk about how we came to this idea, how we built our first storytelling page about diversity and prejudice, and how you could apply these principles to tell your own stories.

Do you want to learn how to use the blocks in the block editor to their fullest potential? Look no further and check out our free WordPress block editor training! It’ll teach you how to create a well-designed blog post with the block editor. Let’s create some amazing content!

Why storytelling

Like I mentioned before, storytelling felt like a good fit to talk about our values because it gives context to what we do. It’s a different way of presenting information that is not meant for quick consumption or optimized for catching attention. It’s not just focused on the information, it also takes into consideration the experience of reading it.

We chose the subject of diversity first because this subject touches one of our core values. When Marieke became CEO of Yoast at the beginning of 2019, there weren’t that many women in our upper management. So, Marieke started a project to coach and empower women at Yoast to reach those positions if they wanted to.

In this process she also created a presentation about diversity and feminism that she could give in other places outside the company, such as WordCamps, to inspire others into action as well. Turning this presentation into a digital story then made sense to us as a way to reach an even bigger audience. It would become a more permanent location where people could go to learn more by themselves.

The process of telling a digital story

Concept

Once the idea for this first storytelling project was born, Marieke wrote a draft based on her presentation script, and our design team got to work.

The design team has designed tons of pages across all our products already, and these follow a style guide (or at least they should!). But, we could not achieve the way we wanted to visually present this story with only the elements we already had in our toolkit. It called for a bold, playful design that guides the reader through this experience.

A central part of this experience would have to be our illustrations. Our illustrators have been experimenting with animation in Adobe After Effects recently, and we figured it would be great if we could use these animations in our digital stories.

Based on the draft of the text, they started sketching and storyboarding. They wanted each section to have its own character, and our visual style tries to be pretty inclusive already so that matched well with this subject.

Animation

In addition to that, this time they wanted to add subtle animations too. But having good quality AND fast performant animations on the web is still sometimes a challenge. We considered GIF, of course, and MP4 with autoplay, but it turns out you can animate SVG images as well, with a little help from AirBnB’s JavaScript library Lottie.js.

To do this, you create a vector-based animation in After Effects, then export as JSON. If you want to give this a try too, you can read how to create and export a Lottie-compatible animation from After Effects, and/or learn more about how we implemented Lottie-powered SVG animations in the WordPress block editor.

Video

We felt like the story would come alive more if some parts were video, and it would break up the layout of the page a bit, so the design team selected three sections to make an animation for. Together with EyesxEars, our in-house video production partner, we recorded Marieke presenting these short stories, then drew some supporting animations to explain the concepts visually.

By now developers were also getting involved, setting up the page structure in code. They built the different elements of the page using WordPress blocks, so we can reuse them in future projects. You can read our (more technical) breakdown of how we built our digital storytelling framework in the WordPress block editor.

Project management

Managing all this work across multiple teams under a short timespan was no easy challenge. We wanted to launch by the time Marieke gave this talk at WordCamp Nijmegen. To get it done in time, everyone was working simultaneously, which isn’t ideal, you don’t want anyone getting bottlenecked. For instance, development was waiting on the final copy while it was still being tweaked to fit the flow of the animations, etc. So next time we’ll definitely set up a planning for each involved department separately. That way everyone will have enough time to iterate.

This time it was our internal deadline – which was set well in advance of the launch – and great communication that saved the day. Having the team come together and work on a fun out-of-the-ordinary project like this was worth it. And Marieke was able to present it with pride during her presentation!

Takeaways

You may have already spotted a few learnings peppered throughout this article. This was our first substantial foray into digital storytelling, so there certainly were some areas we can improve in. And by reading this article, you can already benefit from those tips if you were planning to make your own digital story.

1. Write about why you do what you do

First of all, if you are thinking of making a digital story for you or your brand, consider this: don’t write about what your product is, or even how you make it. That’s marketing. Storytelling should be about why you do what you do. What motivates you to dedicate time to creating whatever it is that you create? Which values inspire you to pursue this career? This is what informs what you make and how you do that. Talking about that comes after the Why.

2. Think about how you want to frame your story

Secondly, take your time to write the story. A story has an arc to it. It should take the reader on a bit of a journey. Think about the best way to present what you want to talk about.

One way could be to frame the story in a problem: is there something you felt personally held back by or saw an opportunity to solve something that other people struggle with? Describe why that problem exists, and how you felt compelled to do something about it, and see if you can inspire others to do something too. If you’re not entirely sure yet/anymore why you do what you do, thinking about this is also a good way to find out!

Our first digital story is a variation of this. We talk about one of the values that underpin our company mission, “SEO for everyone”. We believe in equality for everyone, and diversity is, of course, one aspect of that.

Another way could be to write is as more of a historical account. You can share when you got the idea for this company or product, and how you went about getting to where you are now. You’ll probably notice while writing though that you’ll automatically come across the ‘problem’ that sparked your idea, but here it will be part of a larger story.

3. Make your story compelling

Next, think about ways to make the story compelling and/or interactive. People are less likely to read a massive wall of text than they are to view some videos or play a little quiz. Stimulate their brains a little, reward them for taking the time to read something that’s important to you by making it fun for them.

4. Involve your team in the entire process

And lastly, if you’re making a digital story with a team, try to involve them in the entire process. You may be telling a personal story, but if you are writing about your company values, you’ll want to know that your team feels the same way about them. Plus, involving creatives in the planning stages can spark a lot more ideas. Just make sure to then plan out a good schedule for when everyone involved has to do their thing. It’s not super useful to have designers make animations or developers building page elements already for a story that is still being written.

So, we hope you enjoyed this deep dive into our digital storytelling efforts! In the future we plan to use this framework more often to create unique and compelling experiences on our site that explain more about a certain subject, so keep an eye out!

The post The creation of our first digital story using the block editor appeared first on Yoast.

Managing access to Yoast SEO with SEO roles

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

Managing user roles in Yoast SEO

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

Roles and capabilities

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

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

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

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

Managing your site has never been easier

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

Read more: Yoast SEO 5.5: Introducing SEO roles »

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