On March 6, we released a major update of our Yoast SEO plugin. This update was aimed at making SEO easier and more understandable for our users. We removed quite a few settings and options. In other cases, we changed the names of settings making them easier to understand for non-technical users. All in all, the reactions on this update were rather positive. We received some questions as well, mostly about why we removed certain settings and options. In this post, I’ll explain why we chose to remove those settings. 

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Yoast SEO for WordPress training Info

If there’s a button, people want to click it

The main reason why we deleted settings is because in 99% of the cases it should not be altered. But if you give people a toggle or a button, generally they’ll think they have to do something with that toggle or button. Totally understandable. If I have a new watch and it has many fancy buttons, I’d also want to know what they’ll do. By offering all those settings, we gave the impression that our users needed to do something with these settings.

The things we removed were the things people should not worry about: the things that didn’t make much of a difference in their chance of ranking in the search engines. These buttons and toggles were rather useless anyway.

More agreement on proper SEO settings

Working on our new online Yoast SEO plugin training helped us to make the plugin more understandable for a large audience. We had to really make an effort when explaining the settings in videos and text. And we noticed we had a hard time explaining some of the things. It made us question and reassess our decisions. That process lead to a lot of the changes made in the plugin release of March 6.

On top of that, there was another reason why we decided to remove quite a few settings from our plugin. For a long time, the SEO community had strong and opposing opinions about the need of, for example, XML sitemaps. Because of these different opinions, we always offered different options, allowing people to make their own SEO choices. As the profession of SEO matured, SEOs reached more consensus on what things were important to rank high in the search engines. As those influences are rather clear nowadays, we were able to make those changes in the plugin. Important changes, because now, the ease of use of our plugin is improved.

SEO for everyone

The mission of Yoast is SEO for everyone. We believe the web will benefit from all people having an equal chance in the search results. Not only those big international companies with large marketing budgets, but also that small online shop with handmade toys. We believe every idea should get a fair chance in the search results.

When developing our plugin, we always keep our mission in mind. And that’s the reason why we recently decided to make some big changes in our plugin. We really hope that more people will be able to benefit from our plugin. If you really want to know all the ins and outs of Yoast SEO, I would strongly advice you to buy and follow our online plugin course. It will help you to get the most out of our plugin. Because, although we deleted quite a few settings, we still have a lot of toggles, settings and choices left :-) Good luck!

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Today we released our new Yoast SEO for WordPress training. This online course will help you use Yoast SEO to its fullest potential. In this course we’ll train you on how to use all of the functionalities of our plugin best. And the most exciting news is, we decided to reduce the price of this online course! The old version was $99 a year and this new course will only be $39. Here I’ll explain why we decided to reduce it so drastically.

Get the Yoast SEO training Now$39 for course, certificate and badge

Get the most out of Yoast SEO, learn every feature and best practice in our Yoast SEO for WordPress training! »

Yoast SEO for WordPress training Info

SEO for everyone

The mission of Yoast is SEO for everyone. We believe the web will benefit from all people having an equal chance in the search results. Great ideas don’t always come from large companies but are created everywhere around the world. That’s why we believe that every idea should have a fair chance in the search results.

When developing our products, we always keep our mission in mind. That’s why we recently decided to make some big changes in our plugin. We noticed that some settings in Yoast SEO were hard to explain to a non-tech audience. In the 7.0 update of Yoast SEO we tried to make the plugin more user-friendly for everyone.

Creating high quality SEO courses

The Yoast SEO plugin covers most of the technical SEO challenges of a website. But to seriously compete with the large players, every website owner still faces numerous challenges. Our online courses are designed to help people conquer those problems. They’ll teach you everything there is to know about SEO and provide practice to improve your skills.

We are currently updating and improving all of our online courses. We’ve hired an amazing team that’s working full time on creating videos, texts and assignments that’ll help you understand SEO. The new course is suitable for everyone. We’ll start out with the very basics of the plugin and gradually explain everything you need to know.

Reduced prices

Using the Yoast SEO plugin to its full potential will allow everyone to have a fair chance in the search results. That’s what ‘SEO for everyone’ is all about. But not everyone will have enough money to buy an expensive plugin training. That’s the reason why we reduced the price of this one. We hope more people will be able to buy it and profit from it. We would love to give it away for free, but the salaries of our Academy team just need to be paid as well. The training will get regular updates. As the interface of the plugin changes, we’ll record new videos. (We’re already dreading the Gutenberg update, as that’ll really have some impact on the number of videos we’ll need to record).

Get the Yoast SEO training Now$39 for course, certificate and badge

Conclusion

We reduced the price of our plugin training because it will allow more people to use Yoast SEO to its full extent. For the exact same reason, we improved the course, making it suitable for everyone to understand the ins and outs of our plugin.

And we’ve got some more news for you. We’re currently working on a new FREE online course. It will be an introductory course to SEO and we’re planning to release it somewhere in May of this year.

Don’t want to miss it? Subscribe to our newsletter now!

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Today, we celebrate International Women’s Day. And, as we are celebrating, we offer a 11% discount on all of our products! In this post, I’ll first explain the importance of International Women’s Day. After that, I’d like to invite you all to celebrate International Women’s Day with us. Share your story about a WordPress woman who inspired you. You can leave your story in the comments or share  it on social #awesomeWPwomen.

So everyone, go grab your 11% discount today

We’ve come a long way!

When my grandmother was born, in 1917, women weren’t allowed to vote in the Netherlands. When my mother was born in 1952, married women weren’t allowed to work. But when I was born in 1981, I had all the same rights and opportunities my older brother had. Within three generations, the legal position of women in the Netherlands had changed tremendously. This was the work of lots of powerful feminists like Mary Wollstonecraft, Simone de Beauvoir, Wilhelmina Drucker and many many others. That’s why today, we should celebrate the progress of women’s rights we’ve made so far!

But still…A long way to go

Although a lot has improved for many women across the world, inequality between gender remains. Women still face sexual violence and gender discrimination. We’ve come a long way, but at the same time, we still have a long way to go. It remains important to strive for total equality. The best results will be achieved when the best, most qualified people are hired for the most important positions, regardless of their gender. Intelligence, perseverance, discipline, and capabilities instead of gender should decide who gets that one important job.

Women in tech

Gender inequality is especially persistent in the tech community. If you Google ‘Women in Tech statistics’ you’ll not find much to celebrate. Women are really, really underrepresented in the tech sector, especially in executive functions and management roles. They earn less, face sexual harassment and quit much more often. 

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Technical SEO 1 training Info

What about WordPress?

The WordPress community is also a tech community. Nevertheless, it feels really open, really friendly towards women. At least that’s my experience. There are much more women at WordCamps than at other tech conferences. At WordCamps, at least 25% of the visitors are female. That’s a lot, compared to other tech conferences (yes, I know that’s sad). Some WordCamps even get a 50/50 rate for male and female speakers at their event. Still, there’s a lot of room for improvement, also in the WordPress community.

We need powerful role models

Solving the problem of gender inequality is not going to happen overnight. The causes for it lie within societal and cultural factors that are really hard to change. What we CAN do is to raise awareness of the inequality and the necessity to change it. At the same time, we should celebrate all of the successful women out there. We need powerful role models. We need to know and see women we can look up to.

A few weeks ago, my 8-year old daughter came home from her first lessons in coding. I asked her what she liked best. She started telling me about CSS and about what Irene – one of our developers at Yoast who was teaching the course – told her about it. And, that she wanted to learn to write code and be a developer just like Irene. For her, Irene was a role model. Somebody she could identify with. My daughter said: ‘I like Irene best, of course, because she is a girl. And because we have the same hair.’ 

Inspiring role models are always people we can identify with. Gender is a really important aspect of identifying. Let’s give our daughters those inspiring role models. Let’s give those female developers, female CEO’s and female presidents a big stage. That’s why international women’s day is important. That’s why it’s important to give a stage to as many women as possible on those tech conferences, on WordCamps. And that’s why I want a round of applause for some of the women from the WordPress community that serve as role models and inspirations (at least for me).

A big hooray for some of my big inspirations:

I am a very big fan of Julliette Reinders Folmer, who’s a consultant, developer, public speaker, a major contributor to WordPress and basically an all-round superhero. Thank you Julliette, for your leading role in the WordPress community and for being such an inspiration for me. You inspired and helped me to take the stage (on WordCamps) myself.

And, my daughter isn’t the only one who is very impressed by Yoast’s Irene Strikkers. Irene is a big inspiration for me too. Irene came to work at Yoast only two years ago and did not know how to write code. What she learned within those two years is so amazing. And I am totally sure she’s going to do many more amazing things in the years to come. Irene, you are an awesome WP woman!

Within the WordPress Community, we have so many more women to look up to. For example: Heather Brunner, Helen Hou-Sandi, Tammie Lister, Heather Burns, Rian Rietveld and Mika Epstein. But there are many, so many more. Which WordPress woman was an inspiration to you? And why? Please share your story in the comments or on social #awesomeWPwomen. Let’s give those awesome WP women that stage today!

My all-time biggest inspiration was born 8 years ago. My daughter Wende. She’s the brightest, most talented, most beautiful and funniest girl alive. She doesn’t understand gender inequality. And I don’t want her to ever understand.

Now, go grab your 11% discount!

Read more: ‘3 reasons why Open Source is awesome’ »

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Joost de Valk founded Yoast. For a long time, Joost was the only developer working on Yoast SEO. He came up with all the features and implemented all the code; he did everything. As the company grew, we created a large development team. Joost always remained part of the development team and came up with most of the new features, but he did not write much code himself anymore. Until this release. Joost de Valk wrote most of the code of the Yoast SEO 7.0 release himself. So why is that? And what makes this release so very special? Time to ask Joost de Valk some questions about Yoast SEO 7.0.

Why did you do the coding for this release yourself?

“I had promised myself to get more involved with the product again. The growth of the company had me preoccupied with other things, and I wanted to get back to the core business of Yoast SEO again. I enjoy writing code. It makes me happy.”

And, as you started out, you just decided to make it the biggest release in years?

“Well, as I was diving into the code we were also updating our online course on the plugin. So I was making all kinds of videos and screencasts explaining the plugin. I noticed so many things that were outdated or just not user-friendly. So many things were tough to explain. That process of making our online course gave me many ideas for improvements. And once I started improving, I came up with even more ideas. One thing led to the next… and the next…” 

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Yoast SEO: the #1 WordPress SEO plugin Info

What did you like best about your coding adventure?

“I was in awe of the progress our development team has made. Working with them was great fun. Back in the days, it was just me and my computer. Now, somebody gets to review my code, and someone else does the acceptance test. That’s a great system. That process has made me a better developer. I learned so much in just these last few weeks. The team has become so much better.”

What thing in this release are you most proud of?

“We made solid progress in UX here. We had so many options and toggles in Yoast SEO. Most of the questions were asked in such a difficult way. They were so very technical, aimed at SEOs like I was myself when I first built the plugin. I think this release takes us a step closer to our mission: SEO for everyone. Our plugin isn’t just for SEOs and developers. Everyone should be able to use it. I feel we made it a lot more user-friendly with the new changes. That’s what I’m most proud of.”

What will the reactions of our users be? Were you nervous?

“No, I wasn’t nervous at all. We tested with users and the first responses were really positive. Everybody is enthusiastic. I do understand that some people will miss some old features and toggles. Some people might need to re-do some screenshots, I know we certainly have to. But overall, I don’t expect people to be upset by this release. It’ll make Yoast SEO so much easier to set up.”

Read more: ‘Yoast SEO 7.0: Making SEO easier for everyone’ »

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Before a search engine can rank a page or a post it needs to index it. A crawler must discover a piece of content before it can evaluate if it is a valuable addition to its index. One of the ways crawlers discover pages, is by crawling XML sitemaps. After a page has been indexed, a search engine can rank the piece of content if it fits the users search query best. Yoast SEO makes it easy for you to determine what should be indexable.

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Yoast SEO: the #1 WordPress SEO plugin Info

This is part of the new Yoast SEO 7.0 release »

Show x in search results?

Determining what has to be indexed by crawlers and what not tends to be hard to understand and it’s easy to make a mistake. You wouldn’t be the first to have unknowingly set a whole post type to noindex, making it unavailable to search engines. We’ve thought long and hard about this and drastically simplified this process for you. Now it all boils down to asking you a straightforward question: Do you want x to appear in search engines?

show in search results xml sitemaps

You can find the individual settings for making your content available for indexing in the corresponding parts of Yoast SEO. You’ll find the setings for posts and pages in the Content Types part of the Search Appearance tab. Taxonomies like categories and tags can be found in the Taxonomies tab.

By saying Yes to the ‘Show Posts in search results’ question in the post settings, for instance, you make sure that your posts will appear in the XML sitemap and, therefore, in the search results.

If you want to exclude something, you can switch this toggle to No, and the taxonomy or post type will not appear in the XML sitemap. Because of that, it will not appear in the search results. Whenever you set something to not appear in search engines, it will be noindexed and kept from the XML sitemap.

We’ve taken away a lot of the confusion around indexing content and XML sitemaps by simplifying things. But, most importantly, it is now so much easier to determine what should and should not appear in search results.

More on XML sitemaps

XML sitemaps are a kind of treasure map for search engine robots. They crawl them to discover new or updated content on your site. Every site benefits from a sitemap. Your rankings won’t soar if you add one, but it does help the crawlers to discover your content that much easier. If you need more information about the use of XML sitemaps on your site, we have some further reading for you:

Read more: ‘What is an XML sitemap and why should you have one?’ »

Keep reading: ‘The sense and nonsense of an XML sitemap’ »

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We have got something special for you, but before we release it for real, we need your help testing it: Yoast SEO 7.0. This is one of the biggest releases we have ever done, hence the jump from version 6.3 to 7.0. We’ve greatly simplified the interface, deprecated unused features and combined others into smarter features. By cleaning up our code, we have also drastically improved the performance of the plugin. Now, we need your help testing Yoast SEO 7.0 so we can fix every bug we can find before the final release two weeks from now.

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Yoast SEO: the #1 WordPress SEO plugin Info

How to test Yoast SEO 7.0

You can test the latest beta for Yoast SEO 7.0 by downloading it and installing it in your WordPress backend. We would advise you to install it on a test install or staging environment. Installing it on a live site is at your own risk. As always, make a backup before playing with beta software.

Download Yoast SEO 7.0 beta here »

Please report any issues you find in our Yoast SEO GitHub repository. You can find more information about the process on the Contributing to Yoast SEO page. Together, we can make this an incredible release.

What’s changing in Yoast SEO 7.0?

There’s going to be a lot of changes in Yoast SEO 7.0, both visible and invisible. See the changelog for the full list of changes. Here, I’ll go over some of the most obvious changes within your favorite SEO plugin. It all started with a quest to simplify things…

We’re asking you simple questions

The configuration pages will be different, simpler, more user-focussed.

meta robots old

Old situation with Meta Robots toggle

Compare this old situation with the new one below:

meta robots new

New situation with user-friendly question

The “Meta Robots” setting in the old version does exactly the same as the “Allow search engines” question in the new one but is understandable to people who have less experience with SEO.

The menu looks drastically different too:

old vs new menu yoast seo 7.0

Left: the old menu. Right: the new menu

In the old situation, Yoast SEO had an XML sitemaps menu item. In it, you could exclude “post types” (like Posts and Pages) and “taxonomies” (Categories and Tags, for example) from appearing in the XML sitemap. The only reason you would want to exclude post types and taxonomies from the XML sitemap is when you don’t want them to appear in the search engines. So… If your answer to the question above was “No”, I don’t want <x> to appear in the search engines, we now also exclude them from the XML sitemap. This might seem like a simple change, but it took a large portion of our options away in one fell swoop.

You could also disable XML sitemaps entirely on this menu item. This is what we call a “feature toggle”. This toggle has been moved to the Features tab on the Dashboard.

Titles & Metas becomes Search Appearance

The Titles & Metas menu item has been renamed “Search Appearance”. There are a few more settings on this page now, but in a more logical arrangement:

Old titles & metas menu

Old titles & metas menu

new search appearance yoast seo 7.0

New Search Appearance menu

General & Homepage have been combined. This tab also features the contents of the “Your Info” / “Company Info” tab we had on the Dashboard before. Media is new and is explained below. Breadcrumbs and RSS were moved here from the Advanced menu item, which is now completely gone.

Media (or: Attachment URLs)

When you upload an image or a video to WordPress, WordPress automatically creates an attachment URL for it, next to allowing you to link to the media item directly. This is much the same as a post URL, but it has no real SEO value. Most sites therefore never use these attachment URLs, but because WordPress sometimes links to them, they do start being indexed by search engines.

Yoast SEO long had a feature that allowed you to redirect attachment URLs for images to the post they were embedded in. This seems logical. But an image can be embedded in multiple posts, and as the Media part of WordPress gets better, this happens more often. At this point, where do you redirect an attachment URL to?

It also means that images that are not attached to a post could not be redirected. So we’ve changed that behavior: there’s now a toggle that will disable all attachment URLs. If you enable that (which will be the default for new sites), we redirect all attachment URLs to the media item itself. Clean, simple, much better SEO wise and much easier to understand.

The Advanced menu item had three tabs: Breadcrumbs, Permalinks and RSS. Breadcrumbs and RSS have been moved to Search Appearance; Permalinks is gone. There were two features there that we kept around:

  • The feature that allows removing /category/ from category URLs. This is useful in some cases, so we’ve moved it to the Taxonomies menu under Search Appearance.
  • The feature that removed ?replytocom variables from URLs. This is a core “feature” that makes it possible to reply to other people’s comments when JavaScript is disabled in your browser. Every comment gets its own link because of this feature, so if you have 100 comments, you get 100 extra links to a post, and search engines have to index every one of these links. This is stupid. So: our feature to remove those is now on by default and doesn’t have a setting anymore. This falls in line with WordPress’ core philosophy: decisions, not options. There is a ticket open to change this behavior in WordPress core too.

Advanced features toggle

For a while, Yoast SEO had a toggle for advanced features. This felt like a good idea at the time, but instead of properly explaining features, we hid them. In Yoast SEO 7.0, we’ve improved all features that we’re hard to explain. Luckily there were only a few of those, and they were so old that I’ve had to delete code that I wrote myself ten years ago.

Under the hood

Under the hood, there have also been several performance optimizations. We’ve changed how we set and retrieve options. We’ve removed all functions that had been deprecated before 2017. This is old code that we no longer use but was kept around for backward compatibility. These changes lead to less memory usage and a faster plugin overall.

But why now?

Well, to be honest, I have to give credit to Yoast Academy for this one. I was recording screencasts of the backend and couldn’t stand some of the things I had to explain. So we decided to start fixing them. Our development team has worked very hard to keep up with all the ideas, and we’re very proud to show you what we’ve built.

One more thing: a new icon

Because 7.0 is a big thing, we thought we’d make it even bigger: Yoast SEO is getting a new icon. The traffic light we’ve used for so long has turned out not to be a good metaphor across all cultures. In fact, we’ve learned that traffic lights differ per country and green is sometimes on top, and sometimes on the bottom.

So, without further ado: this is the new icon for Yoast SEO:Yoast SEO new icon

Awesome, right?

When will Yoast SEO 7.0 be ready?

We’re planning to release the final version of Yoast SEO 7.0 on Tuesday, March 6th. Since this is such a big release, we’ve decided to extend the testing period by two weeks so we can get as many eyes as possible on this release before we push it to everyone. You can help us find and fix issues by installing the release candidate, as mentioned above and go on a bug hunting trip. Add any issue you find or feedback you have to GitHub.

Happy testing!

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

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The mission of Yoast is ‘SEO for everyone‘. With our plugin, our online courses and our blog we try to make SEO understandable for everyone. We believe that every website -large and small- deserves a fair chance to pop up in the search engines. We strongly believe in our mission. Open Source is an important aspect of our mission. It’s one of the core values of our company. In this post, I’ll explain why we are Open Source Fanboys (and -girls).

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Yoast SEO: the #1 WordPress SEO plugin Info

What is Open Source?

Open Source software is software that’s developed within a community. Everybody can use, alter and distribute the code. People are encouraged to participate and to improve the software project. WordPress is, as you probably know, an Open Source CMS, just like Joomla, Drupal and Typo3 are Open Source CMSs.

3 reasons why Yoast loves Open Source

For us, Open Source is the only way to go. But why is that?

#1 Open Source is the way to new knowledge and new solutions

We believe that Open Source is the best way to get new innovations, and real solutions to the problems we face. Two heads are better than one: the knowledge of two or more people combined will always exceed that of one person alone. If people -especially people from different backgrounds- cooperate on a project, the project will benefit. Working together on a solution, simultaneously or not, will lead to better solutions. In short: we should stand on each other’s shoulders; we should take advantage of each other’s merits and talents. That’ll lead to true innovation.

#2 Open Source is not wasteful

Lots of developers around the world are working on solving the same, or similar, problems. That’s a waste of talent and skills. Why should every school have a different website? Why would every hospital need a different website? I understand that the design of those websites needs to be unique, but the backend and the functionality of these websites should be pretty much identical. It’s such a waste that so many developers are working on similar projects without working together.

We shouldn’t have to reinvent the wheel over and over again. If we’d do things the Open Source-way, we would share our knowledge about the invention of the wheel. Make other people benefit from our wheel. And let other people improve upon that wheel.

#3 Open Source is an equalizer

Open Source projects invite everybody to participate. Everybody. If you want to contribute to WordPress, you can do that. What company you work for doesn’t matter. It does not matter where you live. It does not matter how much money you have, or what you look like. Everybody has their expertise, and your talents will be recognized in the Open Source community. At Yoast, we really love that aspect of Open Source. It’s very inclusive. It offers chances to everybody, whether they have (some) programming skills, love translating, have superb organizational skills, or a great sense of community to get others involved. Everyone can contribute!

In short: Open Source should be the standard

As I’ve shown, both Open Source and WordPress are very important to Yoast. We do our part to contribute, and we strongly believe that Open Source is the best way to achieve awesome new solutions. In our opinion, Open Source is far less wasteful than closed source projects are. And, we love that Open Source is an equalizer. All in all, Open Source fits perfectly with our mission ‘SEO for everyone‘, and we hope that people will see the merits, so we can keep working on new solutions and innovations together!

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

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Something’s brewing at Yoast HQ. There’s no sign of spring yet, but we feel the need for a spring clean-up. Over the past few weeks, we’ve been looking critically at the Yoast SEO WordPress plugin and its many features and thinking: what’s this doing here? And should we get rid of that thing? Some of the results of that process are collected here, in Yoast SEO 6.3. But this is only the beginning.

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

Yoast SEO: the #1 WordPress SEO plugin Info

We’ve removed the meta keywords box

Meta keywords haven’t had any use for ages. In 2009, Google officially confirmed that they didn’t use them. We, however, kept the box since some of you clamored at the slightest hint that we were even thinking about deleting it. But now, after all these years, it is the time to say goodbye to the old meta keywords box. It was fun while it lasted, but it should have been gone years ago. Read why we don’t use meta keywords and why you shouldn’t either.

The “noindex subpages” feature is also gone

Since Google has gotten much better at working with paginated series, we’ve removed the feature that allows noindexing subpages of archives. According to Joost de Valk, the reasoning behind this is simple: “rel="next" and rel="prev" make sure Google sends people to the first page in a paginated series. There is one catch: sometimes it will send people to a specific page in the series, but that’s when that page is the best match for their query. This, therefore, should be better for the searcher. Noindexing all these pages leads to a lower amount of crawls for them (source), which subsequently leads to lower amounts of crawls for older articles, which is not a good idea on most sites.”

Enhancements: more context, fewer settings

In Yoast SEO 6.3, you’ll not only find loads of new enhancements that’ll improve how the plugin works, but we’ve also provided more context within the plugin so you can find out immediately what a particular toggle or feature does. By deleting a couple of features, we even said goodbye to a tab in the advanced settings. To help you find these settings, we’ve added a step in the configuration wizard for enabling (or disabling) the advanced settings. Also, we’ve improved the Open Graph copy for Facebook and Twitter in the Social settings to explain better what it does.

To help you transfer data from other WordPress SEO plugins we’ve added an importer for the SEO Ultimate plugin and the SEOpressor plugin. We already supported several other SEO plugins, like HeadSpace2, All in One SEO, JetPack SEO, WooThemes SEO Framework, and wpSEO.

In Yoast SEO Premium, we’ve also made several improvements that make it more apparent what a particular feature does. We’ve added a piece of text to the Internal Linking analyzer after completing a full site scan. This gives you more insight into what the effects are of running the analyzer. What’s more, we’ve added an explanation on entries on the features tab and links to explanatory articles on the features tab.

Doing housekeeping

In addition to all these enhancements and the deletion of some superfluous features, we’ve been busy fixing bugs and getting things ready for the next release. You can find every bug fix and feature enhancement in the changelog on WordPress.org. As I said, we’re busy as bees at the moment and cannot wait to show you what we’ve come up with.

Update now!

Yoast SEO 6.3 and its various add-ons all received nice updates today. We’re cleaning up the plugins as part of our quest for keeping our interfaces and features as easy as possible. In the coming weeks, we hope to show you more of what we’ve been up to. For now, update your plugins and stay tuned!

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

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Writers tend to put some real thought into their title. For online content, titles are important for both readers and search engines. That makes them double important! If you use WordPress and our Yoast SEO plugin, you insert the post’s title in the post title input field. Your title will appear as an H1 heading on top of your post. But Yoast SEO also offers possibilities to edit and improve your SEO title separately. Why is that? What’s the difference? And how should you edit your SEO title? I’ll explain it in this post. 

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Yoast SEO: the #1 WordPress SEO plugin Info

Two input fields

For some of you this will be obvious, but let’s take a look at where to find the input fields for the post title – the same as the H1 heading – and the SEO title. The post title input field can be found on top of the page or post editor in WordPress.

You can find the input field for the SEO title in the Yoast SEO metabox, which appears underneath the post input field. To edit the SEO title, you need to click on the edit snippet button. The snippet preview will then open. The snippet preview offers you three input fields. The first one is the input field to edit your SEO title. Beneath the input field you’ll – hopefully – see a green bar. That’s to say, it will be green if your SEO title is well-optimized. If it’s orange or red you should put some effort in improving it. As you can see, the SEO title has all kinds of weird %-signs in it. Don’t let this scare you off, I’ll tell you all about it later on in this post.

Purpose of the post title and the SEO title

It is important to realize that your SEO title doesn’t have the same purpose as the title of your post or page. Your post title is meant for people that are already on your site. It’s telling them what your post or page is about. Your SEO title, on the other hand, is meant for people who are not on your website yet. It will be shown to people in the search engines. It will be the title of your snippet in Google – that’s why it’s in the snippet preview. The purpose of your SEO title is to make people click on the snippet, come to your website and read your post or buy your product.

What does Yoast SEO automatically do?

Without doing anything, Yoast SEO will generate an SEO title based on the title of your post, the H1 heading. It will also put your site’s name in the SEO title. If you don’t put your site’s name in your SEO title, Google will do this for you. Yoast SEO will make sure your title isn’t too long – you’ll get a notice if your title is too long. At Yoast, we use a small bullet to separate the post title from the site name, but you could also use a dash, for example.

At Yoast we use a bullet to separate the title from the site name. Note that in this example we choose to create a short phrase instead of just our site name after the bullet.

You can set the way you want to generate your SEO title in the titles and meta section of Yoast SEO. If you do that, all your post titles will be generated in the exact same way. But, as described above, you can also edit the SEO title separately for a post. In the next paragraph we’ll explain in which cases you’d want to do that.

Should you edit the SEO title?

Personally, I never edit the SEO title of a separate post. I write a post and choose a title which is suitable for people who are already on our site, as well as people who see the snippet in the search engines. The settings to automatically generate titles in our own Yoast SEO install are – of course – totally fine.

If I want to adapt my title, maybe because I forgot to use the focus keyword in the title of my post, I always alter the title of the post. The SEO title will change along with that. For posts like this, this works fine. However, if you sell a product for example, the post or page title might not be the best SEO title. Perhaps you would like to mention the price of the product in your SEO title, but not in the H1 of your page. In these cases, editing the SEO title is necessary.

How do you edit the SEO title?

How do you edit the SEO title? And what are these weird %% signs in the input field? How can you use these?

The SEO title template

As described above Yoast SEO automatically generates SEO titles for you. You can adapt this title template to your liking in the titles and meta section of Yoast SEO. That’s what the %% signs are about. We call these %%title%% signs, magic variables. These magic variables take certain pieces of information and put them together to form the SEO title. So, if you type %%title%% in the SEO template input field, the title of a post or page will appear. The %%sep%% will take the separator sign you’ve chosen – like the small bullet we use – and put it in the SEO title.

You can find all about setting these title and meta variables in Edwin’s post. For an overview of all the magic variables, you can check our knowledge base.

For a separate post

If you’re working on a post and you want to change the SEO title, you can just click on the SEO title in the Yoast SEO meta box beneath your post. The magic variables will disappear and you’ll be able to edit the SEO title for just this post. Note that you can still use the magic variables for a separate post! For example, if you want to just amend the first part of the title, but keep the separator and the site name, you can create an SEO title like: ‘[customized post title] %%sep%% %%site name%%’. 

Conclusion

Your SEO title and your post title both serve a different purpose. In many cases, you can use your post title as the base for your SEO title. Yoast SEO will generate a nice SEO title based on your post title. In some cases, you’re better off customizing the SEO title. You can use the magic variables to create that awesome SEO title. We’re currently working on a new and improved interface for these magic variables. In the future, it will become much easier and more intuitive to edit your title. Just a little bit more patience!

Read more: ‘Crafting a good page title for SEO’ »

The post What’s the difference between an H1 heading and the SEO title? appeared first on Yoast.

To work properly, websites contain multiple CSS and JavaScript files. These must be fetched from the server by the visitors’ computer, to fully load a webpage. In the old standard, HTTP/1, only one request at a time could be handled, so minifying and concatenating multiple files was a good idea. Otherwise, visitors would experience a slow website because of too many requests. The new standard, HTTP/2, allows for much easier communication between a visitor and the server.

So, does this increasing move to HTTP/2 mean that it’s no longer necessary to minify and concatenate your CSS and JS files? After all, site speed is still crucial for SEO. Let’s get into that in this Ask Yoast!

Become a technical SEO expert with our Technical SEO 1 training! »

Technical SEO 1 training Info

Danny O’Neill emailed us his question:

‘With the increasing move to HTTP/2 should we still minify and concatenate our CSS and JS files?’

Watch the video or read the transcript further down the page for my answer!

Is it still necessary to minify and concatenate your CSS and JS files?

“In the old standard, HTTP/1, the browser could only open so many files at the same time on your server and thus it was smart to combine those files into larger concatenated files. In HTTP/2 that’s not needed anymore, so no, you don’t necessarily have to do that.

What you need to look at is which portion of your traffic already supports HTTP/2. If that’s the large majority then you can stop doing that altogether. Good luck!”

Ask Yoast

In the series Ask Yoast we answer SEO questions from our readers. Have an SEO-related question? Let us help you out! Send an email to ask@yoast.com.

(Note: please check our blog and knowledge base first, the answer to your question may already be out there! For urgent questions, for example about our plugin not working properly, we’d like to refer you to our support page.)

Read more: ‘Performance optimization in an HTTP/2 world’ »

The post Ask Yoast: Still minify and concatenate CSS and JS files? appeared first on Yoast.