Yoast SEO 12.3: Transition words in Hungarian

While some of our checks are independent of languages, Yoast SEO has special skills to adapt the various content analyses to different languages from around the world. In Yoast SEO 12.3, we’re taking the first steps to add another language to the list: Hungarian. In addition, this release features a number of enhancement and fixes. Read on to find out more!

Yoast SEO is learning a new language: Hungarian

Every time we plan on adding a language, we need to see how and what we need to do to get it to work in the plugin. Not every language follows the same rules, so we do research and test how to best go about adding a new one. We have a team of linguists, assistants and developers doing the hard work. Their team lead, Manuel Augustin, recently wrote a post describing how we make Yoast SEO understand your language.

That’s not to say we do everything by ourselves. We truly value community input and we need it if we want to reach our goals. In this release, you’ll see one of those community efforts. Thanks to the hard work of 9abor, we can now say our first words in Hungarian! We start off by adding support for the transition word assessment for this language. More to come.

On our knowledge base, you can find the complete list of all available languages and a guide on how you can make Yoast SEO available in your language.

Other fixes and improvements

Yoast SEO 12.3 features a number of fixes and enhancements. In Yoast SEO Premium, we fixed a bug that prevented you from interrupting the internal linking tool during updating. We’ve improved user input validation feedback and suggestions for error correction.

Plus, we’ve added a new floating Save changes button on Yoast SEO admin pages. You’ll this when the normal button isn’t visible in the browser window. We’ve added a new filter called wpseo_sitemap_http_headers which allows filtering the HTTP headers we send for XML sitemaps. Last but not least, Weston Ruter added a code change to add the CSS for the Yoast SEO admin bar to the AMP dev mode. This makes sure that the CSS will always load properly, even if there is a lot of CSS on a page.

Update now to Yoast SEO 12.3

Yoast SEO 12.3 is out today and brings a number of improvements. We’ve started to add support for a new language, namely Hungarian. In addition, we’ve improved input validation and added some changes that will help the admin bar load at all times. Hope you enjoy this release!

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How we make Yoast SEO understand your language

One of the key features of Yoast SEO is the content analysis. The analysis consists of multiple checks that give you SEO and readability feedback on the texts you write on your website. Some of these checks are language-independent. For these, we don’t need to create specific versions for, say, French and English. For others, it is necessary to adapt them for each language. In this article, I’ll explain our research and development process for the expansion of Yoast SEO checks for different languages. You’ll also learn how you can contribute to help Yoast SEO understand your language!

Foundations of our analysis

In principle, all of our checks are rule-driven. They consist of analyses that run in the browser. This has the advantage that all user data stays in your local environment and is processed there. There’s no need to upload anything to an external server.

The challenging part of this approach is that we can only operate based on predefined rules. Since we don’t know exactly what texts these rules operate on, we need to make sure to define the rules in advance in such a way to cover all necessary cases.

When adapting an analysis to a new language, we not only need to review linguistic and stylistic rules for that language but also translate them into new text processing rules. This might sound very abstract at the moment, but I’ll provide a concrete example below!

Developing a check for Yoast SEO

Let’s start with an outline of the kind of research that is needed to create a check in the first place. When reading the following example, don’t worry if you don’t get all the linguistic lingo right away! This is just an example to illustrate the formation of rules. I’ll explain all the terms you need to know.

Example: passive voice

Let’s take passive voice as an example. In our analysis, we check whether you have too many sentences that contain passive voice. It’s not necessary to know exactly what passive voice is at this point – I explain the necessary points below. However, if you want to know all the ins and outs you can read this article on how to recognize passive voice and why we advise you to avoid it.

Imagine that we’re tasked with creating this check from scratch. We want to give a clear recommendation on a text that someone just wrote. To give such a recommendation, the most important point is to figure out which sentences contain passive voice, and which don’t. As a little sneak peek, here’s an example of a passive sentence.

The cake was eaten by the child.

No idea yet what makes this sentence a passive sentence? Or maybe you do know what makes this particular sentence passive, but can you give a full definition of passive sentences in English? Let’s dive into the issue to discover all the rules and exceptions!

Discover the rules

How do we know that the sentence above is passive? And how can we teach our analysis to recognize this, too? To answer the first question, language research comes into play. Going through some dusty old grammar books (or the digital equivalent of it), we can establish the following rule: a passive sentence in English is formed by an auxiliary verb and a past participle. In addition, we learn that the auxiliary always comes before the participle. Well, that’s great for a start! But now you might ask yourself: what’s an auxiliary verb? And what the heck is a past participle? Good questions! Since it’s not really obvious for a human, you can be sure that software doesn’t know, either. But that’s okay since we’ll teach it how to recognize them.

Translating the rules into logic and data

Now that we’ve discovered some grammatical rules, we want to know how we can translate them into logic that our text analysis can operate on. So we do some more research and figure out that an auxiliary verb used for passive voice is basically any form of the verb to be (was, is, been, etc.). Fortunately for us, that’s a pretty short list. For participles, that looks a bit different. A past participle is a verb form such as loved in has been loved and created in has been created. Basically, any verb can be made into a participle. In this case, a word list isn’t really feasible. It’s better to formulate a more general rule. In its most simple form, the rule could be “find a word that ends in -ed”. Such a rule can be translated into a pattern that we can match with a regex for example. Done! Right? Well, almost…

False negatives, false positives, and how to avoid them

The general rule we’ve established for discovering participles will cover lots of cases, such as cooked, talked, or invented. It won’t be quite sufficient, however. With only this rule in place, you’d get both false positives and false negatives.

False positives arise when your rule matches things it’s not supposed to match. Our word ending in -ed rule would also result in words such as bed being matched. This isn’t actually a past participle. In fact, it’s not even a verb. So we need to filter out exceptions to the rule. We can do this by creating a list of words ending in -ed that aren’t past participles.

False negatives, on the other hand, emerge when our rule fails to match things that we want to match. Consider irregular past participles such as written, seen, or heard. These don’t end in -ed, so they wouldn’t be found with our rule. Again, we need a word list to make sure to also pick up those participles.

Rules: check. Exceptions: check.

So now we already have one general rule, plus two exceptions. And this example is still an oversimplification. In our actual implementation of this check, there are even more factors that we take into account when determining whether a sentence contains passive voice.

You see that for one check in the analysis, there’s a lot of preceding research that needs to happen before we can start implementing the check in our software. And then that’s only for one language. There’s still all other languages for which we also want to be able to carry out this analysis.

Teaching Yoast SEO to understand more languages

When adapting a check for a new language, we might be faced with one of two situations:

  1. Only new data (usually word lists) need to be supplied to the existing logic.
  2. Both new data and new logic are needed.

In the first scenario, expanding a check to a new language might be done after a day or two of research. In the second scenario, it can require just as much time as implementing the check in the first place. The problem is that languages can differ not only in the words they use to express a certain concept – such as passive voice – but also the grammatical constructions they use for it. I’ll provide examples for both scenarios below.

Adapting only data

Fortunately, not all assessments need completely new logic when adapting them to a new language. Whenever possible, we set them up to make them as much “plug and play” as possible. An example of an assessment that is relatively easy to adapt to a new language is the transition word assessment. This assessment checks whether a transition word or group of words (e.g., words such as however, to summarize) from a specific list are present in that sentence. This mechanism is basically the same across languages. To make it work, we just need to supply a list of transition words for a given language, and voilà, it works.

Adapting both logic and data

Going back to the passive voice analysis, we see that adapting this check to a new language gets a bit more complicated. Here, we’d need to change quite a bit of logic depending on the language analyzed. In Dutch, for example, you still use auxiliary verbs and participles to express passive voice, but, unlike English, the auxiliary can also come after the participle. In Russian, you can spot passive voice relatively accurately by virtue of the form of the verb alone. So it’s not necessary to look at auxiliaries. So for all these languages, not only do you need different data, but you need different logic to carry out the analyses. This means that you need both, additional research and technical implementation. Just supplying new language data won’t suffice here. You also need to adapt the string processing rules that operate on this data.

Do you want Yoast SEO to speak your language?

There are a number of ways to help us expand Yoast SEO functionality for your language! As you saw in the explanation above, some checks can be expanded relatively easily by adding the necessary language data. If you speak a language other than English, you can send in language data using one of our forms. We’ll then review this data and, if possible, implement it. This means that with your help, we can add language-specific Yoast features for your language!

If you’re a developer, you can also directly contribute to our codebase. You can find more detailed instructions in our article on making features available for your language. We’re looking forward to your contribution!

Read more: How to use the content analysis in Yoast SEO »

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Yoast SEO 12.2: Fixes, improvements and more

Yoast SEO 12.2 is a release full of the regular bug fixes and enhancements, but also a new addition to meta robots. Last week, Google announced a new way to give publishers more control over what the search engine can show in the results. This change, however, seems not driven by customer demand, but rather by law. Find out what this is all about and why we chose to automatically opt sites in for this.

Adding a line in meta robots

Google is turning to the meta robots tag to comply with a new European copyright law. Previously, publishers had to explicitly opt out if they wanted to prevent Google from using their content to present it in search results. Thanks to the new European copyright law, we see Google asking sites to opt in if they want it to use their content, images and videos in snippets. France is the first to roll out its version of this copyright law, starting today.

“When the French law comes into force, we will not show preview content in France for a European news publication unless the publisher has taken steps to tell us that’s what they want.” — Google’s Richard Gingras on the French Google blog.

While it currently “only” impacts several hundred publishers in France, it’s not hard to predict that more countries might roll out similar laws and implementations. This may even reach beyond just news sites in Google News. As this development potentially affects many countries, we’ve decided to make a change for all Yoast SEO users.

We will add the following line to the robots meta tag on every page unless that page was already set to noindex or nosnippet:

max-snippet:-1, max-image-preview:large, max-video-preview:-1

By adding this piece of code, we make sure that every site using Yoast SEO is automatically opting in for this change. Now, you’ll be ready for the implementation of this law in Europe and your content will continue to appear in Google search results.

Read Joost’s post on what this change means for Google, for us and the web.

Enhancements and fixes: plus, free courses!

There’s more of course, with the majority being bug fixes. We’ve updated the configuration wizard that helps you set up Yoast SEO. We’ve combined some steps and added a reminder to take our free Yoast SEO for WordPress plugin training.

Did you say free? Yes, I did! Everyone can now learn everything there is to learn about the #1 WordPress SEO plugin by the people who built it. There’s lots to discover, but it’s all very easy to learn. Go try it! While you’re in the Yoast SEO Academy, you might as well check out our other brand-new, free course: WordPress for beginners.

Find out all the changes in the changelog for Yoast SEO 12.2.

Update to Yoast SEO 12.2

This release focuses mainly on fixing bugs, but also introduces a new meta robots tag. This tag automatically opts in sites for Google to continue to use their content like text, images and videos in the snippets. It is a change driven by a new European copyright law that goes into effect in France first, with many countries expected to follow in the near future.

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Robots meta changes for Google

Sometimes Google does announcements about new features and we go “huh, why did they do that?” This week we had one of those. Google introduced a new set of robots meta controls, that allows sites to limit the display of their snippets in the search results. There is a reason for that, but they buried that reason far, far away.

With their newly introduced robots meta controls, you can “say” things like: I don’t want you to show more than 200 characters from my site! Or: I don’t want you to show images from my site. None of this made sense to us. Why would anyone who truly wants to optimize for Google’s search results, do any of that?

A French copyright law

Suddenly, we make a dramatic plot twist: France turns out to have introduced a new copyright law, which is the first implementation of Europe’s new copyright law. I am not a lawyer, but as Google explains it in this blog post, it requires for publishers to opt in to a display of their snippets, whereas in the past you had to opt out. Note that that blog post is in French, on their French blog, but there’s an English version in the bottom of that post.

It turns out that you can also use these new robots meta features to opt in to all those displays. Basically, use the meta robots to opt in to have your snippet text, videos and images being displayed at all.

robots meta?

Robots meta is hard enough as it is, read our ultimate guide to understand what you can do with it.

Because this French law implements the new European law, chances are that the other implementations of this copyright law across Europe are going to require similar action. This would mean more countries would need to opt in if they don’t want to loose their snippets. We don’t know that, of course, but of course: better safe than sorry.

A simple change to Yoast SEO

Because this potentially affects so many countries, we’ve decided to make a change for all Yoast SEO users. Every page will have the following robots meta bit added to its robots meta string if that page was not already set to noindex or nosnippet:

max-snippet:-1, max-image-preview:large, max-video-preview:-1

This makes sure that nobody runs into unexpected surprises and we’re ready for implementations of this law around Europe.

I want to change that robots meta value

If you want to change that robots meta value, we have a filter in our code that allows you to programmatically change that. That filter is called wpseo_robots, should you want to play with it.

You are opting in by using Yoast SEO

We realize that this means that we’re opting you in to all of these snippet features in Yoast SEO. I think it’s fair to say that if you use Yoast SEO to optimize your search results, we can assume that that’s what you want. At the same time, you might want somewhat more granular control over these values, if that’s true, please let us know in the comments!

The Yoast SEO release containing this change will be 12.2. This will be released next Tuesday, October 1.

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Yoast SEO 12.1: Snippet preview updated

Yoast SEO 12.1 is out today! It features a couple of changes in order to match the design of Google’s search results pages, this includes those shiny new favicons. In addition to this, we added a number of new filters for our Schema implementation. See what else is new in the latest release of your favorite SEO plugin.

Updating the snippet preview

Google is always testing different iterations of its search results pages. Sometimes a test sticks and ends up as the new default. In Yoast SEO 12.1, we’re adapting our snippet preview to match two of the latest changes: favicon in mobile search and new font sizes in desktop search.

In Yoast SEO 11.5, we added the default favicon Google uses when it can’t detect a correct favicon on your site — or you simply don’t have one. Now, we pick the one you’ve added to WordPress and show it right in the mobile snippet preview, just like Google would. You now have a good sense of how your site will appear in the mobile search results.

The mobile snippet preview now shows how your favicon would appear in the results

Here’s how to add a favicon to your WordPress site in order to get it to show in both search results as well as our mobile snippet preview.

The other new tidbit we have for you is matching Google’s new font sizes for the desktop search results. Google now uses slightly larger letters and we’ve followed suit to make the desktop snippet preview appear exactly right. Go check it out.

New Schema filters

We’ve added a couple of new filters to allow for a more granular control over a site’s Schema output. Julià Mestieri suggested the first one. He made a filter called wpseo_schema_organization_social_profiles to filtering an organization’s social profiles in the schema output. You can use this filter to modify social profiles (sameAs attribute) in the Organization schema object.

Andrew Gillingham suggested two other filters. His wpseo_schema_company_name and wpseo_free_schema_company_logo_idfilters make it possible to filter the company name and company logo from the theme options whenever it hasn’t been set in the Yoast SEO settings. This way, both can still be used by the schema output without having to set it manually.

Last but not least, we added a filter called wpseo_enable_structured_data_blocks that makes it possible to turn off Yoast’s structured data block editor blocks.

Find out all about our structured data implementation and how you can enhance it by reading our Schema documentation.

Other improvements

The WordPress Gutenberg project keeps chugging along nicely, but sometimes stuff changes or breaks. In one of the latest releases, our structured data content blocks hit a little snafu, which we fixed in this release. The styling of the How-to and FAQ blocks is now compatible with latest version of the WordPress blocks editor.

Our latest community additions are a new method suggested by Brady Williams and a bug fix by David Herrera. Brady’s get_robots method retrieves the robot HTML without it being output, while David fixed a bug where the primary term selector would not display HTML entities properly.

As mentioned in the Yoast SEO 12.0 release post, we’re actively working on improving input validation in the plugin, among many other things. We’ve continued that in Yoast SEO 12.1 and improved the validation on the settings page. We’ve also updated the plugin icons to be more consistent.

Update now to Yoast SEO 12.1

That’s it for Yoast SEO 12.1! We’ve updated our snippet preview to the latest changes by Google, including those shiny favicons in the mobile search results. We’ve added new Schema filters, fixed several bugs and rolled out several other enhancements. Go test the new version and update whenever you’re ready!

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Yoast SEO 12.0: UX improvements and new Portuguese checks

Contrary to what the version number might suggest, Yoast SEO 12.0 isn’t a huge release. It’s simply the next release in our current release schedule, but after hitting 11.9 a couple of weeks ago we had no choice but to go for 12.0. That’s how it goes! But don’t worry, there’s enough interesting stuff in this release, including two new checks for the Portuguese language.

Continuing UX improvements

Over the past couple of release, we’ve been steadily improving the way we handle validation. In the past, it wasn’t always clear if the stuff you input in fields was formatted the way it should. There wasn’t too much feedback from the plugin. We’re now actively improving this and looking at each field to see what should go in there. So if something should be a URL, we now verify that what you enter is really formatted as a URL. No longer can you add gibberish in the fields!

In the same vain, we are now updating the document title in the settings whenever we find something wrong with a form. The W3C suggests this technique as a way of improving the accessibility of a page. One of the first things a screen reader encounters on a page is the <title>, so now it can read that to find errors on a page. It can now read these out loud to notify the user. Great, right?

We’ve also improved the wording in several places to make it more clear what something means. For instance, Emily Leffler Schulman suggested to improve the feedback the plugin shows when you haven’t set a focus keyphrase for a post. It used to show a grey Yoast icon with the not very helpful line: SEO: Not available. We’ve changed that to Focus Keyphrase not set. Much more helpful. Don’t forget people: set your focus keyphrase.

The last UX change we’d like to highlight is limiting the width of the meta box. This change, suggested by Louise Ann Apostol, makes sure that the meta box doesn’t overstretch on very large screens.

Portuguese language SEO improvements

As you know, most of our content checks work for every language out there. But some parts of our readability checks are tailored for different languages as not every language is interchangable. We currently support a whole slew of languages in some form or another. We have listed the languages and the features each language supports.

In Yoast SEO 12.0, thanks to Dilmar Ames, we’ve enhanced our support for the Portuguese language. We now support two new checks for Portuguese:

  • Consecutive sentences check: this is the assessment that checks whether multiple sentences in a row begin with the same word;
  • Sentence length check: this assessment checks the length of your sentences to warn you if you use too many long sentences.

We are hard at work adding new languages and improving the ones we already support. Don’t see your language yet? Hang tight, we might get there soon.

Update now to Yoast SEO 12.0

While Yoast SEO 12.0 is not the huge release you might expect if you see that version number, it’s a nice release with quite a few improvements. Please update to the latest version when you are ready.

Thanks for using Yoast SEO!

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Yoast SEO 11.9: More fixes and enhancements

Are you ready for another exciting release to round up the Yoast SEO 11 cycle? Because we are! In Yoast SEO 11.9, we have improvements for Schema and security, we have bug fixes and updates for Local and News SEO!

Improving Schema once again

With the closing of the Yoast SEO 11 releases we’ve yet again improved Schema in the plugins! The Yoast WooCommerce SEO plugin had a bug showing invalid Schema when a product used the placeholder image, so we fixed that. We’ve also improved Schema output in the News SEO plugin.

With Yoast SEO 12.0 around the corner, you might fear that we think we’re done with Schema output in the Yoast SEO plugins. Fortunately, this is not the case! We’ll continue to improve and work on Schema in future releases as well.

Curious for more Schema? Looking for a way to extend our Schema implementation? Why don’t you dive into our Schema documentation?

Tightening the security of the plugins

Somehow security is something people find not very interesting. But you do lock up your house when you leave it because you don’t want anyone to steal your tv, right? Updating to the latest version of a plugin is essentially locking your website to make sure no one can get in. A criminal does not need an open door, an open window or even thin glass won’t stop them. It’s the same with software: they don’t need a password to maybe do malicious things to your website. That’s why we always give high priority to possible security issues in our plugins. For this release, the incomparable Juliette Reinders -Folmer — helped us improve the security of the plugins to make sure there won’t be possible malicious data.

Local SEO improvements

We’ve updated our Local SEO plugin, because Google went from two different API keys to just one. New users of the Local SEO plugin will see a field in the API key tab where they can enter their API key. Existing users can add their API keys the regular way, but we encourage you to use the new API key.

Local SEO now also gives you notifications when you have set an API key in a constant in your wp-config.php file. In addition, we fixed a bug that caused the map settings tab to show an empty panel without an API key present. It now shows a notification.

News SEO improvements

We gave the News SEO plugin quite some love this release! The add-on now has its own tab in the Yoast SEO meta box.

We’ve also fixed a bug where the @type in the schema output would be NewsArticle instead of Article for articles which were excluded from the news sitemap. And we’ve fixed a bug where news article pages and custom post types included in the news sitemap, would not receive an author in the schema output.

Bug fixes in Yoast SEO 11.9

In Yoast SEO for WordPress, we’ve fixed a bug where the image from the configuration wizard notification was missing an empty alt attribute. No need to read that sentence again, we’ll explain what this means! In absence of an alt attribute, screen readers will try to announce something to you. This means in most cases the screen readers will try to announce a part of the image URL, which is far from ideal. Decorative images need an empty alt and that’s what this fixes!

Another bug we squashed concerned missing translations from the meta box, sidebar, configuration wizard and the help center. We love our translators and it’s much easier to read the information in your native language.

Bug fixes in Yoast SEO Premium

In Yoast SEO Premium, we’ve fixed a bug where multiple redirects would be created when editing taxonomies on a multisite environment. In addition, the social preview forms no longer appears on taxonomies twice. We love social media, but there’s no need to let you fill in those forms multiple times.

Update to Yoast SEO 11.9

That’s it! We’re very proud to deliver the last release of the Yoast SEO 11 cycle. Don’t forget to update!

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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!

The post Yoast SEO 11.7: Are podcasts the new blogs? appeared first on Yoast.

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 for search engines, to improve your chances to rank. 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.

Do you need more guidance, to use all the great features of Yoast SEO to their full potential? Look no further and check out our free Yoast SEO for WordPress plugin training! It’ll teach you how to make optimum use of your Yoast SEO plugin, so you can take your SEO to the next level!

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! Curious to find out what the plugin does for your site? Read up on Yoast SEO’s hidden features that secretly level up your SEO!

    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 copy on all government websites is B2: Upper intermediate level. It’s a rule that makes sure that every citizen, regardless of their level of education, can read and understand the information on these websites. We believe that every site should be understandable for everyone. Our readability analysis aims to help 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. Need more information on picking a focus keyphrase? Find out how to choose the perfect focus keyword.

    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?

    Does every light need to be green?

    No, not every bullet in the SEO analysis has to be green for your post or page to rank. Similarly, getting your post ‘all-green’ in no way guarantees that it will rank. While it’s tempting to simply aim for all-green bullets on every post or page without working on other aspects of your SEO, that isn’t the best SEO strategy. Proper keyword research and site structure always come before getting green bullets. Read more about properly using the colored bullet system in Yoast SEO.

    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 in 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, if 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, it’s free!

    Read on: Why every website needs Yoast SEO »

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