Ask Yoast: Old static website, move to WordPress?

Imagine, you created a website a few years ago. It’s still out there, but you didn’t make any changes or updates ever since. So, your site probably needs a major – SEO – update. If you have a static website, you might consider to move your site to a CMS, like WordPress. What’s the best choice? I’ll help you out and explain in which case it would be better to start all over using WordPress.

In this Ask Yoast, we’ll answer a question from Richard Millstein:

“My website was created 10 years ago in HTML, it needs a major SEO update and has other issues. I think it would be better to start over using WordPress. What do you think?”

Check out the video or read the answer below!

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Major SEO update

Read this transcript to learn more about choosing a CMS or not, when your website needs a major SEO update:

“Well, you get plus points for using WordPress, of course, no questions asked. Also, if your website was created 10 years ago and not much has happened to it since, then, you really need to think about, “Okay, what will I do once I re-create it? “Will I not do anything with it again for 10 years or will I keep updating it?”

If you want to keep updating it, then yes, you should really go for WordPress, because that makes that an awful lot easier. Of course, with WordPress you also get Yoast SEO and a lot of other advantages or things that you don’t have to build, that will work automatically for you. So, yes, you should probably do that.

The funny thing is, the output from WordPress will still be HTML, so you could probably get your theme of your site to look like your old site very easily. If you just hire someone to copy that into a WordPress theme and maybe do some optimizations as they do that. So, it could be a very simple job on Upwork or some other rental site, where you just go in and say “Hey I want you to change this theme to a WordPress theme and then input my content in it.” That could be a very simple job for someone and might save you an awful lot of time.

Good luck!”

Ask Yoast

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

Read more: ‘WordPress SEO’ »

Yoast internal linking: the making of

A few weeks ago, we added Yoast internal linking to Yoast SEO Premium for English. We released the same feature for German earlier this week. In this post, I’ll explain how the earlier released Insights laid the groundwork for this feature, how we compose the list of linking suggestions, and why Yoast internal linking is currently only available for a limited set of languages.

So what does the internal linking tool do? While working on your post, our internal linking tool will give you suggestions on which posts you could consider linking to because they are about related topics. Linking to these posts will help you create a better site structure.

Insights

To know which posts we should show in the Yoast internal linking meta box, we first need to find out what all your posts are about. For this, we use the data we’ve already gathered for the Insights box, that you’ll find beneath the content analysis:

insights in yoast seo premium

But how do we get to this list of five words and word combinations? Let’s take a look at the steps we take when we analyze a post for its most prominent words.

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Step 1: Getting all relevant single words

First, we want to know which relevant 100 single words are most frequently used in the post. We therefore start by making a list with all words from the text. Next, we remove words like ‘the’, ‘you’ and ‘to’ from this list. Articles, pronouns, prepositions and other function words are simply too widely used to be truly relevant to a text. If we wouldn’t filter out words like these, all posts would end up with roughly the same prominent words. Once we’ve removed all function words, we save the 100 most frequent single words and move on to the word combinations.

Step 2: Getting all relevant word combinations

Combinations of two or more words are often more relevant and information-rich than single words, because they are more specific. That is why we also look for the most relevant two to five-word combinations. We filter these combinations as well, because combinations like ‘headlines to be’ and ‘to rank and your’ are useless. We only want to keep meaningful combinations like ‘optimize your site structure’ and ‘writing clickbait titles’.

Step 3: Filtering on word density

Once we’ve retrieved and filtered all one to five-word combinations, we filter out everything with a word density of over 0.03. This means we remove all combinations from the list that comprise over 3% of the entire text. The rationale behind this is that words that are too frequent are seldom genuinely relevant, because they tend to be non-specific. This also serves as an extra safety net to catch all function words that we might have forgotten to remove during the previous steps.

Step 4: Calculating relevance scores

The final step is calculating which words and word combinations are most relevant to the post. Based on trial and error, we came up with a formula that uses the frequency, length and percentage of relevant words of the word combinations that does just this.

Length bonus

We start with determining the length bonus. As shown in the table below, the longer a combination is, the higher is the length bonus it receives. This means longer, more specific word combinations will eventually get a higher relevance score than shorter, less specific combinations.

Word combination length Length bonus
Single word 0
Two-word combination 3
Three-word combination 7
Four-word combination 12
Five-word combination 15

Relevant word proportion

We also calculate which proportion of each word combination is on the list of the 100 most frequent words. This is the list we drew up during Step 1. For example, if one word of a four-word combination is also in the top 100 frequent words, the calculated proportion would be 0.25. The idea behind this is that the more relevant words a combination contains, the more relevant the combination probably is.

Multiplier

Next, we calculate the so-called multiplier using the following formula: 1 + relevant word proportion * length bonus. For a four-word combination with a relevant word proportion of 0.25, this would result in a multiplier of  1 + 0.25 * 12 = 4.

Relevance score

Finally, we calculate the actual relevance score by multiplying the number of occurrences of each word combination by its multiplier. If the four-word combination of the above example would have a frequency of 3, its relevance score would be 3 * 4 = 12. Once we’ve calculated all relevance scores, we sort the words and word combinations from the highest to the lowest relevance. To keep the Insights box clear of clutter, we only show the top 5. However, we save a maximum of 100 words and word combinations for further use. 

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Yoast internal linking

Once we have collected the most prominent words for all your posts, it’s time to compare them. To do this we take the top 20 prominent words of each post. However, for the sake of simplicity, I will illustrate the process with only five prominent words per blog.

Imagine you’re writing a post about Twitter Analytics. You’ve also written posts about Twitter Cards, homepage SEO and Instagram Analytics. You can find the top 5 prominent words from these blogs in the table below.

Twitter Analytics Twitter cards homepage SEO Instagram Analytics
Twitter Analytics Twitter cards homepage SEO Instagram Analytics
Twitter Twitter business name or brand Instagram
analytics Twitter account homepage followers
Twitter analytics dashboard account optimize your homepage analytics
Twitter cards data site name engagement rate

The more overlapping prominent words a post has with the current post, the higher its position will be in the list. Because the post about Instagram Analytics shares the prominent word ‘analytics’ with your post about Twitter Analytics, that post will show up in the linking suggestions. However, the blogs about Twitter Analytics and Twitter Cards have two overlapping prominent words: ‘Twitter Cards’ and ‘Twitter’. As a result, the post about Twitter Cards will end up higher in the list. Lastly, the post about homepage SEO doesn’t have any prominent words in common with the post about Twitter Analytics. For that reason we won’t suggest it to you.

We’ve decided to limit the number of suggested posts to twenty, because we don’t want to overwhelm you. Only the twenty posts that share the most prominent words with your post will be shown in the meta box. Check out what the result looks like in this video!

Language support

Now that we’ve built the above framework, we stand before the time-consuming task of making the linking suggestions available for languages other than English and German. Not only do we have to compose lists of function words for each individual language, but we also need to adjust the filtering for each of them. This has to do with word order differences. In English, for example, one describes an action with a verb followed by an object: eating cookies. However, in German, the object comes before the verb: Kekse essen (literally: cookies eat). As a result, we want to filter out English word combinations ending with a verb (he eats), but German combinations beginning with a verb (isst Kekse, literally: eats cookies).

The future of link suggestions

We’re happy to announce that we’ve released internal linking for German. But, maybe more importantly, we’d also like to let you know that you can help to make Yoast internal linking available for your own language! Please contact us if you’d like to help.



Read more: ‘Why you should use Yoast internal linking’ »

Ask Yoast: security measures new domain

There are several reasons to move your website to a new domain. Maybe you’ve gained access to a much stronger domain. Perhaps you’re changing direction or you’re rebranding. Or you’d like to start over with a new name and a new site. Assuming you have a good reason for moving your site to a new domain – other then “this name just sounds catchier” – there are some things to consider concerning security and SEO when moving your website to a new domain.

In this Ask Yoast, we’ll answer a question from Anbu Devilhunter:

“If I move to a new domain are there any security measures I should take?

Check out the video or read the answer below!

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Security measures new domain

Read this transcript to learn more about SEO and security measures when you’re moving your site to a new domain:

“Well, yes. You should make sure that you have your old domain and keep it forever, so that you can keep the redirects from that old domain to your new domain. Because otherwise, at some point, someone else is going to use that old domain and you’ll lose your redirects. So you’ll lose a lot of links pointing to your site.

Any other security measures? Well, yes, everything that you need to do to a good domain. But I’d suggest talking to our friends at Sucuri, and see what they can do for you. We run their web application firewall in front of everything we do and I would suggest you do too.

Good luck!”

Ask Yoast

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

Read more: ‘WordPress Security’ »

Ask Yoast: can I cancel a 301 or 410 redirect?

After creating a redirect, it might happen you’d like to use the URL of that post or page again. Or perhaps you decide that you’d like to cancel that redirect after some time. Reasons for this could be that redirecting that post or page was a mistake, or the post or page contains valuable content again. In this case you might ask yourself: is it possible to use this URL again, while it has been redirected? I’ll explain whether that’s possible and what’s important to consider when doing so!

In this Ask Yoast we received a question from Ahmed M Hassan:

“If I want to use a link that had been 301 or 410 redirected before, can I cancel the redirection and use it again?”

Check out the video or read the answer below!

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Can I cancel redirects?

Read this transcript to learn more about cancelling redirects:

“Yes, you can. What I would do, when canceling a redirect, is a Fetch and Render from Google Search Console to that URL and then submit to index, so Google knows that that URL now has content again. Otherwise, it can take months or even years for Google to come back to that URL, because it assumes you’ve redirected or deleted it. So use Fetch and Render for that and get those old URLs back in if you really need to. If you need to do this a lot, you need to think about your redirection strategy and whether you’re redirecting too quickly though.

Good luck!”

Example of Fetch and Render in Google Search Console:
search_console_-_fetch_as_google_-_https___yoast_com_

Ask Yoast

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

Read on: ‘Google Search Console: crawl’ »

Performance optimization in an HTTP/2 world

A revolution is currently going on in the underpinnings of the web. HTTP, the protocol your browser uses to connect to your site, has a new version: HTTP/2. This is not something that should concern the average user, but for web developers, it changes how we do performance optimization entirely. In this short article, I want to explain what performance optimization best practices you can do away with, and why.

What changed?

The most important thing you should know about the new HTTP/2 is that it no longer requires a new request for each file. This is the modification that makes our performance optimization guidelines change so drastically. In the HTTP1 / HTTP/1.1 world, it’d be faster to combine JS & CSS files and even images, so there would be fewer requests between browser and server. In the HTTP/2 world, this type of optimization is no longer needed and can even become counterproductive.

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Can I use this already?

The answer is, fairly simply: yes. If your site is running on HTTPS, then all major current browsers support HTTP/2. You or your hosting company might have to change your server configuration to make sure it supports HTTP/2, but that’s it. Some older browsers might not be able to use it, but your site would still work for them.

So I can use HTTP/2, but should I?

Yes, you should use HTTP/2! It’s a lot faster than old fashioned HTTP1, and when you set it up well, most of your visitors will benefit hugely.

Does HTTP/2 mean I don’t need a CDN?

Even with HTTP/2 you still need a CDN. A CDN delivers content a lot faster than your average server ever will, so your site would still benefit enormously from having one. Every proper CDN will already support HTTP/2.

Performance best practices that changed

The following performance best practices are no longer needed with HTTP/2 and should be done away with:

  • Concatenating CSS and JS files
    As reducing the number of requests is no longer an issue, there’s no reason to do this anymore.
  • Image spriting
    Image spriting is the practice of combining several small images into a larger image so as to reduce the number of requests. This is a cumbersome process with quite a bit of overhead, and HTTP/2 entirely removes the need for it.
  • Domain sharding
    Though this was slightly less common, some heavy sites used multiple CDN domains to serve their files. This because a browser could only open eight parallel connections to a server in the world of HTTP/1 and they’d want to serve more files in parallel. Because HTTP/2 removes the need for parallel connections as there can be parallel downloads within one connection, this best practice becomes counterproductive. The use of multiple CDN domains actually means multiple DNS requests, which slows the site down instead of speeding it up. (Steve Souders, the godfather of web performance, already predicted in 2013 that when HTTP/2 becomes ubiquitous, domain sharding will go away.)
  • Inlining CSS and JS
    Inlining small bits of CSS and JS is a practice that was aggressively pushed by Google. Because the CSS and JS are inline, it cannot be cached properly. As a request for a small file now has no extra overhead, we can do away with this best practice.

Google PageSpeed and HTTP/2

Unfortunately, Google’s PageSpeed tool and many other web performance testing tools are rather slow in their adoption of HTTP/2. They should be changing their guidelines. If a simple HTTP/2 test shows you that a site is capable of using HTTP/2, quite a few of the site speed suggestions are moot. Their documentation speaks of “networking round trips” that simply, in an HTTP/2 environment, don’t happen.

There are people at Google that understand this, of course. This presentation by Ilya Gregorik in 2015 already shows all of that.

Read more: ‘Site speed: tools and suggestions’ »

Why you should use Yoast internal linking

Yesterday we released our new internal linking tool in Yoast SEO Premium. The internal linking tool will help you to link to related content. It will find related posts for you, and it will become much easier to link from your post to these related articles. Using our tool systematically will help you improve the structure of your website.

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Why is internal linking important?

Internal linking is important for SEO. In order to make sure your content is findable, content just needs to be linked to. In the original PageRank algorithm, internal and external links were both equally important. This algorithm will probably have changed over time. Nevertheless, internal links are still an important ranking factor.

In addition, linking related content also serves another goal. It shows Google that that certain content on your site is related. You can even tell Google what’s the most important article, on this particular topic, that you have on your site. You can do so by linking to this main article from all your other articles on the same topic. We call this main article cornerstone content, and we also wrote about how to incorporate it on your site. Smart internal linking can push this article up in the search results.

On top of that – or perhaps in the first place – linking related content simply makes sense to do for your visitor. If they’re interested in a particular topic, chances are that they’d like to read more about the same topic on your site.

Why every writer will benefit from our tool

While writing one of my previous post, I literally stumbled upon our new tool in the WordPress backend. The suggestions of the internal link tool really surprised me. I know the importance of links, but I usually link to my own articles (as I know these articles best). I also tend to link to the most recent articles, and often forget about articles I wrote some time ago.

The internal linking feature of Yoast SEO Premium gave me the suggestion to link to one of Michiel’s articles and to one of my own articles I almost forgot about. Both of these articles were better matches to the blog post I was writing, than the posts I would have linked to if I had not used our new tool.

If your website becomes large, it’s just not possible to remember everything you and your colleagues wrote. The internal linking tool is a great help in picking those articles that fit your new post best. In the end, it’ll help you to set up a great site structure by connecting related content to each other.

In my case, it’ll help me to link to those articles written by Joost or Michiel. It’ll remind me of a related blog post I wrote some time ago. It’ll improve the structure of the website, which will have it’s impact on the ranking of our site. And, it’ll improve the User eXperience, because our audience will easily find the most relevant content to them!

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How does it work?

In the sidebar of your WordPress backend, you’ll find our suggestions for internal links:

Yoast internal linking tool

You either click on these links and check out the article (it’ll open in a new tab), but you can also easily copy and paste these links into your text. In most browsers, you’ll even be able to drag and drop as well. Check out our screencast if you want to see for yourself how easy it is:

 

So go ahead and start interlinking your posts!

Do you want to make sure you’re linking your posts well, and that your complete site structure is optimized for search engines and users? Then our Site structure training is what you need!

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

We’ve created the fastest related posts ever

When we say “related posts for WordPress“, we say “bad performance”. Without using an external service like ElasticSearch, it’s practically impossible to have related posts work fast in WordPress. That’s why we’ve always stayed away from including any related posts plugin on our site. It’s also the reason we haven’t tried to come up with a solution ourselves before. In the upcoming release of Yoast SEO Premium, this will change. We found a way to have blazing fast related posts! Let me explain how we did that.

The fastest related posts ever

Our solution has a frontend and an admin component. Let me start by asking a very simple question:

On a content page, what would be the fastest implementation of related posts you could think of?

The (somewhat dull) answer:

Simple, old-fashioned links.

You simply don’t need to generate related posts, if you already link to your related content in your text. Not only is this better for frontend performance, it also benefits SEO. It’s simply better to link directly to your related content in a meaningful context, than to use a generic related posts box somewhere else on your page.

Of course this is easier said than done. The real problem related posts widgets solve is that you no longer have to think about related content yourself. So yes, we still need an algorithm to suggest related content, we just don’t need it on the frontend. Instead, we need to bring this functionality to the editor. This way, we can suggest the writer of an article which related posts he/she might want to link to in their text. We call these *internal linking suggestions*.

Why suggesting related content is costly

So, I guess we haven’t gotten rid of the problem of generating related content in a performant way. The thing we can’t seem to get around, is that we’ll have to do one, or more, very heavy queries to the database at some point. To suggest related links, we need to compare the content of one post with that of all the other posts on our site. The WordPress database isn’t optimized for such queries though. To do this in one operation is costly, and in case your site has a lot of content, that may slow things down substantially.

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Indexing content, one post at a time

About a year ago, we moved our content analysis from the server side to the browser. This had a lot of advantages, but a slight inconvenience was that we could no longer calculate the SEO score for a post on the server. This calculation now has to be done in the browser for each post separately. This way we’ve already managed to dramatically improve server side performance with regard to our content analysis tool. When we started thinking about our prominent words algorithm, we realized this would also allow us to easily index content. Saving the most prominent words of every post to the server would make it very easy and cheap to query related content.

Continuous improvement

By leveraging our content analysis tool and utilizing the processing power of the browser to index content, one post at a time, we’ve managed to drastically reduce the heaviness of the queries needed to find related content. Now, we haven’t run any benchmarks yet, but it’s clear that this solution is much faster and easier to scale, without taking any serious performance hits.

In Yoast SEO Premium 4.0 – launching soon! – we’re shipping the first version of our internal linking suggestions tool. We’ll continue tweaking the algorithm to make sure our internal linking tool is the best and most performant related content tool available for WordPress.

Read more: ‘Related posts need to make sense, not just be there’ »

Let us care for your site: Yoast SEO Care

As a hard-working site owner, it is often difficult to find the time to work on issues that are holding your company back. You might find that the blog posts of your competitor appear higher in search results, but you don’t know what to do about it. Or, you might discover that your site isn’t performing as well as you’d like, even after you’ve tried everything in your power.

For most people, time and lack of knowledge are the factors that limit their success. That’s why we’ve developed Yoast SEO Care. We take the most important technical tasks out of your hands and put them into the trusted hands of seasoned SEO professionals.

Let our SEO experts analyze and improve your site's SEO! »

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You’ve tried it all

It’s hard to figure out where something is going wrong. But, it’s even harder to discover where to make little changes that can have a dramatically positive effect on your results. You’ve tried to read up on SEO related subjects, but the information is scattered, outdated or just plain wrong. It’s difficult to cut through the bull to get to the real, actionable knowledge. Nobody has time for this, except for us: it’s our job.

What do I get out of it?

You’ve worked hard to build your business. Countless hours to make it grow, year after year. That’s something to be proud of. It takes a lot of effort to become successful. Your site is a crucial part of your business and therefore needs special attention. If you can’t find the time to work on it, or if you fear the technological side, then you need outside help.

By calling in Team Yoast, you’ll get back the freedom to work on other aspects of your business. The experts at Yoast have your back on the technical side of things. We have checked countless sites from clients big and small, from the little artisan bakery around the corner to some of the world’s leading online magazines. Not everyone can call Disney, NASA and StarWars.com their customers.

In addition to that, we know what it’s like to help people make their website better. Currently, the Yoast SEO plugin runs on more than five million sites. For years, Yoast has been helping people to get the most out of their sites and making SEO available for everyone.

This is what we do

Our experts check your site on more than 300 points. We can’t list every one on this page, but here are a couple of important focus points:

  • Technical SEO: are technical issues holding you back?
  • How does your content perform? And how to make it better?
  • Site speed: a slow site is inexcusable
  • Plus, we’ll install and configure Yoast SEO Premium

The extensive, monthly Yoast SEO Care package has even more checks, for instance:

  • Site structure: is your site and content structure correct?
  • Broken pages: customers must never stumble upon these
  • Mobile: how does your site function on mobile phones?
  • Site security: a secure site is a must-have

What you can expect

Besides the comforting feeling that a world-class SEO company is looking out for your painstakingly built site? A personal SEO expert will regularly check your site. He or she will fix issues, make enhancements and give you easy to understand advice that you can use to make your work even better. Following the check-up, your site is in perfect condition to take on any competition you might have.

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Let’s get down to brass tacks

There are two Yoast SEO Care packages. Yoast SEO Basic Care is for site-owners who want a bit of guidance in their work. You still have to put in some work yourself. That’s fine if you have an understanding of SEO, but just need a little nudge. The monthly SEO Care packages gives our experts much more time to invest in your site, making it better in every possible way.

Yoast SEO Basic Care

  • Price: $249 per quarter
  • Quarterly checks (4)
  • Basic checks
    • Technical SEO
    • Content
    • Indexability
    • Site speed
  • Free Yoast SEO Premium license, plus installation

Yoast SEO Care

  • Price: $199 per month
  • Monthly checks (12)
  • All basic checks, plus extended checks
    • Security
    • Site structure
    • Keywords
    • Mobile
    • Duplicate content
    • UX & conversion
    • Meta data

All these checks will be done by a Yoast expert, who will also fix issues, if any, and improve the site in general. You will also receive updates on the progress of your site, plus actionable advice that you can easily implement yourself. In the end, your site is ready to outrank and outperform your competitors!

Ready to make your site a runaway success?

Do you lack the time and skills to take your site or business to the next level? Are you often banging your head on your desk in search of the right answer to a technical challenge? Do your competitors perform better and you can’t figure out how to beat them? Yoast SEO Care can help! Call in Team Yoast and be prepared for more traffic and more sales.

Yoast SEO 3.9

It’s high time for a new release of our SEO plugins. Since moving to a two-week release schedule, we’ve fixed more bugs than ever and added some awesome new features. With version 3.9, we are gearing up for the big four-oh. In that last release of this year, we will add something remarkable.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Right now, we’re talking about Yoast SEO 3.9 and the changes and enhancements it brings. So, let’s get right to it, ok?

Yoast SEO 3.9

If you use the free version of Yoast SEO, then the first things you’ll notice are the new banners. These are slightly less annoying, while still informing you of our premium products. Besides that, we’ve moved the reload button for Google Search Console from the header. It is now easier to find and use.

We’ve made it possible for other plugins and themes to add HTML namespaces, via the wpseo_html_namespace filter. By doing so, we’ve also made sure to prevent conflicts with other plugins and themes that also add HTML namespaces.

Yoast SEO 3.9 Premium received the same updates and fixes as the regular one, plus a better title update in the social preview section.

Video SEO 3.9

The Video plugin also received some great updates. We’ve added support for traditional Wistia video URL’s and embed codes. To use this, it is recommended to re-index your video’s. There’s now a fallback for the detail retrieval of private Vimeo video’s, so they will be recognized. The plugin now recognizes //player.vimeo.com/… type URL’s. Force a re-index to use it on existing posts.

Local SEO 3.9

Our Local SEO plugin is undergoing some changes as well. The import function has been overhauled, and there is a new export for Yoast Local SEO locations. You can also find a second address line for business addresses that you can use for room numbers or floors, for instance.

Yoast SEO 4.0

In December, we’ll be releasing version 4.0 of Yoast SEO. This release will come with a genuinely awesome new feature for Premium. We can’t tell you too much about it. However, it is something a lot of you will find extremely valuable. Just a few more weeks…

Waitete Sawmills

This WordPress-driven website, for a saw-milling business based in Te Kuiti, milling and producing high-quality processed Radiata Pine for the building industry.

The project was contracted to Urban Legend web by Elan Design, who produced the custom designs. We converted the design to a custom WordPress theme, along with the necessary menus, posts, widgets, links etc to make the site easily editable to the client, or someone else with no knowledge of web languages.