Supporting older versions of WordPress

As soon as WordPress 5.3 comes out, Yoast will only support WordPress 5.2 and WordPress 5.3, and not versions before that. This means we’ll end our support for WordPress 4.9, which we’d kept alive for a little bit longer than usual to allow people to transition to WordPress 5.0 and the classic editor. I’d like to explain why we have this policy and why we’re deciding to go back to it.

Building software for WordPress can be incredibly complex. We work in a world where there are always a couple of versions of WordPress around. Next to that, plugins can do almost anything (which they do), which also means they can interfere with each other. Every site has a different combination of plugins, leading to tens of thousands of different combinations.

Modern code

At Yoast we pride ourselves in using the best tools available to build solutions for our users. With WordPress 5.2, the WordPress core team upped the minimum PHP requirement for WordPress from PHP 5.2 to PHP 5.6. We always want our software to work on the minimum requirements for WordPress, which means we could only use functionality from PHP 5.2 up until then.

Note: I know these version numbers and the fact that they’re so alike can become confusing. We’ve certainly had some confusion around that internally. I apologize for that in advance, but as you’ll understand, I can’t change these version numbers.

PHP is the language that most of the WordPress backend is built in. PHP 5.2 was released in 2006, while PHP 5.6 was released in 2014. As you can see, that’s 8 years apart, and 8 years is an incredibly long time on the internet.

By going back to our policy of only supporting the current and previous version, and thus only supporting WordPress 5.2 and 5.3, we allow ourselves to develop using PHP 5.6. Because we can use PHP 5.6 now, we can develop faster and more securely.

What does “support” mean?

When we say we don’t support an older version of WordPress it means we’ve stopped testing with it, and things are likely to break. It also means you won’t see Yoast SEO updates until you’ve updated your WordPress to a supported version.

My site doesn’t work with the classic editor

For a small portion of sites, I know this leaves them in limbo, which we hate. If you have a custom WordPress solution, built with old versions of plugins like Advanced Custom Fields (ACF), you might be “stuck”. Even though ACF has done an incredibly good job of migrating to Gutenberg, that might not “save” you.

While we think that sucks, we don’t really have any option for you other than to go to your website developer and explain them that this isn’t a state you want to stay in. You really should move to newer versions of WordPress. We will keep on supporting the Classic Editor for a few more years, so if they make it work with that, you’re good.

I don’t see any Yoast SEO updates

There are a couple of different reasons why you can’t see Yoast SEO updates. As said above: if you’re on an old version of WordPress, you will not see them. So update your WordPress first. If that’s not the case, please reinstall the plugin, simply delete it and install the latest version manually. That won’t delete any of your data, don’t worry.

Go and update your site!

So, if you’re on an old version of WordPress, go and update. Of course, before doing anything like updating plugins or WordPress, always make sure to test and back up your site!

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Yoast SEO 11.2: Schema enhancements and more

Today, we’re releasing Yoast SEO 11.2 into the wild. This release contains several enhancements to our Schema structured data implementation, plus a number of community contributions and general bug fixes. In this post, you’ll find everything you need to know about Yoast SEO 11.2, so dive in!

More Schema improvements

These past couple of weeks saw quite a bit of development in the structured data department. In Yoast SEO 11.0, we launched a structured data implementation that automatically generates a graph for any given website and its pages. In Yoast SEO 11.1, we improved the way we handle images in structured data, among other things. We said we wouldn’t be done on the Schema front for some time. Well, Yoast SEO 11.2 brings even more structured data goodness.

Image improvements

As mentioned in the release post of Yoast SEO 11.1, we’ve been working on a better way to pick images correctly for use in the generated structured data. In this release, we’re introducing a new way to make sure we always include an image in the structured data. Now, we pick the first image in the content for the Schema output if you haven’t set a featured image.

Tailor the Schema output

Of course, it’s possible that you’d like to incorporate your own Schema pieces into our graph. We already have the wpseo_schema_graph_piecesfilter to help you extend the Yoast SEO Schema. This way, you can tailor the implementation to your own needs. In addition, we’re now introducing a new filter that will help you control what Yoast SEO outputs. The new wpseo_schema_needs_<class_name> filter helps you disable or enable specific pieces of the graph.

Last but not least, we’ve also added a filter called wpseo_schema_person_social_profiles for adding or deleting social profiles to show. Read our Schema API documentation to find out how our Schema implementation works and how you can tailor it to your needs.

Community help

Yoast SEO 11.2 is a community-driven effort. We love getting outside help, so thanks everybody. In this release, David Tolnem and Saša Todorović came up with a filter for adding posts with a custom post statuses to the sitemap: wpseo_sitemap_post_statuses. This means you can now use the custom post statuses made in tools such as Edit Flow and add these to the sitemap. Saša also helped fix a bug together with Jessica Zehavi. This one was a bug where URLs with a non-Yoast SEO related xsl query string parameter would result in a blank page.

Rami Yushuvaev helped us make translating the plugin easier by merging near identical strings and he fixed a bug concerning an incorrect URL leading to Pinterest’s claim page.

Better sitemap debugging

To help you debug your sitemaps, we’ve decoupled the sitemap debug information from the general WP_DEBUG flag. Instead, we now offer the YOAST_SEO_DEBUG_SITEMAPS flag to better control this functionality. Now, we can output more specific debug information on the sitemap pages.

Update away!

Yoast SEO 11.2 fixes several bugs and enhances the Schema implementation. Thanks to our highly valued community, we have a number of fixes and improvements. We always enjoy seeing so many people contribute to our open source plugin. Interested in contributing? Please read our contribution guidelines on GitHub.

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Yoast SEO 11.1: Even more Schema enhancements!

You’ve probably noticed we’re doubling down on our Schema structured data implementation. In Yoast SEO 11.0, we rewrote what we output and how we do that. Not only that, we put every piece of structured data in a neat, interconnected graph. We’re not done yet! In Yoast SEO 11.1, we’re introducing proper image markup and tying our Video SEO output into the graph.

Video SEO tied into the Yoast SEO Schema graph

Our Video SEO add-on for Yoast SEO helps your videos to show up in video search. In this new release, we make the plugin even more useful by adding the correct structured data. Not only that, we’ll also tie everything into the main graph as generated by Yoast SEO.

In the structured data code, you’ll find everything search engines need to make sense of the video, from duration to embed URL, and from video thumbnail to description. Search engines like Google may use this information to get your video into a carousel or give it a badge so it can be distinguished as a video in image search thumbnails.

We use Schema’s VideoObject to output the correct structured data and made video a real entity in our graph. The beauty of it is that you don’t need to do anything out of the ordinary to get search engines to pick up your video. Simply give it good meta data like titles and descriptions, add an attractive thumbnail and you’re good to go! The plugin will automatically generate all the valid Schema code in the background.

You can find more information about Schema structured data in our Video SEO Schema documentation.

Google's Structured Data Testing Tool validates this video nicely
Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool validates this video nicely

Structured data for images in Yoast SEO 11.1

Another thing that was not final in Yoast SEO 11.0, was the way we handle images on a page and how we tie those into the graph. In Yoast SEO 11.1, we’re introducing a proper way to handle single images on a page. For the next version, we are also looking at ways of handling multiple images and how to determine the main one. Read all about how we generate the image parts for the Schema output.

The main image of the page will be neatly integrated in the Yoast SEO structured data graph
The main image of the page will be integrated in the Yoast SEO structured data graph

Exposing the imageObject is very helpful for image SEO purposes. Google has said many times that adding structured data to your images is beneficial. Now, you can give search engines loads of context for your images. As we know, they still struggle to figure out what’s in an image, so they need every bit of help they can get. Schema provides the context by telling what an image is and what its properties and meta data are. Keep this in mind when working on your image SEO — which you should do naturally, of course.

Yoast SEO retrieves the image caption if set, or uses the alt tag if that’s set. It is easy to forget, but the caption and/or alt text are incredibly important for search engines. Please make use of it! Also, make sure that the filenames of your filenames are descriptive and recognizable. We have an extensive guide with loads of tips on image SEO, please read that.

Confused about all this Schema structured data talk? Here’s why and how we’re making structured data much easier to implement and this story describes the concept of schema using a little robot.

Yoast SEO Premium: Better recognition of German keyphrases

In Yoast SEO Premium 10.1, we introduced word form support for the German language. This made it the second language, after English, to receive the full language support. In Yoast SEO 11.1, we’ve fine-tuned the language support. The plugin is now better at recognizing German keyphrases that include words with an i or e in between vowels (e.g., schrieen, schreien, speie). In addition, we’ve also improved the recognition of German 3rd person singular verb forms (e.g., “arbeitet”).

Update to Yoast SEO 11.1

Yoast SEO 11.1 not only features a number of Schema enhancements, improvements to our Video SEO add-on and better German language support, but also several bug fixes. You can find every change in the changelog of this release.

For the past couple of weeks, we’ve been improving our structured data support with an innovative implementation that includes a full graph. We’re not done yet! There’s still a lot to do and you can expect much more from us in the near future. Remember our structured data content blocks for WordPress’ new block editor?

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Yoast SEO 11.0: Structured data awesomeness

Structured data is incredibly important. Many of the current and future search enhancements are — or will be — powered by structured data. While search engines are good at reading content, structured data can help them to understand. Yoast SEO has supported some basic Schema markup for ages, but now we’re going much further. Yoast SEO 11.0 features a completely rewritten Schema.org implementation — the first one of its kind, offering a fully integrated graph.

Revamped Schema implementation

Optimizing for entities — i.e. people, places and things — and how they relate to each other makes a lot of sense for search engines, as it gives them all your connections on a silver platter. With structured data, they can much more easily understand what your pages are about, and the properties of those things. It can help them understand that this web page is an article about a product, made by a specific brand. They no longer have to figure everything out themselves, by just reading content and following links.

Note: Search engines will still follow links in order to discover content and to help them to understand those relationships, but entities help them to really reinforce that knowledge.

Google is moving from a search engine to a discovery engine in an effort to provide searchers with relevant content, answers or products before they even know they need to search. There’s a reason they called Google Discover just that. Google is looking for concepts and connections to help them understand the world, and to present these in new ways. Rich results will become much richer as time goes by.

Entity graphs

Good SEO strategies must consider entities. That’s why we’ve paved the way to help you tell Google exactly what your site is about — automatically — just by using Yoast SEO 11.0. Now, we build an entity graph for you, behind the scenes.

An entity graph is a representation of a topic, which describes the entities — people, places and things, for instance — and defines their relationships via properties. Or in this case, how your site is connected to your pages, organization, authors et cetera.

What does this mean for you

The age-old problem with structured data is that adding the necessary code is tricky. Schema structured data relies on JSON-LD to get that data to search engines. Yoast SEO has added bits and pieces of structured data for ages, but Yoast SEO 11.0 raises the bar tremendously. And you don’t have to do much to make use of it. Just fill in the information we ask — simple things, like if your site is for a person or an organization — and you’re good to go!

Traditionally, every piece of structured data added by WordPress plugins or content management systems itself was put in contained little blobs. This lead to pages having many individual pieces, which had no way of talking to each other. And since the end goal of working with entities is to make connections for discovery, something had to be done.

Working on a document set up by Jono Alderson (with input from Google engineers, among others), we set out to rewrite how to best approach implementing Schema markup, and how WordPress can use this efficiently. Not only that, it had to be extensible as well, so every piece of structured data out there can hook into this proposed standard.

Yoast CPO Joost de Valk explains the technical background in the post Schema.org is hard, we’re making it easy

Yoast SEO 11.0 comes with a completely rewritten Schema structured data implementation. This new implementation uses a concept that is different from most other approaches to structured data. Here, we’re not relying on complicated arrays of nested properties, but a clean, complete graph that uses IDs to connect different nodes inside of it. The end result is stunningly effective.

What does this look like?

As an end user, you don’t need to know much about what goes on behind the scenes of Yoast SEO. Looking at structured data code, however, helps your understanding of how everything fits together and why you should fill out the information we ask in the plugin. As an SEO or a developer, you’re really going to enjoy this beautiful piece of interconnected code.

Here’s an example output of Yoast SEO new Schema implementation, seen through the eyes of Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool. This is generated for one of our most popular articles: WordPress SEO — The definitive guide.

Part of the articleoutput of Yoast SEO. See the Structured Data Testing Tool for the complete result

You can test the article yourself in Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool. Because yes, there’s more to the screenshot above.

Structured data in Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO will now output a lot more structured data about your website and how its pages fit together.

The structured data is based on the initial setting of Person or Organization. If your site represents an organization or business, please select Organization. If the site is your personal blog or anything representing a person, please select Person. You’ve probably set this up correctly ages ago, but there’s no harm in checking again.

Yoast SEO uses different profiles for outputting the correct structured data

Yoast SEO will automatically fill in the correct structured data with whatever you fill in during the setup of the plugin, or later in the settings of Yoast SEO. You can switch between these two settings in SEO → Search Appearance → General.

Here’s a very high-level overview of the types of structured data we produce. We output a so-called “base script”. This a @graph object in JSON-LD, which describes the Organization or Person, the WebSite and WebPage. These parts are on every page and will be appended with structured data specific to the page you are currently on, so an article on your site will get all of the above plus article Schema.

You can find a complete overview in our Schema documentation, that includes the specification for integrating structured data that we’ve used to build this.

  • The homepage:
    • Based on Person or Organization setting.
    • Uses WebSite for site-level specifics.
    • Uses WebPage for page-level specifics.
  • Single pages: like homepage, plus date information and breadcrumbs.
  • Single posts: adds full Article and Author support, the latter only when the website represents an Organization or the author is not the Person. Supports loads of properties, so see the code example above for an idea of how the Article code works.
  • Taxonomy and date archives: a single page with CollectionPage as WebPage.
  • Post type archives: a single page with CollectionPage as WebPage.
  • Author archives: a single page with ProfilePage and Person.
  • Search result pages: type of WebPage becomes SearchResultsPage.
  • 404 error pages: Like the homepage but without WebPage.

This leads to the following base script generated by Yoast SEO. This will be extended based on which page you are.

{
   "@context":"https://schema.org",
   "@graph":[
      {
         "@type":"Organization",
         "@id":"https://example.com/#organization",
         "name":"Yoast",
         "url":"https://example.com/",
         "sameAs":[
            "https://www.facebook.com/yoast",
            "https://www.linkedin.com/company/yoast-com/",
            "https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yoast",
            "https://twitter.com/yoast"
         ],
         "logo":{
            "@type":"ImageObject",
            "@id":"https://example.com/#logo",
            "url":"https://example.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/Yoast_Logo_tagline_Large_RGB.png",
            "caption":"Yoast"
         },
         "image":{
            "@id":"https://example.com/#logo"
         }
      },
      {
         "@type":"WebSite",
         "@id":"https://example.com/#website",
         "url":"https://example.com/",
         "name":"one.wordpress.test",
         "publisher":{
            "@id":"https://example.com/#organization"
         },
         "potentialAction":{
            "@type":"SearchAction",
            "target":"https://example.com/?s={search_term_string}",
            "query-input":"required name=search_term_string"
         }
      },
      {
         "@type":"WebPage",
         "@id":"https://example.com/#webpage",
         "url":"https://example.com/",
         "inLanguage":"en-US",
         "name":"one.wordpress.test - Just another WordPress site",
         "isPartOf":{
            "@id":"https://example.com/#website"
         },
         "about":{
            "@id":"https://example.com/#organization"
         },
         "description":"Just another WordPress site"
      }
   ]
}

Extras for our add-ons

Local SEO

For local SEO, having correct Schema structured data about your business is essential. Combining this with a Google My Business account, for instance, helps make it clear to search engines what your business is all about. In the new Schema set-up for our Local SEO add-on, we now offer multiple ways to correctly specify what do with a single or multiple physical locations, for instance. Our Local SEO Schema documentation has more information.

Our Local SEO add-on now ties everything in nicely with Yoast SEOs structured data

WooCommerce SEO

For WooCommerce e-commerce sites, our WooCommerce SEO plugin now takes the standard outputted Schema and builds a product graph that actually makes sense. We now make sure everything is connected like it should, for products as well as sellers. Read more about the output in our WooCommerce Schema documentation.

woocommerce schema
Our WooCommerce plugin generates awesome product structured data

News SEO

Our News SEO plugin now converts every article into a NewsArticle, and adds a publication year and copyright holder to give you a better chance of ending up in that coveted Top Stories carousel. More on that in the News SEO Schema documentation.

Built to be extended

We’ve built our Schema framework to be extended. It’s pretty straightforward, and we ask everyone working on these kinds of implementations to adapt this. Together, we can truly put the Linked Data part in JSON-LD and link up large parts of the web — something that benefits us all! Start with the Schema integration guidelines.

Structured data blocks are coming

But wait, there’s more coming! With this intelligent, innovative Schema framework in place, we are working hard on rebuilding and expanding our structured data content blocks for WordPress’ block editor. These blocks help you visually build content like how-to’s, FAQ’s, recipes and job postings. In the background, it automatically generates Schema structured data that neatly ties into the graph we build for that page. How awesome is that! More on that soon.

Update to Yoast SEO 11.0 now

So there you have it. Yoast SEO 11.0 features a brand-new, revolutionary Schema implementation — one that is destined to give search engines all your connections on a silver platter. This is a great development, not only for you and for search engines, but, more importantly, for the web in general.

Great things are coming!

Ps: read more about structured data in our ultimate guide

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Yoast subscriptions: keep your SEO on track

Yoast has been offering subscriptions to our plugins and courses since November of 2018. Lots of happy customers have already purchased a subscription plan! But why would you need a subscription? Isn’t it enough to thoroughly invest in SEO once? What’s the use of an ongoing subscription? I am so glad you asked ;-).

SEO needs commitment

To keep ranking in the search engines, you’ll have to make an ongoing effort. That’s the only way to stay ahead in the search game. So, you’ll have to make sure that your website is awesome. You need to create new, amazing, engaging content. You must structure your website in a way that Google understands it. On top of that, you’ll have to make sure that your site’s technical SEO is flawless and your site’s speed is top notch.

To really get your SEO on track, you need to make it part of your process. It just needs to be something you think about and focus your efforts on very regularly.

SEO courses that’ll keep you up to date

Yoast Academy offers you a wide range of SEO courses for both beginners and people with more experience. We have online training courses that teach you how to write SEO-friendly content and courses that help you set up a decent site structure, as well as courses that teach you everything about technical SEO. Of course, we also have a great course on our own Yoast SEO plugin. These courses are updated regularly.

To stay ahead in SEO, we do a lot of research at Yoast. We talk to people from Google and Bing directly and discuss matters with other SEO experts and companies. All the knowledge we gather is translated into the features of our plugin and into the lessons in our courses.

Subscribe to SEO commitment!

A Yoast subscription will keep you focused on your SEO. But different people have different needs. That’s why we’re offering three subscription plans:

1. Yoast plugin subscription

This plan gives you access to all our premium plugins. The Yoast plugin subscription is the complete toolbox for your site. It saves you a lot of time and effort, and helps you to boost your rankings!

2. Yoast training subscription

Get the Yoast training subscription and you’ll get access to every Yoast Academy training course, including every new course we’ll release. This is a great way to learn all about SEO, to keep ahead of your competition.

3. Yoast plugin + training subscription

The best of both worlds. This plan gives you access to all our premium plugins and every Yoast Academy training course. With this subscription plan, you’ll learn how to optimize every SEO aspect of your site, and you’ll be fully equipped to improve your site’s SEO.

And pay for the time you need!

You can choose to get an annual (best value!) or a monthly subscription. We want to offer people products that are tailored to their needs. That’s why you can choose to pay a small fee per month, rather than paying up front for the whole year.

However, if you already know that you want to:

  • stay on top of your SEO game all day every day,
  • have access to all new courses, and want to
  • save a lot of money in the process,

simply pick our annual subscription. Getting one of our annual subscription plans, will save you over 60%!

Bonus: exclusive premium insights!

On top of all this, there’s something extra in it for you: premium content, exclusively available for subscription members. If you decide to get the Yoast training subscription or the Yoast plugin + training subscription, there’ll be extra premium content available for you in Yoast Academy.

This premium content consists of Q&A sessions, in which our experts answer your SEO questions. Moreover, you’ll get access to exclusive live talks and discussions on the latest SEO developments, with SEO experts like Joost de Valk and Jono Alderson. You don’t want to miss out on this!

Get a Yoast subscription!

Do you want to step up your SEO game? Whether you want to improve your SEO knowledge or to optimize your site with useful SEO tools, a Yoast subscription is what you need. And remember, it’s the only way to get access to exclusive premium content, such as Q&A sessions and live talks! So, don’t wait any longer, go get your Yoast subscription!

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What is keyword stemming?

Google can read and analyze texts very well. Google understands that ‘walk’, walking’, ‘walked’, ‘walks’ all boils down to the same thing. Also, Google knows that ‘baby’ is basically the same thing as babies. Optimizing your text for an exact match keyword isn’t a very smart thing to do. That’s why we introduced word form recognition in Yoast SEO Premium. You can now optimize your post and we’ll analyze the different word forms like walk, walks and walking. For longer tail keywords, we also recognize the words if you decide to use them in a different word order.

So, at Yoast, we talk about word forms, sometimes also about morphology recognition. At the same time, I hear the linguists at Yoast talking about keyword stemming too. And I noticed some SEOs talked about it as well. But what is keyword stemming? How does stemming relate to morphology recognition? And what does it have to do with SEO? I’ll explain all about it in this post.

What is stemming?

Stemming or keyword stemming refers to Google’s ability to understand different word forms of a specific search query. It is called stemming because it comes from the word stem, base or root form. If you use the word ‘buy’ in a sentence, a stemming algorithm would recognize the words ‘buys’, ‘buying’ and ‘bought’ as variations of the word ‘buy’ as well. Some SEOs also differ between stemming and lemmatization.

Google has used stemming in its algorithms for a long time now. The first blog posts about it from SEO experts like Rand Fishkin and Bill Slawski go as far back as 10 years ago. For languages other than English, Google began recognizing word forms much later. In recent years, Google’s algorithm became even more advanced, making exact match keyword optimization more and more outdated.

If you want to optimize your text for the term ballet shoes, for example, you should be able to use the term ballet shoe as well. Google understands that ballet shoes and ballet shoe are basically the same thing. Our Yoast SEO Premium plugin recognizes both word forms as well (at least in English and, since Yoast SEO 10.1, in German).

Stemming and word forms

If people are talking about keyword stemming or a stemming algorithm, they mean that the algorithm is able to recognize different word forms of a certain keyword. That’s exactly what the word forms functionality in Yoast SEO does. We do not automatically detect synonyms, but we do allow you to enter synonyms and we’ll take them into account in our SEO analysis.

Maybe we should have called our word forms functionality stemming. But it’s a difficult word to explain to people. So, that’s why we’ll stick with word forms.

Stemming and SEO

Google has become very smart. It understands texts. It understands context. In order to stand a chance in the search engines, you need to write awesome texts that show your authority on a certain subject. Content stuffed with keywords does not rank anymore. Google hates that, users hate that.

You need to use synonyms and related keywords in your content to make it pleasant to read and to make it rank! You need to use different word forms in order to write a post that is nice to read. Thanks to stemming, we can tell that they belong together. Read more about it in our post about our word form analysis.

Conclusion

The SEO industry has been talking about stemming and lemmatization for over a decade. Our linguists talk about it too. For good reason, because stemming allows them to recognize different word forms. This isn’t “easy”. At Yoast, we have an entire team of linguists working on our SEO and readability analyses. We’re now able to recognize different word forms properly for both English and German. We’re already working on new languages, I know Dutch is high on our list — probably because it’s our native language. Do let me know: which language should we tackle next?

Read more: SEO copywriting: the ultimate guide »

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Yoast SEO 10.1: Wortformen auf Deutsch

A while back we released Yoast SEO 9.0. This was a huge release for us, as we made our SEO analysis smarter. Thanks to something called stemming, i.e. breaking words down to their smallest form to do complex analysis on, we can now detect word forms. Since then, improving your content has become a much more realistic process as the plugin is better at finding your most important words inside your content. In addition, users of Yoast SEO Premium can improve their content using synonyms and related keyphrases. Today, we’re rolling out word form support to a new language: German.

Wortformen auf Deutsch!

While writing a German language article about the joys of Yoast SEO, your keyphrase might be “Die Yoast SEO Analyse richtig verwenden”. As of today, Yoast SEO Premium will now take other forms — for instance, singulars, plurals, comparatives or past-tense variants — of those words into account as well, even if they are spread across a sentence:

  • “Wie verwendet man die Yoast SEO Analyse?”
  • “Wie du die Yoast SEO Analyse richtig verwendest”
  • “Wie ich die Yoast SEO Analyse richtig verwendet habe”
  • und so weiter.

No longer do you have to fight to use the words in the same form as in your focus keyphrase. Awesome right? Word form support makes it a lot easier to improve your text, because the Yoast SEO plugin automatically takes different forms of the same word into account as well. If you write naturally, these words and word forms often end up in your text without you thinking about it. By using word forms, Yoast SEO Premium makes the process of optimizing content more flexible, natural and realistic. It’s liberating!

We’d also like to remind our German language Yoast SEO Premium users that they can use related keyphrases and synonyms. Using these features together, you can use Yoast SEO to paint a complete picture of your subject and have it checked thoroughly. Together, we make your best content yet — enjoyed by both users and search engines!

Read our glossary of terms if you need more insights or watch the video below, this explains some of the concepts mentioned:

And don’t forget the infographic that makes these definitions instantly clear!

Yoast SEO word forms infographics
Focus keyphrase? Synonyms? Word forms? Related keyphrases? Now you know!

Our team of linguists spent a serious amount of time bringing the morphology features to other languages. Following English, German is the first in what will, hopefully, be a long line of languages to receive full language support. Stay tuned to see what’s next!

Other language updates in Yoast SEO 10.1

Besides working on getting German full morphological support, our linguists also worked on improving the current languages. For instance, for Swedish we now use a much improved list of transition words. And thanks to Sílvia Fustegueres, we can introduce a better list of Catalan transition words. Not only that, she helped us increase the recommended sentence length limit for Spanish and Catalan. Now, these are more in line with best practices in these languages. Thanks, Sílvia!

Spring cleaning and enhancements

Spring has arrived and that means it’s time to clean up some stuff. Once every while, we go through the plugin to identify and remove all the functionality that we deprecated. This time we looked at functionality from before Yoast SEO 6.1.

Out with the old, in with the new. Here are some of the other changes in Yoast SEO 10.1. With the demise of Google+ it doesn’t make sense to keep mentions of that, right? In return, we added a LinkedIn profile URL field in the user profiles. We’ve also added a Wikipedia URL field to the social accounts list, to be used in sameAs Schema.org output. We’ve aso removed the og:image:alt tag as it causes potential accessibility issues when sharing content via Facebook.

Update to Yoast SEO 10.1

So there you have it, Yoast SEO 10.1 offers a lot on the language front. Users in the German speaking market can now enjoy everything Yoast SEO and Yoast SEO Premium have to offer. Word form support unlocks a whole range of ways to improve content by using the improved SEO analysis, synonyms and related keyphrases. Yoast SEO has your back!

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Yoast SEO 10.0: Meet the new SEO analysis

It’s been in production for many months, capped off with two months of beta testing, and now it’s finally here: Yoast SEO 10.0! Yoast SEO 10.0 features a new SEO analysis, based on thorough research and fine-tuned with your feedback. More than 100.000 people helped us test this release to make it our best yet. Thanks, everyone! Please welcome to the stage: Yoast SEO 10.0 and its state-of-the-art SEO analysis.

We’d like to celebrate the release of Yoast SEO 10.0 with you. Get 10% off Yoast SEO Premium — today only!

Why change the SEO analysis?

SEO is never done. SEO changes constantly. While the basics keep fairly static, a lot of the playing field is different from years ago. We’ve learned a lot over the years about SEO in general, the importance of language, information extraction, and content analysis, among other things. One thing we learned, was that we should put more effort into researching our recommendations. Turned out we could improve communication about why we do what we do. That’s one of the things we wanted to fix in our new SEO analysis.

Almost a year of research went into Yoast SEO 10.0. We turned every nook and cranny of the SEO analysis upside down and inside out. We combined the insights of many SEO experts, linguists, developers and content specialists with research and common sense to come up with a set of improvements. All this lead to this moment, the release of a new SEO analysis in Yoast SEO 10.0. As of today, optimizing your content with Yoast SEO 10.0 is a lot more realistic.

What changed in Yoast SEO 10.0?

There were so many findings that we spread the development of features. One of the main focus points was improving the way we analyze and handle languages. Yoast SEO had to get smarter. These were no easy fixes, so these were developed separately by our team of linguists. That’s why we launched parts of the new SEO analysis earlier, like keyword distribution, word form and synonym support in Yoast SEO 9.0. The bulk of the changes coming from this project, however, are in this release, Yoast SEO 10.0.

Here are some of the changes you’ll notice once you start optimizing content with the new SEO analysis:

New assessment:

  • A new single H1 assessment: The single H1 assessment checks whether the body of the text contains an H1 at any position other than the very beginning.

Changes to the SEO assessments:

  • Keyphrase density. This assessment now takes the length of the focus keyphrase into account, because it can be much harder to use a longer keyphrase in your text. In the new version, you’ll need to use your longer keyphrase less often in the text than a shorter keyphrase to get a green bullet. In addition, if you write in English, Yoast SEO Premium recognizes various word forms of your focus keyphrase — for instance, [dog], [dogs] or [doggie]. Naturally, your keyword density becomes higher. This is not because you are trying to over-optimize your text, but just because the plugin became smarter. We adjusted the formula so that you do not get penalized.
  • Outbound links. We now show a red bullet instead of an orange one whenever we find no external links in a text. The web is built on links and you can help sustain that by adding relevant outbound links wherever it makes sense.
  • Image alt attributes. As of now, the plugin not only looks at the number of images with alt text on a page but also whether the number of images with the keyphrase in the alt text falls within a certain percentage when you have multiple images, preventing you from over-optimizing.
  • Keyphrase in title. For various languages, we’ll now filter out function words that precede the keyphrase in the title. This means that if you use words like [the], [on] or [what] before your keyphrase in the title, it won’t affect your score. The analysis will understand that you use your keyphrase at the beginning of your title and you’ll get a green bullet.
  • Keyphrase length. In the new Yoast SEO analysis, languages without function word support can have longer focus keyphrases, because there might be function words like the or for between your content words.
  • Keyphrase in subheading. Depending on whether we’ve already added support for your language, different rules apply when it comes to checking if you used the focus keyphrase in the subheading or not. For supported languages, you need to use all content words in your subheading for it to be recognized as reflecting your topic. For non-supported languages, we will check if you used at least half of the words from your keyphrase within a subheading.
  • Text length. We’ve upped the word limit for taxonomy pages to a minimum of 250. This gives you more incentive to write enough, good quality content on your tag and category pages, making it easier for search engines to rank these pages.

Gone from the SEO analysis:

We’ve deprecated the assessments that check the length of your URL and whether your URL contains stopwords.

The rest of the assessments of the SEO analysis remain unchanged. You can find all the different checks in Yoast SEO on the assessment overview page.

New Premium feature: Stale cornerstone content filter

Yoast SEO Premium users also get a new feature: the stale cornerstone content filter. We already offered the possibility to mark your most important posts as cornerstone content, but we’re adding a feature that helps you keep that content fresh. The stale cornerstone content filter helps you keep these updated. It gives you a notification in the WordPress post overview once a cornerstone content article hasn’t been updated in over six months. Here’s how you can use the stale cornerstone content filter.

People love the new SEO analysis

We’ve been beta testing the new SEO analysis with you, our valued user. Many of you gave us very detailed feedback on their experiences with the new SEO analysis. Of course, there are always improvements to be made, but in general, users are positive about the new SEO analysis. Here are a few of the reactions we got, republished with permission:

Yoast has continued to improve the way they help content producers like myself achieve better SEO with respect to our articles and reviews. I’ve grown to trust their prowess in staying up to date with changes in best practices as it relates to Google and other search engines. As a result, my SEO writing has improved, and I tend to trust their opinions when it comes to subtle shifts in content and formatting recommendations. Their newest SEO analysis changes are no exception.

Clint DeBoer, Lakeland, USA

I thought the previous version was good in that it improved the way I wrote and presented my webpages and blogs. However, in my opinion, the new version is more user-friendly and produces better results. I rate it 5 stars.

Jurie Fourie, Pretoria, South Africa

I think Yoast SEO analysis is an awesome tool that has helped improve my online writing immensely. I can’t imagine doing what I love to do without the help of Yoast’s SEO analysis. Yes, it’s a pain in the behind at times. But at the end of the day, SEO analysis is that omnipresent, yet silent content editor and writing coach we all need. Thank you Yoast for building such an outstanding product.

Rod Thomas, Lake Forest, USA

Yoast is constantly analyzing their processes to help me optimize my content. I like that they don’t waste my time with unnecessary analysis. Everything is on point and relevant.

Keith Lauby, Gainesville, USA

I think especially the live marking of text areas is a really good thing. For instance for transition words or keyword distribution, the analysis a tremendously helpful. When I change something, I see the effect it has in real time with no save or refresh necessary. It’s demanding but fun to work with Yoast!

Jacqueline Pohl, Berlin, Germany

It was a great tool before, now it feels more polished and more helpful.

Julia Kaldenhoff, Versailles, France

Keeping the SEO analysis updated

You might think we’d rest on our laurels for a bit after all this hard work, but that’s very far from the truth. Part of the why of this project was to fully update the SEO analysis and to make it easier to keep it up to date. SEO is never done, so we’re never done improving the best SEO plugin out there! We keep researching, testing and tinkering until the end of our days. And, of course, there are a couple of search engines we closely follow that sometimes like to shake things up. We’re ready for that!

How did this come about?

Want to know more about the background of this project? We’ve made a documentary about the process, which you can view below. Or you can read Marieke’s behind the scenes post — she was the project’s lead.

Update now!

That’s Yoast SEO 10.0 for you. We’ve revamped the SEO analysis and made it more relevant and helpful for you. We’ve enriched the feedback you get, so you can improve your content in a more natural, realistic way. Enjoy this new release! As always, we’re open to feedback and we’ll continue to fine-tune our releases based on user feedback.

We’d like to thank all participants in our beta test and, of course, you, for using Yoast SEO!

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Yoast SEO 9.7: Fixes and enhancements

Do you know what’s inching closer? The release of Yoast SEO 10.0, featuring a new and improved SEO analysis! If you’ve participated in our beta test, you know what to expect. If you haven’t, please stay tuned! It’s only a couple of weeks away. In the meantime, we’re keeping up with our two-week release schedule, so now it’s time to present Yoast SEO 9.7. This release mostly concerns bug fixes and enhancements.

Enhancements

There’s a lot happening behind the scenes at Yoast HQ — we’re hard at work at all kinds of cool stuff. Before we present some of that work, we’re going to do some more cleaning up. So let’s go through some of the improvements in Yoast SEO 9.7.

First, something new for Yoast SEO Premium users. If you fill in your related keyphrases for your article, Yoast SEO can now highlight those keyphrases in the text — just click the eye icon. This makes it easier to discover how you use your related words and concepts inside your articles.

In both versions, we’re now providing better feedback for the cornerstone assessment that checks the length of your most important articles. In our never-ending quest for a product that’s accessible for everyone, we’ve improved the accessibility and focus management for the How-To and FAQ structured data blocks. We’ve also improved the headers for the Internal Links feature on the post overview to allow for better translations and accessibility.

Turns out we were using inch marks around the search term in the breadcrumbs, we’ve now replaced these with smart quotes. We’ve also added a description of the SEO and Readability score to the posts and taxonomies overview in mobile view.

Bug fixes in Yoast SEO 9.7

In this release, we’ve fixed some specific bugs. For one, there was a bug where a Flesch Reading Ease score of exactly ninety would trigger incorrect feedback, so we fixed that. Here are some of the other bugs we fixed — you can find all changes in the changelog.

There were instances where the taxonomy sitemap provider would not handle private taxonomies as expected, which meant that sitemaps would not be accessible in specific situations. We fixed that. There were also bugs related to empty Twitter descriptions, and an ‘undefined index’ warning when saving a Facebook image. Also, some people reported the Recalibration Beta not loading on specific server configurations. All fixed!

Coming up soon: Yoast SEO 10.0!

As you can see, this is a regular bug fix release with nothing too spectacular. We’re saving the spectacular stuff for our next release. As I said, Yoast SEO 10.0 is around the corner. You can expect to hear about that real soon. We’re very excited!

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Yoast SEO 9.6: Improving our code

We’re still recuperating from an awesome edition of YoastCon last week, but that won’t keep us from releasing a new version of Yoast SEO. Yoast SEO 9.6 is a bug fix release with an additional focus on improving the code base of the plugin to better adhere to coding standards. Find out what else is new in Yoast SEO 9.6!

A reminder: The beta test toggle will be removed

Testing the new SEO analysis — due for release in Yoast SEO 10.0 — has been a great success. More than 100.000 people are helping us test the new version in real-world situations. We are in awe of those numbers — thanks everyone! All this input will give us enough feedback to improve the new analysis even further before we release it into the wild some time from now. Read more on this beta test in the release post of Yoast SEO 9.4 or find out why you should help us test.

In Yoast SEO 9.6, we will remove the toggle to sign up for the beta as we have more than enough participants and data. If you’ve already enrolled, you can continue using it. After the update, it’s no longer possible to sign up or to reactivate it once you’ve switched it off.

Improving Yoast SEO by using better code standards

One of the main improvements in this release of Yoast SEO is not a new feature or some bug fixes, but something less visible: better code through code standards. Together with the awesome Juliette Reinders Folmer, we’ve embarked on a journey to drastically improve the code of our plugins.

We’re in the process of discarding old standards and embracing new ones. There are lots of reason to use modern standards: from code that’s easier to maintain, to read and to debug. It leads to more consistency and a much more secure code base, hardening it for security risks. At the moment, Yoast SEO is on PHPCS 2.8.1, WPCS 0.10.0, YoastCS 0.4.3, PHPCompatibility 9.1.0, PHPCompatibilityWP 2.0.0.

This is an ongoing process that will eventually lead to a healthier and modern code base that is a joy to develop on. All of this will, of course, ultimately benefit users as well!

Other improvements

In this release, among other things, we’ve removed Schema output from 404 pages as that is not necessary. We’ve also improved the accessibility of the Search Console part of the interface, now show a 404 for empty feeds for non-existing pages (thanks Saša Todorović!) and improved our open source content analysis library (thanks Alexander Varwijk!). You can read the full list of changes in the changelog.

Update now!

There you have it. On the outside, this might seem like a rather small release but there are a lot of improvements under the hood. You might not see it, but adhering to new coding standards streamlines a code base, making it faster, easier to maintain and more secure. We’re continuing to improve our plugins in a two-weekly cycle and there’s a lot of cool stuff down the road.

Thanks for using Yoast SEO!

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