Content areas in Gutenberg, Twenty Twenty update and Elementor integration

It’s Monday, time for a fresh WordPress Watch. We’ve got more news on Twenty Twenty in WordPress 5.3 and there’s an update on what’s going to be the next big focus of the Gutenberg project. There’s also exciting news about the integration of two different solutions. Let’s get to it!

Twenty Twenty!

Last week it was announced that Andres Norén would lead the charge for introducing Twenty Twenty in WordPress 5.3. Andres explains the direction under which Twenty Twenty will be created with the following words:

The Block Editor will soon celebrate its first birthday in Core and with every update it grows more capable. The promise of the block editor is to give users the freedom to design and structure their sites as they see fit. The responsibility of a theme is to empower users to create their inspired vision by making the end result look as good, and work as well, as the user intended.

Twenty Twenty is designed with flexibility at its core. If you want to use it for an organization or a business, you can combine columns, groups, and media with wide and full alignments to create dynamic layouts to show off your services or products. If you want to use it for a traditional blog, the centered content column makes it perfect for that as well. 

Andres Norén

An example of what a blog post in Twenty Twenty will look like was also shared:

Single blog post in Twenty Ten. More examples here.

Content Areas are the next big thing in Gutenberg

The Gutenberg project and the accompanying plugin has had its biggest focus on the content editor itself. Up until now. Matias Ventura posted a thorough update on what is going to be the next big focus: content areas. In Matias’ own words:

Content areas represent parts of a site where blocks can be added and manipulated. Since content has a very specific meaning in WordPress already, we can also refer to these as block areas more generally to avoid opaqueness. Block areas would include headers, footers, sidebars, and any other meaningful template part outside of the post content that contains blocks.

Matias Ventura

The rest of the post, and it includes a video and code examples, is an interesting read into the future of where the Gutenberg project is going and how much of a page builder Gutenberg will actually turn into. Spoiler alert: a lot.

LifterLMS meets Elementor

It’s always nice to see deep integrations between two different solutions that instantly make both products better. LifterLMS, one of the most versatile online course and membership software solutions out there, can finally be integrated with Elementor properly.

The folks over at Tangible Plugins built a plugin that bridges both solutions perfectly into one deep integrated solution. Definitely worth checking out if you’re using Elementor!

Smooth integrations with Gutenberg

Came across a tweet from Rich Tabor, creator of the wonderful CoBlocks plugin that highlights a new feature available in the latest Gutenberg plugin. I could write out what it does, but I Rich has included a GIF in his tweet that explains it way better than I could ever put it into words:

Bonus links

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Celebrating the WordPress community: the Yoast Care fund

WordPress is wonderful! It is a wonderful CMS and with it comes a wonderful community. At Yoast, we’re definitely WordPress fanboys and fangirls. We’re fans of the CMS, fans of the community and fans of all those kickass volunteers. That’s why we’ve decided to introduce a new fund: the Yoast Care fund. Care stands for The Community Appreciation REwards. As of today, we want to celebrate those awesome volunteers with Yoast Care!

What is Yoast Care?

The Yoast Care fund contains money. You can nominate a person who is active in the WordPress community as a volunteer, and if we reward a person with a Yoast Care, they will receive $500. Besides that, we’ll do an interview, which we’ll publish on Yoast.com. In this interview, we want to tell the world about the awesome work someone has been doing as a WordPress volunteer.

Why Yoast Care?

A lot of people at Yoast do work for WordPress and we’re able to pay for most of their time. They do awesome work but also get compensated for it. However, a lot of the people in the WordPress Community are freelancers. And, they don’t have a company that pays the hours they put into our ecosystem. They don’t get compensated for their time or energy at all. 

We get it: it’s a lot easier to contribute to WordPress if you get paid for it. But, it’s impossible for Yoast to hire all those volunteers. That wouldn’t be healthy for our business. And, more importantly, those independent volunteers are of tremendous value. Those freelancers, their independent voices: that’s important for the WordPress ecosystem, that’s something we cherish (even though we might disagree with them sometimes ;-)).  

We’ve noticed that quite some people in the WordPress community don’t feel appreciated. And, let’s face it: it’s hard to show appreciation to one another in a community that’s scattered around the world. But we should make an effort to do so. We should celebrate each other and each other’s accomplishments a bit more often. We’ve been talking about these things a lot at Yoast and decided to set some money aside to get the Yoast Care started.  

What to do?

Do you know somebody who does amazing work in WordPress? Someone, a volunteer, who deserves a bit of recognition? Don’t hesitate to nominate that person!

We’re going to give away Yoast Cares to people that are nominated for it by someone else. You’ll have to fill out our form and explain why this person deserves a Care. Read more about it on our application page.

We’ve set aside $25.000 a year to spend on Yoast Cares. So, we’re really looking forward to receiving those first applications! To whom should we give our very first Yoast Care? Please let us know!

More information?

Do you want to know more about how to nominate someone or what our specific conditions are? Read all about it on our application page! And, while you’re at it: don’t forget to read about our diversity fund

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Gutenberg 6.4, WP Local Environment and WP Notify progress

Lots of noteworthy news from WordPress land over the last week. Gutenberg is back on our radar with a new version. I’ll also highlight a new project that’s underway that aims to find a better solution for all those notifications in your WordPress Dashboard. And, there are bonus links. Of course! Let’s dive straight in!

Gutenberg 6.4

The Cover Block saw two new significant functionalities in Gutenberg 6.4. You can now resize the Cover Block and it’s also possible to use a solid color as a background instead of a video or an image.

There are many more small improvements that made it into Gutenberg 6.4 and it’s good to know all of these delightful new features and options will be included in the upcoming WordPress 5.3 release.

WordPress Local Environment progress

At the beginning of August this year, the WordPress Local Environment was introduced. Gary Pendergast gives us an update on the progress of that project on the Make WordPress Core blog. The next step was to make this new development tool available for the Gutenberg development environment.

Go ahead and try out the new Gutenberg Local Environment, and if you come across any issues, please report them over on the Gutenberg repository.

WP Notify progress

One of the most exciting projects currently underway is the WP Notify project. Its aim is to provide much better handling of any and all notifications you can typically find in your WordPress Dashboard.

Jonathan Bossenger has taken the lead on this project and gives us frequent updates over on Make WordPress Core as well. If you haven’t checked out what the idea behind WP Notify is exactly, you should definitely check out his first recap post. You’ll get a good feel of where the project is headed.

New Prevent Search Engines setting

WordPress 5.3 will introduce a new and much better setting to prevent search engines from indexing sites. Our very own Jono Alderson was involved in making this happen. Read more in this introduction post on Make WordPress Core.

Bonus links

  • StudioPress released Genesis 3.1 and it has bumped the minimum requirements across the board. It will need WordPress 5.0, PHP 5.6 as a minimum, higher and up-to-date if obviously even better.
  • Carrie Dils wrote up a wonderful recap of the biggest changes in the Genesis Framework of late, and how to work with them.
  • The WooCommerce Admin plugin I mentioned in a previous roundup, was recently updated and is expected to be merged into the next major WooCommerce version. This would be WooCommerce 3.8.

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WordPress 5.3, Block Lab, and Members Block Permission add-on

A new week, a new WordPress Watch. We saw work for WordPress 5.3 getting properly underway. There was also news about some exciting integrations built to for the Block Editor. And, of course, we have a few bonus links for you as well again today. Let’s see what happened this week in the world of WordPress!

WordPress 5.3 work is underway

Francesca Marano, the release coordinator for WordPress 5.3, published the WordPress 5.3 Schedule and Scope on Make WordPress Core blog last week.

The focus of WordPress 5.3 is on polishing current interactions and making the UIs more user-friendly. And, as I’ve mentioned previously here, there will be a new default theme again; Twenty Twenty. The general idea is that Twenty Twenty will be based on an existing theme that already does cool stuff with the Block Editor and modifying it to fit with the 5.3 release.

If you’d like to see a list of tickets that are slated to be fixed for WordPress 5.3, have a look at this list on Trac.

Block Lab

When it comes to creating blocks for the Gutenberg block editor, I’ve mentioned ACF Blocks a couple of times before. It’s a wonderful solution that allows you to create blocks relatively easy. However, as of last week, I learned there to be another contender for best block creating facilitator. Namely, Block Lab.

A tweet by Steven Cronin alerted me of a talk Luke Carbis, the creator of Block Lab, was giving at WordCamp Brisbane:

To demonstrate the power of his Block Lab solution, Luke asked the audience what custom block he should build. Which he then created during the rest of his presentation. That’s a powerful solution if you ask me. Go check out Block Lab or go straight to the plugin repository and start playing around with it.

Block Permissions add-on for Members plugin

One of the earliest plugins I can remember – and I’ve been using WordPress since 2005 – that extends WordPress’ user management perfectly is Members by Justin Tadlock. Justin mentioned on Twitter that he’s working on an add-on for the plugin that will add block permissions based on the capabilities of the logged-in user.

Meaning, if you’d like to publish content but have certain paragraphs, images, or any block you like, really, only be visible for logged in users, you could do that with that add-on. You can read more about this add-on here.

Bonus links

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WordPress 5.3, Atomic Blocks and EditorsKit

You might think it would be quiet in the world of WordPress because of the summer holidays, but there are some interesting things beeping on my radar. What about the next major version of WordPress: the 5.3 release? Also, the developers of Atomic Blocks and EditorKits haven’t been loitering around; they’ve added some useful features to these Block editor plugins. Read on!

WordPress 5.3: Planning and scope

The WordPress Core team had a good discussion last week about the next major version of WordPress: 5.3. The general idea is that the 5.3 release will be planned for November 13, a week after WordCamp US. As for the scope of what will be in WordPress 5.3, this is the proposed list of items:

  • Grouping: Support for dividing your page into sections;
  • Motion: Support for visual motion when moving/arranging blocks;
  • Column patterns and widths: Support for fixed column widths, and predefined layouts;
  • PHP 7.4: Support for the new version coming end of November;
  • And also: Build/Test updates, better administration of emails, and a lot of under-the-hood improvements!

As you can see, most of these updates are focused on polishing current interactions in WordPress and are aiming to make the UIs more user-friendly.

In the Dev chat for WordPress 5.3 that followed, the new default theme (by the name of, you’ll never guess it, Twenty-Twenty) was mentioned.

Block Editor plugins: New powerful features

It’s been 9 months since we were all introduced to the new Block Editor in project Gutenberg, and it’s been amazing to see what clever integrations people have come up with to extend it. The new features of two existing plugins caught my eye last week: check out these great additions to Atomic Blocks and EditorKit.

Atomic Blocks

Atomic Blocks introduced a new Section and Layout block. It provides pre-designed section and layouts for your site. A very clever way to inject predefined designs to your content. You can check out this video to get an idea of how powerful this feature is.

EditorsKit

The other features that caught my eye are part of EditorKit. It’s a plugin that provides a set of block options to extend the way you are building content for WordPress Gutenberg Block Editor. And it, too, has a video showing its options:

As you can see, these two plugins allow for wonderful extensions of the Block Editor. Take them for a spin if you haven’t tried them yet.

Bonus links

  • We’ve talked about WPGraphQL before here, and for those interested, I discovered a WordPress source theme for Gatsby that uses WPGraphQL on the WordPress end on Github. Check it out if you want to play around with new technologies.
  • In need of a crash course on WordPress with WPGraphQL, ACF, and React? Reddit has got you covered.
  • Decided to throw in an SEO link as well as I stumbled upon a pretty awesome resource if you use Google Sheets. It’s called Sheets for Marketers and it features over 100 templates for everything: from on-page SEO to reporting and from scraping to project management.

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The beginner’s guide to Yoast SEO

Imagine you have a website but know nothing about SEO. But you’ve heard about Yoast SEO and people have told you it’s a great tool for effortlessly optimizing your site and its pages for Google, Bing, and Yandex. So you install the Yoast SEO plugin or the Yoast SEO extension and follow the instructions. What’s next? While it’s unlikely that your website will be right at the top of Google within a week, our plugin helps you to optimize for search engines, to improve your chances to rank. It does that well, but it still needs your input.

This beginner’s guide to Yoast SEO explains the basics of SEO as covered by our plugin. Let’s go through the steps every user should take when trying the Yoast plugin, and take the first steps in optimizing your site.

Do you need more guidance, to use all the great features of Yoast SEO to their full potential? Look no further and check out our free Yoast SEO for WordPress plugin training! It’ll teach you how to make optimum use of your Yoast SEO plugin, so you can take your SEO to the next level!

A beginner‘s guide to Yoast SEO

Before we start, take note that this isn’t a guide to every single detail of our plugin. In this post, we’ll show you some important things we think you should use or configure. Our plugin has quite a few settings, so it’s good to know which you should configure first. If you have a site-specific question about a particular setting in the plugin, you could also check out the Yoast Knowledge Base.

In this post, we’ll cover:

  • Configuring Yoast SEO: configuration wizard
  • Using the Yoast SEO metabox
  • A bit more advanced: Yoast Dashboard

    Configuring Yoast SEO: configuration wizard

    Our Yoast SEO configuration wizard is a great place to start configuring your plugin. You’ll find it at Yoast SEO > General > Dashboard:

    yoast seo configuration wizard 1

    The configuration wizard guides you through several steps that help you configure our plugin to suit the needs of your site. Even if your website has already been around for a while, you can still run the wizard every now and then. Just to make sure your settings are up to date. Each step of the wizard includes questions, the answers to which will determine particular settings.

    Read more: The Yoast SEO configuration wizard and why you should use it »

    Other settings

    Of course, there are many aspects to SEO, and many more settings you could tweak in the plugin. But we set the configuration wizard in such a way that it already configures the plugin’s general settings correctly for your website. So you can focus on what’s most important – your content! Curious to find out what the plugin does for your site? Read up on Yoast SEO’s hidden features that secretly level up your SEO!

    Using the Yoast SEO metabox

    Of course, any Beginner’s guide to Yoast SEO should extensively cover the metabox. The Yoast SEO metabox will help you optimize your content as you’re writing it in the backend. If you’re using the Block Editor, you’ll find the it on the right side of the editor, as well as underneath the editor. Here, you’ll find a few tabs, two of which we’ll discuss here.

    • A tab where you can insert the word or phrase you want to optimize the page for – the focus keyphrase. This tab also includes the SEO analysis.
    • A tab for the readability analysis. The checks in this tab help you write the best copy you can, so you can serve your audience great content.

    Let’s go through the checks in each tab, and explore which other things you can set in the metabox.

    The readability analysis

    The first step in optimizing your post or page is making sure it’s nice to read for your audience. Since SEO is one of those areas where content is indeed king, we provide a convenient readability analysis for you. That’s because we understand not everyone has the skills to easily create readable content. Use the readability analysis when you’re writing a new post, or directly after, depending on what works best for you.

    Now let’s see what’s in our readability analysis:

    As you can see, we analyse many different aspects of your text:

    Why is readability important?

    If you’re going to write website content, you need to understand that online and offline writing are two different things. While we take the time to sit down and read the great stories in books, or the articles in magazines, we tend to quickly scan, process and use the things we read online. This post isn’t a page in a book. It’s information for you to process, like most online pages are, and we wrote our readability analysis with that purpose in mind. Check out our post on ease of reading and SEO to find out more!

    Government rulings and readability

    As you may know, Yoast is based in the Netherlands, where the law requires that the copy on all government websites is B2: Upper intermediate level. It’s a rule that makes sure that every citizen, regardless of their level of education, can read and understand the information on these websites. We believe that every site should be understandable for everyone. Our readability analysis aims to help with that.

    • Readability score: the Flesch Reading Ease test makes sure every reader can understand your writing. If you are writing for a more educated audience, a lower score is acceptable – it’s a guideline, you decide how strictly to follow it.
    • Use of passive voice: passive voice distances you from the reader, while active voice is much more engaging. It’s almost impossible to write a ‘natural’ article without any passive voice at all, which is why we ‘allow’ 10% passive voice in our analysis.
    • Consecutive sentences: if your text contains three or more sentences in a row all starting with the same word, it may become a bit repetitive. We encourage you to mix things up!
    • Use of headings and subheadings: Headings help you group topics, which makes a text easier to process, which means that people can scan your pages faster.
    • Paragraph length: long paragraphs in an online article are more difficult to understand as readers find themselves lost in all the words. Bite-sized chunks of text are easier to process.
    • Sentence length: while in a book you can stretch a sentence over half a page, shorter sentences are much easier to read online. We use 20 words as a target length.
    • Use of transition words to help improve the ‘flow’ of your page. They send a signal to your visitors that something is coming up and prepares them for the next sentence. You’ll find that the recommendation of using transition words in 30% of your sentences isn’t that hard to do.

    If you want more insight into how we decided on all these criteria, see Content analysis: methodological choices explained. By the way, our readability analysis works for many languages, such as English, Spanish, Dutch, French, German, and Italian. Here’s an overview of which features are available per language.

    Snippet preview

    In addition to the checks in the metabox, we provide an editable snippet preview. In the Block Editor, you can find it near the top of the sidebar, or underneath the editor, under the ‘SEO’ tab. The snippet preview shows you how the Yoast plugin displays your page to Google and other search engines. In other words, it gives an idea of how your site would appear in the search results.

    In the snippet preview, you can set a meta description. Make an effort and write a meta description that clearly reflect what your post or page is about. Let people know they’ll find what they’re looking for on your site and entice them to visit your site. There’s no guarantee that Google will display your meta description in the results pages. But if the meta description you add here is very good, you’ll increase the odds.

    SEO Analysis

    The next step is optimizing your content for your focus keyphrase to rank in the search engines. You can enter your keyphrase at the top of the sidebar in the block editor, or at the top of the ‘SEO’ tab.

    Just so we’re clear: entering a keyphrase here doesn‘t guarantee that you’ll rank for that keyphrase. Unfortunately, we can’t make that happen for you. What we can do, is evaluate how well your content is optimized to rank for that specific keyphrase. Need more information on picking a focus keyphrase? Find out how to choose the perfect focus keyword.

    Our SEO analysis currently includes the following checks:

    In the image, you can see how we analyze different aspects of your text:

    • Keyphrase in subheading: subheadings are a prominent part of your article. Add your focus keyphrase to a few of your subheadings, so its importance is clear.
    • Keyphrase distribution: you need to mention your keyphrase often enough in your text, but good balance is key. That’s why we check if your keyphrase is evenly distributed throughout your text.
    • Image alt attributes: add images to create a better experience for your users. Use the focus keyword in the ALT text so that Google can relate that image to the keyword.
    • SEO title width: a short page title allows you to add a trigger for a visitor from Google to click to your website.
    • Outbound links: we encourage sites to link to other websites as well, as this opens up the web. Link to other websites that back up the points in your blog posts, or provide further information. This will help Google work out which websites relate to each other on what subjects.
    • Internal links: to set up a proper site structure, link to at least one other related page on your site. It keeps visitors on your site and shows them more (background) information.
    • Keyphrase in introduction: you want to make clear right from the start what the page is about, so try to add the focus keyphrase from the start.
    • Keyphrase length: If a keyword is too short, you’re probably targeting a super competitive keyword, whereas longer keyphrases make it harder to optimize your post. So, we recommend a maximum of four relevant keywords for your focus keyphrase.
    • Keyphrase density: In the free version of Yoast SEO, you’ll get a green bullet if your keyphrase density lies between 0.5 and 3%. That’s to make sure you use your keyphrase enough, without over-optimizing.
    • Keyphrase in meta description: add a meta description that includes the focus keyword. People searching for that term on Google may see this in search results, so make it enticing to click on.
    • Meta description length: We advise to keep your meta description between 120 characters and 156 characters.
    • Previously used keyphrase: you should optimize a page for a certain keyword – not an entire website. So don’t create pages that compete with each other! Yoast SEO will warn you if you write more than one post about the same keyword. A simple solution is to use a variation or a long tail keyword
    • Text lenght: if you want your page to rank for a specific keyword, you need to write at least 300 words on the subject. Otherwise, search engines will have a hard time grasping your topic, and might even consider your page ‘thin content‘ – and you want to avoid that.
    • Keyphrase in title: if you add your focus keyword at the beginning of your page title, it will have the most value. Also, it will immediately stand out when your post is shared
    • Keyphrase in slug: repeat your focus keyword in your URL. This makes it clear – even out of context – what your page is about. And Google also likes seeing it in there.

    For an overview of all checks in the Yoast plugin, check out the Yoast SEO assessment page.

    If you have Yoast SEO Premium, the plugin will recognize word forms, and allows you to optimize for keyword synonyms as well. Our premium analysis is as smart as Google, why not give it a spin?

    Does every light need to be green?

    No, not every bullet in the SEO analysis has to be green for your post or page to rank. Similarly, getting your post ‘all-green’ in no way guarantees that it will rank. While it’s tempting to simply aim for all-green bullets on every post or page without working on other aspects of your SEO, that isn’t the best SEO strategy. Proper keyword research and site structure always come before getting green bullets. Read more about properly using the colored bullet system in Yoast SEO.

    Next level: Cornerstone content

    If your page is the main page for a particular topic or keyword in a group of pages you plan to write, you can mark it as cornerstone content. There’s a toggle for that in the Yoast SEO metabox, so Yoast SEO can help you you create your best cornerstone articles. But, how to implement a cornerstone content strategy on your site isn’t a subject for a beginner’s guide to Yoast SEO! It might be wise to take our Site structure course first :)

    A bit more advanced: Yoast Dashboard

    Of course, there is so much more you can do with Yoast SEO. You can access and change many settings of the plugin in the Yoast Dashboard. There’s usually no need to change anything. Especially if you’re an inexperienced user, it’s wise to stick to the settings you set in the configuration wizard. But let’s have a quick look around to give you an idea of what the options are.

    Search Appearance

    If you go to Yoast > Search Appearance, you can adjust how your site appears in search engines. Take the ‘Title Separator’, for instance. In the configuration wizard, you can choose whether you want a dash, asterisk, or something else. But, if you change your mind later, you can always change it here.

    search appearance yoast seo

    In ‘Search Appearance’, you can change, among other things, how our plugin sets up your titles and metas. Go to the tab ‘Content Types’, where you will find the default template we use for your post titles. It’s good to know it’s there and realize what you can configure.

    This simply means we will use the title of your page or post as the page title, and add the page number if your post is divided over multiple pages. Then we add a title separator (which we discussed in the first paragraph on this section) and then the site name you have set when creating your site. So, following this setup, the title for this Beginner’s guide to Yoast SEO post looks like this:

    Beginner's guide to Yoast SEO: page titles

    Note that this example doesn’t include a page number after the page title, as this post is just one page.

    This is the setup we recommend. It’s focused on the page title (“Beginner’s guide to Yoast SEO”) and has proper branding at the end (“Yoast”).

    The reason why I’ve drawn your attention to this setting, is that you should know it’s there, so you don’t have to look for it in the future. This is why your titles are shown like this in Google searches.

    Keep reading: Snippet variables in Yoast SEO »

    Yoast SEO for beginners

    That’s it for our beginner’s guide to Yoast SEO. With Yoast SEO properly installed, your website is ready for Google. You now can get on track adding and optimizing your content with the Yoast readability analysis and SEO analysis!

    Here’s a few more reading recommendations, if you really want to become a pro user of the Yoast SEO plugin:

    If you want all this information and more, neatly structured in one place, and with helpful videos, check out our Yoast SEO for WordPress plugin training, it’s free!

    Read on: Why every website needs Yoast SEO »

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Gutenberg refinement, Block Directory Concept, and MailPoet

It was another full week with lots of WordPress news. Today, we’re highlighting a cool WordPress newsletter plugin that had a big update. We’ll also see that Gutenberg got yet another polish and we’ll have a bunch of bonus links for you. Let’s check it out!

More Gutenberg refinement

The latest release of Gutenberg, version 6.1, added a lot of refinement to the editor. The two most noticeable changes are animations for when you move blocks, create a new block, delete them or remove them entirely. The second one is a speed optimization for when you’re typing long posts. Making typing 30% faster on long posts!

Block Directory Concept

In a previous roundup, I’ve mentioned work being underway to add an interface to the WordPress Dashboard to add and manage Blocks. Blocks being plugins that add specific functionality to the Block Editor. It was mentioned by Matt Mullenweg during his WordCamp Europe presentation as well. Mel Choyce has now published a lot more details into what this Block Directory could look like over at Make WordPress Core blog. Detailing with lots of screenshots, she demonstrates what the flow of managing blocks on your site could look like. Mind you, they’re still concepts, but you get a good of idea of where this is going!

MailPoet, a second start

Mailpoet is a plugin that allows you to send a newsletter from your WordPress sites. It was quite popular back in the days and disappeared a little bit off our radar. After a long rewrite, their new version seems to be getting traction again. They recently announced a new free plan that includes their in-house sending service. According to Kim Gjerstad, the co-founder, they want to grow their active websites faster. Also noteworthy, 25% of their users are using WooCommerce. Check it out if you’re in the market for a WordPress native newsletter option.

Bonus Links

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WP-CLI webinar, Post Status Notes, Google Site kit, and more plugin news

Last week was a busy week, with lots of things happening in the WordPress Community. Which means several different news items to cover today! We’ve got an awesome webinar and two cool plugins to discuss and that’s not all… Let’s get started!

WP-CLI webinar

WP-CLI is the command line interface for common WordPress tasks and more. I discussed WP-CLI in a previous post, which you can read if you haven’t heard of it. Alain Schlesser, who is the main developer on the project, will do a live webinar tomorrow, together with SiteGround. You still have time to sign up and it’ll be the best way to learn about this wonderful tool and how to use it.

Post Status Notes now free

Post Status, most commonly known for their wonderful newsletter and Slack Community, announced that they have opened up their Notes section on their website. It is this Notes section that powers their newsletter. I highly recommend to check it out if you’re looking for even more WordPress news.

FullPage plugin for Gutenberg

Ever since WordPress’ new block editor launched, at the end of last year, we’re seeing more and more projects interact with it. Last week, I discovered a plugin that allows you to create a full-screen page in Gutenberg. This looks like an interesting approach to create landing pages with the block editor. If you haven’t seen it, I’d suggest you take a look at the video here.

Rediscover microblogging

Microblogging (which is, basically, a way for you to own your short-form content) is very easy to do on platforms like Twitter or Instagram. However, in the world of WordPress, it has become a little cumbersome to log in, go to posts, start a draft, write a few sentences and then go through the publish flow. msgWP is working on a solution for this, by using Telegram messages to be published straight to your WordPress blog. They’ve not yet released their plugin yet, but you can try their demo to see what it’s like.

Google launches Site Kit

Google announced the developer preview of Google Site Kit on Github. It’s launching the plugin on Github first, to allow WordPress developers to test-drive the plugin and try out Site Kit’s compatibility with other plugins. Site Kit was announced at WordCamp US 2018, and aims to bring all of Google’s relevant products together in one environment. If you want to take the plugin for a spin, find it on GitHub here.

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The Yoast SEO configuration wizard

Have you ever done a fresh install of Yoast SEO for WordPress on your WordPress website? Or perhaps you haven’t installed Yoast SEO yet, and you’re wondering what to expect? Perhaps the better question would be: have you ever tried our Yoast SEO configuration wizard? Our wizard takes care of all the little things that you should configure in Yoast SEO. Things that you might forget in your eagerness to get started with your newly set up website. But how do you start the configuration wizard? And what exactly do we cover in each step? Let’s dive in!

Where can I find the Yoast SEO configuration wizard?

Of course, you want to jump right in and configure the plugin, using that Yoast SEO configuration wizard. Once you have installed the Yoast SEO plugin, you’ll see this notification in Yoast SEO > General > Dashboard:

The configuration wizard helps you to easily configure your site to have the optimal SEO settings.
We have detected that you have not finished this wizard yet, so we recommend you to start the configuration wizard to configure Yoast SEO.

There is a link in this message, which takes you to the Yoast SEO configuration wizard.

Configuration wizard notification in Yoast SEO dashboard

Note that if this isn’t the first time you’re using the configuration wizard, you’ll still find a link to run the wizard again, but the message will instead say:

Want to make sure your Yoast SEO settings are still OK? Open the configuration wizard again to validate them.

The wizard

Once you’ve opened the wizard, we’ll guide you through the steps via a few questions. If you answer these, we’ll implement the right settings for your website, based specifically on your answers.

Step 1: Is your site ready to be indexed?

Yoast SEO configuration wizard step 1

The first question determines whether you want your site to be indexed or not. The reason we ask, is that one of the most important checks in our plugin determines whether Google can index your site or not. Google needs to be able to reach your website and index it, unless you don’t want that. And there could be good reasons why you might not want that: perhaps you’re working on a development site, on a staging server or just don’t want the public to see your site yet. If that’s the case, no problem! Just set your preference in the first step of our wizard, then click ‘next’ to continue.

Step 2: What kind of site do you have?

Yoast SEO configuration wizard step 2

In the next step, we will ask you about the type of site you have. It could be a blog or an online shop, but might as well be a news site or a portfolio.

One of the reasons we ask this question is because it’s essential for you to take a moment and think about this. What is your site about? Having a clear idea of this will help you focus on what’s important for you site.

Let’s take yoast.com, for example. We have two different sections on our website yoast.com:

  • Our blogs: an SEO blog and a dev blog. In these blogs, we share knowledge about both SEO and software development in all its facets.
  • Our online shop. We run an online shop and you’ll find our premium plugins and online courses in there.

Following our mission, “SEO for everyone”, both parts of our website are equally important. Sharing knowledge is our main goal. We use our products to provide even more insights and tools, or to deliver our knowledge to you in a structured package.

So, decide for yourself what your answer to this question should be. That’ll make it easier to configure several features of our plugin and, in fact, of your website later on. For us, as plugin developers, the information we get from this question is also useful for future improvements. For instance, it can help us to prioritize future additions to our plugin for specific types of sites.

Step 3: Is it you or an organization?

Yoast SEO configuration wizard step 3

For the right metadata, we ask you to choose between organization and person here. Is your website about you, or an organization you represent? If you are a person, we would like to include your name. If you are a company, you can add the name and logo.

This information will be included in the metadata of your website, with the goal to provide Google with the right information for their Knowledge Graph. The Knowledge Graph is the block of information you see on the right-hand side of the search results, for instance when you do a company search for Sony or Apple.

In addition to your name or company name, we also ask you to let us know which social profiles you have. Again, so we can provide Google with the right information for their Knowledge Graph. Google seems keen on delivering answers to their visitors right away, so you’d better make sure your information is on Google.

With social being a part of the Knowledge Graph, and your website being linked on all your social profile pages, be sure to fill this out as completely as possible.

Step 4: To show or not show posts and pages

Yoast SEO configuration wizard step 4

The description in the image below is pretty clear: this is where you can set posts and pages to hidden or visible for the search engines. If you already know that you don’t want posts on your site to show up in the search results, you can set this to ‘no’. Not sure? Read more about indexing in Yoast SEO.

Step 5: How many people are publishing content on your site?

Yoast SEO configuration wizard step 5

We want to know if your website has multiple authors. There’s a reason for that: when your site only has one author, WordPress will still generate author pages. And if you write all the content on your blog yourself, your blog page will show the exact same collection of posts as your author page. Which, indeed, is duplicate content.

We call something duplicate content when the majority of a page is the same as the content on another page. Google will get confused, won’t know what page to rank first, and might decide to rank both a bit less. You obviously want to prevent that. As we can guide you in this case, we added this check to our Yoast SEO configuration wizard.

Step 6: Optimizing your page title

This step in the wizard asks you to think about your branding. The website name you enter here is the name that our default page title template will put at the end of each page title. The default page title template looks like this:
title - page - sep - sitename

Yoast SEO configuration wizard step 6

The last part of that template is sitename, and that’s what you fill out here. Be sure to add it, but keep it short, so the focus will be on the page or post title. It’s nice to have some of your branding in here so people will recognize your pages in the search result pages. If they already know you and your site, they’re more likely to click on one of your links.

The third part of the page template is sep, which stands for separator. A page title that follows our template could be “Some title of a post – Yoast”. The hyphen in there is the separator you set at this step in the Yoast SEO configuration wizard. Using an uncommon separator might make you stand out from your competitors in the search result pages. You could also choose to pick the smallest separator, to squeeze in another character or two.

Read more: Titles and meta variables in Yoast SEO »

Step 7: Awesome tips and new products in your inbox

Yoast SEO configuration wizard step 7

As SEO is an ongoing process, our goal is to keep you up-to-date on any changes in Google’s search result pages or Google’s algorithm. We do that by posting on our SEO blog, but also with our newsletter. In the newsletter, we highlight new developments in search, in WordPress, and in our company – if relevant. Simply insert your email address, and we’ll keep you in the loop on all things SEO!

Step 8: Upsell: you might like…

Call it whatever you want (upsell, spam, useful information), but we have to tell you about our premium plugin in our configuration. Because we deliver incredibly useful SEO extras with that premium plugin, for a reasonable price. To name but a few:

  • Better keyword optimization, because you can optimize not only for your focus keyword, but also for synonyms, and taking word forms into account.
  • What about a redirect manager? We’ll not only show you your 404s, but will also make it very easy to redirect, and thereby fix them.
  • Social previews, so you’ll know exactly what your website will show on Facebook and Twitter, and the option to tweak that.
  • A year of updates for all premium features, so your entire plugin will always be 100% up-to-date.
  • Email support for as long as you have Premium. This means you can email our 24/7 support team with any questions you have about the plugin.
Yoast SEO Configuration wizard step 8

In addition, we offer some hands-on online courses to improve your SEO game even more. Be sure to check them out; you can always decide later which SEO aspects you want more guidance on.

Step 9: Get started with the Yoast SEO and readability analysis

All the steps above have one goal: prepare you and your website for SEO. But while this wizard will help you get the general settings of your plugin right, your job optimizing your content is far from done.

Yoast SEO configuration wizard step 9

If you have used our plugin before, you’ll know it also analyses your content in real time, while you write your posts or pages. On the page/post edit screen, where you write your content, you’ll find this analysis in the sidebar and the so-called meta box. For more insights into how to use the SEO and readability analysis, we finish our Yoast SEO configuration wizard with a helpful video. It tells you more about that specific part of the plugin, so you don’t just set it and forget it. Be sure to watch that video!

The configuration wizard makes things easier for everyone

Now you know why you should give our Yoast SEO configuration wizard a spin, and why it asks certain questions. The wizard’s got you covered by setting things correctly under the hood of your website, so you can focus your efforts on optimizing your content.

Ready for the next step in using Yoast SEO? Check out our beginner’s guide to Yoast SEO. And, if you want to learn all the ins and outs of our plugin, get the Yoast SEO for WordPress training!

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Gutenberg 6.0, WPGraphQL, and WP Engine news

WordPress 5.2.2 launched last week, but of course, that wasn’t the only news happening. There was a lot going on in the world of WordPress as it was the week of the largest WordCamp Europe (over 2800 attended!). Let’s see what happened this last week!

Gutenberg 6.0

The Gutenberg project kept publishing improvement after improvement and it saw the release of version 6.0 last week. The most important new features are the polished Widgets screen and an improved Group block. This release also features a layout picker for the Columns block, allowing the user to choose from pre-defined layouts or to start from scratch.

Diving deeper into WPGraphQL

A couple of months ago, in a previous roundup, I mentioned the WPGraphQL project. And, a few of you reached out to me privately about that. Particularly about what the project aims to do and how to use it with WordPress. Now, I could, of course, write out an extensive explanation of what the possibilities are, but why bother if there’s a great video that does all the explaining for me:

To demonstrate that the WPGraphQL project is getting a lot of traction, Jason Bahl, the lead developer working on the project, announced that he’ll be joining the Gatsby team to work on the WPGraphQL project full-time.

Post Status Online event

Post Status, of PostStatus fame, has announced their first online conference. They’re going to stream 14 presentations which will also be downloadable. It’s also a great opportunity to chat with like-minded folks. Post Status Publish focuses on web professionals and will take place on July 8 & 9. You can learn more about the event here.

WP Engine news

One of the most prominent managed WordPress hosting companies out there, WP Engine, had a lot to share over the last couple of weeks. First, they launched DevKit, a WordPress local development environment and build toolkit, that seamlessly works with WP Engine and encourages better and faster code. Go check it out if you haven’t yet. It’s a pretty cool tool.

They also announced them acquiring another respected WordPress hosting company called Flywheel. Pretty big news in the world of WordPress hosting companies.

Bonus links

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