WordPress 5.5 is slated for release on August 11th, 2020, and we need your help to get there!
Thank you to all of the contributors who tested the beta 2 development release and gave feedback. Testing for bugs is a critical part of polishing every release and a great way to contribute to WordPress.
Since beta 2, 43 bugs have been fixed. Here are a few changes in beta 2:
Plugin and theme versions are now shared in the emails when automatically updated (see #50350).
REST API routes without a permission_callback now trigger a _doing_it_wrong() warning (see #50075).
Over 23 Gutenberg changes and updates (see #24068 and #50712).
A bug with the new import and export database Dashicons has been fixed (see #49913).
WordPress 5.5 has lots of refinements to polish the developer experience. To keep up, subscribe to the Make WordPress Core blog and pay special attention to the developers’ notes for updates on those and other changes that could affect your products.
We have a new release for you: Yoast SEO 14.6. This release has some pretty cool enhancements, plus new additions for Yoast SEO Premium users. We’re continuing our run of languages that get word form support with two new ones: Indonesian and Portuguese. Find what’s new in Yoast SEO 14.6!
Word form recognition in Yoast SEO Premium
We all know high-quality content is essential for any site. Producing that amazing content, however, is not always so easy. For many of you, writing doesn’t come natural, so you welcome help with open arms. This is one of the reasons why we introduced the readability analyses way back when.
The analyses work well and give you advice you can count on, but, sometimes, it can feel as if you are trying to please the machine and not the human, so to say. We get that. Text analysis and recognition is hard, but we’ve managed to make a lot better with word form support in Yoast SEO Premium. Thanks to this, the plugin can now recognize different grammatical forms of your focus keyphrase, making it easier to optimize your text. Plus, as a Premium user you also get to use the synonyms and related keyphrase feature.
As of Yoast SEO 14.6, if you write in Indonesian or Portuguese, you can get a more flexible, natural writing and editing environment. All these tools are fine-tuned to help you build the best possible content, without having to think about awkwardly fitting in keywords to get green bullets.
Wondering how that works? Check out the videos! Yes, we did a video for each language:
List of languages
The list of languages that have word form support is getting longer and longer, with more on the way!
English (since Yoast SEO 9.0)
German (since Yoast SEO 10.1)
Dutch (since Yoast SEO 13.4)
Spanish (since Yoast SEO 13.5)
French (in beta, since Yoast SEO 14.1)
Russian (in beta since Yoast SEO 14.2)
Italian (in beta since Yoast SEO 14.3)
Indonesian (in beta since Yoast SEO 14.6)
Portuguese (in beta since Yoast SEO 14.6)
In beta: help us improve!
In Yoast SEO 14.6, we’re adding two new languages: Portuguese and Indonesian. Again, this is a beta release, and we’d like you to help us improve it. Now, we can find and recognize word forms in Portuguese and Indonesian much better than before, but not as good as the other languages we’ve implemented. That might mean that we don’t recognize every word correctly or that you’re noticing false-positives. If you find that happens, let us know!
There’s a feedback option below the focus keyphrase field that you can use to contact us. Please send us:
The focus keyphrase you’ve used for this specific piece of text.
The sentence in which you’ve noticed one of the assessments working incorrectly for the focus keyphrase you mentioned above.
You can do this for all languages now in beta: French, Russian, Italian, Indonesian and Portuguese.
In Yoast SEO 14.5, we introduced a new publishing flow that helps you keep track of your SEO scores during every part of the publication process. In Yoast SEO 14.6, we’ve added another helpful indicator that lets you see your scores for a particular post — quickly. We made the plugin icon in the editor reflect the SEO and Readability score. Cool, right? We’ve also improved the editing experience in the Social tab and give that part a dab of fresh paint.
Yoast SEO 14.6, comes with a number of language improvements. For example, we’ve improved the transition words analysis for Russian, and we’ve improved keyphrase counting in Indonesian. We’ve also rewritten the feedback for the keyphrase in title assessment to make it clear that an exact keyphrase match is necessary. Finally, we’ve improved recognition of keywords that contain a hyphen in the slug (for example: re-duplicated, on-the-go).
Other fixes and enhancements
There’s a lot of other stuff to find in this release and, as always, you can find all changes in the changelog. One of the most interesting is that we’re now automatically noindexing the xmlrpc.php file in WordPress and all possible ways to request it, removing them from Google’s search results. This prevents Google from unnecessarily trying to index these feeds.
In the sharing metadata used for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and many other sites, we now output the post title instead of the SEO title. This prevents the brand name from being added in most cases, which is better on those platforms. Of course, you can still set a specific sharing title on the Social tab of the Yoast SEO post settings.
Yoast SEO 14.6: Cool stuff
That’s it for Yoast SEO 14.6! In this release, you’ll find many fixes and enhancements. We made a number of improvements to our handling of languages. For our Premium users, we added word form support for Indonesian and Portuguese — bringing the total of supported languages to nine.
As simple as they sound, landing pages might be a confusing topic for site owners. What qualifies as a landing page and what doesn’t? Is every page you land on a landing page? What about Landing Pages in Google analytics? And, can you optimize them for conversion and search engines? Let’s dive in!
What is a landing page?
In digital marketing, a landing page is a page specifically designed for one purpose: to make a visitor convert. Whether it’s signing up for an event, subscribing to a newsletter, or donating money to a charity; a landing page aims to do just that. Therefore it’s completely focused on a single action. The idea is that this focus and taking away possible distractions increase the chance of a conversion. Marketers typically create these types of pages as part of a marketing campaign.
The headline immediately conveys the message of this page: Register your school for Red Nose Day 2021. The text on the call-to-action is crystal-clear too. Perhaps a different color would make it stand out a bit more, but still, it’s hard to miss. The page is focused as a result of its clean design and the absence of distractive elements. Moreover, if I’d work at a school the image of the happy little girl would make me want to participate right away.
This screenshot shows what you see above the fold on the desktop version of this site. If you scroll down you’ll find some other elements, like options to donate money or links to explanations where the money goes. You could think of these secondary buttons as distractions, but because they only appear when you scroll down, the first view of the page remains focused on its primary goal: getting schools to register for this event.
How do landing pages work?
Imagine getting an email from a local venue announcing a concert of your favorite band. Woohoo, you’re super excited to get tickets! You click on a link and end up on the homepage of the venue. You start looking for the schedule. When was it again? Maybe better use the search bar? O wait, a banner showing another awesome concert too. Hmmm…Maybe first discuss with your friends which band they’d like to go to?
The internet is full of distractions and landing pages of a marketing campaign try to get rid of all these distractions. In the above example, if you would have ended up on a page purely focused on this concert, providing the necessary details and an eye-catching call-to-action leading to the cart you probably would have purchased the tickets already.
If people click on a campaign link in your newsletter or social media post, you’ve already somehow sparked their interest in your event, charity or, whatever you’re promoting. As they’ve been exposed to the content they’ve clicked on, they probably already have a bit of context on the topic. That’s why they’re likely to be further in a user journey as someone landing on your site from an informational search query in Google. This means chances of conversion (subscribing, getting tickets, or buying something) are higher. So it does make sense to focus on the action of the user. Now you just have to make sure to make this action as easy as possible!
How to optimize them?
When you create a landing page for marketing purposes you first have to decide what you’d want people to do on that page. This shouldn’t be too hard if you have a clear goal for your campaign. In the example above, that would be selling tickets for that concert. If you know your goal, you can start optimizing the page for the target group and add all essential elements that should be on the page.
Essential elements: Inform and convince
Obviously, you should tailor a landing page to give your users what they need and convince them to participate at the same time. Therefore it’s indispensable you know your audience. Nevertheless, some elements are so common you can find them on almost every great landing page. We’ve listed them here for you:
a headline that conveys the message: what should the user do here?
a call-to-action (CTA) or a short form people can fill in right away
some essential details the user would want to know before clicking the CTA
visuals: an appealing image or short video (let’s say if you can win a state of the art coffee machine it makes sense to show it)
social proof (a quote of a happy user or participant, for instance)
in case of a purchase or donation: payment options
Remember: Keep it short and simple! To add more focus to your page you can even get rid of the menu, as it might lead people away from your page. Also, go easy on the links to other pages; they can do the same. If you do need to add links to other pages, consider adding them below the fold. The same counts for any secondary actions, like the donation button on the Red Nose Day page.
Also, don’t forget to test the page. If you build a landing page you’ve likely made some assumptions about what you’re audience needs/wants. Especially with these kinds of pages, focused on conversion, it pays off to A/B test them thoroughly! And, when you’ve built that one awesome landing page, be sure to clone it with the Yoast Duplicate Post plugin and use it as a template for your other landing pages.
Landing pages of a marketing campaign are not to be confused with Landing Pages in Google Analytics. Landing Pages in Google Analytics are just a list of pages on your site that get the most traffic from external sources.
While a popular marketing landing page as mentioned above could be in this list, it doesn’t necessarily have to be. For instance, in our case, our post on choosing a focus keyword is one of our top Landing Pages in Google Analytics. But it wouldn’t fit the above the description of a landing page. It’s an explainer post helping people with setting the right focus keyphrase on a post they’re writing. It’s an informative post, not aimed at convincing people to sign up for something. People land on this page as they’d like to learn something or need help. Bombarding them with buttons would probably scare them away.
Do you want your landing page to rank? I can hear you say: Yes, of course! I want to get as many users as possible on this slick landing page I’ve created and tested! But, don’t forget that a page specifically designed for a campaign which mostly gets visitors from newsletters and social media, might not always be the best fit for searchers in Google.
You’ll have to ask yourself, is this the page people want to find when they’re searching for something? Or, would they like a more extensive article on the topic they’re interested in? Are they ready for subscribing or buying? Or do they have a different search intent? Where are those people in the user journey? As you’ve designed this page to convert, it might not be the best fit, apart from people actually searching for your event, contest, or campaign.
Of course, you can make sure the page is optimized for the exact term of the event. For other terms, it might be harder to rank with a page that is mostly focused on conversion and probably doesn’t have a lot of copy. Placing enough internal links to this page might as well help it rank for the exact term. If you do want to add content to the page, maybe even with links to more information on your site, you can best add it below the fold, as it might prevent people from converting. But again, ask yourself: what exactly is your goal of this page? It might be better to optimize it for one goal only!
Product pages vs. landing pages
One last thing: there’s a lot of overlap between product and landing pages. Some principles definitely apply to both: Both pages should be focused on conversion, with a clear headline, call-to-action, social proof, and probably a nice image or video. But a campaign often has a more temporary character. Also, your product page probably shows more details and maybe even a related products section, making it slightly less focused than a marketing campaign’s landing page. And of course, you’d definitely like your product page (or category page) to rank! If you want to dive into optimizing your product page, go read our post on Product page UX and Product page SEO.
In digital marketing, a landing page is a page designed to trigger a specific action of the user. It’s often created as part of a campaign and aimed at conversion: the page should convince the visitor to subscribe, participate or buy something. Therefore it’s very focused. It’s not to be confused with Landing pages in Google Analytics, which is a list of pages people land on from external sources. Depending on the goal of the page you can try to optimize the page for search engines too, but sometimes it’s better to keep it solely focused on conversion. Whatever you do, think about the goal of your page first!
Good luck with your landing pages. And feel free to drop your questions in the comments.
“If only I could simply wave my wand and have a super fast website!” This has probably crossed your mind as well, right? Optimizing site speed and user experience is a lot of work and gets technical — and complicated — really fast. Most site owners or managers quickly need to talk to their developers to get stuff done. Now, the new Core Web Vitals metrics give you more insights and pointers at what to fix. Let’s go over five things you can do to boost your Core Web Vitals score.
Look, there’s not one thing that’s guaranteed to fix one specific issue. You have to take a broader view of optimizing your site. A lot of little fixes make up big results. So, while I’ll give you five things you can work on here, this is nowhere near definitive. Even Google says many elements work together to come up with scores, so it’s hard to pinpoint if you do this, then that score will go up.
What Google does give you, is insights into what’s slowing stuff down or what’s hurting the user experience. Many tools also give advice on how to fix stuff. Web.de/measure, for instance, doesn’t do in-depth results, but it does give you an idea of what the impact of a particular fix is.
Google’s upcoming page experience update
We’ve published a couple of articles about Google’s page experience update — coming sometime in 2021 —, so you can start here if you need more background information:
Over the years, there’s been constant talk about the importance of site speed and user experience. But while there’s a ton of material out there on how to optimize your site, putting that knowledge into practice is hard. These past few months, Google once again put speed front and center with the page experience update happing next year. To help you get ready for that, it developed tools to give you insights and a lot of documentation to read.
For a lot of issues, the advice hasn’t really changed that much. It all boils down to getting the main content to your users as quickly as possible. Run through the test to see how your site performs, try to prioritize the fixes and get started! Below you’ll find a mix of old and new ways of enhancing your site.
Optimize your images
I’ll start off this list with a golden oldie: optimizing images. One of the most important things you can do for your site is properly optimize your images. Yes, we said that a million times but we’re going to say it again: do it. That one big unoptimized image on your homepage or landing page might hurt you. Large images are often the largest contentful paint (LCP) for any given site. Make sure you give your visitors a proper welcome by making that load quick!
We have a popular article on image SEO describing what you can do to get that image to load quickly. But in short, make sure you serve it in the size needed and compress it well. There are loads of tools to help you do this. Personally, I love the results I get with squoosh.app. Don’t think you need to keep that massive resolution for that image to be sharp on the most common screens.
Also try to adopt modern formats like WebP. These formats can deliver high quality images at a lower size. WebP is well-supported and even Apple has jumped on board! The upcoming Safari 14 release — both on MacOS as well as iOS — will support WebP. Yes, the new Chromium powered Microsoft Edge browser also supports WebP.
Your CMS is also a tool that’ll help you improve the loading images. Due in August, WordPress 5.5 will support lazy loading of images. This means it will only load those images that appear on screen and leaves the rest to load when the user interacts with that screen. This tells the browser to load large images only when they are needed.
Another piece of evergreen site speed advice is the use of a CDN, but did you know you can also use a CDN specifically for images? An image CDN gives you more control over how you want to serve and how you want these to appear. An image pushed by an image CDN gets a string of properties in its URL which tells the browser how the image should behave.
Stabilize loading by specifying room for images and the like
One of the new metrics is cumulative layout shift, or CLS for short. An example of this is when a mobile page looks ready and just when you want to hit a button, the content shifts and a slow loading ad appears in that place. This happens often and is one of the main causes of frustration for users. Now, while optimizing your CLS won’t necessarily make your page be faster it sure makes it feel faster.
CLS is caused by images without dimensions in the CSS. It can also be caused by ads and embeds without dimension, or dynamically injected content. When not properly given dimensions, these elements tend to jump just a bit during the loading process, making it appear jerky and unstable. This might also due to new content being inserted above existing content. Don’t do that, except maybe after an explicit interaction by the user.
One of the ways you can prevent CLS is by adding the width and height for images in the CSS. This way, the browser will reserve space for that image that’ll probably appear later than the text. Now, the jerkiness will disappear because the browser knows that something will be added in due time. You could think about adding some sort of low-resolution placeholder if you want sometime to appear quickly.
So, simply make sure that your images have proper width and height attributes set. Of course, you can also do this with regular responsive images. Just make sure that you are using the same aspect ratio for all sizes.
<img src="mountain.jpg" width="640" height="360" alt="Mountain underneath a cloudy sky">
To cope with jumping ads or injected content, please reserve space for these as well. In the end, your CLS might just come down a bit.
Speed up your server to get that loading time down
The faster your server responds to requests, the better. Getting that server to respond quicker directly improves a lot of site speed metrics. On complex sites, the server keeps busy with handling requests and serving files and scripts, so it’s best to optimize those processes.
Optimizing your server consists of several parts. First, upgrade your hosting plan. Don’t skimp on hosting. Pick one that offers good performance at a fair price. Also, there’s the business of how the server was set up — use a recent version of PHP! — and what hardware you picked. Maybe you should upgrade the hardware if you find that lacking. Also, you need to research how your databases work and see if you can make improvements. Use tools like the Query Monitor WordPress plugin to keep analyze queries on your site.
You can also look into how your server pushes files to clients. There are several ways to enhance that process, with link rel=preload for instance, or HTTP/2 server push. These are more advanced solutions that let you fine-tune how your server responds to requests. Here, again, a CDN can do wonders.
Look into critical CSS to load above the fold content quicker
Since the CSS loads late, it can often take a while for something to appear on screen. By taking the critical bits of your design — the part that appears above the fold — out of the main CSS file and inlining it in your code, you can get something on screen much faster. Fixing this, once again, doesn’t make your site faster, but it makes it appear faster. All for that ace user experience.
Improve loading of third-party scripts
For many sites, slowness also comes from outside. If your site relies on ad scripts, for instance, you are basically in the hands of the ad provider. You can only hope that they make their ads performant. If their ads load really slow, well, maybe it’s time to find another provider.
If you find that third-party scripts slow down your site, you should look into this. Ask yourself, do I really need that particular ad? What’s the value of these scripts? There might be a different option out there that’s a bit more optimized and less stressful for your server. Maybe try that?
If possible, you can experiment with hosting the script yourself. This way, you’re a bit more in control of the loading proces. If you can’t do that, see if you can get it to preload quicker.
At the least, make sure to load the scripts asynchronously or defer it till the last moment. This way, the browser can build the page first before getting and running the external script. Use async if the script you’re loading is important, like an analytics script. You can use defer for less critical resources. There’s loads of documentation on optimizing third-party scripts.
Boost Core Web Vitals: All small improvements count
With the upcoming page experience update, Google put site speed and user experience front and center again. We’ve always looked at SEO holistically — there are many moving parts and you should work on all of them to build the best site out there. Although the tips mentioned above can help you improve those scores, you really should be doing this to offer your visitors a better experience.
WordPress 5.5 is slated for release on August 11th, 2020, and we need your help to get there!
Thank you to all of the contributors that tested the beta 1 development release and provided feedback. Testing for bugs is an important part of polishing each release and a great way to contribute to WordPress. Here are some of the changes since beta 1 to pay close attention to while testing.
Since beta 1, 48 bugs have been fixed. Here is a summary of a few changes included in beta 2:
19 additional bugs have been fixed in the block editor (see #23903 and #23905).
The Dashicons icon font has been updated (see #49913).
Broken widgets stemming from changes in Beta 1 have been fixed (see #50609).
Query handling when counting revisions has been improved (see #34560).
An alternate, expanded view was added for wp_list_table (see #49715).
Some adjustments were made to the handling of default terms for custom taxonomies (see #43517)
Several updates have been made to the block editor. For details, see #23903 and #23905.
WordPress 5.5 has lots of refinements to polish the developer experience. To keep up, subscribe to the Make WordPress Core blog and pay special attention to the developers’ notes for updates on those and other changes that could affect your products.
As you might know, Google is rolling out mobile-first indexing as we speak. In September 2020, all websites will be ported over to the mobile-first index. But what does that mean for your ranking? Should you be worried? Should you do anything? Google has been pretty vocal on mobile-first indexing. This post serves as a reminder so, I’ll talk you through five things you need to know about mobile-first indexing.
In March 2018, Google announced that they were going to start with mobile-first indexing. In March 2020, Google announced that it would roll out mobile-first indexing for the whole web. This will happen in September 2020. But what does that entail? It means that from now on, Google will base what it places in the index on the mobile version of your site, whereas they used to index the desktop version of your site first.
This switch is made because more and more searches come from a mobile device and to give those users a better experience, Google decided that it was time to prioritize mobile results. It is important to note that the mobile-first index is not a separate index, Google has only one index from which it serves the results.
1. Do not panic!
From September, the mobile version of every site will be indexed. But that does not mean that anything big is happening. In fact, it probably doesn’t do anything to your rankings. If Google indexes the mobile version of your site, you’ll get a notice in your Google Search Console. This means that Google will determine by the content available on your mobile site how you will rank — both on the desktop as well as on mobile. This sounds pretty big, but for most WordPress sites it’ll have minimal consequences. If you think about it, most WordPress sites have a responsive design. This means that both mobile and desktop display the same content. You’ll have nothing to worry about in this case.
If you have different websites for mobile and desktop and your mobile website has far less content – you do have something to worry about.Everything you are offering on your desktop site should be available on your mobile site — this is called mobile parity. This also includes your structured data and any meta data like titles, descriptions and robots meta tags.
If you’re looking to also improve the speed of your site and the user experience, it might be good to look into the upcoming page experience update by Google as well. Mobile-friendliness is one of the signals that informs the page experience algorithm.
2. Do a mobile-friendliness test
You do not have to have a mobile site to be in the mobile-first index, as Google will index desktop sites as well. But, it’s going to be harder to rank if your site is not mobile-friendly. So there’s work to do for all of you who have not have a mobile-friendly site yet.
A mobile website needs a different design than a desktop version to appeal to your audience. Your screen is tiny. While it might make sense to discard a lot of content on mobile due to space limitations, that wouldn’t be a good practice.
Of course, you can improve the mobile user experience by following best practices. For instance, Google explained that hamburger or accordion menus are perfectly fine to use. These kinds of menus make sense; they help a mobile user to browse through your website. Putting content behind a tab to make the mobile experience better is also totally fine.
Reading from a screen is hard. And reading from a mobile screen is even harder than reading from a big screen. To attract a mobile audience, you’ll need to have mobile-friendly copy. This means short sentences and compact paragraphs. You need to make sure your font on your mobile site is large and clear enough, and you need to make sure to use enough whitespaces.
Is your audience mainly mobile? Do they come from the mobile search results to your page? Or does most of your organic traffic come from the desktop SERPs? Make sure to check this in your Google Analytics.
If your search traffic is mostly from mobile search result pages, make sure to optimize your mobile snippet in our Google preview.
Conclusion on mobile-first indexing
Don’t panic about the mobile-first index Google will fully roll out in September 2020. If your website has a responsive design, your content will be similar on both desktop and mobile versions. Please check if that’s the case. If so, the mobile-first indexing will have little consequences for your ranking.
Do take some time to evaluate the mobile version of your website. Is your design good enough? Or could you improve? Are the buttons large enough to tap? What about your content? Could you make your text more readable for a mobile audience? Making sure your website has a kick-ass mobile experience is something you need to get started on. This will make a difference in your rankings shortly.
Every few weeks we have an SEO News video in which Jono Alderson and I, along with other experts, share the latest SEO news with our academy subscribers. Last week, we decided to try this in the form of a webinar where viewers were able to ask us questions right away. Because this was such a success, we’re already planning our next webinar. In this blog post, I’ll discuss the highlights of our July 2020 webinar to give you an idea of what’s new in the world of SEO!
Stay on top of the latest changes in SEO by getting a Yoast SEO academy training subscription. This also gives you the opportunity to watch earlier videos of SEO News and develop vital SEO skills by completing a variety of courses.
What’s new with Google and Bing?
Our friends at Google and Bing have not been sitting idly by, so we had lots of news to share. Here, I’ll give you a few highlights of what we discussed.
Scroll to text
Google has been testing it on AMP for quite a while, and now it’s probably here to stay: scroll to text. So, what is it? When someone does a search on Google and clicks on a featured snippet result, Google will send this user to the specific piece of text on the page and highlight it. Seemingly, without the context of the introduction above or content surrounding this answer. And although this focus on getting a quick answer is understandable from a user’s view, it seems quite contradictory to Google’s view that long-form content provides more quality and a better user experience.
So, what does this mean for us? It might mean some changes to your design, for example considering a sticky header to keep your brand in the picture wherever someone is on your page. But mostly, it means that structuring your content becomes even more important to make sure that each part of your text can stand alone. To make it easy, you’ll have to treat every piece of text on your page as its own landing page. Our SEO Copywriting training, which is part of our Content SEO training course, can definitely help you out with that.
Licensing program for news publishers
With an increase of zero-click searches (where questions are being answered at the top of the SERPs), it’s becoming more difficult for certain businesses to get people to click through to their site. And this makes it more difficult to make money and create new content. That’s why Google has launched an early pilot for news publishers. A licensing program in which they’ll pay publishers for high-quality content, to make sure they’ll be able to keep their business running and provide people with complex and deeper stories on different issues and interests. Now, this is still a pilot for specific countries and specific publications, so we’re curious to see where it goes.
Free product listings in the SERP
Google has a product tab in their search, but they seem to be shifting more and more to showing products directly in the search results. And the latest announcement in this is that if you have schema.org and structured data for the products on your site, your products become eligible to being shown directly in the search results. Without paying Google. And this is pretty cool because it’s a step in opening up the web further for everyone. Anyone who uses schema.org and implements their structured data the right way can compete, even with the bigger players. If you haven’t implemented schema.org yet, our Yoast SEO plugin and WooCommerce SEO plugin can help you with that.
Bing Site Scan tool
Bing has launched the Site Scan tool, a potential competitor to existing tools where you can crawl your site to find technical SEO issues. It’s not as extensive as other tools you might be familiar with, but it gives you reports on things that are broken and can impact your rankings. So it’s definitely worth having a look at.
There’s lots and lots of more fun news we discussed in the webinar, such as a page experience update, the latest on structured data for recipes, a new fact check label, and more. To get access to this and other videos to stay on top of the latest news in SEO and WordPress, you can subscribe to one of our Yoast SEO academy training courses:
The upcoming release of WordPress 5.5 comes with a few noteworthy features which we discussed in the webinar. But in this blog post, I want to highlight one of them: Web Stories. Now, this is still in the beta stage, but this editor shows us a promising next step in the way we create and present content. To put it in understandable words: Web Stories makes it possible to present your content in a visual, engaging and swipeable way on your site (think Instagram or other visual social platforms).
The cool thing with this new feature and others like it, is that the Google team actively collaborates with us to make sure it will work together well with our plugin. In the case of Web Stories, someone from Google made a pull request on our Yoast SEO Github. Which is essentially a request to review the changes they will make before they’re final. This gives us the opportunity to anticipate them and make sure our plugin will seamlessly work together with this new editor by giving out the right metadata.
XML sitemaps in core
Another feature worth mentioning is that WordPress will be adding XML sitemaps in its core. This is pretty cool because it’s a feature that was still missing from WordPress. For everyone using our Yoast SEO plugin, we will disable this default sitemap for the simple fact that Yoast SEO already adds a sitemap which helps Google find your content. Don’t worry, we know what we’re doing. We’ve actually worked with a team from Google on optimizing our sitemap feature and the one Yoast SEO provides is just more up to date concerning metadata.
What’s new in Yoast?
With an ever-changing SEO world around us, we understand the importance of improving our work to keep up with these changes. Not just in terms of adding more languages to our Yoast SEO plugin, but also in providing everyone in the community with an easy and natural workflow.
That’s why we recently acquired the Duplicate Post plugin from its original developer Enrico Battocchi, who has also joined our team as a senior developer on the plugin. This plugin lets you duplicate any post or page in WordPress, and all its settings, with just one click. You can read more about this plugin, and what it can help you with, in our announcement post.
Improved publishing workflow
What’s new in Yoast SEO is an improved publishing workflow and the possibility to tell search engines how to treat links that you add to your content. These are both features to help our users create quality content that fits into a good SEO strategy. The improved publishing workflow helps you keep an eye on the rankability and readability of your text, but also makes it easy to share your new post right away.
Rel attributes for links
The rel attributes we’ve added for links, might not be recognized as a Yoast feature right away, but they are. And I’ll tell you what they’re for. This feature helps you mark external links as nofollow, which is always a good idea if they lead to pages you don’t really want to endorse. Also, you can use the sponsored attribute to show search engines that an external link is commercial. These attributes help Google get a better sense of what happens with links on the web.
When we talk about site structure on WordPress we often focus on blogs post: “Use tags and categories and link to your the best fitting related posts!” But you probably have hierarchical post types on your site too. An example of a hierarchical post type is the Page post type; a page can have parent, child, and sibling pages. Inherently, these pages fit in a certain structure and, with little effort, you can leverage this structure to boost your SEO. Let’s have a look!
Site structure and SEO
A solid site structure is essential for SEO. Users and search engines love content to be findable and well-organized. Therefore, your site should have a clear structure, your menu should reflect this structure and users should easily navigate your site to find what they’re looking for. Navigating often means following links, and just like readers do, search engines follow links. So, in fact, by organizing and connecting your content in a sensible way, you’re able to hit two birds with one stone: please users and search engines.
Doing so, we’ll not only guide readers to this guide but search engines too; as this post gets so many (internal) links, it must be an important post. As a consequence, Google will rank it higher than other topically related posts on your site. We call this a cornerstone strategy. And, in fact, your hierarchical pages offer some great opportunities here!
What is a hierarchical post type?
In a hierarchical post type, you can place posts in a certain hierarchy by selecting a parent page. This often means the parent page covers an overarching theme and groups various child pages that are topically related. A child page can only have one parent page, but a parent page can have multiple child pages. So a child page can have sibling pages on the same level. For instance, on a company website, a Team and Mission page are probably child pages of the About us page. And, in that case, the Team and Mission page are siblings.
Hierarchical vs non-hierarchical
Hierarchical means that there are different levels: the parent page is on top, followed by child pages on a sub-level, which could again be followed by grand-child pages on a sub-sub-level. A non-hierarchical system means that all items are on the same level. You can compare it with the table of content and the index of a book. The table of content structures topics in a hierarchical way. For instance, in a book about big cats:
Africa’s big cats
Asia’s big cats
While you’ll have an index like:
Both structures will help you find content in a slightly different way. In WordPress, blog posts usually are a non-hierarchical post type; you can’t give them a parent. But this doesn’t mean that you can’t structure these posts! You should definitely organize them by giving them tags and/or categories and interlinking them properly. The main difference here is that you can put non-hierarchical posts in multiple categories and give them various tags, while hierarchical pages will only have one parent per page.
How do you set a parent page?
On a hierarchical post type, you can easily set a parent for your page. In the WordPress block editor, you should go to the settings sidebar and scroll to Page attributes:
Under Parent Page you’ll find a list of pages on your site. Just select the parent page of the page you’re creating and you’re done. If you do this, the hierarchy is reflected in the URL and breadcrumb of the page too: just look at the URL of our About us and Mission page:
And the breadcrumb also shows where this page sits on our website:
When do you choose an hierarchical post type?
Not all content fits in a hierarchical post type. But some pages, like your About us pages, definitely do; they all fall under one overarching them: About us. But also topical content, for which you’d like to rank, can fit very well.
An example: Let’s say you’re a fan of big cats and you write about them to raise money to support their survival in their natural habitat. One section of your site is dedicated to describing these big cats, which species belong to this group, and giving more details about each one of them. In that case, using hierarchical pages makes sense. You could have:
A parent page about all big cats: here you can write about which species belong to the big cats, what they have in common, how they live, why they are such awesome creatures, and a short description of all of them.
An African big cats’ page, which tells you everything about the group of big cats originating from Africa: the lion, leopard, and cheetah. This is the child of the big cats’ page. On the same level, you can have two sibling pages: big cats from Asia and big cats from the Americas.
Pages about every single species, for instance, the leopard. This parent is the child of the Africa’s big cats’ page and the grandchild of the big cats’ page. It goes into more detail about the single species.
Link your hierarchical posts for users and SEO
As all this content with one parent page is related, it makes sense to connect it! You can do so by internal linking. For instance, you can link from the leopard page to the lion page and the cheetah page. But of course, as you’ll probably mention these species belong to Africa’s big cats, you should link to the parent too. From the parent pages, it also makes sense to link to the child pages; when reading about Africa’s big cats, people probably want to know more about the species belonging to this group.
For search engines, all these links show the connection between your content; they create a sort of cluster and make clear how pages relate to each other. Moreover, all this related content and its context helps search engines to better understand what entities you’re talking about: not Lion the candy bar, but the lion, Africa’s big cat (although that might be quite obvious in this example).
Linking them is easy with Yoast SEO Premium!
Since Yoast SEO 14.5 we have a new feature in Yoast SEO Premium! As you’ve read above, linking hierarchical post types is beneficial for SEO. And linking them is super easy with the block editor in Yoast SEO Premium. We’ve created two blocks:
a sub pages block: a block that lists and links the child pages of a page
a siblings block : a block that lists and links the siblings of a page
Adding them is super easy: if you create a new block, search for sibling or sub-pages and the blocks will pop-up. In this video, you can see how it works:
Yoast SEO 14.5 is out today! In this release, we fixed a number of bugs, disabled the XML sitemaps that will arrive in WordPress 5.5 and added two new block editor blocks for our Premium users. These blocks help you with internal linking for hierarchical pages. Let’s find out more!
Meet the new internal linking blocks
We all know internal linking is very important as it is helps you build your site structure, making your site easier to digest for both humans as well as machines. We have several tools that help you improve your internal linking and today, we’re adding two internal linking blocks for the block editor that can help you improve it even further. Meet the Subpages block and the Siblings block!
A new Premium feature to improve internal linking
If you work with a lot of hierarchical post types, you’re often linking to underlying pages or to sibling pages. We thought of a way to make that process easier to do and we came up with two different — but related — blocks for working with subpages and sibling pages.
The new blocks in Yoast SEO 14.5 are very easy to use and basically do what they say on the tin. The Subpages block lists all the subpages that have that particular page as a parent. So, if I have a page about Italian food, I might have subpages like this:
Adding the Subpages block to the page, automatically presents all these subpages in a neat list.
You can add the Siblings block to any of the subpages to list the siblings of the page you’ve added it to. So, if you add it to the pasta page, it’ll automatically list the related pages, in this case pizza and soup.
Now, you can link all hierarchically related content by simply adding a block! The blocks only work on hierarchical pages, not on blog posts.
While the blocks in their naked form might seem a bit awkward for some purposes, you can style them with CSS to your hearts content. For instance, by using a bit of additional CSS you can turn them into something like this:
You don’t need much to come to the above result. For reference, find the CSS below. Remember, you can easily add custom CSS via the theme customizer in WordPress.
With WordPress 5.5, XML sitemaps make their way into WordPress core. Of course, that’s good news for the web. Together with Google, we spearheaded the project of bringing XML sitemaps to core and we’re proud that the moment has come that every WordPress site will get an XML sitemap. Now, a large part of the web will be a much friendlier place for crawlers!
As awesome as the core XML sitemaps may be, we’ve decided to disable these for Yoast SEO users and we’re continuing to use our own XML sitemaps. Our XML sitemaps are more sophisticated, integrated, and automated, that’s why we decided to disable the core WordPress XML sitemap for our users.
In Yoast SEO 14.5, Premium users can enjoy two new blocks for the block editor: the Subpages and Siblings blocks. These can help improve internal linking for hierarchical pages. They are extremely easy to use, but powerful!
We’ve also chosen to continue to use our own XML sitemaps over those in WordPress 5.5 as ours are fully developed, fast and flexible. We think these’ll serve your site best.
The current target for final release is August 11, 2020. This is only five weeks away. Your help is needed to ensure this release is tested properly.
Testing for bugs is an important part of polishing the release during the beta stage and a great way to contribute. Here are some of the big changes and features to pay close attention to while testing.
Block editor: features and improvements
WordPress 5.5 will include ten releases of the Gutenberg plugin, bringing with it a long list of exciting new features. Here are just a few:
Inline image editing – Crop, rotate, and zoom photos inline right from image blocks.
Block patterns – Building elaborate pages can be a breeze with new block patterns. Several are included by default.
Device previews – See how your content will look to users on many different screen sizes.
End block overwhelm. The new block inserter panel displays streamlined categories and collections. As a bonus, it supports patterns and integrates with the new block directory right out of the box.
Discover, install, and insert third-party blocks from your editor using the new block directory.
A better, smoother editing experience with:
Block movers that you can see and grab
Parent block selection
Contextual focus highlights
Multi-select formatting lets you change a bunch of blocks at once
Ability to copy and relocate blocks easily
And, better performance
An expanded design toolset for themes.
Now add backgrounds and gradients to more kinds of blocks, like groups, columns, media & text
And support for more types of measurements — not just pixels. Choose ems, rems, percentages, vh, vw, and more! Plus, adjust line heights while typing, turning writing and typesetting into the seamless act.
In all, WordPress 5.5 brings more than 1,500 useful improvements to the block editor experience.
XML Sitemaps are now included in WordPress and enabled by default. Sitemaps are essential to search engines discovering the content on your website. Your site’s home page, posts, pages, custom post types, and more will be included to improve your site’s visibility.
WordPress 5.5 will include native support for lazy-loaded images utilizing new browser standards. With lazy-loading, images will not be sent to users until they approach the viewport. This saves bandwidth for everyone (users, hosts, ISPs), makes it easier for those with slower internet speeds to browse the web, saves electricity, and more.
With every release, WordPress works hard to improve accessibility. Version 5.5 is no different and packs a parcel of accessibility fixes and enhancements. Take a look:
List tables now come with extensive, alternate view modes.
Link-list widgets can now be converted to HTML5 navigation blocks.
Copying links in media screens and modal dialogs can now be done with a simple click of a button.
Disabled buttons now actually look disabled.
Meta boxes can now be moved with the keyboard.
A custom logo on the front page no longer links to the front page.
Assistive devices can now see status messages in the Image Editor.
The shake animation indicating a login failure now respects the user’s choices in the `prefers-reduced-motion` media query.
Redundant `Error:` prefixes have been removed from error notices.
Plugins and themes can now be updated by uploading a ZIP file.
If you think you’ve found a bug, please post to the Alpha/Beta area in the support forums. We would love to hear from you! If you’re comfortable writing a reproducible bug report, file one on WordPress Trac. That’s also where you can find a list of known bugs.