Yoast SEO 9.6: Improving our code

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

A reminder: The beta test toggle will be removed

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

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

Improving Yoast SEO by using better code standards

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

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

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

Other improvements

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

Update now!

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

Thanks for using Yoast SEO!

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Live indexing for Bing & Google coming to Yoast SEO

As we announced at YoastCon, we’re working together with Bing and Google to allow live indexing for everyone who uses Yoast SEO. In an update currently planned for the end of March, we’ll allow users to connect their sites to MyYoast, our customer portal. After that we’ll roll out live indexing, which means every time you publish, update, or delete a post, that will be reflected almost instantly into Bing and Google’s indices.

How does this work?

When you connect your site to MyYoast, you’ll authorize it to send messages back and forth. One of the types of messages that will be sent will be when you publish, update or delete anything on your site. We’ll pass that notification on to Bing, and Bing will check the changes within approximately one minute of you hitting the button.

You will not need to connect your site to Bing Webmaster Tools to do this. It’s all handled automatically. For Google the details on this are not entirely determined yet, but a Google Search Console account will probably be required.

We do, of course, recommend making use of both Bing Webmaster Tools and Google Search Console as they can give good insight into why your site is or is not performing well in the search engines.

If you’re reading this on Thursday (Feb 7, 2019), you might still catch one of Bing’s principal engineers, Arnold Overwijk, discuss this live at YoastCon through our live stream on Friday.

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Yoast SEO 9.5: Hej Sverige!

It’s great to help people write better content in their own language. Of course, Yoast SEO works with any language, but languages that have full readability support get access to an even better content analysis. In Yoast SEO 9.5, we’re adding a new language to our roster: Swedish! In addition, we also improved the transition word support for German. Find out what else is new in Yoast SEO 9.5.

An improved understanding of Swedish

There’s an ever-increasing quest for quality. We know customers value a flawless piece of content aimed at wherever they are in their journey to find out what they need. But, we’re also increasingly aware of how much search engines value a great piece of content — and they can judge quality more easily every day. Luckily, our content tools can help you improve your content. What’s more, the Yoast SEO content analysis even has checks that are tailored to specific languages. Today, we’re adding a new one: Swedish.

Swedish joins a growing list of language that fully supports the specific Yoast SEO readability checks. The list as of today consists of English, Russian, Dutch, German, Italian, Spanish and French, with more on the way. For these languages, we understand and recognize, among other things transition words and passive voice, so we can calculate an accurate Flesch Reading Ease score, give relevant suggestions for related links and generally give better feedback on how to improve your writing. English language users can also enjoy the awesome word form support, which we’re developing for other languages as well.

Besides providing readability support, we’re also improving the keyword functionality. This means that we can make a distinction between content words and function words, so we can provide better feedback based on words that have true meaning.

Reminder: Help us test a new SEO analysis!

Almost 80.000 people are helping us beta test the new SEO analysis that will arrive in Yoast SEO 10.0. Can we add you to the list? The more the merrier!

Our new analysis is the result of months of hard work by a dedicated team of experts looking to align the plugin with research. This gave us a lot of insights into what works and what doesn’t, what’s old and outdated and what’s missing. We used these insights to improve the analysis in Yoast SEO. At the moment, we’re testing this before we roll it out.

You can start testing by switching on the toggle in SEO > General > Features. You’ll be added to a special mailing list which we only use to send you a couple of questionnaires. Read all about the upcoming changes in Yoast SEO and more about why you should help us test.

Update to Yoast SEO 9.5

While Yoast SEO 9.5 mostly consists of bug fixes and enhancements — which you can find in the changelog —, we’ve added a new language to our roster and updated support for German. Flawless content is incredibly important in this day and age and we hope our tools can help you to improve yours!

If you haven’t signed up for testing the new analysis of Yoast SEO, please do. Together we’ll make Yoast SEO 10 an incredible release. Thanks!

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Yoast SEO 9.4: Help us beta test the new SEO analysis!

Over the years, we’ve learned a lot about SEO. We felt the impact quality content and a technically flawless site has on a successful SEO strategy, so we built tools that help you to improve your own site. We’ve developed a strong set of defaults that can be applied to a broad spectrum of sites. As with everything, after a while, you need to evaluate what you are doing and see if you can make improvements. That’s what we did — in Yoast SEO 9.4, you’ll find an updated SEO analysis that you can beta test. It will be released in Yoast SEO 10.

Help us test the new SEO analysis, due for Yoast SEO 10

SEO is always changing. What worked years ago, might not work anymore. Sometimes ‘rules’ have become stricter, while other times looser. Since there is no SEO rulebook, we need to rely on experience, common sense and expert insights to make the right decisions. We need to keep up-to-date so we can keep our plugin up-to-date so we can keep you up-to-date, so to say.

Our latest project does just that. We carefully selected several Yoasters from different backgrounds — SEO experts, content specialists, linguists and developers — to form the research team that needed to align Yoast SEO with the latest insights in SEO. The outcome of this research, combined with your feedback, inform the choices we make that will result in the release of a new and improved SEO analysis in Yoast SEO 10.

Ready to help? Great! Activate the beta analysis and fill in the questionnaires you’ll receive. We’ll use your feedback to make the final version even better! Here’s more information on why you should test the new SEO analysis.

We need you!

As mentioned, we need feedback. We’re not going to change anything without your input. By activating the beta analysis, you can provide us with insights into how you experience the new analysis. Please use the new version of the SEO analysis like you normally do and report back. You’ll notice that it grades your content slightly different. We’ve made it extremely easy for you to take part in our beta test. Here’s how you can start:

  • Switch on the toggle for the new SEO analysis in SEO > General > Features
  • We’ll automatically add you to a special mailing list
  • Start using the new SEO analysis
  • Fill out the questionnaires we send you periodically
  • Success!
  • Done testing? Simply turn off the beta analysis

What’s changing in the new Yoast SEO analysis?

The project team thoroughly researched current SEO knowledge. They evaluated other SEO tools and writing software and carefully looked at all the analyses in Yoast SEO. Together, they came up with a solid set of improvements for the plugin. You can read more about the project or watch the documentary that gives a great overview of the how and why.

We launched parts of the updated analysis already, like keyword distribution, word form and synonym support in Yoast SEO 9.0. The bulk of the changes, however, will be in Yoast SEO 9.4 — which will eventually become Yoast SEO 10. Here are some of the changes you’ll notice once you activate the new SEO analysis:

New assessment:

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

Gone from the SEO analysis:

  • The assessments that check the length of your URL and whether your URL contains stopwords.

Changes to the SEO assessments:

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

You can find all the different checks in Yoast SEO on the assessment overview page. Please use the new SEO analysis like you always do and give us your feedback. Together, we make Yoast SEO better than ever!

What else is new in Yoast SEO 9.4

Yoast SEO 9.4 is mostly about the new SEO analysis, but you can find plenty of other enhancements and bug fixes under the hood. For instance, we’ve improved the accessibility of the analysis results and the Title Separator settings. We’ve fixed numerous bugs, including one where pagination elements were not shown in the Genesis theme. In addition, we’ve had a lot of help from Saša Todorović for this release, mostly with WooCommerce related improvements. You can find all the changes in the changelog for this release.

Update and help us improve the next generation SEO analysis!

There you have it. Yoast SEO 9.4 gives you a glimpse of what’s coming to Yoast SEO 10 in the near future. We took a long hard look at the current state of SEO and how Yoast SEO fits into that picture. Where necessary, we made changes that bring Yoast SEO into the now and maybe even the future. What’s more, you can help build that future! We would love for you to help us improve this new SEO analysis. Thanks!

Read on: Why try out the new Yoast SEO analysis? »

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