Today, we’re releasing new versions of all our plugins, including Yoast SEO 4.9. This release brings loads of bug fixes and multiple enhancements to Yoast SEO and the News, Video, Local and WooCommerce add-ons. In this post, we’ll describe what you can expect when you hit that update button. Read on if you want to know more.

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Fixing bugs and enhancing flows

Yoast SEO received the most attention this time around. In Yoast SEO 4.9, we fixed a bug that caused certain assessments to go missing after the switch to cornerstone content. There was also an instance where certain users without sufficient rights to access the configuration wizard could see the configuration wizard button. In addition to that, we also fixed a bug with an ambiguous column ID that caused an SQL error. The last one was a bug where the category URL in the sitemap was encoded twice.  As of today, we only load the translations when the configuration wizard endpoint is called, instead of every time rest_api_init is called.

Removing noodp

Some time ago, DMOZ ceased to exist. And with it, the noodp tag died. This tag was necessary to block search engines from using the description for a page in DMOZ as the snippet for your page in the search results. Recently, Google announced that it would stop using the tag as a source for search snippet information. This prompted us to remove the deprecated advanced robots meta value.

More fixes for other plugins

Several other plugins also received bug fixes, like Yoast SEO News for example. In this plugin, we fixed a bug where sticky posts show up in the editors’ pick RSS feed without marking it as an editors’ pick and one where the date format was invalid in the editors’ pick RSS feed. In Yoast SEO for WooCommerce, we added a filter to set the primary category in the permalink and fallbacks for several deprecated warnings. We also fixed a bug where not all Yoast SEO columns were hidden when the columns output by Yoast were removed. As usual, you can find all the changes to the plugins in their respective changelog files.

Hit that update button!

The new releases of all the plugins are now live and waiting for you to download. So, please update as soon as possible and enjoy the latest and greatest of Yoast SEO. As always, thanks for your support and we hope this release makes your work a little more streamlined.

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

In this release, we’re fine tuning our algorithms to give cornerstone content articles the analysis they deserve. Articles you’ve marked as cornerstone content will now be judged on a different level, so we can make sure they have the quality and authority an article like that should have. Yoast SEO 4.8 helps you write better cornerstone content articles.

Cornerstone content analysis

For some time now, Yoast SEO checks your articles and gives you feedback so you can fix readability and SEO issues. This analysis has always been one-size-fits-all, but that’s about to change. These last couple of weeks, we’ve been investing heavily in site structure. One of the most important parts of a solid site structure is cornerstone content: authoritative articles based on the keywords you most definitely want to rank. These should form the basis of your site.

In Yoast SEO 4.6, we added the possibility to mark a certain article as cornerstone content. This way, it is given a higher value in Yoast SEO, which causes this article to show on top sooner in the suggestions the internal linking tool provides.

Starting from Yoast SEO 4.8, we can now analyze your cornerstone content following a particular, stricter set of specifications. These checks will help you build killer cornerstone articles. Among other things, we now check if a cornerstone article has 900+ words and if the keyword is in at least two subheadings:

yoast seo 4.8 cornerstone analysis

But wait, there’s more

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While the rest of this release mostly consists of bug fixes and enhancements, there’s also a couple of other changes. We now remove the prominent words option for unsupported languages and change the string ‘current url’ to ‘old url’ in the Search Console Redirect to match the language in the Redirect Manager. We’ve also made several improvements to the Local SEO plugin.

As always, we hope you enjoy this new release. Don’t forget to update!

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Yoast SEO now supports transition words for the Italian language so the content analysis feature can give you more detailed information about the readability of your post. This is the first step in providing full support for Italian. The Insights and Internal Linking Suggestion features will soon follow. We’ve also added a new check to see if your post has at least one internal link. Find out what else we’ve done in Yoast SEO 4.7.

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First Italian addition: transition words

Transition words – or signal words – are words that guide your readers in a text. These words show that you are summarizing, comparing or concluding something. Words like because, as a result, and most of all are the cement in your text. Use these to create a pleasant, easy to read article. Yoast SEO’s readability analysis checks the use of transition words in a variety of languages, and we’re adding a new one in Yoast SEO 4.7: Italian.

It is the first step in supporting Italian for our other helpful features, like Insights and Internal Linking Suggestions. These two features use Yoast SEO’s knowledge and command of a language to give you more information on how often you use certain words. These insights are used to suggest internal links that would be an excellent fit for the article you are currently writing. With these tools, working on your site structure becomes as easy as pie. Full support for Italian will arrive in the coming months.

A brand-new check: internal links

Building a solid site structure should be an essential part of your SEO strategy. One way of building a site structure is by creating relevant internal links to other parts of your site. In Yoast SEO 4.6, we added a checkbox to determine if a certain article is a cornerstone article. These articles should form the basis of your site. All other, relevant posts should link to these articles.

Our newest addition to the site structure checks is the internal link checker: this check appears in the regular list of bullets and will warn you if your new post doesn’t seem to have any internal links.

We’d like to speak more languages

Yoast SEO is gradually speaking more languages, but we’re not ready yet. Not by a long shot. If your mother tongue is missing or has incomplete support and you’d like to help us understand it better, please contact us at the following address:



Bugfixing

In Yoast SEO 4.7, we’ve also fixed numerous bugs and made several enhancements. As always, you can find the full changelog on WordPress.org. We hope you enjoy this new release. Hit that update button!

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

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.

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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!

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