Being part of the blog team at Yoast I spend much time writing, correcting and editing content in the editor. Of course, I’ve heard about Gutenberg (it’s quite the thing here at Yoast) and glanced over it, but I didn’t take the time to do much with it myself. When the Gut Guys asked me if I would like to feature in one of their videos I couldn’t escape it anymore, I had to start testing Gutenberg for real! So I did. As Marieke already wrote about using Gutenberg as a writer, I’d like to share my experiences with using Gutenberg as an editor.

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Gutenberg?

In case you’ve missed it: the content editor in WordPress is going to get a complete overhaul. Instead of just a big blank field where you type your text, with some options to format it on top of your screen, it’s going to transform into smaller blocks. You can select a block to have a particular appearance, for instance, a paragraph, a heading or an image. And you can move these blocks around or duplicate them. In the sidebar, you’ll have more options to do all kinds of things with your content. That’s it in a tiny nutshell, if you want to know more, read Edwin’s highly informative piece on what Gutenberg is exactly.

Start the test!

You can already install the Gutenberg plugin and already use Gutenberg on a (test) site to see how it works. Another option, if you want to get acquainted with Gutenberg, is to go to testgutenberg.com and create and edit some content right there in your browser. Not all functionalities work as they should there, but it’ll surely give you an impression.

First impression

I have to admit I was a bit hesitant to use Gutenberg in the beginning. I guess it’s just hard to let go of what you’re used to and start learning something new. Moreover, in my previous job, I’ve worked with the Oracle ATG CMS which works with blocks as well, and that CMS has a very steep learning curve. On the other hand, that experience also made me already see the advantages of using blocks with pieces of content, instead of one big field.

But starting out I was pleasantly surprised! This didn’t feel that different at all. OK, I had to click around a bit to find the functionalities I was looking for, but that was to be expected. It felt quite intuitive to me. I happily clicked around adding, moving and editing blocks and jotted down what I noticed. I tried to test things I often do as an editor, like copying content people shared with me in Google docs, edit a bit of HTML somewhere, search for a certain paragraph, move them, change a heading or adding a conclusion to a text. Here are my findings:

Copy content from Google Docs

Copying content from Google Docs to the classic WordPress editor can be a hassle. But with Gutenberg, it’s much easier. You copy it from your doc and paste it right into the editor. To my surprise, this gave an excellent result. No weird span tags, the headings where correct, paragraphs transferred correctly, and the links were still in place. Nice! I didn’t discover any flaws at all. For me, this is an enormous improvement, as it is not that easy in the classic editor. Of course, I’m aware there are workarounds for issues with it in the current editor, but how wonderful if we wouldn’t need those!

Switch a block to HTML in Gutenberg

If you want to edit a piece of content in HTML you can click on the three dots in the upper right corner of a block and switch to HTML:

This feature made me so happy! We’ve got some pretty lengthy articles here at Yoast, especially our cornerstone articles, and the time I’ve spent to find exactly that sentence or paragraph that I wanted to edit… I think this feature will make me work much more efficiently.

Search for a paragraph and move it

In Gutenberg, you can find a table of contents in the sidebar when you click on the information icon above your article. I didn’t really expect to find it there – perhaps some ‘structure-like’ icon would make more sense – but I like the fact this table of content exists. I can click on a heading and jump to that part of the copy directly.

If one of our authors has written a long article, this comes in handy! When editing a text, I sometimes search for a paragraph because I’d like to change it a bit, add something or move it to another location to improve the flow. In that case, I can just drag and drop a block and move it to another location. You can also use the upward or downward arrow on the left side of the block to move a block up or down. Not sure if I would use that much though.

Placing the mouse correctly to make the hand icon appear to move the block can be a bit of a struggle. I also noticed that if I’d like to move two blocks together, for instance, a paragraph and a header, you’d have to move them separately. At least I didn’t achieve to select and move them together.

Headings and anchors in Gutenberg

Headings are essential for your users and SEO. They guide the reader, show the structure of your text and should mention the most important (sub)topics of it. In my daily work, I notice that sometimes writers get enthusiastic and start writing a lot of paragraphs after one single subheading. In that case, the readability analysis of Yoast SEO will throw off this notice:

readability too much text subheading

So I’ll have to add some subheadings to improve the readability of the copy, which is easy with Gutenberg. Just click on the plus or hit enter where you want the additional heading to be. It will be an H2 by default — which I like — but you can quickly change it to an H3 or H4 if you want.

add heading in gutenberg

Select the right heading for a block

Ok, this might not be the hardest thing to do in the classic editor either – especially if you know you can use ## before the heading and hit enter to create an H2 – but not everyone knows these kinds of tricks.

Easily create an HTML anchor to link to a heading

And what I like most… there is a way to add an HTML anchor to your heading without having to switch to HTML! Click on Advanced on the Block tab in the sidebar, and the option will unfold.

Just add the text you want, let’s say ‘example’, and you can link directly to this heading from everywhere by adding #example to the URL of the page! No need to add id=’example’ in the HTML of your copy. Awesome, right?

Duplicate and share blocks

Reusing a useful piece of content you’ve already created is music to every web editor’s ears. In Gutenberg, you can duplicate a block (create an exact copy of it in your article), or you can share it. If you share it, you can use it again on another post or page. It’s one of the few things I sometimes actually miss from Oracle ATG, a feeling I don’t get very often ;-)

“But what about duplicate content?” I hear you think. Of course, you should reuse blocks sensibly and be aware of not duplicating or recreating entire pages. This could confuse Google which page to show in the search results.

But sometimes you’ve created a nice-looking layout which you’d like to reuse. Or you’ve written a small piece of copy you’d like to add in multiple articles. With the shared block function, you won’t have to type it over and over again or copy and paste it all. I can imagine we could use this to link to our cornerstones at the end of a post, or if we want to add a short notification to a certain set of posts. And I’m sure much more great use cases will come up!

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Adding images to the content

As an editor, quite often we add illustrations and screenshots to a blog post. I tried to add some using Gutenberg and it’s easy. Just hit enter, click on the plus and upload the image you want to add. What I liked immediately is that you can write a caption below the image right away. Good captions can help the reader to understand what the image is about. Just seeing this option might trigger the writer to add one, which could increase the reader’s understanding of the copy. In the sidebar, you can add an alt text too, which is great.

I got a little less enthusiastic though when I tried to select and scale the image. When I selected it, it selected the paragraph below it too. This might be caused by the fact that I aligned the image left or right, but I think it shouldn’t happen anyway. The scaling functionality appeared to be off a bit too. It only seemed to scale properly when I moved the mouse vertically, not horizontally, which took me a while to find out. This probably still needs some work.

No issues?

Until so far this has been a fairly positive article. What about the downsides? To be honest, I didn’t encounter much inconvenience working with the editor yet. What I found a bit odd is that the plus only appears after you hit enter after a paragraph. For me, it would make sense if it would be there and you could click it after you’ve finished your sentence. But that’s just a minor thing. Apart from that, the image editing functionality requires some finetuning, as I explained. But that’s about it!

Go and try it out too!

I’ve had a very positive experience working with Gutenberg and got more excited along the way! But I can only judge it as an author or editor on our blog. Of course, there are much more roles and technical implications that don’t directly affect me in my work. That’s why I’m curious how other people experience using this editor. So I’d say, don’t be scared and go for it! Use Gutenberg and try to do with it what you usually do. And please share your findings in the comments below!

Read more: ‘Gutenberg: Concepts for integrating with Yoast SEO’ »

The post Using Gutenberg as an editor: does it make my life easier? appeared first on Yoast.

In our major Yoast SEO 7.0 update, there was a bug concerning attachment URL’s. We quickly resolved the bug, but some people have suffered anyhow (because they updated before our patch). This post serves both as a warning and an apology. We want to ask all of you to check whether your settings for the redirect of the attachment URL’s are correct. And, for those of you who suffered from a decrease in rankings because of incorrect settings, we offer a solution that Google has OKed as well.

Is redirect attachment URLs set to “Yes”?

You need to check this manually: unless you have a very specific reason to allow attachment URLs to exist (more on that below), the setting should be set to “Yes” . If the setting says “Yes”, you’re all set. You can find this setting in Search Appearance, in the tab Media.

media attachment urls setting in Yoast SEO

Is your attachment URL set to “No”?

If your attachment URL is set to “no”, there are two different scenario’s which could apply to you. You could intentionally have set this setting to “no”, but the setting  could also be turned to “no” without your intent.

Intentionally set to “No”

If you intentionally put the setting of the attachment URL to “No”, you’ll probably be aware of that fact. In that case, your attachment URL’s are an important aspect of your site. You’re linking actively to these pages and these pages have real content on them (more than just a photo). This could for instance apply to a photography site. If you want this setting to say “No”, you’ll probably have put a lot of thought in this. In this case, you can leave your setting to “no”. You’re all set!

Unintentionally set to “No”

It is also possible that you notice that the setting is set to “No” and this was not intentionally. You’ve suffered from our bug. We’re so very sorry. You should switch your toggle to “Yes” and save the changes. Perhaps you need to do a little bit more, though. There are (again) two scenario’s:

Traffic and ranking is normal

Ask yourself the following question: have you noticed any dramatic differences in your rankings and traffic in the last three months (since our 7.0 update of march 6th)? If the answer to this question is no, than you should just turn the redirect setting of the attachment URL to “Yes” and leave it at that. You did not suffer from any harm in rankings, probably because you’re not using attachment URL’s all that much anyway. This will be the case for most sites. After switching your toggle to “Yes” and saving the changes, you’re good to go!

Traffic and ranking have decreased

In the second scenario, you notice that the redirect attachment URL setting is set to “No” and you did indeed suffer from a dramatic decrease in traffic and ranking. We’re so very sorry about that. Make sure to switch the setting of the attachment URL to “Yes” immediately.  In order to help you solve your ranking problem, we have built a search index purge plugin. Download and install this plugin here. More on the working of this separate plugin below.

What to do if you’re not sure

If you’re not sure whether you’ve been affected by this, and your Google Search Console is inconclusive: don’t do anything other than setting the setting to “Yes”. See “What did Google say” below for the rationale.

What do attachment URL’s do anyway?

When you upload an image in WordPress, WordPress does not only store the image, it also creates a separate so-called attachment URL for every image. These attachment URLs are very “thin”: they have little to no content outside of the image. Because of that fact, they’re bad for SEO: they inflate the number of pages on your site while not increasing the amount of quality content. This is something that WordPress does, which our plugin takes care off (if the setting is correctly turned to “Yes”).

Historically, we had had a (default off) setting that would redirect the attachment URL for an image to the post the image was attached to. So if I uploaded an image to this post, the attachment URL for that image would redirect to this post. In the old way of dealing with this, it meant that images added for other reasons (like say, a site icon, or a page header you’d add in the WordPress customizer), would not redirect.  It also meant that if you used an image twice, you could not be certain where it would redirect.

In Yoast SEO 7.0 we introduced a new feature to deal with these pages. Now, we default to redirecting the attachment URL to the image itself. This basically means attachment URLs no longer exist on your site at all. This actually is a significant improvement.

What did the bug do (wrong)?

The bug was simple yet very painful: when you updated from an earlier version of Yoast SEO to Yoast SEO 7.0-7.0.2 (specifically those versions), we would not always correctly convert the setting you had for the old setting into the new one. We accidentally set the setting to ‘no’. Because we overwrote the old settings during the update, we could not revert this bug later on.

The impact of the bug

For some sites our bug might have a truly bad impact. In Twitter and Facebook discussions I’ve had, I’ve been shown sites that had the number of indexed URLs on their site quintupled, without adding any content. Because with that setting being “No” XML sitemaps was enabled for attachments. As a result of that, lots and lots of attachment URLs got into Google’s index. Some of those sites are now suffering from Panda-like problems. The problem will be specifically big if you have a lot of pictures on your website and few high quality content-pages. In these cases,  Google will think you’ve created a lot of ‘thin content’ pages all of a sudden.

The vast majority of the websites running Yoast SEO probably hasn’t suffered at all. Still, we messed up. I myself, am sorry. More so than normal, because I came up with and coded this change myself…

What did Google say?

We have good contacts at Google and talk to them regularly about issues like these. In this case, we discussed it with John Mueller and his first assessment was similar to mine: sites should normally not suffer from this. That’s why we don’t think drastic measures are needed for everyone. Let me quote him:

“Sites generally shouldn’t be negatively affected by something like this. We often index pages like that for normal sites, and they usually don’t show up in search. If they do show up for normal queries, usually that’s a sign that the site has other, bigger problems. Also, over the time you mentioned, there have been various reports on twitter & co about changes in rankings, so if sites are seeing changes, I’d imagine it’s more due to normal search changes than anything like this.”

We’ve also discussed potential solutions with him. The following solution has been OK’d by him as the best and fastest solution.

What does this search index purge plugin do?

The purpose of the search index purge plugin is to purge attachment URLs out of the search results as fast as possible. Just setting the Yoast SEO attachment URL redirect setting to “Yes” isn’t fast enough. When you do that, you no longer have XML sitemaps or anything else that would make Google crawl those pages, and thus it could take months for Google to remove those URLs. That’s why I needed to be creative.

Installing this plugin will do the following two things:

  • Every attachment URL will return a 410 status code.
  • A static XML sitemap, containing all the attachment URLs on a given site will be created. The post modified date for each of those URLs is the activation date and time of the plugin.

The XML sitemap with recent post modified date will make sure that Google spiders all those URLs again. The 410 status code will make sure Google takes them out of its search results in the fastest way possible.

After six months the attachment URLs should be gone from the search results. You should then remove the search index purge plugin, and keep the redirect setting of the attachment URLs set to “Yes”.

Advice: keep informed!

We try to do the very best we can to help you get the best SEO out of your site. We regularly update our configuration wizard and there is no harm whatsoever in running through it again. Please regularly check if your site’s settings are still current for your site. We do make mistakes, and this release in particular has led us to a rigorous post mortem on all the stages of this release’s process.

We regularly write about things that change in Google, so stay up to date by subscribing to our newsletter below. If you want to understand more of the how and why of all this, please do also take our new, free, SEO for Beginners course, which you’ll get access to when you sign up.

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Again it was a month packed with great conferences we were lucky enough to attend. Some Yoasters – of course – went to WordCamps like Torino, London and Vienna. In addition to that, others went to Playgrounds blend, React and TYPO3 UX. To top it off, I was given the opportunity to do a digital detox in Iceland. All of those events are worth mentioning, but it’ll take too long to discuss all of them in here, so here’s a selection. Read about the Yoast adventures on WordCamp Torino, Playgrounds Blend and my personal digital detox! 

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WordCamp Torino (April 6-7)

Beginning of April our Community superhero Karin went to Turin in Italy to mingle with the hospitable Italian WordPress community. There she also met with our accessibility expert Andrea. Apart from having a great time with the friendly Italians and eating delicious pizza and ice cream, she particularly enjoyed the talk of Carole Olinger, who told about her journey in the WordPress Community so far. Karin could really relate to this:


By the way, if you want to hear Karin’s story, about her journey in the WordPress community check out this video.

She was also really curious to see Alessia Pizzi talk about our own Yoast SEO plugin:

One of the lightning talks during the morning session was about the Yoast plugin. In Italian. I thought I would go there, just to see if I could understand what Alessia Pizzi, was talking about.

Well, I didn’t!

But the room was jam-packed with people, and she loved to see Alessia talk so  passionately about our plugin. All in all she had a blast in Torino and hopes to be back some day. 

Playgrounds Blend (April 13)

Playgrounds is an annual conference where the most talented and innovative creative professionals in animation, game & interactive design, robotics and creative technology come to show and tell about their work. Erwin, Tim and Luc, representing the creatives at Yoast went there to “get their creative juices flowing” as Luc eloquently put it. Here are some of the takeaways:

Studio Moniker presented us with their system of ‘conditional design’. Instead of designing towards a finished product, they only produce the concept and ground rules of a design. They then enable the public to participate in the design process which leads to very random and unique designs. We saw some cool examples of this form of open source design. It was funny to see there are always people who try to bend, break or ignore the rules of a project.

example of a post cardMr Bingo’s presentation was fast, funny and relentless. His story about how he got to send insulting postcards to people all over the world, after one drunken tweet, was the funniest thing we heard that day.

Until he told the story how he decided to produce a rap to introduce his Kickstarter that is:

The most interesting talk of the conference, according to Erwin, was the one from David OReilly. He made one of the most bonkers animations he’s ever seen, so he was very intrigued by what he had to say.

Oreilly builds digital worlds but from a different standpoint than most others. Instead of trying to simulate the physical world in a 3d environment he lets the limitations of the programs he works with determine the look of the worlds he creates. As long as the used design aesthetic is coherent, the brain of the viewer will accept the design as equivalent to the real world. In other words: if you give the world you design the same overall look or style, your public will believe a clownfish can talk. Or that a man can fly and shoot laser-beams from his eyes.

He then showed his most recent projects that incorporate these ideas; a game about a floating tree, that’s somehow very popular in China, and the game Everything. In this last game, the player can play as any element that is present in the game. From the tiniest microbe, to trees, guitars, clouds, islands, planets and even galaxies. With every change of “character” the view of the world and how you experience it changes too. Making you think about how your position in the world determines how you think about the world. This way everything becomes equally important and unimportant at the same time.

Just take a look at this launch trailer how overwhelming this idea is:

Digital detox in Iceland

The last “conference” I’ll highlight is the digital detox I went to. On April 18, I stepped on a plane to Iceland, without really knowing what was ahead of me. I signed up for a ‘digital detox’ organized by GeekAdventures.org. Mendel Kurland, the head geek, promised a couple of days hiking in Iceland with awesome people in the tech industry.

The first evening, even before the event had officially started, I met up with Hari to explore Reykjavik. We walked for over two hours through the different parts of the city. With Google Maps on our phones not to get lost (hey, our detox hadn’t started yet!), we eventually found our way to another group of adventurous geeks. After drinks and a good meal, it was time to head back to our hotels and prep for the next morning.

Do you know that awkward silence when you first meet a group of new people? Well, we didn’t have much of that. After 4 hours on a 4×4 bus, visiting a stunningly beautiful waterfall and staring at a glacier together, we only needed lunch, a quick intro-game and a bit of ‘free time’ to open up.

digital detox in Iceland

There are so many stories to tell from just four days with this bunch of new-found friends, and I’ll happily share all of them over drinks, but in this recap want to focus on what touched me the most.

Thanks to Yoast, I’m used to going to conferences, hanging out with people from all over the world and having good conversations about work. At those events, I’m Taco from Yoast, all day long. This event was different. Because of the small group and because we all came with the ‘digital detox’ mindset, it was really personal. No-one had to be “[name] from [insert company]”. We could all be ourselves. Even when discussing Yoast SEO, Beaver Builder or Ninja forms, we were friends talking. And that was amazing!

If you ever have a chance to visit Iceland, you should. It’s wonderful, beautiful and magical. But if you ever have the chance to go on a digital detox, you’d be a fool to miss out!

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Please welcome to the stage: Yoast SEO 7.4! In this release, we’ve squashed a number of bugs and focused on enhancing the way Yoast SEO works with OpenGraph images. We also made some other enhancements that improve the way the plugin functions. Happy updating! 

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Improved handling of images

Images are very important for several reasons: not only do your readers love to see them while reading your post, but they are indispensable if you want to do well in image search — which is becoming more important by the day. Image SEO, therefore, is a thing. There’s another reason images are important: social images can attract a great deal of traffic to your site or social media profile. Luckily, Yoast SEO can help you up your social image game.

For some years, you have been able to preview how your social posts will look when shared with Yoast SEO Premium. Most social media platforms use the OpenGraph protocol to determine what should be shown and how. In Yoast SEO 7.4, we’ve made some improvements to how the plugin handles OpenGraph images. For starters, we now add OpenGraph image dimension-meta tags to more images. We also exclude images in OpenGraph meta tags that are larger than 2MB as we want to keep everything running smoothly. Yoast SEO can now also append the image alt tag to the OpenGraph output, using the meta tag og:image:alt. Last but not least, we’ve added caching for images in posts to reduce load time. We’re diving deeper into how different platforms use OpenGraph to handle images and we’re hoping to do more with images in the future.

If you want to really dive into this and learn more about the choices we made and why we made them you should definitely read this post on open graph tags by Jono!

Dropping support for PHP 5.2

In Yoast SEO 7.3, we’re now showing a message warning you about dropping support for the ancient PHP 5.2 in an upcoming version. As you might know, anything before PHP 7.0 is quickly running towards end-of-life. There are, however, still a lot of people and hosting companies that use ancient software to power their servers. Please upgrade your servers if possible! Here’s how Joost put it some time ago:

“The why is three-pronged: security, speed, and future-proofing. PHP 5.2 hasn’t been updated for years and has serious issues. PHP 7 is lightning fast, up to 400% faster than 5.2. You might even regard this as a green move; you can use 50% fewer servers to get the same results from PHP 7. Last but not least, developers can finally use all the modern technologies to bring WordPress to the next level.”

Other improvements and fixes

To more rigorously determine if posts and pages are viewable and accessible, we’ve added the is_post_type_viewable WordPress function to improve support for the wpseo_accessible_post_types filters. Among other things, we’ve fixed some bugs that kept some database tables from being removed when you deleted a sub-site from a multisite environment. To cap it off, we’ve fixed a bug where deleting multiple posts could cause performance issues. Thanks to Abolfazl Moeini for finding and fixing that.

Please update

As always, our advice is to update to the newest release of Yoast SEO so you can get the latest and greatest. In Yoast SEO 7.4, we’ve improved how we handle OpenGraph images and added several other enhancements that make the plugin better. Thanks for using Yoast SEO!

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

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Today we’re launching the Personal configuration review: an extra personal assignment you can add to the Yoast SEO for WordPress plugin training. You can now test if you’ve understood the subject matter of our training well and do an extra assignment – on your own site! When you’ve configured Yoast SEO on your site, we’ll check it for you and give you personal feedback. This assignment is only available in combination with our plugin training. Buy them together now for only $99!

Get The Yoast SEO Training + Configuration Review Now$99 (ex VAT) for training and assignment

What is it?

The Personal configuration review is an extension of the existing Yoast SEO for WordPress plugin training. In this new assignment we’ll take you by the hand and guide you through the settings of Yoast SEO, like the Search appearance section, the integration with Google Search Console and the Social tab. For instance, we’ll help you decide which content you should have indexed and which not. Get ready to apply the skills you’ve learned in the training!

You can only do this assignment when you buy the Yoast SEO for WordPress training. We recommend doing that because it will give you the opportunity to test your comprehension of the Yoast SEO plugin. And even better, you’ll know directly if Yoast SEO is configured optimally for your type of website.

How does it work?

Adding this extra assignment to your course is easy! Just follow these steps:

  1. Buy the course and the assignment together (the assignment is only available as an extension of the training).
  2. After you’ve finished the course you’ll get access to the Personal configuration review assignment.
  3. Get started and configure Yoast SEO on your own website with help of the assignment.
  4. Once you’re done inform us that you’ve finished it and grant us access to the backend of your WordPress Install via a guest account.
  5. We’ll check your configuration and we’ll provide personal feedback by email.
  6. If you’ve set it up well, you’ll get an additional certificate and badge.

Why this assignment?

At Yoast we want to deliver the best online SEO courses. We believe good training requires some personal attention. That’s why we’ll top up more courses with assignments that will be checked by members of our team in the future. Because nothing is more valuable than true customized feedback by SEO professionals!

Get The Yoast SEO Training + Configuration Review Now$99 (ex VAT) for training and assignment

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Two weeks ago, Yoast SEO 7.2 brought a solid update to the import features of the plugin. In Yoast SEO 7.3, we’ve expanded this improved importer with a slew of newly supported plugins you can import your data from. Find out which plugins we support in this post. But of course, there’s more!

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Importing from even more WordPress SEO plugins

We have always made it easy for users of other WordPress SEO plugins to migrate their settings to Yoast SEO. The last couple of years, we offered support for all the big players: HeadSpace2, All in One SEO, JetPack SEO, WooThemes SEO Framework, wpSEO, SEO Ultimate and SEOpressor. Today, — in addition to improving import from wpSEO — we’re adding a long list of newly supported plugins from which you can import your data:

  • Premium SEO Pack
  • Smartcrawl SEO
  • Squirrly SEO
  • Platinum SEO Pack
  • SEO Framework
  • Greg’s High Performance SEO
  • WP Meta SEO

Yoast SEO Premium users can also import redirects from other redirection WordPress plugins. The redirects manager in Premium is a great tool that helps you to make and manage redirects.

Updated translations

Yoast SEO 7.3 isn’t just about importing stuff, because it’s about translations as well. We’ve updated the translations of almost all locales, plus we’ve added quite a few new locales to our premium plugins like Local SEO, WooCommerce SEO and News SEO. We strive that everyone on earth can use our SEO plugins in their native language and this is a big step in that direction. Of course, we couldn’t have done it without our awesome community! You’re welcome to help out if you don’t see your language yet or if you can think you can improve the current translation. Please visit translate.yoast.com and get started!

Fixes and enhancements

We have enhanced Yoast SEO in several ways. Among other things, we fixed a number of bugs that caused several filters to give unwanted results. One of the new enhancements is support for Baidu Webmaster Tools verification. You can now verify your site just like you do for Yandex, Bing and Google. Find out how to add your sitemap to these search engines.

Update now!

Yoast SEO 7.3 is a solid new update. We’ve fixed several issues, improved translations and added a ton of plugin support to the importer. You can now import settings from every major WordPress SEO plugin. This makes it easier for you to make the transition from other plugins to Yoast SEO. With that, I can only give you one last advice: please update!

Read more: ‘The beginner’s guide to Yoast SEO’ »

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You might have felt some tremors in the WordPress world. There is something brewing. Something called Gutenberg. It’s the new editing environment in WordPress and the impact it’s going to have will be massive. Some welcome it with open arms, while others are critical. There is also a large group of WordPress users who don’t have a clue what’s going on. Here, we’ll introduce Gutenberg.

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Gutenberg is the first step for a bright new future for WordPress

It’s something many people often gloss over, but Gutenberg is not just a new editor for WordPress. It’s the start of something much bigger. Gutenberg lays the groundwork for incredibly exciting developments. Gutenberg is stage one of a three-pronged roll-out strategy. First, WordPress will get a redeveloped editor, after that the project will focus on page templates and in the final stage WordPress will become a full site customizer. You can imagine, this gives us endless possibilities and it is a necessary step to keep WordPress the #1 CMS for years to come.

Today, we’re focusing on stage one. The new Gutenberg editor will land in WordPress 5.0 sometime this year. We’re getting closer to the launch and loads of people are working around the clock to turn this editor into a solid and stable product. We have a big team working on it as well, both on the editor itself and our integration with it. Very shortly, we’ll be able to show you the first results of their hard work! So keep an eye on our plugin releases.

Opening Gutenberg for the first time

When you open the new editor for the first time you’re probably looking for the interface we have all grown accustomed to. That, however, is gone. We now have a very clean writing environment, with great typography and lots of space for your content to shine. On the right-hand side, you can open the settings — per document or per block — by clicking on the cog icon. Clicking on the three dots beside that cog lets you switch to the code editor so you can make your edits on the code side of things.

gutenberg blank canvas

Now, seeing this screen might cause you to turn around and run — please don’t. We all know people have a hard time changing from one thing that they know well to something new. Both Marieke and Willemien had reservations regarding writing and editing in Gutenberg.

People find it hard to accept change when they don’t see why it’s necessary to change something that was working ok. Well, in this case, it’s relatively easy to understand: to get ready for the future, WordPress needs to adapt. Gutenberg introduces concepts and technologies that help make WordPress future proof. Most visible right now? The concept of a block.

In Gutenberg, everything is a block

Gutenberg introduces blocks. Previously, your content lived inside one big HTML file and for every enhancement there had to be something new: shortcodes, custom post types, embeds, widgets and the like. All with their quirky interfaces and weird behavior. Now, you can build your content precisely like you make a LEGO set: all from one box, following a standardized and straightforward set of instructions. In the animated gif below, I’ll quickly show you some blocks and add an image as a block:

By using this blocks concept, you can now determine what every part of your content is. Not only that, you can define their specifications per block. So, for instance, you can turn a single line of text into a quote by changing its block type. After that, it gets a new set of options that you can set. You can change the type of quote, its placement, text decoration et cetera. This goes for all blocks. There are blocks for, among other things:

  • Paragraphs
  • Lists
  • Quotes
  • Headings
  • Code
  • Images
  • Galleries
  • Shortcodes
  • Columns
  • Buttons
  • Widgets
  • And a ton of embeds

Every block you make can get its own layout and settings. And you can save these as reusable blocks!

Gutenberg

Reusable blocks

One of the coolest things about Gutenberg is reusable blocks. Think of these as a completed block that you can save along with its settings. For instance, if you’ve made a cool looking layout for the intro of your blog articles, you can save this as a reusable block. After that, you only have to go to Add Block -> Saved to pick your reusable intro block. How cool is that!

This is an incredibly basic example, but you can think of a lot more complex uses for this! How about a complete gallery where you only have to drop in the images. Or a multi-column article template with great typography for killer blog posts. And of course, developers can hook into this as well, so there are bound to arrive some great blocks that’ll make our lives so much easier. There is no limit to this. This is all made possible because we have full control over all individual blocks.

Yoast SEO and Gutenberg

We’ve been heavily investing in Gutenberg since the beginning. We have several developers that are helping to improve Gutenberg full time. Also, we have been actively researching how, why and where we should integrate Yoast SEO inside Gutenberg. Even for us, the possibilities are endless. We won’t be able to build everything we’re dreaming of right away, as we’re focusing on giving you the best possible basic integration first. But, keep in mind, there is a lot more to come from us!

Let The Gut Guys explain Gutenberg for you

Two of the most active Yoasters in the Gutenberg development team is our UX designer Tim and software architect Anton. These guys are so passionate about Gutenberg that we’re featuring the dynamic duo in an exclusive video series called The Gut Guys — Gut as in ‘good’. They will show you around the Gutenberg editing experience and explain the why and how of the new editor. We’re regularly adding new installments. Watch it and subscribe!

Need more? Check this essential talk

We know thinking and talking about Gutenberg can be tiring, but that’s mostly because we are keeping those thoughts in the now. We should most definitely look at the broader picture and see where Gutenberg can take WordPress. To explain that, I’d like to ask you to invest 45 minutes of your time in watching this essential talk by Morten Rand-Hendriksen.

Conclusion to what is Gutenberg?

There’s no beating around the bush: Gutenberg is coming. We’re getting ready for it and you should as well. The new editor will probably take some getting used to and it might break some stuff, but in the end, we will get a much more streamlined environment with a lot of cool possibilities down the road.

The most important thing you can do right now is installing the plugin. Play with it, test it, break it. Add every issue you find to Gutenberg’s GitHub: things that don’t work or should work better. We need as many eyes on this as we can, so we need you. Don’t just talk and yell: contribute! Your contributions will make or break this project.

Read more: Gutenberg: Concepts for integrating Yoast SEO »

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Gutenberg is coming. It’s a really big thing in the world of WordPress. At Yoast, we are really busy making sure our Yoast SEO plugin integrates nicely with the new editor. So we talk and think and a lot about Gutenberg. But as a writer, I didn’t really use Gutenberg yet. And this made me wonder: What is it like to use Gutenberg? Does writing with Gutenberg feel any different? Is it easier? Will I have more fun? Is it a good writing experience? In this post, I’ll share my thoughts on the new editor from a writer’s perspective. 

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What is Gutenberg?

Gutenberg will become the new default editor of WordPress. The biggest change from the current editor is the introduction of blocks. In the new editor a paragraph, a title or a picture will be a block. You can add a new block, choose what kind of block it will be, and easily edit it the way you want to. Blocks are flexible and can be shifted dynamically around the page.

With the plus sign you can add a new block in the Gutenberg editor

Read more about the Gutenberg project on WordPress.org. The Gutenberg editor is going to be released in the 5.0 update of WordPress. It is not clear when exactly this update will appear, but it should happen somewhere in Spring 2018.

Starting out as a skeptic

I have to be honest. I was rather skeptical about Gutenberg. Prejudiced even. But, I installed the Gutenberg plugin on my personal website and started writing a blog post. Trying to be as open minded as possible. And, I can’t deny: it was really easy. I even forgot for a moment I was testing out a new editor. It didn’t feel weird or new to me at all. Main conclusion: I’m really enthusiastic about Gutenberg.

Intuitive and easy to use

The Gutenberg editor has an intuitive design. For me. And if it’s intuitive for me, it basically is intuitive for everyone. I am not that savvy. It didn’t take much effort to find out how to choose a new heading. It took me just a little bit of clicking to figure out how to insert a picture in my blog post. I could do all the things I do while writing a blog post, just as fast as I always do. At the same time, my screen was rather empty. I liked that. There was little distraction.

Some great advantages over the old editor

The Gutenberg editor has some great assets that could genuinely help people to write better texts. I like that every time you hit enter, a new block emerges. If you go on typing, you’ll create a new paragraph. In my opinion, most writers do not think enough about why they start a new paragraph. They just put whitespaces in when they feel like it. Hitting enter in Gutenberg will create a new block. I believe this will help people to think more about the structure of their text.

Hit enter and Gutenberg will create a new paragraph.

I also love the fact that the editing options are not hidden away at the top of your post. If I want to add a link in my text in the old editor, I have to go all the way to the top of my blog post. That’s a lot of scrolling.  I think I will add much more links to my text when using Gutenberg. Because it is so much easier. And adding (internal) links to your blog posts is important for SEO. Inserting pictures has become much easier too. 

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Some downsides…

I understand why dynamic blocks are appealing. And I do think the flexibility of the blocks will come in handy to get the correct place for a picture or a quote. However, I do not like the fact that it’s so easy to dynamically shift paragraphs and headings. I’m a bit scared that people then feel free to shift their paragraphs while writing. And, from my point of view, the best texts are written after the author carefully established the structure of his or her argumentation. No dragging and dropping there.

Another downside was my experience as I tried to copy and paste a text from Google docs in the Gutenberg editor. In the current editor it takes a lot of work to get the formatting of your article right. That did not work perfectly in Gutenberg either. It does strip out the superfluous HTML code though. Other things went well, like transferring headings, but some paragraphs were transformed in a single block, while other paragraphs were merged together in one block. I could not figure out why. As lots of writers won’t write in the WordPress backend, but in another editor, this experience should be really smooth. A flawless experience would be a tremendous improvement compared to the current editor.

Conclusion

For me, writing with Gutenberg was not all that different from writing in the old editor. And, scrolling down gave me the Yoast SEO meta box, with suggestions to improve my writing and SEO. Yoast SEO already works. The Gutenberg editor offer lots of chances to improve our plugin. We’re working on awesome redesigns to make the writing experience even more awesome. So stay tuned!

Read more: ‘User-testing Gutenberg’ »

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Team Yoast often attends WordCamps and other conferences. We’d like to keep you updated on the highlights of these events and share the knowledge we gained and the fun we had there. In March we went, for example, to WordCamp Oslo, WordCamp AntwerpWordCamp RotterdamWordCamp Kathmandu and The Social Conference. We’ve picked some of the highlights for you. Read on!

Want to meet us and know which events we’ll be going to soon? Check out our events page

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WordCamp Oslo

Remkus de Vries, our remote colleague from the north of the Netherlands, went even higher up north to Norway to join WordCamp Oslo. Of the presentations he watched, the very first one by Magne Ilsaas was the one that stood out the most for him:

“Magne talked about Gutenberg, the printing press, and how it sparked a revolution some 500 years ago. But of course, he also talked about Gutenberg as the new editing experience expected to ship with WordPress 5.0 and the opportunities and possibilities it brings. It’s a presentation that sparked a lot of conversations the rest of the day. I couldn’t agree with him more: Gutenberg will, indeed, revolutionize how we’re using WordPress.”

Want to know more about Gutenberg? Follow the knowledgeable Gut Guys on YouTube. We will be publishing about Gutenberg a lot more in the coming weeks, starting with Marieke. She will publish a post on content writing with Gutenberg soon!

WordCamp Antwerp

While Remkus was traveling north, other Yoasters went south to WordCamp Antwerp in Belgium. That’s where our sales superstar Anneloes found out everyone can contribute on a contributor day, no need to be a developer! She joined the WP Marketing team – an initiative which our marketing team had already joined on WordCamp Noord Nederland – and was thrilled by the friendly and helpful atmosphere she encountered.

karin

Our awesome Karin volunteering at WordCamp Antwerp

At WordCamp Antwerp, our Research Team Lead Annelieke gave a presentation on Multilingual SEO, not the easiest of topics. She guided visitors with international websites through the Multilingual and Multiregional forest to help them make the right sites rank in the right countries. She discussed hreflang, multilingual copywriting for SEO and more. Check the highlights of her presentation on this Twitter thread.

WordCamp Rotterdam

At Yoast we not only like sustainable SEO, we care about environmental sustainability too. And that’s the first thing we loved about WordCamp Rotterdam. It was held at the awesome venue BlueCity, the old swimming pool Tropicana, now a hotspot for environmentally-friendly entrepreneurs. There was no printed schedule, cookies were made from yesterday’s bread, and badges were recyclable and filled with plant seeds. Awesome!

A lot of Yoasters in Rotterdam!

At this event, Monique Dubbelman gave a live demo of Gutenberg, which is always good to increase awareness. The talk by Andree Lange on style tiles was of particular interest to the design team, offering a low barrier way to create a library of design elements for a project without having to spec out every little detail from the start. And Jules Ernst shared some illuminating examples of accessibility problems and how you can already improve your website’s accessibility a lot with a little bit of work.

The Yoast team organized the closing session of the event doing some live site reviews. Michelle, Annelieke, Tim and Judith scrutinized some of the visitors’ websites and sent them home with lots of practical tips to improve their SEO and sites in general. You can check the full session (in Dutch) on our Facebook page.

WordCamp Kathmandu

Our support engineer Suwash went to WordCamp Kathmandu in Nepal. He found the presentation of Chandan Goopta one of the most interesting:

“The talk focused on how we can optimize the server, use server commands, and add our custom scripts to monitor bottlenecks on site and fix those issues: sometimes external tools don’t exactly give the cause of why a site is acting slow. He talked not only about the optimized performance of a site but also enhanced page load time (less than 2 seconds load time) and more.”

Contributor day was the first in the history of WordPress Nepal community and there were around 115 attendees. Fond of giving support, Suwash joined as a Team Lead for Support focusing on encouraging attendees to contribute by answering support questions on the WordPress.org support forum.

Support engineer Suwash at WordCamp Kathmandu

The Social Conference

Dushanthi and Siobhan of Team Marketing also visited Amsterdam for The Social Conference, a day full of talks about different social media and how to use them. KLM kicked off with an awesome talk on using social media to give customers the best possible experience. They’re very advanced in using chatbots and providing relevant information through the most convenient channel. Another talk our team was pretty impressed by, was by outdoor gear brand Patagonia, on doing business in unconventional ways. More so: using your business as a tool for environmental activism. This talk hit home as their community building was so like our belief in Open Source.

A lot of the other talks were about changing algorithms like Facebook’s. As no-one knew anything other to say than ‘create engaging content’, we’re even more convinced of our message: as Facebook’s algorithm changes, SEO becomes crucial. The most important takeaway for us this day: if all else changes, your website is still in your control!

Go to WordCamps

We’ve had an awesome time at these conferences. We would encourage you to visit WordCamps as well. It as great oppurtunity to meet likeminded people, to contribute to WordPress and to learn a great deal from the talks. You can find WordCamps all over the world. Hope to meet you there!

Want to meet us at future events? Keep an eye on our events page

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Tags and categories help us structure our content. You can often find these in the visual metadata at for instance blog posts, or in a list of clickable links in the sidebar of a website. Tags are sometimes represented as a tag cloud, although most websites refrain from using that element these days. There is a clear difference between tags and categories, but a lot of users mix them up. Now in most cases, that won’t matter for the end user. But for instance, in WordPress, there are some benefits by using categories for certain segmentations and tags for others. Here, I’d like to explain the difference between tags and categories.

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WordPress taxonomies

WordPress uses taxonomies for content grouping. The most common, default taxonomies in WordPress are categories and tags, but it’s also possible to create a custom taxonomy. We have written about these custom taxonomies before, so for background information, please read the post “What are custom taxonomies?

A taxonomy can be defined as “orderly classification” (Source: Merriam Webster). This indicates some hierarchy or structure, which often goes into categories. In WordPress, categories can be parents or children of each other. Often, tags in WordPress don’t have that structure and are often used quite randomly. If you don’t control how you add tags to posts, you will probably end up with a huge number of tags on your website. The downside of this is that a lot of tags are used only once, which makes the tag page the same as the post where you added the tag. This may create duplicate content or at least thin content.

The difference between tags and categories

Back to our original questions: what’s the difference? In an ideal world, we would use categories to group the content on your website into — say — eight to ten global segments. On our blog, these segments are for instance Analytics, Content SEO, eCommerce and Technical SEO. By maintaining a limited set of categories, you can keep your website, and your content focused. Now, of course, you can dissect the content even further, going to more particular groupings. For that, you should use tags.

WordPress describes the difference exactly like that:

  • Categories allowed for a broad grouping of post topics.
  • Tags are used to describe your post in more detail.

The fact that categories can be hierarchical means that there’s a bit more content structure to be made with just categories if that’s what you are looking for. You can have a group of posts about trees, and have a child category or subgroup about elms. Makes sense, right? It also means that you can have URLs like /category/trees/elms, which displays that structure right in the URL already. You can’t do this with tags. The tag in this example could be “Boston”. It’s unrelated to the tree’s characteristics but could indicate where for instance a photo of an elm in that post is located.

At least one category per post is required

There is one more difference between tags and categories in WordPress: you need to add at least one category to a post. If you forget to do so, the post will be added to the default category. That would be “Uncategorized” unless you set a default category in WordPress at Settings > Writing:

tags and categories: set a default post category

Please do so, as you will understand the default “Uncategorized” makes no sense to your readers. It looks like poor maintenance, right? With tags, you don’t have this issue, as tags are not obligated at all. You could even decide to refrain from using tags until you need them and even then perhaps use a custom taxonomy instead. In that case, you will have that second layer of segmentation without the limitation of tags. I hope that clarifies the difference between tags and categories!

Read more: ‘SEO basics: (The importance of) site structure’ »

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