Cornerstone content forms the foundation of your site. If you write a couple of authoritative articles about your chosen subject and keyword, you can link all your other posts to these articles. In doing so, you greatly enhance the chance of these articles ranking in the search engines. Build your site as the ancient Egyptians built pyramids. Block by block on a solid foundation. Yoast SEO 4.6 adds another new feature to help you create your site structure.

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Cornerstone content in Yoast SEO 4.6

As you know, cornerstone content is the most important content on your site, but until now we didn’t have an option to mark these as such. In today’s release of Yoast SEO 4.6, you’ll find an option to indicate that the selected article should be treated as a cornerstone article. This way, the article receives priority over a regular article. These articles are analyzed more thoroughly to increase the chance of them popping up as must-link articles.

You can now mark your articles as cornerstone content.

We’ve also included a visual aid in determining whether an article is cornerstone content. These links will appear above the list of regular suggestions the internal linking tool in Yoast SEO Premium makes. Now, you only have to start marking your cornerstone articles as such, and they will rise to the top of the suggestion list so you can easily link to them. Working on your site structure has never been easier.

cornerstone content internal linking

The internal linking tools highlights cornerstone articles.

There’s a lot more to say about cornerstone content, so Marieke took the opportunity to dive deeper into the subject. Read her article and start working on your cornerstone content!

cornerstone post overview

It’s also possible to see your cornerstone articles in the post overview.

What else is new

Besides the new cornerstone content feature, we’ve mostly fixed some bugs. In addition to that, we’ve improved some language strings, enhanced compatibility with WooCommerce 3.0 and made some changes in the configuration wizard, so it’s easier to understand for everyone.

As always, happy updating! And if you want to see all the changes we made in this release, you can find the complete changelog over on WordPress.org.

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

This is a rather special release, as it’s a project that’s close to my heart. It’s not a full-featured release, however, it is just necessary as a regular release. In Yoast SEO 4.5, we are urging site owners whose sites run on servers with an outdated version of PHP to update to a more recent version. To move the web forward, we need to take a stand against old, slow and unsafe software. Updating to PHP 7 will give your site an enormous speed boost. In this post, you’ll find out why we’re showing this notice in WordPress and what you can do to upgrade PHP.

Please read this post to get the complete picture of this move »

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Why this move?

WordPress is built on PHP. This programming language takes care of the heavy lifting for the CMS. WordPress was always built with backward compatibility in mind, but we’ve reached a point where that’s just not feasible anymore. WordPress needs a minimum of PHP5.2 to function, but that version will not get updates, fixes or patches. This makes it inherently insecure. If you are on an old version, Yoast SEO 4.5 will show you a message in the backend. Please update to at least 5.6, but rather PHP 7 to take advantage of all the awesomeness of this new version. Not just for you as a user, but for developers as well.

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

We understand this move might be annoying for some, but it is necessary to speed up the development of the web and to bring it some must needed security. That being said, updating your PHP version is rather easy.

How can I update my PHP version?

How to update your PHP version depends on your host. Most hosts have an article on their site explaining how to update PHP yourself. Here’s the one from SiteGround, or WP Engine. Go to your hosts’ website to find out more on how to go about this. If you can’t find the information you need, please contact your web host. We have made an example email that you can edit and send to your hosting company.

Don’t forget to backup your site before doing any major changes!

And how do I choose a different hosting company?

It might be entirely possible that your host is not willing to work with you. Maybe you just don’t feel valued at your current host or it could be that their future plans don’t fit yours. If so, think about moving web hosts. A web host provides the engine your site runs on and that better be a damn good engine. To help you with your quest for a well-regarded and forward-thinking web host, we’ve compiled a list of hosting services that got the Yoast stamp of approval.

Read more: ‘Whipping your hosting into shape’ »

Today marks the release of the next version of our flagship WordPress plugin: Yoast SEO 4.4. In Yoast SEO 4.4 you’ll find many small changes and a couple of new features that make it even easier to work with the plugin. In this release post, we’ll give a brief overview of the changes that we’ve made, starting with Yoast SEO Premium.

New features in Yoast SEO Premium

If you’re an avid user of Yoast SEO and Google Search Console, you’ve probably connected these together so that they can work in tandem. Your crawl errors will show up in Yoast SEO so you can work on them from there. It was always possible to redirect 404 error pages using a 301, but with Yoast SEO 4.4 you can now use every type of redirect that Yoast SEO supports. These include 301, 302, 307, plus the 410 and 451 redirects. This makes it even easier to tell crawl bots exactly what should be done with the specific content.

You can find the second cool new feature in the internal linking tool. Yoast SEO Premium shows you the links that have already been added to the text. You can quickly discern the different links because they have a different icon, namely a checkmark. Of course, you’re still free to copy that link if you need to add it to the text again.

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Changes in Yoast SEO 4.4

Besides fixing a number of bugs, we’ve been working on some enhancements to improve the flow of the plugin. To start off, we’ve improved the styling of tables, so they are viewable on mobile. In addition to that, we’ve moved the option to disable the keyword and content analysis from the general tab to the features tab.

The newest release of Yoast SEO is now live, so head on to your WordPress install and hit that update button. We hope you enjoy this new release. If you need more information on this release, you can check out the changelog on WordPress.org. Thanks!

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

Did you know over 550 million people speak Spanish? Did you know there are now more Spanish speakers in the US than there are in Spain? And that Spanish is considered the second most important language in the world, just after English, and before Mandarin? These are huge numbers, and we are now proud to announce Yoast SEO 4.3 is starting to speak Spanish as well.

Spanish link suggestions and insights

Now, we should start by saying that support for Spanish is not complete, as we are still fine-tuning some readability checks. In this release, following English, German and Dutch, Yoast SEO Premium will now analyze your text and give you suggestions to create relevant internal links. This way, you no longer have to search manually for links that add value to your text and make your site structure stronger.

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In a follow-up release, we will complete the support for the Spanish language, so that we can check your writing and give you readability advice as well. Keep an eye on our site for the announcement.

Trigger site-wide analysis

For our internal linking suggestions to work well, we need to know exactly which words you often use in your texts. This way, we can generate a list of most used words, called Insights, upon which the link suggestions are based. Now, in some cases a site will not run a full site-wide analysis, and, as a result, the link suggestions are based on incomplete data. This makes the tool less reliable.

To counter incomplete analysis, Yoast SEO 4.3 adds a new status message to let you know that was not finished. Because without indexed posts, link suggestions won’t work correctly.

Do you want to help us develop link suggestions?

We’ve now added support for a couple of languages, but of course there are many more languages. You can help us develop language support for your mother tongue. Please contact us if you’d like to help.



Finally

Besides expanding our language support, we’ve fixed a couple of bugs and added some small enhancements. As always, we hope you enjoy this new release and don’t forget to check out the complete changelog on WordPress.org.

Read more: ‘Yoast internal linking: the making of’ »

In our quest to speak more of the world’s languages, we’ve now added our mother tongue: Yoast SEO 4.2 premium supports Dutch in its entirety. Our Dutch users can now use all of our innovative features, like Insights and Internal linking suggestions, in their own language. More languages will follow soon.

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Insights into more languages

As you might know, the release of Yoast SEO 4.0 saw the introduction of our new Internal linking feature. At that time, this revolutionary tool that helps you build an effective site structure quickly was only available in the English language. Just a couple of weeks ago, we added support for the language of our neighbors to the east: German. Now it’s time for Dutch, the language we know so well.

The text analysis tools of Yoast SEO checks the content of your posts and pages. It actively gives you advice on what to improve. The readability analysis gives you an idea how readable your post is for a regular person. Following the green bullet paradigm, you can see directly if your text is too hard to read. Or if it is littered with passive voice or uses too many words in a paragraph.

To give you correct insights into your writings, we need to fully understand a language. This process takes time, and we’re slowly, but surely adding new languages. After Dutch in Yoast SEO 4.2 premium, it is time to work on support for prominent words and link suggestions in Spanish. Looking past that, we’d like to add support for French.

If you’d like to read up on how we developed the internal linking suggestions tool and the big part language plays, we’d like to recommend this post by our linguist Irene. You can read more about the philosophy behind it in this post by our CTO Omar.

What else is new

Besides adding a new language, we’ve fixed a couple of bugs and made some necessary enhancements. We’ve moved the translations from translate.yoast.com to translate.wordpress.org. To tighten things up, we’ve made sure the settings page and left sidebar are more responsive, so they should accurately scale. In addition to that, we’ve cleaned up the meta box a little and enhanced the styling of the featured image warning screen.

As always, we hope you enjoy this new release. If you need more information, please find the complete changelog on wordpress.org.

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

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’ »

As you might know, we’ve added quite a few new features to Yoast SEO over the last few months. Today marks the release of Yoast SEO 4.1, the first of many releases to come in the new year. Besides fixing some bugs, this version comes with two major new features: a mobile snippet preview and full support for the German language in the readability and content analysis.

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Mobile snippet preview

Since mobile traffic has eclipsed desktop traffic, it’s imperative that you optimize your site in any way you can for mobile. One of these improvements is to make your text snippets better for mobile use. For years, Yoast SEO offered a way of seeing what the text snippet would look like in search engines. However, it was not possible to check mobile snippets yet. Luckily, that’s about to change.

Yoast SEO 4.1 adds a mobile snippet preview, so you can now directly check what your snippet looks like on mobile. The default view is the desktop, but you can easily switch between the views, so you can get a good idea of how your post will be presented in the search results depending on which view you choose. This way you can write a perfect snippet text that works well on mobile and desktop. This first release is fairly modest in execution and will be fine-tuned further down the road.

yoast seo mobile snippet

German readability and content analysis

Yoast SEO doesn’t just improve the technical side of your WordPress site, but also provides invaluable tools that help you to write quality content. The innovative Content Analysis tool analyzes the blog post you are writing in real-time and suggests improvements for SEO and readability. In the past, these readability suggestions were only available in English, but the Yoast Content Analysis now fully supports German as well. More languages are on the way.

Not only does full language support for German allows Yoast SEO 4.1 to analyze the readability of a German text, but it also enables Yoast SEO Premium to provide internal linking suggestions in German. This means that, when writing a post in German, you will get suggestions for related articles on your site, that you could consider linking to. Building a perfect site structure has never been easier.

Fun fact: To fully understand the post and to give valuable suggestions, we have to filter out unnecessary words or other words that get in the way of discerning the meaning of a post. For the English language, we use a long list of words that we’ll automatically filter out. For German, it seems we needed an even longer list because of the grammatical cases. Check this example: In English it’s “a”, “an” and “the”, while the German language has “das”, “dem”, “den”, “der”, “des”, “die”, “ein”, “eine”, “einem”, “einen”, “einer”, “eines”. See what we mean? We can’t wait to see what the Dutch language has to offer.

Vielen Dank, dass sie sich für Yoast SEO entschieden haben!

Read more: ‘WordPress SEO: the ultimate guide’ »

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’ »

After months of hard work, we are ready to show Yoast SEO 4.0 to the world. In this version, we’re shipping an awesome Premium feature that many of you will find very, very helpful. We’ve figured out how to make the search for related posts to link to, fast and faultless. In this post, we’ll explain what you can expect.

Related posts for internal linking

Historically, related links plugins did one thing well: add unnecessary overhead to your site. The performance was less than stellar and the search results subpar. In addition to that, related posts where often presented in a separate box, instead of directly in the post, where they belong. It’s hard to solve this complex issue, but we’ve managed to do it.

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Premium customers of Yoast SEO will now find a new box on the right-hand side of your site, called Yoast Internal Linking. This box shows a couple of links that are proven to be relevant to the text you are working on. It uses the most prominent words from the previously introduced Yoast SEO Insights tool to find posts that use the same words.

We all know the best links in your posts are the ones you pick out yourself. So now, after you’ve written a couple of hundred words, the related post tool will automatically kick in and give you linking suggestions. You can easily visit the link to check out the article or directly copy the link by clicking on the icon next to it. Or, if your browser supports it, drag and drop the link in your post. To use the internal linking tool, you need WordPress 4.7 or the REST API plugin.

Lightning fast, faultless linking

Every calculation is done in the browser, using the words in Yoast Insights. After figuring out the twenty most prominent words in your post, the tool sends a request to the server to get the best fitting articles. It presents the returned posts in a list, where the number one result fits the best with the article you are writing. The more matching words are found in an article, the higher it appears on the list.

To get the most out of the internal linking tool, you need to calculate the most prominent words for your complete site. To help you with that, there is now a feature called Site wide analysis, where you can turn on the analysis it needs to do its work. The initial indexation may take a while, depending on the size of your site. You can see the progress in the tab. In the future, we will be making it even faster. In addition to that, we will also introduce a CLI that large scale sites can use to trigger the indexation process.

Site wide analysis prominent words

We’ve been using Yoast SEO 4.0 Premium on yoast.com for some time, and we’re madly in love with it. We are sure you will value it as much as we do. Don’t use Yoast SEO Premium yet? Well, now is a great time to buy a license!

Yoast Insights and Internal Linking

Left: prominent words for a certain post. Right: the suggestions Yoast Internal Linking gives

Updates in Yoast SEO 4.0

Besides the very useful Internal Linking feature in Yoast SEO 4.0 Premium, there are also some nice additions to the regular version. It’s now fully compatible with WordPress 4.7, including support for the user selectable language in the dashboard. We’ve also been working hard on improving the support in the content analysis for French and German. We understand transition words in French better. Manuel Augustin helped us add support for the recognition of passive voice in German.

We hope you are as excited as we are! Download the new version now and let us know what you think. We love to hear from you.

You can find the complete changelog on WordPress.org.

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’ »