YoastCon 2019 is going to be epic. On February 7 & 8, we’re hosting Europe’s best SEO and marketing conference in the Netherlands! It’ll take place in the Vereeniging in Nijmegen, just around the corner of our Yoast offices. Let me tell you all about our amazing speakers and the chock full schedule we’re currently working on. You do not want to miss this!
Buy your ticket before July 1 and get it for 449 euro instead of 499 euro.
We’re still working on our schedule, but we can already confirm some amazing speakers. Rand Fishkin (founder of Moz and Spaktoro) is going to keynote at YoastCon 2019. Els Aerts (of AG consult) and Purna Virji (of Microsoft) also promised to come as well. And what about Geraldine DeRuiter (of Everywhereist) and our very own Joost de Valk and Jono Alderson?
Hot of the press: Aleyda Solis (European Search Personality of 2018, founder of Orainti and blogger for Moz and Search Engine Land), will take the stage too! Get to know all YoastCon speakers.
We want to give a stage to the very best of the SEO industry. We’ll have 9 awesome keynote speakers (two of which we’re currently persuading to come and speak for you!).
In addition to listening to these world-class keynote speakers, you can join in three rounds of practical workshops. We’ll offer workshops on the Yoast SEO plugin, site structure, keyword research, SEO copywriting and reviewing your own website. Workshops will be offered both in Dutch and English. Team Yoast will prepare and lead the workshops. As the groups will be small, you’ll have lots of opportunity to ask practical questions.
Call for speakers
We still have room in our two-day schedule to fit even more awesome speakers! Are you an expert in the field of SEO, marketing, UX, copywriting or development? Let us know and apply to speak at YoastCon 2019. We’re looking for speakers to shine on our stage! Check out our call for speakers for more information.
Venue and ticket information
YoastCon will take place at ‘de Vereeniging’ in Nijmegen, a beautiful old venue nearby Nijmegen Central Station. Tickets are 499 euro – or 449 if you get them before July 1! – and include full access to all talks, three workshops, lunch on both days, coffee and drinks on Thursday night and Friday afternoon. We’ll make sure you’ll leave with lots of new ideas on how to improve your marketing and SEO strategy.
With 2018 just around the corner, it’s time to look back at yet another amazing year at Yoast. We’ve made some excellent improvements to Yoast SEO and released a bunch of new awesome online SEO courses. Team Yoast has been to lots and lots of conferences. We’ll write separate blog posts to look back at all those things. But as a company, and an employer, Yoast has done a great many things in 2017 as well! Let’s take a look at everything that happened at the Yoast offices in 2017.
To give you an idea what Yoast looks like in numbers, we put a lot of them in an overview. The article continues below the infographic:
So many new colleagues
The biggest change in 2017 is the number of colleagues we have. At our office in Wijchen, we are now with 50 colleagues (and already doing interviews to hire more :-)). In 2017, we welcomed over twenty awesome new people at our Yoast office. On top of that, we hired six new support engineers from all over the planet! We also decided to sponsor two important WordPress icons –Alain Schlesser and Remkus de Vries-, to make sure they continue their awesome work for WordPress core and the WordPress community.
As our company is growing really fast, we organized lots of events to get to know each other. We have our famous ‘Know your colleague-quiz’, in which we ask all kinds of random questions (what’s your favorite color, what kind of sports did you play when you were a child) about all of the people at Yoast. The colleague that knew most answers (way to go, Ben!) won an amazing price. We also had BBQs, went cycling, bowling, celebrated birthdays, Sinterklaas and Christmas. And on December 27th, we’ll have our annual LEGO building day. We’re planning to build 100.000 bricks of LEGO in one day. That’s teambuilding at Yoast!
Our new office: building #2
As Team Yoast continued to grow, our Wijchen office was getting too crowded. We decided to open a second office (building #2) in Wijchen, just around the corner from building #1. There was a big celebration when we opened our new office. We drank champagne, did a real skippy ball race and a had running contest. It took some getting used to, but we’re now all taking frequent walks between buildings #1 and #2 for meetings, coffee or lunch. And, if construction goes well, in spring 2018, building #3 will be opened. The city center of Wijchen has a lot of Yoasters walking around!
Bring your parents to work day
To many of the activities we undertake at Yoast, we let people bring their partners and children. Most of our colleagues do not have families of their own yet. Some of them even live with their parents. We therefore decided to organize an event, to which everyone could bring their parents: ‘bring your parents to work -day’.
We showed the parents around, told them what we’re working at and explained about our products and the growth of our company. It was great fun to meet everyone’s parents. Next year, we’ll definitely organize another ‘bring your parents to work-day’. We’ll do a bit rebranding and make it an even more inclusive event: the ‘bring your family to work-day’. Some of the little brothers felt left out ;-).
5 years since Yoast hired first employees
In 2012 Yoast hired the first employees. Most of them still work with us today. That’s so very special to us! Of course Michiel started out as an employee in 2012, but quickly became one of the co-owners at Yoast. Mijke and Erwin were our 3th and 4th employee’s in 2012 and celebrated their 5th anniversary at Yoast this fall. We gave them special editions of Newton’s cradle to put on their desk. These cradles should remind everyone how much we love and value the people that work at Yoast. We hope they’ll all celebrate their 5th anniversary with us!
One of the biggest highlights of 2017 was the second edition of YoastCon. It was so very awesome! The venue was gorgeous and we had some great speakers on stage! Most of team Yoast really enjoyed performing our ‘Yoast dance’ on stage too. And the afterparty!
It was great that part of our support team travelled to the Netherlands to attend YoastCon. As they live so far away (The United States, Philippines, Bangladesh) we communicate with them over Skype. It was great to meet them in person and show them some sights in the Netherlands. We’re already planning our next YoastCon in early 2019. Definitely stay tuned!
Teaching children how to code
2017 was great fun
For Yoast, 2017 was a great year! We had lots of fun! Fun building our plugin and the My Yoast platform, fun developing online SEO courses, writing blog posts and shooting video’s. Time for 2018!
2018 is approaching rapidly. Time to look back at yet another awesome year at Yoast. A year in which we attended quite the number of conferences. In this post, we’ll give you an impression of a few of the conferences we have been to, cities we’ve visited and friends we’ve made! So, without further ado, these are the events we attended in 2017. Bring on 2018!
As always, the new year hasn’t really started until we had our infamous Yoast New Year party. Turning the office into a dance hall, we partied with our closest friends as only Yoasters can party!
There ain’t no party like a Yoast party!
As always, the first conference of the season was PHPBenelux in Antwerp. We’re regulars at this conference because it always offers excellent talks by renowned speakers, amazing socials, and a unique theme. This year our developers when into ‘space’ to learn all about PHP.
While we mostly go to WordCamps to share knowledge and to meet our old and future friends, customers and business partners, attending other conferences usually has a slightly different goal; to learn. That’s also why one of our developers and our linguist (this early in 2017 it was still singular) attended CLIN27/CCL25. This conference about Computational Linguistics brings the best speakers in the field on stage.
Have you ever heard of TYPO3 Camp? Neither had we until we joined our friends at MaxServ for a weekend at TYPO3 Camp in Venlo (NL). We learned that this developer-aimed conference offers great developer talks, even if you don’t do TYPO3!
Omar presenting at TYPO3Camp.
Time for a WordCamp! Four of my colleagues flew to London for WordCamp London. This two-day conference, preceded by a contributor day, usually draws attendees and speakers from all over the world. WordCamp London is easy to travel to (and from The Netherlands even fairly cheap). Live captioning, chill-out rooms, three tracks, and a legendary party, what else would one need?
Our next stop was Iceland. Joost went to the Reykjavik Internet Marketing Conference (RIMC), an annual conference on everything internet marketing where all the world-famous marketers go to. Joost went, spoke and aced his keynote.
On 7 and 8 April 2017, we attended the second WordCamp Torino. A year earlier, WordCamp Torino was the very first Italian WordCamp in a very long time. Its success motivated other Italian communities to organize other WordCamps, leading to an unprecedented growth of the Italian community. And that was obvious in 2017. WordCamp Torino completely sold out and had an extensive and very successful contributor day.
Contributor day at WordCamp Torino 2017
Choosing which events to attend can be a real challenge. Especially with the number of WordCamps, even close to home. This means that we sometimes have to disappoint conference organizers, who really personally invite us to attend, or even speak at, their event. And sometimes we just have multiple events in a single weekend. This happened on April 20th – April 23rd. First, we attended Meet TYPO3 Rotterdam in the Rotterdam Zoo, a TYPO3 conference aimed at marketers. The next day, we went to both WordCamp Vienna and ReactNL.
Oh by the way, did you know that we released the very first version of Yoast SEO for TYPO3 at Meet TYPO3 Rotterdam? We did! Joost de Valk (our CEO) and Richard Haeser (lead developer of Yoast SEO for TYPO3 at MaxServ) pressed the button in the Shark Room.
Events in Q2
Meet TYPO3 in the Shark Room of Rotterdam Zoo.
Meanwhile, we launched Yoast SEO for Magento 2 which is why we just had to attend Meet Magento. This one-day conference in Utrecht is a real multi-track conference. It gave us a nice insight into the Magento community, and we got to meet quite a few people we already knew from the PHP and WordPress communities. It seems we’re not the only company bridging communities, which is a good thing!
The final conference of the first half of 2017 is the biggest European WordCamp of the year; WordCamp Europe. 30+ speakers, 50 organizers, almost 200 volunteers, and close to 2000 attendees traveled to Paris for the WordPress Community Summit and WordCamp Europe. And you know what, WordCamp Europe was HOT. No really, it was literally hot. That’s why we’re happy we brought our Yoast fans to Paris. Within a day, we saw so many people use them like their lives depended on ’em. Even the men and women on the live captioning team were waving all the time…
After a nice and long vacation we kicked off our conference season with a WordCamp very close to home; the very first WordCamp Nijmegen! Yoast has been actively involved in this WordCamp. We provided an organizer, several volunteers, two (!!) speakers and a whole lot of attendees. Marieke shared her knowledge on writing, and Michelle helped the attendees prevent common SEO mistakes. Both talks were very well-received!
Despite Rule of the Internet #22 and #23, not everything on the internet is copy/pasted. Some of us are really into creating new content. That’s why Erwin and Tim went to Playgrounds 2017. They’re responsible for creating all the images you can find on yoast.com, in our products and in the presentations we give. There they were introduced to new techniques, tools and a LOT of new ideas!
A busy end of the year
November, nearing the end of the year and the holidays, so time to slow down. Hah! No way! At Yoast, we celebrated our most conference heavy month of 2017. With ten events in just 30 days, November rocked!
The first event of November doesn’t need a lot of introduction, as we assume you’ve all heard about YoastCon. Our very own one-day SEO conference featured top-notch speakers from the SEO world, and local talent hosting sold-out workshops. More than 350 attendees saw Joost’s keynote, followed by a blazing fast, insanely inspiring talk by the Belgian Karl Gillis. For the sad few who’d to miss YoastCon we published the videos. You can find them on our YouTube channel.
And in true Yoast style, we ended YoastCon with an epic afterparty. A party that everyone involved will remember forever. We’re not going to tell you too much, but let’s just say that you never want to miss a Yoast party.
Just a couple of days after YoastCon, Joost hopped on a plane to keynote at Pubcon in Las Vegas. Pubcon is one of the largest, if not the largest, SEO and online marketing conferences in the world. His key take-aways were shared on twitter a lot.
For the first time in a long time, Yoast attended a WordCamp in Asia. Our support engineers Michael and Jerlyn went to WordCamp Manila to meet the local community. And just a couple of weeks later, Jerlyn and Rumejan, also a Yoast support engineer, went to WordCamp Kuala Lumpur to promote our brand and have a good time with the local community.s
Meanwhile in Europe, we attended WordCamp Cologne, WordCamp Milano and Conversion Hotel. And we have to tell you about Conversion Hotel as it’s special. Conversion Hotel is a 3-day conference organized on one of the Dutch islands. Nope, not Aruba. Not Sint Maarten. It takes place on the beautiful island Texel. The conference focusses on growth strategies, conversion (what’s in a name), copywriting and psychology. An original way to kickstart your conference? How about teaching all attendees a Haka?
Learning the haka at Conversion Hotel 2017
Our linguists, Manuel and Irene, went to the 16th Dutch-Belgian Information Retrieval Workshop in November. This very technical conference focussed mainly on topics like information search and the automated generation of recommendations, from music to e-Commerce.
The 10th conference we attended in November was a special WordCamp. This first edition of WordCamp Utrecht was held in the venue where WordCamp The Netherlands had been for quite a few years (until 2015). It felt so familiar that people felt at home quickly. We attended and helped out as speakers, volunteers, sponsors, and attendees.
And now it is December. When you’re active in WordPress, the one event you have to follow in December is WordCamp US. Not just because it’s one of the biggest WordCamps in the world, but also because it’s where the State of the Word is held. In this annual presentation, WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg reflects on the past year and looks forward to what’s coming in WordPress.
And what’s a better way to end our conference year than by going to the eternal city? Jimmy, Patrick, and Andrea went to Rome’s first local WordCamp where they enjoyed a great event and, almost equally important, the local culture and cuisine.
When in Rome, pose with a Roman (Andrea) at the Coliseum.
Missed us in 2017? Don’t worry! If anything, our conference year will be even more busy in 2018! And if you want to know where to find us, regularly check our calendar.
It’s been a week since the SEO conference YoastCon and we’re still processing all the cool stuff we’ve heard and seen. In a few days, you’ll be able to watch the talks on video and make your own to-do list to make your rankings skyrocket. To give you an idea of the story arc of YoastCon, I’ll share ten takeaways that have an impact on your SEO, now and in the future.
Both Joost de Valk and Marcus Tandler spoke at length about how voice search is changing search. Since our smartphone is growing ever stronger, voice recognition is getting better and better and the underlying AI is getting smarter and smarter, we are changing how we search. ComScore says that by 2020 50% of searches will be voice searches.
For many common tasks, a voice search gives you the quickest answer. But in contrast to searching in regular search engines, you’ll often only get one result. As a site owner, being that search result is going to be a real challenge. Your content has to answer these questions.
2. Mobile is everything
For years we’ve been talking about the rise of mobile. Now, mobile is the crucial part you should optimize for. Google’s upcoming mobile-first index will rank sites based on their mobile offering. If it sucks, you won’t rank well. There’s no way around it; if you have an OK desktop site, but no great mobile site, you are going to lose out. Make mobile your top priority! Yes, even if you don’t have many mobile visitors – yet.
3. Copy – not just content – is king
You know that content is often called king, right? Well, that’s still true in this day and age. Even with all these developments in the SEO world, content is still where it’s at. But it’s not just any old content; it’s all about quality content. Google’s AI is getting better at determining what piece of content offers the most value for the reader. You can’t rely on your thin content anymore. Better brush up your SEO copywriting skills.
In addition, copy is getting more important. Of course, copy differs from content as it is used to enhance interfaces and improve UX and conversion. You should make your copy personal and offer users solutions, not products. Or, as conversion genius Karl Gilis said in his talk: “Stop selling the way you want to sell. Sell the way people want to buy!”
4. Links are important
Links played a major part in this edition of YoastCon. Both Dixon Jones and Laura Crimmons put links and link building front and center. The importance of links has long been a subject of discussion, but at YoastCon, Google itself probably said it best: “Ranking without links is really, really hard”.
You should put a lot of time and effort in your link building campaigns. Try and find out who your audience is and where they hang out. Find a suitable subject, write great content – or shoot video or make an infographic – and strike up a conversation with relevant journalists. The reward could be enormous: not just links, but exposure and brand awareness.
5. Accessibility matters
Rian Rietveld and Andrea Fercia, both accessibility experts, showed that every site should be accessible. Every visitor has a right to use your site even if they have some sort of disability. Try to listen to your site and see where screen readers run into trouble. Find and fix these issues. Make your content easy to understand in any kind of circumstance. It’s like Rian said: “Google is blind and deaf, so everything you do for accessibility is also good for SEO.” In the end, we all benefit from a perfectly accessible site.
6. User experience = SEO
UX and SEO go hand in hand and we expect this bond to strengthen over the next year. Google is increasingly looking at how users behave on your site. Do they bounce back quickly because the content does not fit their expectations or do they visit more pages after reading the content they came for?
You should, therefore, offer a flawless UX that easily satisfies your visitor’s thirst for knowledge or their intent to buy a product. Don’t hide stuff, use a proper call to action button and write your copy in a human-centered and personal way. Because, according to Karl Gilis: “If you don’t care about your words, you are a decorator and not a designer.” Most of all: focus on the things that matter most, not to you, but to your users. Make people happy!
7. It’s all about the user
Like I said earlier: nothing is about you because everything should be about your visitor or client. Keep them in the back of your mind at all times. Ask yourself if what you say you do is the same as what they experience? Do you sell your products or do you sell a solution to the user’s problem? Does your keyword research focus on variations of the exact same words or does it include the words the users really use to find you? In addition, does your content answer the question a user has? Karl Gilis: “Your visitors only care about themselves. They don’t care about you! So make your content about their needs – not yours.”
8. Search intent
There’s not just one type of search query, there are four. There’s navigational searches, informational searches, commercial searches and transactional searches. These are called search intent and they determine what a searcher wants. Search intent impacts everything from keyword research to content writing. Aiming your content at the wrong search type could lead to less than stellar results. Take a look at your goals and find out where your content could have the biggest impact.
9. Site speed: your site is never fast enough
Site speed has been a hot issue for a while now and rightfully so. Both users and search engines love fast sites. Conversion and user satisfaction is higher on fast sites. Joost de Valk showed that even Googlebot loves fast sites because it can crawl more pages in the same amount of time. And now page speed will be a ranking factor in the upcoming mobile-first index. So there’s just no way around it: work on your site speed!
10. Artificial intelligence is shaking things up
“Google is not using AI to make search better, Google is using search to make AI better,” said Marcus Tandler in his epic talk. AI is everywhere and playing a bigger role each day. Lots of current developments in the world of SEO, like voice search, are powered by an AI. While this AI is getting smarter and smarter, the impact it has will be huge. Not only for SEO but for many aspects of daily life – for better or worse.
Bonus: WordPress’ Gutenberg editor
Not strictly SEO related, but something that popped up many times: the future of WordPress. That future largely revolves around a certain new editor that goes by the name Gutenberg. We’re pretty skeptical, but we also see its potential. At YoastCon, Joost and Omar Reiss, discussed the impact Gutenberg will have. They showed the audience where it’s currently at and what will be coming up. Be sure to watch this session and read up on all things Gutenberg. You can even participate in the development of Gutenberg.
YoastCon helps to improve your SEO
YoastCon was an SEO conference of epic proportions. The speakers were exceptional, the workshops impressive, the location awe-inspiring and the visitors kind and smart. We loved every second of it and we hope you did too. If you couldn’t make it, you can always watch the talks next week. Plus, you can always join us again in 2019.
Here, I’ve discussed several topics that came up during the conference. I hope you find this small overview useful and get inspired to improve your site. There’s always something to improve. Good luck!
Good day everyone! It’s the day after our SEO conference YoastCon and while we didn’t get much sleep last night, we’re still full of energy from the awesome day we – and hopefully every single visitor and our live stream audience – had. Here, we’re taking a peek at what happened yesterday. Somewhere next week, we’ll publish a complete overview of the conference.
The second edition of YoastCon took place yesterday in De Vereeniging, a beautiful concert hall in the center of Nijmegen. Speakers like Joost de Valk, Dixon Jones, Markus Tandler, Laura Crimmons and Karl Gilis captivated the audience with in-depth SEO talks. The speakers all shared a wealth of knowledge about almost every part of SEO, from linkbuilding to SEO copywriting and from conversion to the awesome power of Search Console.
YoastCon visitors eagerly jotted all of this down on the special writing pad – with to-do list! – that they could find in their goodie bag. This way, visitors left the conference with a head – and to-do list – full of ideas and SEO knowledge to put into practice. In the various workshop sessions, participants learned to SEO-proof their websites, got a deep-dive into keyword research and learned how important accessibility is for the overall quality of a website.
Check out a few of the great tweets about YoastCon. Read the hashtag #yoastcon for all the comments on the conference. Lot’s of happy people out there!
This is just a short look back at the conference. But don’t worry, a more thorough write-up of the talks will come next week. We’ll also try to get the videos – by courtesy of the fabulous Eyes & Ears team – ready as fast as possible, so you can watch or rewatch them.
We’ll be back!
We’re all very excited about the conference and delighted with how YoastCon turned out. We loved talking to all the great and smart people from all over the world. And since everyone had such a blast, YoastCon will be back for a third edition. Stay tuned for more!
One last thing to round off this post. Maybe you heard it through the grapevine, but, yes, Team Yoast performed an epic dance to conclude the conference, leaving lots of visitors speechless. We hope for the right reasons ;)
With only a few weeks left until YoastCon 2017, it’s time we introduced another of our amazing speakers. Laura Crimmons is Communications Director at Branded3, an award-winning SEO and digital marketing agency in the UK. Laura herself also has an admirable amount of achievements and awards under her belt, for example being named PR Moment’s Young Professional of the Year 2017. At YoastCon, she’s going to talk about link building in a successful online campaign, and successfully structuring a link building campaign. We asked her a few questions about links and link building to give you a little preview!
Tell us a bit about yourself and your background. How did you end up at Branded3? And what is the accomplishment you are most proud of while working at that agency?
My background prior to joining Branded3 was in PR; I did a PR degree and had some experience in more traditional PR agencies and in-house roles but it was always digital that appealed to me, so I decided to join Branded3. I joined about a week after manual penalties and Penguin first rolled out, so it was at a time when the agency (and the SEO industry as a whole) was trying to find its feet, with how to build links now that the old ways were (rightfully in many cases) being penalized. Thankfully PR seemed to be part of that solution.
You focus a lot on link building for larger clients. Link building, of course, is a science in itself. Could you share your tactics for starting a – hopefully – successful link building project?
The starting point always has to be the audience, and plenty of research. You need to understand:
Who is my audience?
Where do they hang out online?
What are they interested in?
From here you’re able to start brainstorming ideas that will engage the audience. At this point you should also have started to develop a list of sites that will be your targets for link acquisition.
Links are still incredibly important, even in this day and age. Anyone is looking for high-value links from relevant sites in their industry. What are your favorite tips for getting these kinds of quality links?
We use PR as a way to generate these kinds of links i.e. working with journalists who usually work for higher quality sites (publishers) than say bloggers who would generally have lower quality domains.
That said, there are lots of other high quality sites that you can attract links from without PR, for example by looking at any genuine resource sites in your industry that link to competitors but not you.
Every site-owner needs to gather links and local business owners would probably benefit even more for good links. Could you explain the impact of link building for local SEO?
Link building is important for local SEO in the same sense that it is for any SEO, however, when specifically looking at local SEO we place more emphasis on citations, data accuracy and proximity.
Do you see the importance of links changing anytime soon?
We all know that search engines have been trying for years to decrease their reliance on links as a ranking factor. But they haven’t got there yet and I don’t necessarily see that happening in the next year or so.
Even if they do manage to find a way to determine a site’s authority better than links, I still think the practice of Digital PR/Content Marketing that we do now for link acquisition will remain important, as it goes beyond just acquiring links. It’s about building brand awareness, affinity and ultimately does play a part in assisted conversions.
Why shouldn’t people miss your talk at YoastCon?
I’ve spent the last five and a half years working in link acquisition and have had a lot of success over that time gaining links from some of the biggest publishers in the UK and globally. So anyone that wants to up their game or learn some tips would probably take something away from it.
November 2, 2017. This date has been etched in the collective Yoast agenda’s for some time now. If you haven’t guessed, it’s when the second edition of the YoastCon SEO conference takes place. This practical conference is aimed at every site owner, business manager, content editor or anyone remotely making money with a site and trying to improve their results. In this interview, you’ll hear from our own Marieke van de Rakt and Michiel Heijmans – who will also MC the event – on why you should visit YoastCon.
The first edition of YoastCon was all about celebrating the fifth anniversary of Yoast as a company. It was a small, down to earth SEO conference focussed as much on sharing SEO knowledge as it was a meeting of new friends and a rekindling of old ones. YoastCon was put together by a small team and it resulted in a great maiden voyage for the conference.
Michiel remembers how much work it was: “We wanted to celebrate five years of Yoast and we thought a conference was the best way to do this. It was an awful lot of work, but it paid off. It was a great ride! This was such a cool experience that we wanted to do it again but on a grander scale.”
Marieke concurs: “We probably won’t do this every year, because of the amount of work involved. However, we do have a lot more helping hands now, so never say never. The first YoastCon was one of the best days ever, so I’m really looking forward to the second edition!”
“YoastCon offers us a brilliant opportunity to not just talk about what we mean by holistic SEO, but show it as well. In that sense, it’s the perfect combination of sharing information and sharing knowledge that’s immediately applicable to any site. When you get home from the conference, you can take action that really helps you to achieve success,” Michiel says.
YoastCon is all about practical SEO, why exactly is that?
“People have a great need for practical insights. Something they can apply immediately. However, they find it hard to determine how to start. The Yoast SEO plugin is very practical as it helps you to improve your site by signaling when something could be improved. It’s a tool that you can start using at a moment’s notice. During the first YoastCon, we introduced our holistic SEO vision and now we’re going to make that abstract concept practical for people to apply, ” says Marieke.
What are the hot SEO issues at this event?
At a good SEO conference, you get both a taste of the now and the future. While the future of search is hard to predict, there are things site-owners can prepare for. Marieke is quick to mention the incredible power of content: “Content is the cornerstone of a good SEO strategy. Writing SEO-proof articles is a skill that takes work. Plus, these days you have to keep voice search in mind when writing content. Also, mobile and local SEO keep getting more important. All these things will be discussed at YoastCon.”
Michiel mentions that SEO is no longer seen as a trick, but that it has acquired a special status in projects: “These days, SEO is seen as something that delivers results. It’s accepted because it works. YoastCon is a place to learn how to use SEO to your advantage. Not just SEOs, but every site-owner, web developer, business owner or content strategist will learn something. Plus, it’s an excellent opportunity to extend your network. And you get to dance with all the cool people at the party. It’s going to be an awesome day!”
What are you looking forward to most?
“I’m really looking forward to MC’ing with Michiel,” Marieke blurts out. “But also my SEO copywriting workshop, that is going to be epic. I’m going to let the people write so much they’ll never forget the lessons learned. It’s great to be able to get direct feedback from people. It’s good to be reminded of how people perceive your work. We often miss that human touch since we work online all the time.”
Michiel is looking forward to seeing people interact with each other and with team Yoast as well: “We don’t often get this close to our audience. Now, we have to chance to share knowledge directly with a group of people that is eager to learn.”
How does YoastCon differ from other SEO conferences and WordCamps?
“We’re trying to combine the matter of SEO conferences with the openness and inclusiveness of WordCamps. We’re not just aiming at WordPress since there will be workshops on TYPO3 and Magento 2 as well,” Michiel says.
“I agree,” Marieke says: “We’re looking for a particular atmosphere. We don’t just let you listen to talks, but you can participate in workshops and we even offer you the chance to speak your mind on the future of WordPress, for instance. The talks are pretty exclusive if I may say so. You’ll get a lot of bang for your buck!”
Why should people visit the YoastCon SEO conference?
“You can’t miss this event if you are really serious about achieving success with your site. There’s a lot happening at the moment and this event gives you the chance to get up to speed and that may even turn out to give you the lead over your competitor. Besides that, it’s going to be an amazing day!” Marieke says.
According to Michiel, the event is aimed at everyone: “You can visit YoastCon if you own the bakery around the corner or if you manage a company of 40,000 strong. You have to go to YoastCon if you want to take your site to the next level. We have developed YoastCon from a very different mindset than your everyday SEO conference. It’s not just a conference, it’s a party for anyone making money with their site. And it’s in Nijmegen, the oldest city in The Netherlands, how cool is that! Go buy your ticket now, because they are selling like hot cakes. When they’re gone, they’re gone!”
Rian Rietveld and Andrea Fercia are two heavyweights in the WordPress accessibility community. Both legends are joining us at the YoastCon SEO conference on November 2, 2017. For this joint interview, we asked them a couple of questions about the current state of accessibility, common implementation mistakes and how to start with the right mindset. Of course, the duo explains why you should come to YoastCon!
Accessibility is incredibly important. Focusing on accessibility in your work makes sure you won’t leave anyone behind. Could you tell us a bit about the current state of accessibility in general and WordPress in particular?
According to Andrea, accessibility is getting more and more attention in the last couple of years: “Microsoft, Apple, Google, Facebook, Twitter, and more, are renewing their focus on accessibility as part of an inclusive design process and delivering products with a good level of built-in accessibility.”
Even WordPress gets better, says Andrea. “In the last 2-3 years, a great number of accessibility fixes entered the codebase. However, there’s still the need to educate many contributors, increase awareness, expertise, and incorporate accessibility in the design process. In WordPress, accessibility is still perceived as something that can be added at a later stage in the development process. That’s an ineffective process. It goes in a different direction compared to what all the other big players are doing.”
Rian wants to stress the importance of accessibility as well: “Accessibility is the next big thing after responsive design. People involved in web development are starting to understand that accessibility is part of the process. There are two reasons for this. In an increasing number of countries, websites need to be accessible by law. Not just sites for government and public services but in some countries company sites as well. The second reason: accessibility is considered good practice in modern web development.”
According to WordPress the accessibility of the CMS improved dramatically in the last four years. Rian says that the community is starting to see that this is an important issue. She shares one ‘but’: “New functionality, however, is still not designed and developed with accessibility in mind. That means we still need to fix issues, also newly created issues. And that’s a point we can definitely improve on.”
It still seems hard to get stakeholders interested in accessibility. What do you guys do to convince people of the importance of accessibility and what do you do to help them get started?
Andrea says business owners and managers should look at the numbers in addition to the ethical considerations: “Accessibility is not just about people with specific disabilities or impairments. It’s about changing abilities that everyone experiences in their life with aging. Demographic trends, especially in Europe and North America, give us impressive numbers that can help us understand who our users and customers will be in the next 10-15 years.”
“Sometimes it’s hard to convince people. Education helps. We still need to debunk many myths about accessibility and make people understand it’s something that benefits everyone, including your future you,” explains Andrea.
Rian supports the notion that stakeholders are primarily interested in profit. She’d like to add her arguments for successfully implementing accessibility from the get-go: “20% of your visitors have a better experience using your site. Google is deaf and blind, so accessibility directly benefits SEO. The site will be more sustainable, as an accessible website will use more robust and meaningful code. If you include it at the beginning it will not cost extra if your team is well-prepared.”
You probably see the same mistakes made again and again. Do you have a list of common mistakes to keep our readers from making the same?
According to Rian you should: “Include accessibility at the beginning of the project, don’t check for it at the end because it will cost a lot more to correct it afterward. Also, keep in mind that you don’t create a website for yourself, but research your user and create a site your visitors understand. Focus on the main purpose of the site and don’t add elements to distract the user from that, only because you like to show off your design/programming skills.”
Today, there is still a lot of very poorly coded HTML around, says Andrea: “People must understand why the HTML output is so important for the software that reads our web pages. Any software, including assistive technologies, or search engine crawlers, read our HTML. Good HTML is good communication that helps everyone, improves accessibility and also SEO.”
When looking at it from a design perspective, the design should start with the information architecture, says Andrea: “After that comes the interaction flow, and then the presentation layer. Instead, I still see today many projects starting with the presentation layer. For instance, missing controls labels are a very common mistake. All user interface controls must have a label.”
Let’s say I’m a site-owner and want to improve the accessibility of my site. What’s the first or most important thing I should do?
Andrea starts off with a great tip: “I’d recommend to disable styles in your browsers (that’s easy with Firefox) and look at your site without the presentation layer. Does your page still make sense? Is the order of the content logical and meaningful? Of course, there are a lot of other things to check. There also are more advanced ways to perform a first accessibility check, including some browsers add-ons. They help to catch some of the most common mistakes, but they require some expertise.”
Rian’s advice supports Andrea’s: “Check if you can navigate your website without a mouse, with keyboard only. Also, please add subtitles to video and transcript audio. And keep the following in mind when you design or write: People don’t read on a website, they skim the page and navigation for what they want to know and then read.”
The WordPress project is increasingly accessible. You both contributed quite a lot to WordPress. How did you get involved with the community and which part of the accessibility project are you proud?
Andrea accidentally got involved: “I must be honest: it was a period when I was partially unemployed and had some free time, so I started following the project and then submitted my first contribution. About my involvement in the WordPress Accessibility Team, I just owe everything to Rian Rietveld!”
Proud is the right word, says Andrea: “I think it’s not a specific patch or improvement to the codebase. I’m really glad to see that some of the WordPress contributors, especially the younger ones, they just try to implement accessibility by default when they code. They feel it’s part of a coding best-practice and that’s the best thing I’d like to see in any project.”
Rian: “My drive was to help my blind clients using the WordPress Admin. I’m the proudest of the cooperation we now get from almost everyone in the WordPress community. I think we are on the right track with the Accessibility Team now.”
You can read more about Rian’s journey in the WordPress Accessibility team on HeroPress.
Why shouldn’t people miss your talk at YoastCon?
“Come and learn if you want to know why accessibility and SEO are a great match. Not everyone uses and reads a website the same. We’ll teach you how to create content that is understandable for everybody,” says Rian.
“SEO is more about being in ALL the right places at the right time.” That’s how SEO and internet marketer Roy Huiskes describes the importance of a complete online presence. He has worked in the business since 2003 and consulted for several big brands. With loads of experience in CRO, analytics and all aspects of online marketing, he’s one of the best SEO experts in Europe. So it goes without saying that we’re delighted to announce he’ll be joining our panel discussion at YoastCon. To top it off, he’ll also give a hands-on workshop on keyword research!
You’re an SEO and online marketer. Do you feel these are still two separate areas, as SEO is becoming more and more about optimizing your complete online presence (including social media etc)?
I never felt these were separate domains. From the first days, I’ve always seen SEO as understanding the consumer’s needs and creating value around that. Google only caught on to this later on, so tactics might have changed a bit, but the strategy of understanding the consumer’s needs is still the same.
So, to answer the question: Yes, SEO is more about being in ALL the right places at the right time to get better results. There are quite a few cases that prove that the searches themselves and the connection between ‘brand’ and ‘top keyword’ are very relevant to increase your organic traffic. This can only be achieved by being a bigger brand.
You’ve once predicted the rise of local SEO. Nowadays, optimizing for local is very important. Any tips for local entrepreneurs on what to focus on?
Yes. It’s a very natural factor for Google to consider, especially with an 80%+ market share in the mobile market. People are looking for this information. In the English language, the ‘near me’ query is critical. While this could also work in the Netherlands, we don’t see similar behavior that often. Opening hours is quite remarkable though.
So, make sure you do your keyword research very well and not ‘globally’, but understand how the consumer searches in each country or culture. This is getting even more important if you consider the use of devices like Google Home, Cortana, Amazon Echo or Siri. This will probably result in a huge shift in the type of search terms people are using. Since these kinds of queries are on 20% already, this transition is something to focus on.
As a consultant working for major brands, you’ve seen lots of websites in your career. What’s the biggest mistake you think website owners make when it comes to SEO?
I’m not sure. It could be two things:
Not training the development teams well and in a more technical, advanced way
The lack of keyword/intention research and the unwillingness to make UX changes on this.
I think I’ll go with the UX though. I’ve seen a lot of quality, easy to understand SEO stuff be put away, in favor of all kinds of fancy-pants UX that nobody needed, often because of some CRO goal setting that wasn’t backed up by data.
SEO of the future: what should website owners focus on if they want to rank now AND in the future? Are there any important changes coming up that we should know about?
Well, I don’t believe in the mantra: ‘create for the user, and they will come’, although I do think you should put user behavior first. The users won’t come automatically after a reasonable amount of time. We need to do more work. Market your website properly, making sure people know what they can find, do and buy on your site, and what your brand stands for.
But it all starts with being clever about your target audience and their needs. So proper user research that focuses on intentions and keywords will teach you a lot about your consumers. Then start experimenting, learn more about your customers in A/B tests and help them in your journey to a better product that attracts even more happy users.
Why shouldn’t people miss your talk at YoastCon?
Well, how nice of you to ask, good question. The answer to the previous question is what I’m going to provide. Or at least how I’m doing that for my clients. I’ll teach you how to do proper keyword research, focus on intentions and gather all the useful data to make smart decisions.
He’s been active in the SEO industry for over 14 years, and founded one of the UK’s most wanted Digital Marketing agencies, Bronco. With a proven ability to achieve great results, even in the most competitive of fields, Dave Naylor can rightly call himself an SEO genius. So it goes without saying that we’re thrilled to announce that Dave will be at YoastCon this November, to join us for an exciting panel discussion! To give you all a sneak peek, we asked him about SEO challenges, ranking number one, and online success.
Dave, you’ve been in the SEO industry for a long time now. You founded your company, Bronco, 14 years ago. In your bio, you mention that the search engines sometimes call you to teach their personnel about how they work. What was the last question someone from a search engine asked you?
LOL – As much as I’d love to answer that, I’m pretty sure that the non-disclosure agreements we all sign up to would stop me from being able to. A lot of the most common questions are actually available in open forums. So if you’re really dedicated to finding out the answer to the vast majority of search engine structure questions, you’ll be rewarded!
SEO has matured. It is a serious business, and most brands invest a lot of time and effort into it. In working with clients, what is the first thing you ask them when they want to achieve online success?
Working with any client is a two-way street, so what I’m looking to find out straight away is how much time and effort they are willing to put into a successful campaign. Of course, we’re not going to find clients as passionate about SEO as we are. We’re not asking for that, but they need to show they’re keen and willing – that’s what makes a truly great SEO campaign and a really productive agency-client relationship. There’s not just the issue of what they will do, it’s also about what they can do. For example, if the client has no way of improving the technical side of SEO on their site, that can become a game changer real quick
You often said that it’s no use to have a site when it doesn’t rank number one. That, however, is quite the challenge for most site owners. Is it still possible to rank number one and which steps should you follow if you want to stand a chance?
That’s a tough one. The SERP landscape is constantly changing, with Local listing and OneBoxes popping up everywhere. Ranking number one has obviously never been a walk in the park. But now we’re dealing with a much more complex environment.
I think that ranking number one these days, is more about market share and visibility than just ranking number one for an industry term. If you’ve got the appetite needed to gain market share and visibility, you should pick up a few number one positions along the way.
There are quite a few challenges ahead for SEOs, like the mobile-first index and the rise of voice search. What do you think will be the number one focal point for the next year?
I think the focus will still be on mobile-first. That’s something I see Google pushing hard for the foreseeable future – until the world catches up.
That said, I would love to see them revisiting the idea of discounting inbound links signals again, but we will have to wait and see!
These days, there’s a lot of focus on creating great content. Understandable, because that’s what makes you rank. The technical aspects of SEO, however, are still incredibly important. In your regard, which technical parts should always get a lot of attention?
Site speed is an essential element of any campaign and for good reasons. You’ve also got to prioritize index and site structure when reviewing your technical SEO – obvious choices but absolutely paramount.
Also with regards to content, from a technical perspective, you need to watch out for duplicated, thin and badly structured content!
We assume this interview has convinced people to go see your discussion panel at YoastCon on November 2! In the unlikely case someone is still in doubt, what’s the main reason they shouldn’t miss the panel?
Personally, I’m looking forward to a really interesting discussion, and I will make sure I answer any question honestly and openly!