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

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Leesbare teksten in het Nederlands

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

Improved keyword recognition

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

Contributions

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

What’s ahead?

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

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

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

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

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

Read more: Why you should buy Yoast SEO Premium »

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

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

Running a page speed test

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

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

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

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

Optimizing your page speed using WordPress plugins

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

Image optimization

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

Setting image dimensions in WordPress

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

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

Image optimization plugins

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

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

Browser cache

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

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

Caching in WP Super Cache

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

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

Other WordPress caching plugins

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

Compression

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

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

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

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

Serving CSS and JS files

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

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

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

We have to mention CDNs

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

There are many ways to optimize page speed in WordPress

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

Read more: Site speed: tools and suggestions »

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

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Yoast SEO: the #1 WordPress SEO plugin Info

Less scrolling in Search Appearance

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

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

Bugs killed

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

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

Preparing for Gutenberg

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

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

Working towards a more complete content analysis

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

Read more: Why every website needs Yoast SEO »

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

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Why you should use synonyms

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

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

Why is the exact match focus keyword still important?

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

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

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

Keyword distribution

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

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

Roadmap for the SEO analysis

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

Embed synonyms in our SEO analysis

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

Morphology: plurals and more

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

Related keywords

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

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

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

Recalibration of the SEO analysis

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

Big improvements in our SEO analysis are coming

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

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

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Semantics is hard. What does a certain word mean in a specific situation? Which ‘mars’ are you talking about? Have you ever tried to discover all definitions of ‘run’? In most cases, context is everything. You can help humans and machines understand a text better by adding context. This is one of the reasons Yoast SEO is now adding support for synonyms and related keywords, giving you more flexibility to improve your text! Now available for Premium users of Yoast SEO 7.8.

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New Premium feature: Synonyms

Content SEO has long been about finding out what your main keyword was and adding that focus keyword in a couple of places in your text. While that worked pretty well, there’s a lot more going on at the moment. Not only is search intent more important than ever, but search engines get smarter and smarter every day. They increasingly ‘know’ what a text is about by looking at the context in which these focus keywords appear. This context is what makes or breaks a text.

Yoast SEO always worked by a single focus keyword or multiple focus keywords in our Premium plugin. We understand this can be a bit restrictive; we’re not even looking at plural instances of the keyword. Luckily, that’s about to change!

We’re working on some very nice new language-based SEO checks, and we’re presenting the first updates today: synonyms and keyword distribution! Yes, you read that right: Premium users can now add synonyms and related terms to check. Writing about bikes? Your synonyms will probably include ‘bicycle, cycle, ride, two-wheeler,’ and now you can add those terms. The Yoast SEO plugin will check how you use these terms in your article.synonyms in Yoast SEO 7.8

New Premium feature: keyword distribution

The new synonym feature also works in conjunction with another new feature in Yoast SEO Premium: keyword distribution. If you added a couple of synonyms for your focus keyword, Yoast SEO now checks to see if these are distributed well throughout the text. Before you could add your focus keyword in the intro a couple of times and that would be fine by us. That’s over. We’re taking the complete text in regard and want you to evenly and realistically distribute your focus keyword and synonyms. The gif below shows what the highlighting of keywords and synonyms looks like.
keyword synonyms yoast seo premium 7.8
We keep using the focus keyword exclusively to determine keyword density. In our opinion, optimizing your post for the most common keyword — the one that your keyword research uncovered as being most used by your audience — continues to be imperative. 

More on the way

This is just the start. At the moment, we’re hard at work to improve the language capabilities of Yoast SEO. Marieke wrote a post describing what you can expect from Yoast SEO in the coming months. Read about morphology, related keywords and the upcoming recalibration of the SEO analyses in Yoast SEO.

Feedback welcome!

We’ve added these new checks for you to try out. We’re very much looking forward to your feedback. How are you using synonyms and related topics in your texts? What do you want Yoast SEO to do with your synonyms? Are there ways to improve how we handle the analyses of your text? As we’ve said, this is the first step to a Yoast SEO that is far more capable of understanding language and using that knowledge to provide you with the best possible feedback. Help us get there! You can either add an issue to GitHub or comment on this post. We’re looking forward to your help!

Language improvements for French, Spanish and Italian

Yoast SEO 7.8 has turned out to be a release focused on language because we’ve also expanded the language functionality for French, Spanish and Italian. Users writing French and Spanish can now use the Flesch Reading Ease assessment to check the perceived difficulty of their texts. Users writing Italian can now improve their texts using the new passive voice assessment. French, Spanish and Italian now fully support all Yoast SEO features.

Other improvements and fixes

As always, we’ve fixed loads of bugs and improved various parts of the plugin. For instance, we’ve improved the way we determine the OpenGraph for front pages, especially in the case of static front pages. We’ve also fixed several bugs regarding the look and feel of the new snippet variables that we introduced in Yoast SEO 7.7.

Update now to Yoast SEO 7.8

Yoast SEO 7.8 is an exciting new release, one that marks a new direction for us. We’re giving you much more flexibility to enhance your articles by using synonyms and providing you with more tools to determine how well you present your keywords. This is the first step to an even more relevant, useful and indispensable Yoast SEO!

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

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Five years ago, I met Taco Verdonschot for the first time. He applied for a job at Yoast. He brought a cake to his job interview. So smart! He was the first developer we ever hired and probably the worst one we had. And although Taco wasn’t much of a developer, I knew right from the start that he was right for Yoast. 

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Yoast SEO: the #1 WordPress SEO plugin Info

Get one of Taco’s favorite Yoast products at a 15% discount now! Or save 10% on ANY other Yoast product. Select your favorite SEO tool now!

Taco is a perfect fit for Yoast. He understands Yoast. He’s a vital part of Yoast. This week, Taco is one of the co-organizers at WordCamp Europe. He has grown so much in the past five years, and I am so proud of him. Earlier this week, I asked him about his experience as an organizer of WordCamps. What are his dearest memories? Why does he like WordCamps so much? Read on and get to know Taco a bit better!

How did you get sucked into organizing WordCamps?

Only a few weeks after I started working at Yoast (almost five years ago), I was sent to WordCamp Europe in Leiden. That was my first WordCamp. I met a lot of people there. Soon afterward, I began organizing WordPress Meetups (thanks to Barry Kooij of Never5).

Right, I remember that. And after that? You started volunteering and then?

I was a speaker at WordCamp Netherlands in 2015 and applied as a co-organizer for WordCamp Netherlands in 2016. Marcel Bootsman made me responsible for organizing the volunteers, which I believe is the most fun part of organizing a WordCamp.

What is your best memory of a WordCamp?

I liked WordCamp Europe in Sofia best, the second WordCamp Europe. The city of Sofia was marvelous, and the audience pretty much knew what to expect. They all wanted to enjoy a great, laid-back event. I especially enjoyed the afterparty in which we danced the night away. Our CEO Joost de Valk and Danny van Kooten even did a limbo competition!

Really? I’ve never heard about that before. Curious.

The best thing about WordCamps is meeting ‘friends I’ve never met before’. I love the WordPress community, which is tight-knit but also very welcoming to new people. People want to help each other. That atmosphere is awesome and that’s something you feel at WordCamps. That’s the best thing for sure.

What’s so unique about this WordCamp Europe in Belgrade?

It’s the first WordCamp Europe outside of the European Union. That causes some logistic challenges for both the organizing team as well as sponsors.

Tell me about it. We couldn’t get our stroopwafels to Belgrade. It was terrible.

At the same time, Belgrade is a perfect choice. It is central and it is rather cheap. Lots of people can travel for relatively low costs and hotels are affordable. That’ll make the event accessible to people from all over Europe. And that’s kind of the idea.

Is there anything about WordCamps you don’t like? Except for missing your wife and daughter that is…

Well, I don’t like that there are still WordCamps without contributor days. During a contributor day, we all work on the WordPress project together. And whether you’re a translator, developer, marketer or a Matt Mullenweg, everybody can join and contribute to the project. On a contributor day, you’ll learn just how to do that and that enables more people to participate. Every WordCamp should have a contributor day.

Anything to add, Taco?

I talk to a lot of organizers of WordCamps from all over the world, and they all face the same problem; It’s hard to find speakers for our conferences. That’s why I would like to invite everybody to go and speak on a local WordPress Meetup or a WordCamp. Tell your story, share your thoughts on a project you’re currently working on and which challenges you’re facing. It’s so cool — and exciting — to share your experiences on stage!

Thank you so much, Taco, for your time to do this interview. And thank you for the (almost) five years you’re working for Yoast. You’re making a difference in the WordPress Community and at WordCamp Europe. More importantly, you’re a crucial part of Team Yoast and an indispensable part of my personal life as well. Thank you for five amazing years! Have an awesome WordCamp Europe!

Find out which of our products Taco likes most and save 15%. Or get another course, plugin or the configuration service at a 10% discount!

The post 5 questions for Yoast’s community hero Taco appeared first on Yoast.

At the moment, members of team Yoast are enjoying WordCamp Europe in Belgrade, and we want to celebrate that awesome event together with all of you! Which is why we’re having a sale during WordCamp Europe: you can now save 10% on any Yoast product or Academy course! And there is even a 15% discount on my personal favorites! Read on to see which products are my favorite and why I like them so much.

Free course! Learn what makes your site rank with our SEO for beginners training »

Free SEO course: SEO for beginners Info

WordPress Community

In 2013, I just started working at Yoast as a customer support engineer and went to my first WordCamp ever: WordCamp Europe in Leiden. The WordPress community was so very welcoming, and I attended more and more WordCamps and meetups. In 2016, I joined the organizing team of WordCamp the Netherlands and joined WordCamp Europe in 2017. At Yoast, I became the community manager, next to being the lead of the support team! At the moment I’m also co-organizing WordCamp Nijmegen. It’s safe to say that I love being a part of the WordPress community!

Yoast SEO Premium plugin

My absolute favorite is, of course, the Yoast SEO Premium plugin. As lead of the support team, there is not a day that goes by without having a conversation with people in which they tell me about how they benefit from the premium features, in one way or another! The redirect manager, for example, helps you easily create and manage redirects on your website, and even creates instant redirects when you change the URLs of your pages. Next to this, the internal linking tool enables you to connect your content to each other easily. With premium, you can also get insight into your social previews, so that you can change them according to your preferences. And it also allows you to optimize your texts for more than one focus keyword!

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Local SEO plugin

The Local SEO plugin is a must if you have a (small) business with local customers. It makes sure that your company’s information is filled out in such a way that Google knows everything it needs to know to put your site on top in local search results! Enhancing this information makes you stand out from the crowd, so you’re not losing customers due to being unfindable. And it will save you a lot of time, which is always a good thing! Personally, it helps me to find the opening times from my favorite, local restaurant: PizzaPasta in Wijchen. ;)

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SEO copywriting training

SEO is a highly dynamic practice, but what always should be on top of your mind is providing your user with high-quality content. It’s such a shame when you have many great ideas for your site, but you’re not able to come up with attractive content. Luckily, there is a solution for that: the SEO copywriting training! The online course helps you with writing awesome content that ranks in Google. It even includes personal feedback on your SEO copy from a Yoast expert. Besides that, I’d much rather visit a site when the content is well written!

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Sale information

So, I’ve shared my favorite products with you, but I’m curious: which Yoast products or courses are your favorites? If you want to learn more about our products, you should try them right now, since you can save 10% on all of our products! And you can even save 15% when you purchase any of my personal favorites. So let me know if you try one of our products, enjoy!

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Home Business Australia New Zealand

This site is a lead-gathering platform for a consultancy advising on home business ownership.

A major part of the brief was a fast turnaround from sign-off to the site going live.

It features a custom theme, a video presentation, and a back-end system integrated into the site owners’ lead-gathering software.

There are multiple custom content areas which are entirely managed by the site owners.

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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