Automattic Experiments With Selfies App For Android

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Selfies App Automattic A couple of days ago, an acquaintance on Twitter pointed out the website for Selfies, a new social app from Automattic, best known as the company behind WordPress. I found it odd that the app was out in the wild and hadn’t received any press coverage, but according to the site’s FAQ, that was the point: to see what would happen if they just put it out there. Read More

July 26th 2014 wordpress

Oh man, I just scanned…

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Oh man, I just scanned down and now I'm really sad I'm not going to @WordCampNYC #wordpress

July 26th 2014 personal, wordpress

WP Email Login Video

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The folks over at 1wd liked my WP Email Login plugin for WordPress enough that they made this quick tutorial video for it:

July 4th 2014 video, wordpress

Google Panda 4, and blocking your CSS & JS

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Yoast liked Google PandaA month ago Google introduced its Panda 4.0 update. Over the last few weeks we’ve been able to “fix” a couple of sites that got hit in it. These sites both lost more than 50% of their search traffic in that update. When they returned, their previous position in the search results came back. Sounds too good to be true, right? Read on. It was actually very easy.

Last week Peter - an old industry friend who runs a company called BigSpark - came by the Yoast office. BigSpark owns a website called and they’d been hit by the every so friendly Google Panda. Now has been investing in high quality content about (you guessed it) iPhones for a few years now, and in the last year they’ve stepped it up a notch. They are pushing out lots of news every day with a high focus on quality and their site looks great. Which is why I was surprised by them being hit. You just don’t want your Searchmetrics graph to look like this:

iphoned searchmetrics

Notice the initial dip, then the return and the second dip, leaving them at 1/3rd of the SEO visibility they were “used to”. I dove into their Google Webmaster Tools and other data to see what I could find.

Fetch as Google’s relation to Google Panda

In Google Webmaster Tools, Google recently introduced a new feature on the fetch as Google page: fetch and render. Coincidence? I think not. They introduced this a week after they rolled out Google Panda. This is what it showed when we asked it to fetch and render iPhoned’s iPhone 6 page:

fetch as google no css

Even for fans of minimalism, this is too much.

Now, iPhoned makes money from ads. It doesn’t have a ridiculous amount of them, but because it uses an ad network a fair amount of scripts and pixels get loaded. My hypothesis was: if Google is unable to render the CSS and JS, it can’t determine where the ads on your page are. In iPhoned’s case, it couldn’t render the CSS and JS because they were accidentally blocked in their robots.txt after a server migration.

Google runs so called page layout algorithms to determine how many ads you have. It particularly checks how many ads you have above the fold. If you have too many, that’s not a good thing and it can seriously hurt your rankings.

In the past blocking your CSS was touted by others as an “easy” way of getting away from issues like this, rather than solving the actual issue. Which is why I immediately connected the dots: fetch and render and a Google Panda update? Coincidences like that just don’t happen. So I asked Peter whether we could remove the block, which we did on the spot. I was once again thankful for the robots.txt editor I built into our WordPress SEO plugin.

Remarkable resurrection

The result was surprising, more so even because of the speed with which it worked. It’s now a week ago that we changed that block and their Searchmetrics graph looks like this:

iPhoned survived Google Panda

They’ve returned on almost all of their important keywords. Just by unblocking Google from spidering their CSS and JS.

When we saw this we went and looked at some of our recent website review clients and we found the exact same pattern. One of them turned out to have the same problem and already looks to be returning too.

Confirmation from Google: don’t block your CSS & JS

Now I don’t usually post my “SEO theories” on the web, mostly because I think that’s more hurtful than helpful in many, many cases as they’re just theories. So I didn’t want to write this up without confirmation from Google that this was really the cause of the issue here. But then I read this live blog from last weeks SMX, and more specifically, this quote from Maile Ohye embedded in it:

“We recommend making sure Googlebot can access any embedded resource that meaningfully contributes to your site’s visible content or its layout”

That basically confirms our theory, which had already been proven in practice too, so I went ahead and wrote this post. Would love to hear if you’ve seen similar issues with the Google Panda 4 update, or (even better) if in a week from now you’re ranking again because you read this and acted!

This post first appeared on Yoast. Whoopity Doo!

June 20th 2014 wordpress

WordPress SEO Premium 1.2

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Premium 130x100 x2As I announced yesterday on the Dradcast, we released a new version of WordPress SEO premium. This is another feature packed update with a lot of things people had been asking us for. Let me go through the list of new features:

Import redirects from your .htaccess file

If you have a lot of redirects in your .htaccess file and find it a hassle to manage, you can now import them into WordPress SEO, just go to SEO → Import & Export and you’ll see this:

redirects import

Just copy / paste your redirects and they’ll be imported!

Write redirects to .htaccess file

Once you’ve imported your redirects, you can then also write them back to that file using the plugin. This means you have the best of both worlds: your redirects are as fast as can be because they don’t need WordPress to load up, but you can manage them from inside WordPress!

Choose the redirect type

Up until now, every redirect you created with the plugin was automatically a 301 redirect, also known as a permanent redirect. We realize that sometimes you’d rather do a temporary redirect, (a 302 or a 307) so we allow you to choose the redirect type now:

redirect type

Catching post slug and category / tag slug changes

When you change the slug of a post, WordPress automatically creates a redirect for you from the old post URL to the new post URL. The issue is that it’s rather hard to change that redirect at that point, should you want to. So we intercept that and now we create the redirect in WordPress SEO premium, so you can change it should you want.

Even worse, if you change the URL for a category, tag or other custom taxonomy, WordPress does absolutely nothing to prevent users from getting 404s. WordPress SEO premium will now automatically add a redirect from the old URL to the new one for you.

Redirect when deleting posts / terms

Similar to when you change the URL, when you delete a post, tag or category, the old URL for that post, tag or category would at that point go to 404 not found page. WordPress SEO premium will now offer you the option of redirecting that URL to another one if you remove a post / page from the trash:

delete redirect notification

Miscellaneous bug fixes

Of course we’ve also asked some bugs to go away and we’ve updated the core WordPress SEO plugin to the latest version, so there’s lots of good stuff to play with!

If you haven’t bought WordPress SEO premium yet and this has convinced you that we’re doing cool things, go here and buy it!

This post first appeared on Yoast. Whoopity Doo!

June 6th 2014 SEO, wordpress

Feedback on #WordPress WP-API 1.0…

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Feedback on #WordPress WP-API 1.0

June 5th 2014 personal, wordpress

Improving our reviews

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yoast reviewsWe recently did customer research into what our site review customers thought about our site reviews. While we were very happy with the results, it also showed us some things we could improve. It was very clear people wanted our reviews for the SEO improvements most of all, and today we’re launching the changes to our review spectrum that are a result of that.

The biggest change we’re making is that we’re going to be actually making changes to your site, if you’ll let us: we’re going to be configuring the WordPress SEO plugin in a way that we think makes most sense for your site. This is not a “5 minute” process, as we have to understand what your website is all about to make the right decisions on all of the plugins settings, but because we’ve done the review, we can actually do that.

Also, we’ll throw in a license to our Premium plugin for a year, so you get the best we have to offer plus a year of support. All of that for the, low, low price of $899. If you don’t have WordPress or aren’t interested in getting us to configure WordPress SEO, you can get the Silver SEO Review for $699.

Check out our improved reviews page!

The new “ultimate Yoast package”: Diamond review

Also new is our new “ultimate Yoast package”, the Diamond review: for $3,999 we’ll do a platinum SEO review, a full conversion review, we’ll configure your site’s goals in Google Analytics and/or Clicky and we’ll configure your WordPress SEO if you have it.

We’ve done over a thousand reviews already and with these changes we hope to make the next 1,000 customers even more happy than the previous 1,000.

This post first appeared on Yoast. Whoopity Doo!

May 22nd 2014 wordpress

The Snippet Preview: what it means and how to use it.

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Our WordPress SEO plugin has come with a snippet preview from day 1. This snippet preview mimics what the current page would look like in the search results, by our best “guesstimation”. In this post I’ll explain what the different sections are made up of, and what you can do to optimize those. I’ll also explain why the snippet might not always match what you see in the search results.

Note that the screenshots in this post are made using the latest version of WordPress SEO as of writing, version 1.5.3. So if you think “this is different from what I’m seeing”: update.

snippet preview 1

An example of the snippet preview

What determines the look of a snippet in the search results?

The above snippet preview lacks a few things. For instance, it lacks bolding of a keyword. If you search for a specific word, Google will bold that keyword in the snippets it shows. But it actually goes one step further. Once it has determined which pages will rank for your search, it tries to find a bit of the page that has that word in it. If your meta description (if you have one) doesn’t contain the keyword that was searched for, it’ll grab a “random” snippet of the page that contains that keyword.

This is one of the reasons why it helps tremendously if you know what the most searched for keyword for a page is going to be, so you can optimize the snippet for it. Let’s slightly change the look of the above snippet preview: if you set the focus keyword of your post, that word will be automatically bolded.

snippet preview with bolded words

snippet preview with bolded words

As you can see, the plugin “adapts” by trying to find a sentence that contains the focus keyword in the content, just like Google would. It has also bolded the keyword in both the title and the URL. Now you’ll agree with me that this is far from a perfect snippet yet. We could do better by improving the title, the post’s URL or “slug” and by crafting a meta description.

The title

The title is the first thing people see in the search results for your posts and pages, and in many, many cases the only thing. So it’d better be damn good. Funnily enough, Google actually changes your title for you, if it thinks you’re not doing a good enough job. There are many reasons why it might do that, most of them explained in this post.

The title in the snippet preview is determined based on the title template you’ve set in your SEO → Titles & Metas settings, using variables from your current post. In our case, that template is simply:

%%title%% • %%sitename%%

So the plugin takes the post title, and appends that middle dot plus the site’s name. You could have the category in there if you want, but that usually gives you less room to properly play with the title. Removing the site’s name is not a good idea. Google will usually rewrite your titles if they don’t contain branding, see the above post for details.

Of course, WordPress SEO allows you to have a title that’s different from your article’s main heading and in some cases, that’s a good idea. If you’ve done a bit of keyword research to determine the focus keyword for your page, you might have seen there are several variations of that keyword. For instance, for our keyword “snippet preview”, Google suggest shows the following:

snippet preview google search

A Google search for “snippet preview” shows the following suggestions.

Now, our current title would definitely match for [snippet preview yoast], but it might not match for [snippet preview wordpress]. And we’re actually explaining the snippet preview in our WordPress SEO plugin, so it might be helpful to put that in the post’s title. Also, running the words snippet preview through übersuggest actually suggest there are some how to type queries for the keyword as well.

So let’s, combine all that knowledge and change our title tag to “The Snippet Preview in WordPress SEO: a how-to • Yoast”. I first wanted to make the title “Using the Snippet Preview in WordPress SEO: a how-to • Yoast”, but that’s too long and would thus look like this:

snippet preview - title too long

snippet preview example: title too long

As you can see, the title is cut off using ellipsis. This behavior was changed in the May 12th 2014 release based on the excellent work done by Dr Pete Meyers in this post on Moz. If the title is too long, you’d see this error below the title input field too:

snippet preview title length error

But now, we have a nicely optimized title that’ll match the keywords were looking for. Let’s see what it looks like:

snippet preview 4

The meta description

Now that our title is up to snuff, let’s work on the second biggest “item” in the snippet: the description. Often referred to as the “snippet” too, though that might be slightly confusing in this context. We’re going to try to get control of this snippet as often as possible, meaning that we should have a snippet that matches many of the keywords that’ll match this post.

We know that we want people to be able to search for [snippet preview] and preferably also [snippet preview how-to] and [snippet preview yoast]. So, let’s write our meta description. While writing your meta description, the snippet preview updates live, so you can test what works and fits, length wise. I ended up with this:

Use WordPress SEO by Yoast? This post explains what its snippet preview does and explains you how to use it to optimize your content.

Before showing another screenshot, let’s go the next section of the preview.

The URL or “slug”

The slug is the part of the URL that identifies your article. So in our example above its “snippet-preview-means-use”. Slugs in WordPress are normally the article title, lowercased, with spaces replaced by hyphens. WordPress SEO has an option to remove stop words from your slug, which has cleaned up our slug considerably already. But since we’ve opted to change the title of our post, we’ll edit the slug as well, simply to “snippet-preview-how-to”.

The “yoast” keyword will already be matched by the domain (not in the screenshots as I was making these in my local development environment).

Having edited both the meta description and the slug now, our final preview looks like this:

snippet preview final

Looking loads better, right?

Note that we’ve later changed it to just “snippet-preview” as we’ll be linking to this post from within the plugin and we want people to be able to simply remember the URL.

The date

This is a post, and posts carry date info in Google search. Some SEOs, including us, have tried hiding those in the past, but to be honest, that’s a sacrifice to usability we’re not willing to make anymore. For pages and other post types there won’t be a date in the snippet preview, as usually those won’t display dates.

If you want to change that behavior for a particular post type, go to SEO → Titles & Metas and check the box below the post type:

titles metas settings post type

Author image

If you’ve enabled authorship for your posts, you might see an author image next your posts in the search results. Our plugin won’t reflect that, as it doesn’t really change much about the post.

Use snippet preview to optimize your posts

I hope this post has made it clear for you how you can use the snippet preview to optimize your writing. This functionality is available in WordPress SEO by Yoast and of course also in WordPress SEO Premium.

If you’re unsure about whether you’re using WordPress SEO right and want us to have a look at your site and give you tips for optimization, have a look at our website reviews.

If you’ve got more tips on using this feature, drop them in the comments!

This post first appeared on Yoast. Whoopity Doo!

May 12th 2014 wordpress

RT @jasonibarra: PREDICTION for 2016:…

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RT @jasonibarra: PREDICTION for 2016: expect less #PHP #WordPress themes and more #JavaScript based themes in – #wcmiami @aaronjorbin #back…

May 11th 2014 personal, wordpress

News SEO 2.0: Google News optimization with ease

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news seoWe’ve rebuilt and reimagined our News SEO plugin and taken it to the next level. Today we’re proud to release News SEO version 2.0, which allows you to easily optimize your site for Google News.

It had been, unfortunately, almost 2 years since we last updated the plugin which meant it didn’t work anymore for 95% of people and lacked many features. We’ve decided to make it a premium product, much like our Local SEO and Video SEO plugins, so we can actually afford to spend time on it. As always, our core WordPress SEO plugin (to which this News SEO plugin is an addon) is and will remain free of charge. Of course this plugin can also be used with our Premium WordPress SEO plugin.

What does our News SEO plugin do?

The News SEO plugin allows you to optimize your site for Google News. It creates XML News Sitemaps, editors picks RSS feeds and allows for use of the standout tag and the meta news_keywords tag as well as helping you optimize some of the more advanced XML News sitemap options like stock tickers.

Of course, you have to be in Google News first to be able to optimize for it, which is why I’ve taken the time to write a page outlining the Google News submission process. Not all sites qualify for Google News, but for those that do, it can be a very powerful source of traffic.

Universal Search

One of the most important reasons that Google News can lead to so much traffic is because it’s included in Google’s Universal Search results. A search for [mh370] in Google, for instance, will currently show something like this:

mh370 google search - news seo at work

Those first 3 results are taken directly from Google News, as is the image. As you can imagine, this can drive quite a bit of traffic on current affairs as well as celebrity names, sports clubs etc.

If your site is included in Google News and you run our WordPress SEO plugin, buying this extension should be a no-brainer. If you’re in Google News, your site runs on WordPress and you’re not using our WordPress SEO plugin… Well, shame on you :)

Now, you can go buy the News SEO plugin right, or read some more first.

1 year upgrades & support:

This post first appeared on Yoast. Whoopity Doo!

April 22nd 2014 wordpress