Rian Rietveld and Andrea Fercia are two heavyweights in the WordPress accessibility community. Both legends are joining us at the YoastCon SEO conference on November 2, 2017. For this joint interview, we asked them a couple of questions about the current state of accessibility, common implementation mistakes and how to start with the right mindset. Of course, the duo explains why you should come to YoastCon!

Don’t want to miss Rian and Andrea on stage? Get your ticket now for YoastCon 2017!

Get your ticket NOW »

Accessibility is incredibly important. Focusing on accessibility in your work makes sure you won’t leave anyone behind. Could you tell us a bit about the current state of accessibility in general and WordPress in particular?

According to Andrea, accessibility is getting more and more attention in the last couple of years: “Microsoft, Apple, Google, Facebook, Twitter, and more, are renewing their focus on accessibility as part of an inclusive design process and delivering products with a good level of built-in accessibility.”

Even WordPress gets better, says Andrea. “In the last 2-3 years, a great number of accessibility fixes entered the codebase. However, there’s still the need to educate many contributors, increase awareness, expertise, and incorporate accessibility in the design process. In WordPress, accessibility is still perceived as something that can be added at a later stage in the development process. That’s an ineffective process. It goes in a different direction compared to what all the other big players are doing.”

Come see Rian and Andrea speak at YoastCon 2017 on November 2 »banner YoastCon

Rian wants to stress the importance of accessibility as well:
 “Accessibility is the next big thing after responsive design. People involved in web development are starting to understand that accessibility is part of the process. There are two reasons for this. In an increasing number of countries, websites need to be accessible by law. Not just sites for government and public services but in some countries company sites as well. The second reason: accessibility is considered good practice in modern web development.”

According to WordPress the accessibility of the CMS improved dramatically in the last four years. Rian says that the community is starting to see that this is an important issue. She shares one ‘but’: “New functionality, however, is still not designed and developed with accessibility in mind. That means we still need to fix issues, also newly created issues. And that’s a point we can definitely improve on.”

It still seems hard to get stakeholders interested in accessibility. What do you guys do to convince people of the importance of accessibility and what do you do to help them get started?

Andrea says business owners and managers should look at the numbers in addition to the ethical considerations: “Accessibility is not just about people with specific disabilities or impairments. It’s about changing abilities that everyone experiences in their life with aging. Demographic trends, especially in Europe and North America, give us impressive numbers that can help us understand who our users and customers will be in the next 10-15 years.”

“Sometimes it’s hard to convince people. Education helps. We still need to debunk many myths about accessibility and make people understand it’s something that benefits everyone, including your future you,” explains Andrea.

Rian supports the notion that stakeholders are primarily interested in profit. She’d like to add her arguments for successfully implementing accessibility from the get-go: “20% of your visitors have a better experience using your site. Google is deaf and blind, so accessibility directly benefits SEO. The site will be more sustainable, as an accessible website will use more robust and meaningful code. If you include it at the beginning it will not cost extra if your team is well-prepared.”

You probably see the same mistakes made again and again. Do you have a list of common mistakes to keep our readers from making the same?

According to Rian you should: “Include accessibility at the beginning of the project, don’t check for it at the end because it will cost a lot more to correct it afterward. Also, keep in mind that you don’t create a website for yourself, but research your user and create a site your visitors understand. Focus on the main purpose of the site and don’t add elements to distract the user from that, only because you like to show off your design/programming skills.”

Andrea likes to emphasize the importance of valid HTML: “Well-structured, valid, semantic, markup is definitely the first thing you should focus on. HTML is the last layer of our communication. It’s great when all our development processes focus only on great abstracted object-oriented programming, modern JavaScript Frameworks and so on, but when our HTML is poorly coded, then our communication fails.”

Today, there is still a lot of very poorly coded HTML around, says Andrea: “People must understand why the HTML output is so important for the software that reads our web pages. Any software, including assistive technologies, or search engine crawlers, read our HTML. Good HTML is good communication that helps everyone, improves accessibility and also SEO.”

When looking at it from a design perspective, the design should start with the information architecture, says Andrea: “After that comes the interaction flow, and then the presentation layer. Instead, I still see today many projects starting with the presentation layer. For instance, missing controls labels are a very common mistake. All user interface controls must have a label.”

Let’s say I’m a site-owner and want to improve the accessibility of my site. What’s the first or most important thing I should do?

Andrea starts off with a great tip: “I’d recommend to disable styles in your browsers (that’s easy with Firefox) and look at your site without the presentation layer. Does your page still make sense? Is the order of the content logical and meaningful? Of course, there are a lot of other things to check. There also are more advanced ways to perform a first accessibility check, including some browsers add-ons. They help to catch some of the most common mistakes, but they require some expertise.”

Rian’s advice supports Andrea’s: “Check if you can navigate your website without a mouse, with keyboard only. Also, please add subtitles to video and transcript audio. And keep the following in mind when you design or write: People don’t read on a website, they skim the page and navigation for what they want to know and then read.”

The WordPress project is increasingly accessible. You both contributed quite a lot to WordPress. How did you get involved with the community and which part of the accessibility project are you proud?

Andrea accidentally got involved: “I must be honest: it was a period when I was partially unemployed and had some free time, so I started following the project and then submitted my first contribution. About my involvement in the WordPress Accessibility Team, I just owe everything to Rian Rietveld!”

Come see Rian and Andrea speak at YoastCon 2017 on November 2 »banner YoastCon

Proud is the right word, says Andrea: “I think it’s not a specific patch or improvement to the codebase. I’m really glad to see that some of the WordPress contributors, especially the younger ones, they just try to implement accessibility by default when they code. They feel it’s part of a coding best-practice and that’s the best thing I’d like to see in any project.”

Rian: “My drive was to help my blind clients using the WordPress Admin. I’m the proudest of the cooperation we now get from almost everyone in the WordPress community. I think we are on the right track with the Accessibility Team now.”

You can read more about Rian’s journey in the WordPress Accessibility team on HeroPress.

Why shouldn’t people miss your talk at YoastCon?

“Come and learn if you want to know why accessibility and SEO are a great match. Not everyone uses and reads a website the same. We’ll teach you how to create content that is understandable for everybody,” says Rian.

Don’t want to miss Rian and Andrea on stage? Get your ticket now for YoastCon 2017!

Get your ticket NOW »

Read more: ‘YoastCon 2017: Practical SEO’ »

The post Interview Rian Rietveld & Andrea Fercia – YoastCon speakers appeared first on Yoast.

Alain Schlesser – aka Schlessera – is a prolific WordPress Core Contributor and he is on a mission: “I want to make WordPress future-proof enough to withstand the next few online revolutions without drowning in technical debt, and as a direct consequence, ensure the longevity of the community that’s surrounding it”. Yoast supports him in reaching those goals. Find out more about Alain and his work in the WordPress community.

Optimize your site for search & social media and keep it optimized with Yoast SEO Premium »

Yoast SEO: the #1 WordPress SEO plugin Info

A couple of weeks ago, Yoast hired you as a freelancer to expand the work you do on WordPress core. Can you explain this move and what it enables you to do? And what do you hope to get out of it personally?

For some time now, I have been working on WordPress core in my spare time. I have also invested a lot of time into creating educational material like blog posts and WordCamp talks. I had to do all this besides the client work I am getting paid for. As a freelancer, this causes a constant struggle where you’re trying to balance the work you think is important with the work that pays the bills. It causes a lot of stress, and you even miss many important opportunities because the financial pressure grows too big.

I was always able to produce a lot of open source work as a side-effect of my client work. However, working on the important issues of WordPress core is a different beast. I didn’t find a way to integrate these concerns into any client projects.

Being paid for working on WordPress core means that I can afford to spend the time on critical topics. I can now seize opportunities as they come. It means I can work on the areas of the core that do not provide an immediate ROI, but are necessary for a long-term improvement.

One of my overarching personal goals is to make WordPress future-proof enough to withstand the next few online revolutions without drowning in technical debt, and as a direct consequence, ensure the longevity of the community that’s surrounding it.

You are a very active member of the WordPress community and even a core-contributor to the latest couple of releases. What is it that attracts you to this community and how did you start off?

When I started delving more deeply into WordPress, I quickly noticed that the code did not exactly follow common best practices. Some parts of the code were well-built, but very generally, it all seemed as though people were constantly trying to reinvent the wheel, instead of reading up on accepted solutions for their problems.

That led me to frequently share best practices and tips whenever I found an opportunity to do so. A lot of the jobs and the traction I initially got came directly or indirectly from freely sharing my own knowledge and experience. But I was mostly working in isolation, except for the few Slack teams I was a member of.

This all changed after I attended my first WordCamp. It was WordCamp Europe in Vienna, and it was a wonderful experience. I was already wondering for a few months whether WordPress was the right platform for me. It felt like making several steps backwards as a developer, instead of progressing. But the first WordCamp changed everything for me.

Although I went to Vienna for professional reasons, it enriched my personal life as well. It made me aware of how much I truly appreciate the community that has gathered around the WordPress project. All of a sudden, all the technical drawbacks of the WordPress platform were secondary to the feeling of personal growth in the welcoming and inspiring community.

That’s why I now work hard on helping make WordPress the best platform it can be (… according to my own benchmarks and agenda, of course). I always try to be as positive and constructive as I can manage. There’s more than enough people that are more than willing to tell you all that is bad about the WordPress codebase. However, not many will be able to point you towards a possible path to improvement that will still meet all given requirements of such an old project. I, however, am working on moving from the former to the latter group.

Could you tell us a bit about the work that’s going on in WordPress at the moment? What key issues need to be worked on?

A lot of the effort is currently being focused on Gutenberg. This is the new editing experience that should launch with WordPress 5.0. However, there are many smaller groups still working fervently on other areas of the core that are just as important.

Right now, I am mostly focusing on the PHP/backend side of things. I want to work on the architectural problems that are plaguing WordPress. I also started a feature project to analyze and redesign the bootstrap process. In addition, I am helping prepare a bump of the minimum PHP version and try to fix the major performance issues of a normal request.

More generally, I think that WordPress needs more experienced developers with outside experience, that can help teach and enforce better practices. That’s why I also want to work on eliminating the hurdles that these developers face.

We need helping hands if we want to improve WordPress, right? Basically, anyone working with or on WordPress could make major or minor contributions to improve the CMS. Let’s say someone is interested in taking part in the project, what steps should he/she take?

An obvious first step is to head over to make.wordpress.org and read through the list of teams to see whether something catches your interest. There’s lots of documentation for most teams that take you through the initial steps of contributing for the first time.

Apart from that, just meet other people at the next Meetup or WordCamp in your region. Most WordCamps have a “Contributor Day” that is ideal for getting a feel for the project. There are also team leads present that will help you with the initial onboarding.

Finally, for the people who don’t know you yet, could you give us a little background on yourself and your work?

I started dabbling in software development as a child on a Commodore C-64. I learned to develop in Basic, and mostly tried to build text adventures, which was an early form of natural language processing. Later on, I moved through several other languages, covering C, C++, Assembler, Pascal and a lot of more obscure dialects.

I always saw game development as the most interesting area for myself. In this area, you not only needed to make everything work, it also needed to work as fast as possible. You always try to get around the then very crippling performance limits. This led me down several rabbit holes at once, learning about data structures and algorithms, artificial intelligence, graphics and sound driver development, etc.

When I later thought about what professional path to follow, I always tried to avoid the IT space though, as I associated it with frustrating technical support work, more than anything else. That’s why I ended up working as a government agent in the administration of a prison.

I ended up dealing a lot with IT anyway. Since then, I worked on a very diverse set of projects. I even accumulated some certifications along the way, such as for Oracle PL/SQL or Microsoft Sharepoint development.

As I was never truly satisfied with the work I did for the government (mostly because of the long delays and the nonsensical budget allocations), I read a lot about freelancing, remote work, and lifestyle design.

Then, about three years ago, my wife and I made the jump. We both quit our jobs, moved from Luxembourg to Germany and started a new life. I opted to freelance as a PHP and WordPress developer, as these made up the biggest part of the market. I just assumed it would be easy to find work for that reason.

Read more: ‘Why there’s only one model: the open source model’ »

The post 5 questions: Alain Schlesser – WordPress Core Contributor appeared first on Yoast.

His name is Joeke-Remkus de Vries, but you can call him Remkus. You might know him by his online handle DeFries and you could have run into him at one of the many WordCamps around the world. Remkus is a well-known and respected figure in the WordPress community and we’re glad to offer him the possibility to do more awesome work in the community. We’ve asked Remkus five questions and these are his answers.

Optimize your site for search & social media and keep it optimized with Yoast SEO Premium »

Yoast SEO for WordPress pluginBuy Yoast SEO Premium plugin Info

You and Joost/Yoast go way back. Recently, Yoast started sponsoring you part-time to do WordPress community work. What kind of community efforts will you be working on thanks to Yoast? Could you tell us more about that?

Yeah, I know Joost from before there was a Yoast company. Joost and I co-organized some of the first WordCamp Netherlands editions and we’ve always remained friends. I’ll be focussing my efforts on participating in the Community team with validating meetup and WordCamp requests as well as helping out where needed. I’ve spent the last couple of weeks reacquainting myself with everything happening at the WordPress Community Make site in order to help out as best as I can.

The time and energy I spent being part of the organizing team for the previous WordCamp Europe and Netherlands editions, was not where I wanted them to be. But with Yoast sponsoring me part-time, I’ll be able to spend significantly more time in the organization. I’ll help organize the 2018 edition of WordCamp Europe in Belgrade as well as the next WordCamp Netherlands which will probably be held in 2018 as well. Additionally, I’ll visit WordCamps around the globe on behalf of Yoast and represent them in any way I can. Not a bad situation if you ask me ;)

That’s great news! So, how did you start out in the WordPress community?

I started developing sites with WordPress since before we had such niceties as pages. Soon, my hobby became work. Today, I run a couple of WordPress related businesses, Forsite Media and WP ServicePoint being the most prominent.

In 2008, I entered the WordPress community. I discovered that the WordPress project in the Netherlands was in a pretty sorry state. At that time, new Dutch versions of releases came out months after the default one. In addition, the quality of the translations was very inconsistent and, quite frankly, all over the place.

I didn’t want to be embarrassed when handing over a site to a customer. The only way to improving this product to an acceptable level of quality was to take matters into my own hands. So, with the help of Zé Fontainhas – who at the time was handling all things Rosetta and Polyglots – I took over the translations, set up a consistent team, started releasing a Dutch WordPress version within 24 hours and started cleaning up the Dutch WordPress forums with the help of newly found moderators.

In 2009, I co-founded WordCamp Netherlands and have been the lead organizer from 2010 till 2016. Those first editions were all about “activating” the Dutch community. At the same time, I started going to WordCamps abroad and found many kindred spirits and ultimately, friends. Together with the same Zé Fontainhas, I co-founded WordCamp Europe in 2013. You can learn more about how that went on WordPress.tv.

You’ve been very active in the WordPress community for many years now. In these years, WordPress became increasingly popular, leading to an ever-growing community. What’s your view of the current state of the WordPress community?

It’s amazing to see where WordPress is now coming from just a small blogging platform. In my opinion, the current state of the WordPress Community is very healthy. More and more people are going to and organizing WordPress Meetups and WordCamps and more and more communities are starting to flourish. This ultimately brings in, even more, people into the WordPress project and that’s obviously a good thing from where I’m standing. Couple this with the ever growing list of available locales, in which WordPress is available, and I have no doubt we’re going in the right direction of democratizing the web.

The WordPress community is huge. You focus mostly on organizing meetups and WordCamps. Why did you pick that particular part and why do you love it so much?

I’m not sure I specifically picked that part, that kind of happened. I saw ways of improving the WordPress project and I went out of my way to do it. Doing this while meeting people; making friends made it very easy to continuously put energy into it. I get a lot of joy out of the fact we have such strong Dutch and European WordPress Communities.

You often hear that anyone working, developing or building with WordPress could also play a part in getting WordPress to the next level by participating in the community. What advice would you give people wanting to lend their hand to the WordPress project?

Simple. Go to meetups, get involved, go to WordCamps and especially the Contributor Days. It’s a great way to learn about the larger project and find your place within it. Once you’ve found your place, it becomes a lot easier to find out in which area you’d like to contribute most. Be it helping out on the forums, doing translations, improving WordPress’ core or any of the other subjects you can help out with.

Read more: ‘There’s only one model: the open source model’ »

The post 5 questions: Remkus de Vries – Forsite Media appeared first on Yoast.

Our mission is ‘SEO for everyone’. We keep that in mind, in everything we do. But what do we mean by it? And why is it our mission? In this post, I’d like to explain Yoast’s mission.

A little bit of history

To understand why we pursue this mission, we’ll have to go back in history. Let’s start in 2006: Joost de Valk was building SEO plugins because he strongly believed that everyone could benefit from the SEO knowledge he had collected in his work for large agencies. As a WordPress fanboy, he could quickly translate his technical SEO skills into a useful plugin for WordPress. 

New to SEO? Learn the Basics of SEO in our Basic SEO course »

Basic SEO training$ 199 - Buy now » Info

The WordPress SEO plugin, which was rebranded to Yoast SEO later on, got an enormous amount of users. What’s more, Joost received an overwhelming number of support requests and was unable to handle those, as he was still working for an agency as well. At that point, Joost decided to start his own company. Selling premium plugins and doing a little bit of consultancy enabled him to further invest time and resources into the free Yoast SEO plugin as well. This allowed us to improve the quality and features of our products, and also resulted in a growing company. Moreover, it meant we could further define our mission.

WordPress’ mission and Yoast’s mission

The mission of WordPress is to democratize publishing with open-source GPL (General Public License) software. Yoast’s mission builds on WordPress’ mission, just as Yoast’s software is an extension of the software of WordPress. Everybody can create a website using WordPress. However, not everyone is able to rank in the search engines. In some niches, the search results are dominated by large companies with even larger marketing budgets. The Yoast SEO plugin, combined with the SEO knowledge Yoast shares, enables small entrepreneurs to compete with these large companies.

A ‘fair’ chance in the search results

We believe the web will benefit from all people having an equal chance in the search results. We would love for great new ideas and inventions to spread over the world. And great ideas don’t always come from large agencies but are created everywhere around the world. That’s why we believe that every idea should have a fair chance in the search results. WordPress and Yoast SEO cover most of the technical SEO challenges of a website. But to seriously compete with the big boys, every website owner still faces content SEO challenges. In our blog posts, we explain to our audience how to write awesome and SEO-friendly content and how to set up a decent site structure. Using the Yoast SEO plugin and reading our posts should help everyone to have a fair chance in the search results. That’s what ‘SEO for everyone’ is all about.

Making money and maintaining the mission

Pursuing our mission doesn’t mean we’re not making any money while doing so. On the contrary: the company Yoast is thriving. The money we make enables us to keep on pursuing our mission. We continue to tweak and improve our plugins and we write more and more articles about SEO. Making money makes pursuing ‘SEO for everyone’ easier. We can have a bigger impact. And, it allows us to contribute more and more to WordPress core.

The premium version of Yoast SEO has some practical features, which will make SEO a lot easier. However, all essential features you need to have that fair chance in the search engines, are available and will remain in our free plugin. Our online courses are powerful to quickly learn about (one or multiple aspects) of SEO. But all the SEO information you need is also available in our many blog posts. It’s important to us that everyone – even if you haven’t got much money to spend – can benefit from our SEO products.

Read more: ‘Victory of the Commons’ »

Today we’re releasing Yoast SEO 5.2. In this brand new version you’ll find some feature enhancements, accessibility improvements and a couple of bug fixes. In addition to that, we’ve laid some groundwork that will help us make Yoast SEO work well with the plugins our users use most. Read about all the improvements here!

Accessibility

Web accessibility is something we always urge website owners to think about and improve. As we can’t let our own products fall behind, we regularly work on the accessibility of the plugins we develop. This time, we scrutinized the accessibility of the onboarding wizard of Yoast SEO and improved it so everyone will be able to use it well. 

Optimize your site for search & social media and keep it optimized with Yoast SEO Premium »

Yoast SEO for WordPress pluginBuy now » Info

Redirects for private posts

The redirects manager of Yoast SEO Premium is one of the features we’re most proud of. It makes creating redirects – and therefore preventing 404s – so much easier, and helps site owners to be less dependent of developers. As of this release, we’ve added an enhancement to this feature. From now on, if you trash a post that’s set to private, Yoast SEO Premium will also ask if you want to redirect the old url to a new one. 

Compatibility

One thing that keeps challenging plugin developers like us is to make plugins work with all the different plugins that our users use. There are so many plugins out there – not even to mention the various combinations of plugins that exist. To improve the compatibility of our plugins, we’ve added tracking to find out which other plugins our Premium users have installed. This will help us tremendously in making Yoast SEO work flawlessly on more WordPress installs. For the same reason, we’re tracking which PHP version our user’s websites are running on.

Speaking of PHP, if your site is running on PHP version 5.3 or lower, you couldn’t have missed the notice to urge you to move to a newer version since our 4.5 release. Does this WHIP notice keep annoying you? Then we have some good news for you. You can now dismiss the notice. After 4 weeks it will pop up again though, as we still believe upgrading to a newer PHP version is the best way to go.

That’s about it. Go update to 5.2 and enjoy this brand new version of Yoast SEO!

Read more: ‘Why every website needs Yoast SEO’ »

Those used to tabbed browsing know why favicons are important. Your site will stand out from the rest if your favicon is recognizable. After all, a picture says more than a thousand words. Personally, I often find myself pinning websites in Google Chrome, still my browser of choice. As a to-do list, or simply because I want Gmail at hand anytime. Or that specific spreadsheet in Sheets. Or Facebook. That little favicon is the only reference to what site is hidden in that tab. You simply need a good favicon for your website.

For good SEO, you need a good user experience. Learn about UX & Conversion! »

UX & Conversion from a holistic SEO perspective$ 19 - Buy now » Info

Make your favicon stand out

You should make sure your favicon stands out from that long list of tabs. Check if it matches your logo and website well. Especially when you are not one of the big brands, you want people to recognize your favicon. Two tips directly related to that are:

  • avoid too many details in your favicon,
  • and please use the right colors, so the favicon doesn’t blend in with the gray of your browser tab.

Both are closely related to branding. Your brand should be recognizable in your favicon. Although we’re able to use more colors and more depth in our favicons nowadays, the fact is that the space available on that browser still hasn’t improved from the small 16×16 pixels it used to be in the early days. It doesn’t look like 16×16 pixels anymore, but that’s because we have better screens, not because that space increased. The main improvement is that lines are sharper and you can use all the colors you want.

Proper branding is making sure people will relate your favicon to your website immediately. I listed a number of favicons for you to test. Drop me a line in the comments about what favicon belongs to what brand:

favicons quiz

Too easy? In that case, these brands did a good job on translating their brand to their favicon.

SEO benefits of favicons

Are there real SEO benefits to favicons? Tough one. Besides branding, probably not, though opinions may differ on this a bit. One might argue that you can now add an image of 1MB as a favicon and that this will slow down loading times. You could say that a proper favicon highlights a bookmark and might increase return visitors. I have even found a story where someone stated that some browsers automatically look for a favicon and return a 404 if it’s not there.

My 2 cents? If there is an SEO benefit, it’s so small that all other optimization, like proper site structure or great copy, should always have priority. Does that mean you don’t need that favicon? Hey, didn’t you read that part about browser tabs? You do need it, even if it’s just to stand out.

WordPress just made your day: favicons in the Customizer

If you use WordPress, you might already know that there’s been a favicon functionality in WordPress core since version 4.3. So you can use this default functionality, without hassle. It’s located in the Customizer and is called Site Icon. In fact, WordPress recommends using this option to add a favicon. You don’t even need to create a favicon.ico file, like you used to, years ago. Just use a square image, preferably at least 512 pixels wide and tall. That seems to contradict with the recommendation to keep it as small as possible. But if you optimize your image, it won’t slow down your site :)

More information on how to go about this in WordPress is in the WordPress Codex. Go read and add a nice favicon to your own site!

Read more: ‘5 tips on branding’ »

Breadcrumbs are an important part of almost any good website. These little navigational aides not just help people visualize where they are on your site, but also help Google determine how your site is structured. That’s why it makes a lot of sense to add these helpful little pointers. Let’s see how breadcrumbs work.

Want rich snippets for your site? Try our Structured data training »

Structured data training$ 149 - Buy now » Info

What are breadcrumbs?

When Hansel and Gretel went into the woods, Hansel dropped pieces of bread on the ground so they could find their way home if the two of them ever got lost. These breadcrumbs eventually became the model for the breadcrumbs we see on websites nowadays. A breadcrumb is a small text path, often located at the top of a page. On yoast.com, for instance, the path to our Yoast SEO plugin page is Home > Software > WordPress Plugins > Yoast SEO for WordPress. This breadcrumb immediately shows you where you are. Every part of that path is clickable, all the way to the homepage.

Breadcrumbs also appear in Google. If you use Yoast SEO or add the correct form of structured data to your site, search engines can pick up this data and could show your breadcrumbs in the search results. These provide users an easy to understand overview of where the page sits on your site.

Different kinds

Looking closely, we can distinguish different types of breadcrumbs. These are the three most common types of breadcrumbs you will find on sites:

Hierarchy based breadcrumbs

These will pop up most often. We use them on our site as well. Breadcrumbs like this will tell you where you are in a site structure and how many steps you can take to get back to the homepage. Something like Home > Blog > Category > Post name.

breadcrumbs hierarchy

Attribute based breadcrumbs

Attribute based breadcrumbs appear after a certain selection has been made, for instance, while searching for a product on an e-commerce site. Maybe, Home > Product category > Gender > Size > Color.

breadcrumbs attribute

History based breadcrumbs

History based breadcrumbs do what it says on the tin; they are ordered according to what you have been doing on the site. Think of these as a replacement for your internet history bar. These would appear like this: Home >  Previous page > Previous page > Previous page > Current page. It’s also possible to combine these like Macy’s does in the screenshot below.

breadcrumbs history

Advantages to using breadcrumbs

There are a couple of advantages to using breadcrumbs on your site. Let’s go over them quickly:

1. Google loves them

Your visitors like breadcrumbs, but Google likes them as well. Breadcrumbs give Google another way of figuring out how your website is structured. In addition to that, Google might use your breadcrumbs to show these in the search results. This way, your search result will at one become much more enticing to users. To increase the chance to get these breadcrumbs in Google, you need to add structured data or use Yoast SEO.

2. They enhance the user experience

People hate to get lost. When confronted with a new location, people often look around in search of recognizable objects or landmarks. The same goes for websites. You need to keep visitors happy and reduce as much friction as possible. Breadcrumbs can help your user experience since it is a well-known interface element that instantly shows people a way out. No need to click the back button!

3. They lower bounce rates

Hardly anyone comes in via the homepage anymore. It’s all organic search nowadays. That means every part of your site could be an entry point. You must come up with a way to guide these visitors to other parts of your site if the selected page does not meet their expectations. Breadcrumbs can lower bounce rates because you’re offering visitors an alternative means of browsing your site. Don’t you think it’s better to send a visitor to your homepage than back to Google?

How to add breadcrumbs

There are several ways of adding breadcrumbs to your site. Firstly, if you use a WordPress site, you can use one of the many breadcrumb plugins or just use Yoast SEO. If you use a different CMS the process might be different. It is also possible to add them by hand. If you want them to appear in Google as well, you need to use structured data in a way that Google understands. You can find more information on this in Google’s developer documentation on breadcrumbs.

Yoast SEO offers an easy way to add breadcrumbs to your WordPress site. It will add everything necessary to add them not just visible on your site, but get them ready for Google as well. To add breadcrumbs to your site, you need to add the following piece of code to your theme where you want them to appear:

<?php
if ( function_exists('yoast_breadcrumb') ) {
yoast_breadcrumb('


','

');
}
?>

This code can often be placed inside the single.php or page.php files, just above the title of the page. Some themes want it at the end of the header.php file. Try not to add it to functions.php since this could create problems.

After adding the code, you can go to the advanced settings of Yoast SEO and switch on breadcrumb support. Here, you can also determine how the breadcrumb structure will look and what prefixes will be used. Find out more on our Knowledge Base page on implementing breadcrumbs with Yoast SEO.

Conclusion

While using breadcrumbs, Hansel and Gretel still got lost in the woods. Don’t let that happen to your visitor. Breadcrumbs provide an easy to grasp way of navigating for users. Visitors instantly understand how the site structure works. For the same reason, Google loves them as well. Use Yoast SEO to add breadcrumbs to your site easily.

Read more: ‘Site structure: the ultimate guide’ »

When you’re running a large and busy website, it’s practical and time-saving if you can reuse some of your material. Both meta descriptions and excerpts use a brief passage to summarize the content of a web page. So, it could be handy to use the same text for both. But how do you do that? In this video, Joost explains the easiest way to reuse your text for both meta descriptions and excerpts, and whether Google approves of this reuse.

Renee Lodens sent us an email with the following question:

“Is there a way to bulk copy the Yoast SEO meta descriptions to the excerpt field? Also, is this considered duplicate content?”

Watch the video or read the transcript further down the page! 

Optimize your site for search & social media and keep it optimized with Yoast SEO Premium »

Yoast SEO for WordPress pluginBuy now » Info

Meta descriptions and excerpts

So, what to do if you want to save time and use the same passages for meta descriptions and excerpts?

“Well, let’s start with the first thing. It’s probably easier to do it the other way around. If you put the description that you want in the excerpt field, and then in the back end, in the Yoast SEO Titles & Meta section, you can use the excerpt short code for meta descriptions. We will automatically put your excerpt in your meta description. That’s easier. You can do it the other way around too, but then you’d have to code a bit.

Is this considered duplicate content? No, it’s not. Because they are different things used for different purposes. Your meta description will only show up in the metadata, which will not be shown on the page. And Google considers these two separate things.

So this might actually work well for you if you write really good short excerpts that fit well into your meta description.

Good luck!”

Ask Yoast

In the series Ask Yoast we answer SEO questions from followers. Need some advice about SEO? Let us help you out! Send your question to ask@yoast.com.

Read on: ‘How to create the right meta descriptions’ »

WordPress was built by the community. In just a few incredibly productive years, it grew to become the most popular CMS in the world, and all of us in the WordPress Community played a role in the evolution and development of WordPress. Together, we made it into the popular powerhouse it is today. If there was one thing that made it possible, it was the open source philosophy. Just like WordPress, Yoast was born from an open source world. In this interview, Joost de Valk shares his views on a topic dear to his heart.

Joost began his journey into the open source world many moons ago. As a contributor to the WebKit project, which built a layout engine for web browsers, he saw how a group of like-minded people could go up against mainstream, rich companies. WebKit’s small team made waves with their product. Different browsers adopted it and it helped them to hold their own against the incredible power of Internet Explorer. Joost says: “We were unbelievably efficient. I discovered very early on that it was better to build something together than on your own.” 

New to SEO? Learn the Basics of SEO in our Basic SEO course »

Basic SEO training$ 199 - Buy now » Info

A passion for open source

Talk to Joost about open source and his eyes light up. Open source formed him – it shaped his thoughts and visions. Even now, as CEO of a successful company, he’d still choose open source as the business model every time. Joost: “If I had to start over, I’d do a million things differently. But I would choose open source again in a heartbeat. I actually do think it’s better to create together. Take those design agencies that develop bespoke CMS’s. Why? It’s nonsense. It leads to vendor lock-in and that is horrible. There’s only one model: the open source model.”

‘‘If I had to start over, I would choose open source again in a heartbeat ’’

Running a business with an open source mindset is better than keeping everything behind closed doors. Joost: “Why should a school build their own site when there are hundreds of schools with the same requirements and questions? Join hands to make it manageable and cheaper. Just think how much the government could save if they used open source everywhere.”

“To me,” says Joost, “open source is a combination of community, not just friends, and a shared responsibility to find solutions to problems together. Take WordPress for example, collectively we are fixing the problem of publishing to the web. Other projects tackle different problems in the same way, together. This is how society should function; when we set our minds to it, we can achieve anything if we combine our efforts.”

David vs. Goliath

Joost sees open source as a David vs. Goliath struggle: “It’s money versus community. A lot of money versus no money. As a community-driven CMS, WordPress continuously has to figure out how to go up against large-scale commercial efforts. But, in spite of all that money, WordPress continues to grow like wildfire. We’ve reached critical mass and it will only go up from here.”

While WordPress grows, its community continues to expand. According to Joost, the community is diversifying at a rapid rate: “It’s not just developers anymore – the project attracts a wide range of people, from designers to writers. People are willing to invest loads of time into it. Just look at all those WordCamps around the world; all of them are organized by people from all walks of life.”

Open source politics

In theory, open source may sound like the perfect way to get something done, but oftentimes, good-old politics can cause everything to grind to a halt. “The political games are no fun,” Joost says. “It’s a community and therefore pretty diffuse. It takes time to reach a consensus. It’s hard to navigate the waters when there’s no one actually in charge. You have to figure out where decisions are being made and try to be there to influence them. That’s when you find out that not having anyone in charge can make it harder.”

‘‘It takes a lot of time and effort to develop a tool like Yoast SEO’’

Yoast now and in the future

Yoast as a company was built on open source and this philosophy continues to play a big part in its future plans. The Yoast SEO plugin is now spreading its wings, moving to other open source platforms like Drupal, TYPO3 and Magento. But Yoast has to sell something to make money, so in our case it’s a Premium version and other products, like services and education – aspects Joost wants to expand: “In the future, I’d love to be able to give away my plugins for free and generate enough income from our services and education platform. But, that moment is not yet in sight.”

Making money on open source seems strange and contradictory to the openness of open source. Yet, to pay nothing towards the development of products you use every day feels wrong as well. Joost: “It’s almost as if people think it’s rather easy to develop something for WordPress and that it doesn’t cost anything. That’s not true of course. It takes a lot of time and effort to develop a tool like Yoast SEO. Think about it, the readability analysis in Yoast SEO took about six man-years to develop. We could have put it in the Premium version, but we thought about the impact it would have if we gave it away for free. So we did. Come to think of it, I’ve never thought about taking something out of the free version of Yoast SEO to make people pay for it.”

Read more: ‘Yoast WordPress core contributions ’ »

If you’re thinking about starting a blog, the most important thing I have to say to you is: go for it! Start your blog! Just do it! Blogging is a great SEO strategy, it’s a wonderful marketing tool and blogging is lots of fun! A new blog will allow you to make smart and strategic choices. Just take a little time to think about how to set up your blog before you begin, so you’ll have less work later on. Let me share some tips with you on how to start a blog.

Choose your niche

You should always write about what you know. But you should not write about everything you know. Pick a niche. Decide upon a main topic and write posts related to that topic. It’s more likely that your audience will come back and read your other posts if you’re writing about similar topics. People will know what to expect. Starting a mom blog implies that you write about all things concerning your children and family life. Starting a travel blog implies you write about traveling. You can write about something slightly off topic once in a while of course, but try to stick to your niche. An audience of a travel blog doesn’t expect a blog post about gardening. 

Our SEO for WordPress eBook guides you through every aspect of Search Engine Optimization »

SEO for WordPress€ 25 - Buy now » Info

Do your keyword research

Once you’ve chosen your niche, you should do some solid keyword research. Try to find out what people are searching for. What words are they using when they want to read about your niche and your topic? You should really get inside the heads of your potential audience. If you do your keyword research properly, you should end up with a long lists of keywords you would like to be found for. Try to come up with competitive, head keywords as well as with less competitive long-tail keywords.

Read more: ‘How to start your keyword research’ »

Think about site structure

This is the best time to think about site structure. What categories are popular in your niche? What are the most important head keywords you’d like to rank for? You should write a long, kick-ass article about each of these keywords. Those will be your most essential articles, or in other words, your cornerstone content. You should give those articles a prominent place on your site.

After you’ve written those beautiful cornerstone articles, write lots of blog posts on sub topics of that main topic and always link to your cornerstones. That way, you’ll be telling Google exactly what the most important articles on your website are.

Keep reading: ‘What is cornerstone content?’ »

Write that first post

Take some time to do keyword research and to think about site structure. But don’t take too much time. Just write that first post! Put pen to paper and just do it. Your blog starts with the very first post. That post doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be published. Need some help to get started? Check out our 10 tips on how to make your post awesome.

Pictures and videos

Writing blog post is more than writing a nice story; a successful blog has pictures and videos as well. Every post should show at least one image. Taking nice photos yourself is a great way of creating images and making short videos is a really good blogging strategy as well. Especially if you’re blogging about (aspects) of your own life, photos of it are a necessity.

Read on: ‘Images for blogs’ »

Optimize for the search engines

Before publishing your post, optimize it using Yoast SEO (on WordPress of course, but on Magento and TYPO3 now too!). Don’t forget to create an awesome SEO title and a decent snippet. Finetune your text. Make sure your text is both readable as well as SEO-friendly.

Read more: ‘How to use the content & SEO analysis of Yoast SEO’ »

Promote your blog

Using social media is the best way to reach and grow the audience of your blog. That’s why your blog should have a Facebook page. Sharing your posts on Facebook is a good marketing strategy. Don’t forget Instagram and Twitter either!

In addition to the use of social media to promote your blog, we advise you send out a digital newsletter. Let people sign up for it and send out emails with your latest blog posts and some other fun facts.

Keep reading: ‘Marketing your blog’ »

Stick with it!

The most important thing to start a blog – besides setting up your new blog – is to write that very first blog post. Once you’ve written that first post, your blog has started. You should keep on writing blog posts to make it successful, so try to determine a frequency to publish new posts. You don’t have to blog every day, once a week or maybe even once in every two weeks would be a nice frequency to start with. Find a frequency you can stick with! Your audience will know what to expect, if your blogging frequency is stable.

Read on: ‘Blog SEO: make people stay and read your post’ »