Yoast SEO 11.8: Improving Yoast SEO with the help of the community

Release history tells us that the releases in the months of July and August are usually very quiet. Due to vacations from team members, the focus usually lies on fixing bugs and cleaning up. Not for Yoast SEO 11.8! This new release gives you an enhanced meta box, an improved Schema output and bug fixes, some of which powered by contributors from outside the company! Here, we’ll tell you everything about the all-new Yoast SEO.

Meta box enhancements

The observing Yoast SEO user might have already noticed the changes in the plugin’s meta box the past few releases. In this all-new release, we’ve updated the meta box once more! The advanced tab has been moved to the SEO tab – you’ll find it as a collapsible header now – and the social settings have been updated as well. This is how the meta box looks right now:

metabox 11.8 screencast

We’ve also fixed a bug where the snippet title and meta description fields would still be left-to-right when the website was set to a right-to-left language.

Bug fixes

Of course, we’ve fixed more bugs! In Yoast SEO Premium we’ve fixed a bug where RegEx redirects that started with a forward slash could not be deleted.

And thanks to contributors, Yoast SEO 11.8 also fixes a bug where the plugin used the WP_query->get_posts() function wrong. This could cause the return of wrong results. So, good job, contributors! And that’s not the only contributor fix; find them all in the Yoast SEO changelog!

On top of this, we’ve fixed a bug in Video SEO. You can find the entire changelog here.

Schema updates: we’ve got them!

Were you waiting for the Schema updates again? We’ve got that covered for you!

A quick recap: in Yoast SEO 11.7 we’ve added a subset of HTML tags for the HowTo and FAQ blocks when creating a post. Among those, is the ability to link to other posts. When Google shows your HowTo or FAQ block as a rich search result, they might also display the internal links you added. This way, you can get more people to click through to your content directly, instead of just giving them the full answer in Google search results.

In Yoast SEO 11.8, we’ve also improved the sanitization of the Schema output. This means that with this new update, the plugin has become even more secure.

Contributor Emily Leffler Schulman

Recently, we’ve received no less than 9 contributions from Yoast SEO user Emily Leffler Schulman. At Yoast, we understand why contributing to open source projects is important and it seems like Emily shares the same philosophy as we do! We’ve asked her several questions that might be on the tip of your tongue as well.

Emily is a freelance WordPress and UI developer, and she’s a true problem solver: she works with small business, associations, and universities. You can find more about her on her website.

When asked why she decided to contribute to Yoast, she answered: “Open source projects offer such an amazing opportunity to learn and expand in a team environment. After freelancing for over a decade, I’d found that the technical skills I needed to collaborate with other developers were becoming atrophied so I started contributing to WordPress plugins to stay fresh. Yoast SEO has been a mainstay of every site I’ve built, so it made sense to work on something that was both familiar and valuable to me. ”

She uses Yoast SEO for everything and is a frequent visitor of the Yoast blog as well: “Yoast’s blog posts are really helpful reference material for explaining SEO techniques to my clients in laymen’s terms and the developer portal is a professional go-to for staying abreast of changes in the SEO ecosystem. I’m so impressed by how supportive and positive Yoast’s contributor community is.”

Want to contribute to Yoast SEO?

Do you want to contribute to Yoast SEO just like Emily or the other contributors do? Emily has one last tip for you:

“Just do it! If you’re into making things, open source projects are a great way to give back to something awesome.”

At Yoast, we’d love to be able to write your name in our changelog as well!

Update to Yoast SEO 11.8!

Yoast SEO 11.8 is out now and as always, you can update this through your website’s dashboard. Go update!

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Yoast SEO 11.7: Are podcasts the new blogs?

The last couple of months a true change has been noticeable within the Yoast HQ. That’s why the marketing team is so excited for the newest release of Yoast SEO: 11.7! Every week we share our favorite podcasts with each other. Or we come in earlier and stay in longer to finish a podcast episode and share it. It’s not the most ideal situation to spread awareness for podcasts, though. That’s why in the newest release of Yoast SEO podcasts are now set to index by Google – thank you development team. Now we can get back to less talking and more searching.

Will podcasts replace blog posts?

Unfortunately the obsession with podcasts by some coworkers is not the reason why podcasts are suddenly to be indexed by Google. Google now indexes podcasts through the RSS feeds and displays these in the search results. Previously this was not yet the case, so the feeds in Yoast SEO were set to noindex. This caused podcasts and other feeds to be no indexed. As podcasts are getting more and more popular, you do want to be able to be found on Google as well and not just through mouth to mouth and through the podcast apps.

A few years ago the buzz went around the web that blogging was dead. And look at blogs today: they’re still alive and kicking. Podcasts will not replace radio, just as ebooks are not replacing the printed books. And blogs are still as relevant as ever! And you can translate your podcasts into blog posts as well.

Schema, Schema, Schema

By now you probably know the 11.x releases of Yoast SEO are all about Schema. And if you didn’t yet know, you can read up about what it is in this ultimate guide. To give you a quick summary: Schema.org takes care of all the structured data needs on your website. Search engines can pick up data marked up this way to understand it better. We couldn’t have released Yoast SEO 11.7 without Schema improvements!

It’s now possible to use a subset of HTML tags in the FAQ and HowTo blocks! This means that you can now add links in your blocks and with a bit of luck, Google will show these links in your FAQ or HowTo rich results. Why this is useful, you might wonder? With this feature, you will give people more reasons to click through to your content and they won’t just stay on Google to read what you’ve written. We’ve also fixed a bug where the avatar in the knowledge graph settings would incorrectly overwrite the default user profile picture.

UX improvements and bug fixes in Yoast SEO Premium

Both Yoast SEO and Yoast SEO Premium have gotten quite some usability enhancements, bug fixes and accessibility improvements. In Yoast SEO Premium we’ve improved several messages regarding the internal linking tool. You’ll now get more accurate feedback when we’ve calculated the prominent words for a text, but no matching articles to link to were found. Also, the site-wide internal linking analysis now comes with more extensive explanation texts.

To see all enhancements in Yoast SEO Premium, read the Yoast SEO Premium changelog here.

Local SEO updates

Are you wondering whether you should start a local ice-cream parlor that also delivers at home in the direct area this summer? Our Local SEO plugin has gotten quite some attention this release! Not only did we pay attention to the user experience, but we’ve also fixed bugs with the 12h and 24h notation. Check the full Local SEO changelog here.

PS: if you have a bakery, a local company or any other local store, these improvements are, of course, for you as well!

Update to Yoast SEO 11.7

It’s always smart to keep your software up to date. But if you’re not yet convinced to hit that update button right now: Yoast SEO 11.7 gives you more Schema advantages and has slight plugin improvements to get and stay ahead of your competition!

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The beginner’s guide to Yoast SEO

Imagine you have a website but know nothing about SEO. But you’ve heard about Yoast SEO and people have told you it’s a great tool for effortlessly optimizing your site and its pages for Google, Bing, and Yandex. So you install the Yoast SEO plugin or the Yoast SEO extension and follow the instructions. What’s next? While it’s unlikely that your website will be right at the top of Google within a week, our plugin helps you to optimize your website for search engines. It does that well, but it still needs your input.

This beginner’s guide to Yoast SEO explains the basics of SEO as covered by our plugin. Let’s go through the steps every user should take when trying the Yoast plugin, and take the first steps in optimizing your site.

It’s a beginner‘s guide to Yoast SEO

Before we start, take note that this isn’t a guide to every single detail of our plugin. In this post, we’ll show you some important things we think you should use or configure. Our plugin has quite a few settings, so it’s good to know which you should configure first. If you have a site-specific question about a particular setting in the plugin, you could also check out the Yoast Knowledge Base.

In this post, we’ll cover:

  • Configuring Yoast SEO: configuration wizard
  • Using the Yoast SEO metabox
  • A bit more advanced: Yoast Dashboard

    Configuring Yoast SEO: configuration wizard

    Our Yoast SEO configuration wizard is a great place to start configuring your plugin. You’ll find it at Yoast SEO > General > Dashboard:

    yoast seo configuration wizard 1

    The configuration wizard guides you through several steps that help you configure our plugin to suit the needs of your site. Even if your website has already been around for a while, you can still run the wizard every now and then. Just to make sure your settings are up to date. Each step of the wizard includes questions, the answers to which will determine particular settings.

    Read more: The Yoast SEO configuration wizard and why you should use it »

    Other settings

    Of course, there are many aspects to SEO, and many more settings you could tweak in the plugin. But we set the configuration wizard in such a way that it already configures the plugin’s general settings correctly for your website. So you can focus on what’s most important – your content!

    Using the Yoast SEO metabox

    Of course, any Beginner’s guide to Yoast SEO should extensively cover the metabox. The Yoast SEO metabox will help you optimize your content as you’re writing it in the backend. If you’re using the Block Editor, you’ll find the it on the right side of the editor, as well as underneath the editor. Here, you’ll find a few tabs, two of which we’ll discuss here.

    • A tab where you can insert the word or phrase you want to optimize the page for – the focus keyphrase. This tab also includes the SEO analysis.
    • A tab for the readability analysis. The checks in this tab help you write the best copy you can, so you can serve your audience great content.

    Let’s go through the checks in each tab, and explore which other things you can set in the metabox.

    The readability analysis

    The first step in optimizing your post or page is making sure it’s nice to read for your audience. Since SEO is one of those areas where content is indeed king, we provide a convenient readability analysis for you. That’s because we understand not everyone has the skills to easily create readable content. Use the readability analysis when you’re writing a new post, or directly after, depending on what works best for you.

    Now let’s see what’s in our readability analysis:

    As you can see, we analyse many different aspects of your text:

    Why is readability important?

    If you’re going to write website content, you need to understand that online and offline writing are two different things. While we take the time to sit down and read the great stories in books, or the articles in magazines, we tend to quickly scan, process and use the things we read online. This post isn’t a page in a book. It’s information for you to process, like most online pages are, and we wrote our readability analysis with that purpose in mind. Check out our post on ease of reading and SEO to find out more!

    Government rulings and readability

    As you may know, Yoast is based in the Netherlands, where the law requires that the text on all government websites should be at B2: Upper intermediate level. It’s a rule that makes sure that every citizen, regardless of the level of education, can read and understand the information on these websites. We aim to help them with that.

    • Readability score: the Flesch Reading Ease test makes sure every reader can understand your writing. If you are writing for a more educated audience, a lower score is acceptable – it’s a guideline, you decide how strictly to follow it.
    • Use of passive voice: passive voice distances you from the reader, while active voice is much more engaging. It’s almost impossible to write a ‘natural’ article without any passive voice at all, which is why we ‘allow’ 10% passive voice in our analysis.
    • Consecutive sentences: if your text contains three or more sentences in a row all starting with the same word, it may become a bit repetitive. We encourage you to mix things up!
    • Use of headings and subheadings: Headings help you group topics, which makes a text easier to process, which means that people can scan your pages faster.
    • Paragraph length: long paragraphs in an online article are more difficult to understand as readers find themselves lost in all the words. Bite-sized chunks of text are easier to process.
    • Sentence length: while in a book you can stretch a sentence over half a page, shorter sentences are much easier to read online. We use 20 words as a target length.
    • Use of transition words to help improve the ‘flow’ of your page. They send a signal to your visitors that something is coming up and prepares them for the next sentence. You’ll find that the recommendation of using transition words in 30% of your sentences isn’t that hard to do.

    If you want more insight into how we decided on all these criteria, see Content analysis: methodological choices explained. By the way, our readability analysis works for many languages, such as English, Spanish, Dutch, French, German, and Italian. Here’s an overview of which features are available per language.

    Snippet preview

    In addition to the checks in the metabox, we provide an editable snippet preview. In the Block Editor, you can find it near the top of the sidebar, or underneath the editor, under the ‘SEO’ tab. The snippet preview shows you how the Yoast plugin displays your page to Google and other search engines. In other words, it gives an idea of how your site would appear in the search results.

    In the snippet preview, you can set a meta description. Make an effort and write a meta description that clearly reflect what your post or page is about. Let people know they’ll find what they’re looking for on your site and entice them to visit your site. There’s no guarantee that Google will display your meta description in the results pages. But if the meta description you add here is very good, you’ll increase the odds.

    SEO Analysis

    The next step is optimizing your content for your focus keyphrase to rank in the search engines. You can enter your keyphrase at the top of the sidebar in the block editor, or at the top of the ‘SEO’ tab. Just so we’re clear: entering a keyphrase here doesn’t guarantee that you’ll rank for that keyphrase. Unfortunately, we can’t make that happen for you. What we can do, is evaluate how well your content is optimized to rank for that specific keyphrase.

    Our SEO analysis currently includes the following checks:

    In the image, you can see how we analyze different aspects of your text:

    • Keyphrase in subheading: subheadings are a prominent part of your article. Add your focus keyphrase to a few of your subheadings, so its importance is clear.
    • Keyphrase distribution: you need to mention your keyphrase often enough in your text, but good balance is key. That’s why we check if your keyphrase is evenly distributed throughout your text.
    • Image alt attributes: add images to create a better experience for your users. Use the focus keyword in the ALT text so that Google can relate that image to the keyword.
    • SEO title width: a short page title allows you to add a trigger for a visitor from Google to click to your website.
    • Outbound links: we encourage sites to link to other websites as well, as this opens up the web. Link to other websites that back up the points in your blog posts, or provide further information. This will help Google work out which websites relate to each other on what subjects.
    • Internal links: to set up a proper site structure, link to at least one other related page on your site. It keeps visitors on your site and shows them more (background) information.
    • Keyphrase in introduction: you want to make clear right from the start what the page is about, so try to add the focus keyphrase from the start.
    • Keyphrase length: If a keyword is too short, you’re probably targeting a super competitive keyword, whereas longer keyphrases make it harder to optimize your post. So, we recommend a maximum of four relevant keywords for your focus keyphrase.
    • Keyphrase density: In the free version of Yoast SEO, you’ll get a green bullet if your keyphrase density lies between 0.5 and 3%. That’s to make sure you use your keyphrase enough, without over-optimizing.
    • Keyphrase in meta description: add a meta description that includes the focus keyword. People searching for that term on Google may see this in search results, so make it enticing to click on.
    • Meta description length: We advise to keep your meta description between 120 characters and 156 characters.
    • Previously used keyphrase: you should optimize a page for a certain keyword – not an entire website. So don’t create pages that compete with each other! Yoast SEO will warn you if you write more than one post about the same keyword. A simple solution is to use a variation or a long tail keyword
    • Text lenght: if you want your page to rank for a specific keyword, you need to write at least 300 words on the subject. Otherwise, search engines will have a hard time grasping your topic, and might even consider your page ‘thin content‘ – and you want to avoid that.
    • Keyphrase in title: if you add your focus keyword at the beginning of your page title, it will have the most value. Also, it will immediately stand out when your post is shared
    • Keyphrase in slug: repeat your focus keyword in your URL. This makes it clear – even out of context – what your page is about. And Google also likes seeing it in there.

    For an overview of all checks in the Yoast plugin, check out the Yoast SEO assessment page.

    If you have Yoast SEO Premium, the plugin will recognize word forms, and allows you to optimize for keyword synonyms as well. Our premium analysis is as smart as Google, why not give it a spin?

    Next level: Cornerstone content

    If your page is the main page for a particular topic or keyword in a group of pages you plan to write, you can mark it as cornerstone content. There’s a toggle for that in the Yoast SEO metabox, so Yoast SEO can help you you create your best cornerstone articles. But, how to implement a cornerstone content strategy on your site isn’t a subject for a beginner’s guide to Yoast SEO! It might be wise to take our Site structure course first :)

    A bit more advanced: Yoast Dashboard

    Of course, there is so much more you can do with Yoast SEO. You can access and change many settings of the plugin in the Yoast Dashboard. There’s usually no need to change anything. Especially if you’re an inexperienced user, it’s wise to stick to the settings you set running the configuration wizard. But let’s have a quick look around to give you an idea of what the options are.

    Search Appearance

    If you go to Yoast > Search Appearance, you can adjust how your site appears in search engines. Take the ‘Title Separator’, for instance. In the configuration wizard, you can choose whether you want a dash, asterisk, or something else. But, if you change your mind later, you can always change it here.

    search appearance yoast seo

    In ‘Search Appearance’, you can change, among other things, how our plugin sets up your titles and metas. Go to the tab ‘Content Types’, where you will find the default template we use for your post titles. It’s good to know it’s there and realize what you can configure.

    This simply means we will use the title of your page or post as the page title, and add the page number if your post is divided over multiple pages. Then we add a title separator (which we discussed in the first paragraph on this section) and then the site name you have set when creating your site. So, following this setup, the title for this Beginner’s guide to Yoast SEO post looks like this:

    Beginner's guide to Yoast SEO: page titles

    Note that this example doesn’t include a page number after the page title, as this post is just one page.

    This is the setup we recommend. It’s focused on the page title (“Beginner’s guide to Yoast SEO”) and has proper branding at the end (“Yoast”).

    The reason why I’ve drawn your attention to this setting, is that you should know it’s there, so you don’t have to look for it in the future. This is why your titles are shown like this in Google searches.

    Keep reading: Snippet variables in Yoast SEO »

    Yoast SEO for beginners

    That’s it for our beginner’s guide to Yoast SEO. With Yoast SEO properly installed, your website is ready for Google. You now can get on track adding and optimizing your content with the Yoast readability analysis and SEO analysis!

    Here’s a few more reading recommendations, in case you really want to become a pro user of the Yoast SEO plugin:

    If you want all this information and more, neatly structured in one place, and with helpful videos, check out our Yoast SEO for WordPress plugin training!

    Read on: Why every website needs Yoast SEO »

    The post The beginner’s guide to Yoast SEO appeared first on Yoast.

How to Yoast your post

Do you want your articles to be as well optimized as possible? Do you aim for that number 1 position in the search results? And do you madly chase traffic and clicks? It’s not easy to achieve all these things entirely on your own, but luckily, Yoast is here to help. In this post, we’ll talk you to the process of optimizing your post in the best possible way. We’ll explain the five steps on how to Yoast your post.

Writing comes first, Yoast comes second

Optimizing your post is important, but should never come first. Writing has three phases. It doesn’t really matter if you’re writing a blog post or an article, or a novel even. First, you prepare, then you write and finally you edit. In that final editing phase, you will be able to Yoast your post.

Preparation is key

Before you start writing an article you should ask yourself some questions: What will be the main message of your post? What do you want to tell people? And: who are my readers? What search terms do I want to be found for?

You need to know who you are writing for and what their goal, or search intent is. What does that mean for the keywords you should use to be found in the search engines? You should take some time to think about what you want to tell your audience and what the structure of your text will look like. Preparing your blog post is crucial. If you do not think about these questions long and hard, you’ll make mistakes like addressing the wrong audience, focusing on the wrong keywords or writing an article that’s badly structured and unfocused.

Write your content

After you’ve thoroughly prepared your blog post or article, you can start the writing phase. Make sure to start with filling out your focus key phrases and synonyms. What are the terms you want to be found for?

Writing should be something you just do. In the preparing-phase you have thought about what you’re going to write, so, in the writing phase, you should just go with the flow. Don’t overthink. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. You’ll have the third – and most important phase- to correct and Yoast your post.

Editing: let’s Yoast it!

In the final phase, the editing phase, you’ll be able to really Yoast your post. So, let’s look at the five steps you should take in order to optimize your post to the max.

  1. Make sure your text is readable

    The first step on how to Yoast your post is to check out our readability analysis. You could keep an eye on our readability analysis during your writing phase too, if you like. If your overall readability analysis is green, you’re good to go. But, perhaps, you use sentences that are a little bit too long. Or, you have been using the passive voice too often. Correct those readability issues and make your text nice and easy to read. Check out our article about the readability analysis for more tips.

  2. Check out your snippet preview

    You want people to click on your results in the search result pages. In order to make your result stand out, you need to write a kickass meta description. Let people know they’ll find what they’re looking for on your site! So make an effort and choose a title and a meta description that really stands out. Read our article on how to use Yoast SEO to write an awesome meta description if you want more practical tips.

  3. Which SEO bullets need improvement?

    The third step on how to Yoast your post is to check out the SEO analysis. Which aspects of your SEO need improvement? Perhaps you should use your keyword or its synonym a bit more often? Or maybe you’re already overdoing it? What about headings and images?

    Check out the problems and improvements the Yoast SEO analysis indicates. Usually, you can easily make some tweaks that’ll make your copy a little better optimized for the search engines. But don’t overdo it! You do not need all green bullets. If your overall SEO bullet is green, you’re good to go!

  4. Add those internal links

    To really Yoast your post, we would advise you to take some time to think about your internal linking structure and to work on improving it. Are you linking to your most important articles? Are you linking to the articles that are most closely related to the article you’re currently writing? Make sure your site structure is tip-top. This will pay off in terms of rankings. Read more about the power of internal linking in our article about why you should use Yoast internal linking.

  5. Read and reread!

    Our SEO analysis is a tool. It is not just any tool, we’ve thoroughly evaluated all of the checks in a recent recalibration project. That being said, it remains a tool. You should always think for yourself. Read your blog post after you’re done editing and optimizing. Reread it. Let other people read it. That’s the final step to get your blog post to that next level.

Yoast your post

Writing is hard. Optimizing your post is hard. Yoast tries to make it a bit more easy for you. We’ll check things and make suggestions for improvements. We’ll help you to Yoast your post. But in the end, it’ll always remain hard work.

Good luck! Let’s Yoast it!

The post How to Yoast your post appeared first on Yoast.

Yoast SEO 11.6: HowTo Schema update and UI changes

Yoast SEO 11.6 is out today. Of course, we did the regular round of bug fixing, but the focus of this release is two-fold: a new, much easier to use tabbed interface for the meta box and an updated HowTo structured data content block for WordPress. Find out all about Yoast SEO 11.6!

Looking for an extra pair of hands to help you improve your site? Yoast SEO Premium is all you need. Get it now for 11.6% off! »

UX improvements to the meta box

This summer, we’re steadily improving the user interface and user experience of the Yoast SEO meta box. As this is the spot where you probably spend quite some time, we have an obligation to make it easy to use and discover.

After moving the focus keyphrase field to the top of the meta box in Yoast SEO 11.3 and introducing the new mobile snippet preview in Yoast SEO 11.4, you’ll now find a new menu at the top of the box, including a new set of tabs. As of today, this is how the meta box looks in the Classic Editor:

In Yoast SEO 11.6, you’ll notice that we’ve changed the old vertical alignment of menu items to a horizontal one. This makes it easier on the eyes and improves the findability of the features.

In addition, you’ll notice that the old content optimization tab in the meta box is now two tabs: one called SEO and the other Readability. Both have smiley icons that light up showing you the status of that particular post. The naming of the tabs should be self-explanatory, but inside the SEO tab you’ll find the snippet preview and SEO-related checks. The Readability tab has everything related to improving the language of your post.

Look forward to more graphical changes soon!

Revamped HowTo structured data implementation

The free Yoast SEO structured data content blocks for the WordPress block editor make it incredibly easy for you to add specific content with automatically attached Schema structured data. Want to build an FAQ and get those cool new featured snippets from Google? Use our FAQ content block. Want to enhance your how-to guides with valid structured data and build a page without breaking a sweat? Use our HowTo content blocks.

In Yoast SEO 11.6, you’ll see that the new HowTo blocks are nicely following Google’s latest changes. In addition, all the structured data code generated will now also end up in the graph of your website. This tells search engines that your how-to page is connected to the rest of your site. For more information on this, please see the Yoast SEO 11.0 release post or read our Schema documentation.

An empty HowTo content block in the block editor. Just fill in the fields to get going

Schema fixes

The updated HowTo content blocks are the star of this release, but we’ve also fixed several Schema related bugs. For instance, we fixed a bug where the Schema @id for Person turned out to be incorrect on posts when author archives where disabled, or the one where the Schema would contain WebPage instead of CollectionPage for a latest posts homepage and the static posts page type. Another one concerned a bug where the Organization and Article Schema nodes outputted incorrectly when a website didn’t set the name and/or logo of the organization.

Security fix

Yoast SEO 11.6 also fixes a security issue regarding term pages in WordPress. Unfiltered code was allowed in some fields. This, however, does not pose a problem for single user sites. In specific cases, on multisite installs, this might become an issue because of the way user roles function.

Update to Yoast SEO 11.6

Yoast SEO 11.6 brings more structured data enhancements, including a much improved HowTo structured data content block. We’re continuing our work on the Schema standard and hope to have more to show soon. Don’t forget to check out the blocks.

The post Yoast SEO 11.6: HowTo Schema update and UI changes appeared first on Yoast.

The Yoast SEO configuration wizard

Have you ever done a fresh install of Yoast SEO for WordPress on your WordPress website? Or perhaps you haven’t installed Yoast SEO yet, and you’re wondering what to expect? Perhaps the better question would be: have you ever tried our Yoast SEO configuration wizard? Our wizard takes care of all the little things that you should configure in Yoast SEO. Things that you might forget in your eagerness to get started with your newly set up website. But how do you start the configuration wizard? And what exactly do we cover in each step? Let’s dive in!

Where can I find the Yoast SEO configuration wizard?

Of course, you want to jump right in and configure the plugin, using that Yoast SEO configuration wizard. Once you have installed the Yoast SEO plugin, you’ll see this notification in Yoast SEO > General > Dashboard:

The configuration wizard helps you to easily configure your site to have the optimal SEO settings.
We have detected that you have not finished this wizard yet, so we recommend you to start the configuration wizard to configure Yoast SEO.

There is a link in this message, which takes you to the Yoast SEO configuration wizard.

Configuration wizard notification in Yoast SEO dashboard

Note that if this isn’t the first time you’re using the configuration wizard, you’ll still find a link to run the wizard again, but the message will instead say:

Want to make sure your Yoast SEO settings are still OK? Open the configuration wizard again to validate them.

The wizard

Once you’ve opened the wizard, we’ll guide you through the steps via a few questions. If you answer these, we’ll implement the right settings for your website, based specifically on your answers.

Step 1: Is your site ready to be indexed?

Yoast SEO configuration wizard step 1

The first question determines whether you want your site to be indexed or not. The reason we ask, is that one of the most important checks in our plugin determines whether Google can index your site or not. Google needs to be able to reach your website and index it, unless you don’t want that. And there could be good reasons why you might not want that: perhaps you’re working on a development site, on a staging server or just don’t want the public to see your site yet. If that’s the case, no problem! Just set your preference in the first step of our wizard, then click ‘next’ to continue.

Step 2: What kind of site do you have?

Yoast SEO configuration wizard step 2

In the next step, we will ask you about the type of site you have. It could be a blog or an online shop, but might as well be a news site or a portfolio.

One of the reasons we ask this question is because it’s essential for you to take a moment and think about this. What is your site about? Having a clear idea of this will help you focus on what’s important for you site.

Let’s take yoast.com, for example. We have two different sections on our website yoast.com:

  • Our blogs: an SEO blog and a dev blog. In these blogs, we share knowledge about both SEO and software development in all its facets.
  • Our online shop. We run an online shop and you’ll find our premium plugins and online courses in there.

Following our mission, “SEO for everyone”, both parts of our website are equally important. Sharing knowledge is our main goal. We use our products to provide even more insights and tools, or to deliver our knowledge to you in a structured package.

So, decide for yourself what your answer to this question should be. That’ll make it easier to configure several features of our plugin and, in fact, of your website later on. For us, as plugin developers, the information we get from this question is also useful for future improvements. For instance, it can help us to prioritize future additions to our plugin for specific types of sites.

Step 3: Is it you or an organization?

Yoast SEO configuration wizard step 3

For the right metadata, we ask you to choose between organization and person here. Is your website about you, or an organization you represent? If you are a person, we would like to include your name. If you are a company, you can add the name and logo.

This information will be included in the metadata of your website, with the goal to provide Google with the right information for their Knowledge Graph. The Knowledge Graph is the block of information you see on the right-hand side of the search results, for instance when you do a company search for Sony or Apple.

In addition to your name or company name, we also ask you to let us know which social profiles you have. Again, so we can provide Google with the right information for their Knowledge Graph. Google seems keen on delivering answers to their visitors right away, so you’d better make sure your information is on Google.

With social being a part of the Knowledge Graph, and your website being linked on all your social profile pages, be sure to fill this out as completely as possible.

Step 4: To show or not show posts and pages

Yoast SEO configuration wizard step 4

The description in the image below is pretty clear: this is where you can set posts and pages to hidden or visible for the search engines. If you already know that you don’t want posts on your site to show up in the search results, you can set this to ‘no’. Not sure? Read more about indexing in Yoast SEO.

Step 5: How many people are publishing content on your site?

Yoast SEO configuration wizard step 5

We want to know if your website has multiple authors. There’s a reason for that: when your site only has one author, WordPress will still generate author pages. And if you write all the content on your blog yourself, your blog page will show the exact same collection of posts as your author page. Which, indeed, is duplicate content.

We call something duplicate content when the majority of a page is the same as the content on another page. Google will get confused, won’t know what page to rank first, and might decide to rank both a bit less. You obviously want to prevent that. As we can guide you in this case, we added this check to our Yoast SEO configuration wizard.

Step 6: Optimizing your page title

This step in the wizard asks you to think about your branding. The website name you enter here is the name that our default page title template will put at the end of each page title. The default page title template looks like this:
title - page - sep - sitename

Yoast SEO configuration wizard step 6

The last part of that template is sitename, and that’s what you fill out here. Be sure to add it, but keep it short, so the focus will be on the page or post title. It’s nice to have some of your branding in here so people will recognize your pages in the search result pages. If they already know you and your site, they’re more likely to click on one of your links.

The third part of the page template is sep, which stands for separator. A page title that follows our template could be “Some title of a post – Yoast”. The hyphen in there is the separator you set at this step in the Yoast SEO configuration wizard. Using an uncommon separator might make you stand out from your competitors in the search result pages. You could also choose to pick the smallest separator, to squeeze in another character or two.

Read more: Titles and meta variables in Yoast SEO »

Step 7: Awesome tips and new products in your inbox

Yoast SEO configuration wizard step 7

As SEO is an ongoing process, our goal is to keep you up-to-date on any changes in Google’s search result pages or Google’s algorithm. We do that by posting on our SEO blog, but also with our newsletter. In the newsletter, we highlight new developments in search, in WordPress, and in our company – if relevant. Simply insert your email address, and we’ll keep you in the loop on all things SEO!

Step 8: Upsell: you might like…

Call it whatever you want (upsell, spam, useful information), but we have to tell you about our premium plugin in our configuration. Because we deliver incredibly useful SEO extras with that premium plugin, for a reasonable price. To name but a few:

  • Better keyword optimization, because you can optimize not only for your focus keyword, but also for synonyms, and taking word forms into account.
  • What about a redirect manager? We’ll not only show you your 404s, but will also make it very easy to redirect, and thereby fix them.
  • Social previews, so you’ll know exactly what your website will show on Facebook and Twitter, and the option to tweak that.
  • A year of updates for all premium features, so your entire plugin will always be 100% up-to-date.
  • Email support for as long as you have Premium. This means you can email our 24/7 support team with any questions you have about the plugin.
Yoast SEO Configuration wizard step 8

In addition, we offer some hands-on online courses to improve your SEO game even more. Be sure to check them out; you can always decide later which SEO aspects you want more guidance on.

Step 9: Get started with the Yoast SEO and readability analysis

All the steps above have one goal: prepare you and your website for SEO. But while this wizard will help you get the general settings of your plugin right, your job optimizing your content is far from done.

Yoast SEO configuration wizard step 9

If you have used our plugin before, you’ll know it also analyses your content in real time, while you write your posts or pages. On the page/post edit screen, where you write your content, you’ll find this analysis in the sidebar and the so-called meta box. For more insights into how to use the SEO and readability analysis, we finish our Yoast SEO configuration wizard with a helpful video. It tells you more about that specific part of the plugin, so you don’t just set it and forget it. Be sure to watch that video!

The configuration wizard makes things easier for everyone

Now you know why you should give our Yoast SEO configuration wizard a spin, and why it asks certain questions. The wizard’s got you covered by setting things correctly under the hood of your website, so you can focus your efforts on optimizing your content.

Ready for the next step in using Yoast SEO? Check out our beginner’s guide to Yoast SEO. And, if you want to learn all the ins and outs of our plugin, get the Yoast SEO for WordPress training!

The post The Yoast SEO configuration wizard appeared first on Yoast.

Yoast SEO 11.5: An updated mobile preview + favicon!

Yoast SEO 11.5 is out today. This release features a big change that gives you a better idea of how searchers see your snippets on mobile. Yep, we’ve overhauled the mobile snippet preview and brought it up-to-date with Google’s latest changes. And that, of course, includes that shiny favicon. Here’s Yoast SEO 11.5. 

Revamped mobile snippet preview

In Yoast SEO 11.5, the main star is the overhauled mobile snippet preview. This preview shows you how your search result will appear in the mobile search results. It looks exactly like a mobile search result in Google, including bolded keywords and a favicon.

In this release, we’re using the default favicon Google uses when they can’t find a favicon on your site. In a future release, we’re going to extract the favicon from your site and show it here, right in the snippet preview. How cool is that.

Of course, you can switch between the mobile and desktop views to see the differences between the search results.

The improved mobile snippet preview and the new location of the focus keyphrase in the Yoast SEO meta box

The focus keyphrase field in the block editor

We’re cleaning up the interface of the meta box and snippet preview to improve user experience and discoverability. In the previous release, we moved the focus keyphrase input field to a new location, right at the top of the meta box. Now, this all-important feature has the prominent place it deserves. You can see the new location of the focus keyphrase in the meta box in the screenshot above.

In the block editor, you’ll find the field at the top of the sidebar. See the screenshot on the right. It works the same as before, but it is now in a much more prominent place.

Only a little bit of Schema this time

After all the Schema structured data additions and finetuning, we’re taking it a bit easier in Yoast SEO 11.5. Regarding structured data, the only thing we’ve changed in this release is take out the primary image for a page of the WebPage piece and move it into its own graph piece. This way, it easier for search engines to discover the relation between the image, the page and the entities.

Update to Yoast SEO 11.5

Yoast SEO 11.5 isn’t a huge release, but the updated mobile snippet preview alone is worth the price of admission. The snippet preview is an essential tool to help you stand out in the search results, so use it to your advantage! 

The post Yoast SEO 11.5: An updated mobile preview + favicon! appeared first on Yoast.

Yoast SEO 11.4: FAQ structured data in the graph

Yoast SEO 11.4 is out today. This release features loads of structured data improvements. We’ve improved the way Yoast SEO Schema works with AMP, plus we’ve enhanced our FAQ blocks and added them to the graph. Find out what Yoast SEO 11.4 is all about!

First: Our next live SEO webinar is coming up! Be sure to join us on June 26 for the Big “Is it a ranking factor??!!” Show! »

Once again: Schema

We’re still working hard on making our new structured data implementation even more awesome. In Yoast SEO 11.4, we’re not only improving the way we handle some things, but also reintroducing our FAQ structured data blocks.

As a reminder, please read our Schema documentation if you are interested in why we’re doing this and how it all came together. The release post of Yoast SEO 11.0 has a lot of background information as well.

FAQ structured data now in the graph

One of the latest rich results Google shows is the FAQ. To stand a chance of getting these highlighted in Google, you not only need an FAQ on your page but also FAQPage structured data. Luckily, Yoast SEO comes with structured data content blocks for adding FAQ pages to your site. These only work with the WordPress block editor.

The Yoast SEO structured data blocks let you add FAQ content quickly

The blocks are incredibly easy to work with:

  • Pick the FAQ block
  • Add a question
  • Give an answer to that question
  • Add an image, if necessary
  • Repeat for all your question for this particular FAQ

Our blocks automatically generate valid FAQPage structured data in the background. Google is now ready to pick it up, like it did with this page:

The Yoast Diversity Fund page has a nice FAQ listing

In Yoast SEO 11.4, we’ve improved the code generated by our FAQ structured data block following Google’s latest changes. In addition, we made sure all data is nicely stitched into our graph. For FAQ pages, search engines now not only can identify these pages as an FAQ but they can also figure out how these pages fit in the grander scheme of things.

To get this done — and to make it as flexible as possible —, we’re introducing a new action and a new filter. The wpseo_pre-schema_block-type_<block-type> action allows you to change the graph output based on the blocks on the page. The wpseo_schema_block_<block-type> filter lets you filter graph output per block.

You can read more about this new API in our Gutenberg Blocks Schema documentation.

Now also on Reader mode AMP pages

The new Yoast SEO Schema implementation works perfectly well with modern AMP pages, but there where some issues with the Reader mode (formerly known as Classic mode). These issues have now been fixed.

The focus keyphrase field is now right at the top

UX improvements

We’re doing a number of design changes to clean up the sidebar and meta box in order to improve UX. In this release, we’ve moved the Focus keyphrase field to the top of the meta box and sidebar, making this essential item much easier to find. We’ve also linked the SEO and readability scores in the Classic Editor. A click on these items now leads to the corresponding fields in the Yoast SEO meta box below. Stay tuned for more UX improvements in coming versions of Yoast SEO.

Update now

In the release cycle ending with Yoast SEO 11.4, we’ve fixed a number of bugs and enhanced our Schema implementation. The FAQ is the next item to be added to the graph and there’s more coming up. We’ve also started work on improving the UX of the meta box, making it easier to use and enhance the discoverability of the features.

Find all changes in the changelog for Yoast SEO 11.4.

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Yoast SEO 11.3: Even more enhancements

High-time for another release, namely Yoast SEO 11.3. This release features enhancements and bug fixes aimed at improving the way your favorite SEO plugin performs. In this post, you’ll find everything you need to know about Yoast SEO 11.3! Plus, a word on supporting older versions of WordPress and helping people upgrade their PHP versions.

But first: on supporting older version of WordPress

While developing Yoast SEO, we’ve always had a rule of supporting the two most recent versions of WordPress. This helped us focus our efforts on the platforms that needed it most. With the release of WordPress 5.0, we stretched that rule. We kept supporting WordPress 4.9, because we wanted to give users ample time to get ready to switch to WordPress 5.0 and its new editor — or keep using the Classic Editor, of course.

Now, as soon as WordPress 5.3 comes out, Yoast SEO will go back to supporting the two most recent versions — WordPress 5.2 and 5.3 in this case. We’d also like to urge users to upgrade their PHP software on their hosting platforms to at least 5.6, the minimum requirement of WordPress 5.2. Better yet, if possible, we’d like everyone to make the jump to the 7 series of PHP. Everyone will thank you!

Joost wrote a post explaining why we have this policy and why we’re deciding to go back to it.

With that said, let’s move on to Yoast SEO 11.3.

Enhancements and fixes

As in the last couple of releases, we’re still fine-tuning and improving our new Schema implementation. We launched this huge addition in Yoast SEO 11.0 and we’ve been stunned by the enthusiastic reception it got. But, of course, we won’t rest on our laurels just yet.

In Yoast SEO 11.3, we’re now letting users set an image for persons as well. Just go to SEO → Search Appearance → Knowledge Graph & Schema.org and pick or upload an image. This image will now be added to the structured data graph for this particular user.

You can now upload an image, photo or logo to go with the person

In addition, we fixed several bugs in the Schema implementation. These mainly concerned issues with setting and picking the Person for the site and the Schema output it generated.

Other enhancements in the plugin include a new wpseo_should_index_links filter which you can use to disable the link indexation. Plus, we’ve added support for builtin taxonomies so you can add the blog archive page to the breadcrumbs.

You can find all changes in the changelog for this release.

Update now and be sure to come back soon

So there you have it. Yoast SEO 11.3 is a release focused on ironing out some kinks to make your experience as smooth as possible. We added several enhancements that’ll prove beneficial for our Schema implementation, for instance. Try out Yoast SEO 11.3 and update whenever you’re ready!

One more thing. Seeing all these updates make you wonder why we release so often? Would you like to know why we have a two-week release schedule? Well, you’re not the only one. Soon, our very own Caroline will go into detail on how our development process functions and how the release schedule actually works. Stay tuned!

The post Yoast SEO 11.3: Even more enhancements appeared first on Yoast.

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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