WordPress SEO 2.0: focus on what matters

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We’re proud to announce the availability of WordPress SEO 2.0. This release adds new features for Google’s Knowledge Graph and improves the design, layout & usability of the WordPress SEO plugins admin screens in many ways.

Google Knowledge Graph

Google recently introduced new features for their knowledge graph, allowing you to highlight yourself in the search results as either a company or a person. This includes you or your company’s name, if your site is for a company, the logo:

google knowledge graph info

And it includes your social profiles (this is the list of social networks Google supports in their social markup):

Social Profiles tab in WordPress SEO 2.0

If Google has picked this all up and shows a Knowledge Graph block for you or your company (note that we can’t force it to do that), it would look like this:

Google Knowledge Graph example

Simplified the admin menus

We’ve decided to move several admin pages under one “Advanced” page, and several tools to a new “Tools” page. This makes our entire admin structure a lot cleaner (note the screenshots are for WordPress SEO premium), compare the old (left) versus the new (right):

wordpress seo admin menu changes

While this might seem mostly a superficial change, it’s very important in how we think you should perceive our plugin. The most important thing you can do in SEO is write good content; the most important section of the plugin is thus the metabox on the edit post / pages. While the features hidden under the Advanced menu are very useful, they’re not going to make your ranking go from poor to awesome. By moving them all to one advanced page, we hope to make that emphasis more obvious.

WordPress SEO Premium changes

Speed improvement

Not a feature, but a very welcome change: we’ve made WordPress SEO Premium much, much faster in this release. You’ll notice this in the admin of your site almost immediately.

Updated videos

Because we’ve changed all the admin screens, all the videos had to be redone, so in WordPress SEO Premium 2.0 you’ll find a completely new set of 13 videos made by Shawn Hesketh of WP101. This is the first of these 13 videos you’ll get with WordPress SEO Premium:

Version number changes

With this release we’ve also made the version number of WordPress SEO and WordPress SEO premium the same. They’re both called 2.0. We will keep them the same throughout future releases, so we only have to communicate one version number.

Go update!

Go update your WordPress SEO and let us know what you think!

This post first appeared as WordPress SEO 2.0: focus on what matters on Yoast. Whoopity Doo!

March 27th 2015 wordpress

GA plugin security update & more

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It’s been quite the week here at Yoast. Our release of a security update to WordPress SEO was followed by several other major plugins uncovering similar issues and a renewed interest among security researchers into big WordPress plugins. Turns out we had another issue to patch, so today we released an update to our Google Analytics plugin (both free and premium) too.

How serious are these issues?

One of the things we should have probably communicated better is the severity of the issues at hand. Some of the news outlets made it seem as though someone could walk straight into your site because of these issues, which is not even close to true. Our partners at Sucuri did a post this week on how to understand WordPress plugin vulnerabilities that’s a good read.

If you’ve read that post you’ll learn about the DREAD score, both the WordPress SEO issue and todays Google Analytics by Yoast issue were assigned a DREAD score of 5. That’s “Low”, but unfortunately, it’s still an issue, so you’re advised to updated immediately.

What was the issue in GA by Yoast?

The issue we fixed was another compound issue where an unauthenticated user could change the list of profiles in Google Analytics (he couldn’t change the active UA code, so he couldn’t impact your tracking directly). This list of profiles could be made malicious because Google Analytics allows property names that have JavaScript code in them. At that point an admin visiting the settings page could suffer from a stored XSS attack because we didn’t properly escape the property names on output. This is not something a hacker could easily automate, hence the low DREAD score, but if someone wanted to seriously target your site, he could.

We are thankful to Jouko Pynnönen for responsibly disclosing this issue to us.

Note that the fact that it’s responsibly disclosed to us means that we have not seen this issue being actively used by hackers yet. We’re fixing the hole before anyone is using it. Because we do that publicly, someone might start looking for this issue though, so please, please: update.

Are you done with those security issues yet?

I can thoroughly imagine that you’re done with these security issues. Trust me, so are we. But bugs happen, all we can do is fix them as soon as possible when we figure them out and inform you when they do. We’ve just started another review cycle with our partners at Sucuri, who will once again review all our major plugins for security issues. We work hard to prevent issues like this but sometimes we too make mistakes. For that, we apologize.

For now: update!

If you use the free version of our Google Analytics plugin, update to version 5.3.3. If you use Google Analytics by Yoast Premium, you should update to version 1.2.2, if you don’t know how, read our knowledge base article on updating premium plugins.

This post first appeared as GA plugin security update & more on Yoast. Whoopity Doo!

March 19th 2015 wordpress

WordPress SEO Security release

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This morning we released an update to our WordPress SEO plugin (both free and premium) that fixes a security issue. A bit more details follow below, but the short version of this post is simple: update. Now. Although you might find your WordPress install has already updated for you.

What did we fix?

We fixed a CSRF issue that allowed blind SQL injection. The one sentence explanation for the not so technical: by having a logged-in author, editor or admin visit a malformed URL a malicious hacker could change your database. While this does not allow mass hacking of installs using this hole, it does allow direct targeting of a user on a website. This is a serious issue, which is why we immediately set to work to fix it when we were notified of the issue.

Why we didn’t catch it? Well… Long story. It should have been caught in one of our regular security reviews. The values were escaped using esc_sql, which one would expect would prevent SQL injection. It does not. You’ll need far stricter sanitization. Not an excuse but it’s a good lesson to learn for other developers.

Responsible disclosure

We were notified of this issue by Ryan Dewhurst of the WPScan team, who waited for us to release an update before publishing his find to the public, for which we thank him! This type of responsible disclosure is what keeps us all safe, but it only does so if you update.

Forced automatic update

Because of the severity of the issue, the WordPress.org team put out a forced automatic update (thanks!). If you didn’t specifically disable those and you were:

  • running on 1.7 or higher, you’ll have been auto-updated to 1.7.4.
  • If you were running on 1.6.*, you’ll have been updated to 1.6.4.
  • If you were running on 1.5.*, you’ll have been updated to 1.5.7.

If you are on an older version, we can’t auto-update you, but you should really update for tons of reasons. Of course you should really move to 1.7.4 as soon as you can anyway.

Note: If you’re using WordPress SEO Premium, you should immediately update to version 1.5.3. You can find the how-to in our knowledge base.

This post first appeared as WordPress SEO Security release on Yoast. Whoopity Doo!

March 12th 2015 wordpress

Public betas for our plugins

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public betas for our pluginsOver the last few months we’ve been working hard on improving how we build and test our plugins. We’re writing more and more unit tests and are trying to prevent issues from popping up. There’s one recurring issue though: we can’t test everything. Hosting environments vary so much that we have decided to do more public betas for our plugins. As a direct result of that decision, this post announces two public betas as well as reminds you of our beta mailing list.

For both plugins we’re aiming for a beta period of about a week but if too many bugs come out of a beta we’ll of course postpone release.

WordPress SEO by Yoast 1.8-beta

We’ve refactored large parts of the frontend code of our WordPress SEO plugin and heavily optimized how the plugin loads its modules in both front- and backend. The execution of code of our plugins code on the frontend is now approximately 30 – 40% faster, which of course is awesome. But… This almost has to lead to bugs and while we’ve fixed a fair few and our unit tests all succeed, we’d like you to test.

Most important here is testing whether there are any major differences in meta data between your pages with the current WordPress SEO plugin and this beta. This beta introduces a few new features around Twitter cards (Twitter cards on every page, support for the Twitter Gallery card) but all the other meta data should be the same.

Another thing that should work better in this release is everything to do with characters with accents, umlauts etc in the focus keyword and all the tests around that.

Download WordPress SEO by Yoast 1.8 beta here »

(or check it out from GitHub but in that case make sure to update Git sub-modules too)

Note: this is beta software. Do not use on production environments.

Google Analytics by Yoast 5.3-beta

The release of the dashboards for our Google Analytics plugin has been a bit of a bumpy ride. We’ve made some mistakes and have had to scramble to fix those. Brian Krogsgard actually wrote a nice post over on Post Status about it, if you’re interested in the background. We think this beta release fixes some of the last remaining issues but we’re having a hard time confirming those, so we decided to ask a wider audience to test.

This beta has the option to completely disable the dashboards functionality, should you want to. It should also no longer show any notices about re-authentication or at least show them way less frequently than it did for some people.

Download Google Analytics by Yoast 5.3-beta here » 

(or check it out from GitHub but in that case make sure to update Git sub-modules too)

Note: this is beta software. Do not use on production environments.

How to give feedback

So you want to test and give feedback? Awesome, thank you! We’d prefer your feedback in the form of new issues on GitHub (make sure to mention the beta) or as emails to beta at yoast.com.

The beta mailing list

We have a mailing list for beta testers that we’ll be using more often, you can sign up for that here. We’ll send new versions of the betas out to that mailing list too so make sure to subscribe if you’re testing.

This post first appeared on Yoast. Whoopity Doo!

January 16th 2015 wordpress

Writing a blog: the text objective of your blogpost

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Writing a blog- the text objective of your blogpostI previously wrote posts about the structure and about the style of your post. In this post, we will focus on the purpose of your text. A lot of people forget to properly formulate the purpose of their blog post or article. This is unfortunate, because if you do not properly define the aim of your text, it will be impossible to check whether or not you have succeeded. You do not write just for the sake of writing but because you have an idea of what you want your audience to know or do (or to stop doing).

Three main text objectives

I distinguish three main text objectives. First, your objective could be merely to inform people. A second objective could be to persuade people. You want people to buy your products or to return to your website. The final objective of your text could be entertaining or amusing. You could write a text in order to entertain your audience, for instance by making them laugh or by moving them. These three text objectives are not at all mutually exclusive. A piece could be informative and amusing at the same time!

Long term business aims and text objectives

Apart from the objective of your text, your company or your website will have long term business objectives. You should think about those long term business aims while determining the objectives of the text on your website.

For instance, at Yoast.com, we write blogposts largely to inform people about SEO. So the objective is to inform people. However, we also want people to become return visitors and to gain trust in our brand. Eventually, the long term purpose of our informing blogs is to gain enough trust for people to buy one of our products.

Be aware that if the objective of your post is to generate links from others, you should think about the character of your post as well. If you want your post to attract links from other sites in order to improve your rankings in Google you should focus on writing informative or amusing posts. Persuasive posts, in which the sales arguments are salient, will not receive as many links as purely informative posts will. People are more likely to share an informative or an amusing post than a purely persuasive post, because these posts are more free of ulterior motives.

Tips to use when focussing on one of the three main text objectives

In the following paragraphs we will give some tips you can use when writing either an informative, a persuasive or an amusing post or article.

Informative texts

In an informative text you explain something to your audience. You want them to understand more about a topic or you want them to use your information (put theory to practice). That’s it. You should take some time to clearly formulate the issue you want to address in your post. And an informative text will usually need quite some investigating in order to decide on the exact content of a piece.

The style of an informative text should be clear and professional. You should focus on the message itself. Focussing on content will give your text a professional and reliable character. Your style should not be too amicable. It could even be a bit distant.

The structure of an informative text should be clear. A logical structure could be to address a different topic in each paragraph. In the conclusion you could summarize the information of your entire text.

Persuasive texts

A persuasive text is a text a reader doesn’t necessarily want to read. The purpose of your text is to persuade your audience to do something (such as buying your product) it wasn’t necessarily planning to do. For that very reason, you will understand that writing persuasive texts is very hard.

The style of a persuasive text should be very bold. Your sentences and paragraphs should be short. You can either focus on convincing your audience with emotions or with logic.

If you choose to persuade with emotions, try to use a lot of positive words (like fun, easy, quality). Make your post personal and write from the perspective of the reader. You could for instance address the reader directly using words as ‘you’ and ‘your’. Anecdotes or stories illustrating the awesomeness of your product are very nice to use if you are trying to convince people by using emotions.

If you want to persuade using logic, you should take some time to write down all of your logical arguments. Make sure you deduce your arguments correctly and make use of examples to illustrate your arguments. Focussing on persuasion using logic calls for a relatively distant and formal style. Of course, you can also choose a strategy in which you combine persuading with emotions and logic.

The structure of a persuasive text should reflect your arguments. Make sure to use separate paragraphs for your arguments (regardless whether you have emotional or logical arguments). Use lots of headings and make sure you use the most important arguments in the titles of your headings.

Amusing texts

An amusing text’s main objective is to entertain people. Usually these texts tend to be funny. Amusing texts could also be moving or touching. A column is a very nice example of an amusing text.

Writing solely amusing texts will not be an activity many of you will undertake. Most texts will have both an amusing as well as an informative or a persuasive objective. Blogs on a mom blog often tend to be amusing (at least for women), but usually serve an informative or persuasive objective as well.

Writing in an amusing style is definitely very hard. Some people just have much more talent to be funny, to come up with funny anecdotes or with nice word plays. Perhaps you should not instantly aim for an amusing text, but try to master the informative and persuasive texts first. Using exaggerations and metaphors could be a first attempt to make your text (more) amusing. Amusing texts usually ask for an informal style. These texts are often very personal, containing the words ‘I’ and ‘my’.

Conclusion

Thinking about the objective of your post is something you definitely should take some time for. Take into account the long term aims of your business or your website as well. And make sure the objective of your post and the aims of your business are similar. Finally, use our tips to make sure the style and structure of your post fits your text objective.

This post first appeared on Yoast. Whoopity Doo!

January 7th 2015 wordpress

The 2014 Yoast year in review

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The 2014 Yoast year in reviewIn 2014 Yoast once again grew exponentially. I thought it’d be fun to highlight some of the things that happened and show what we’ve been working on that might have been somewhat hidden.

User base

Our WordPress SEO plugin is now used by approximately 4 million users worldwide, with our Google Analytics plugin following with a still respectable 1.25 million users. This means especially our SEO plugin has doubled its usage in a year, something we’re incredibly proud of and thankful for.

Development

In February of this year, we released version 1 of our WordPress SEO Premium plugin, one of our “flagship” products. In the beginning of December, we added a Premium offering to our Google Analytics plugin, offering the tracking of and dashboards for Custom Dimensions and a few other things. Both of these releases have been very successful and received very good feedback.

While we’ve released premium versions of our plugins, our free plugins have been consistently updated and getting new functionality as well. Our Google Analytics plugin got support for Google’s new Universal tracking and a brand new dashboards feature.

Our WordPress SEO plugin has had several major updates, thanks in part to Juliette, who deserves nothing but praise for all the work she put into all of the releases but most noteworthy our 1.5 release, which made the plugin much more stable and 20 – 30% faster. We also added new features like the bulk editor and several social features. We also added a search in site links feature, removed author highlighting when Google stopped doing that and much, much more.

During the year, we on-boarded a complete team of engineers, now headed by Omar, our development manager. Under his lead, we did a lot of work to make our code more future proof and maintainable, using a lot of unit tests, Code Climate, continuous integration tests through Travis etc. We’ve also got a Grunt setup in all our major plugins now that should be easy for many other plugin developers to copy. This trend will certainly continue in the new year.

Support

The growth of our customer and user base also meant we had to handle more questions. To that end we’ve grown our support team to now be 6 people, 2 in our office in Wijchen and 4 around the world (to be precise: Rumejan in the Phillipines, Nile and Angelia in the US and Ramon in Spain) so we can offer support in all timezones.

Internationalization

Yoast TranslateAlong with all the changes to code, Taco and myself put a lot of time and effort in getting more and better translations for our plugins. Our translate site is now being used by more and more people and we’re shipping more and more different translations for our plugins, a trend we will definitely want to continue over the next year. So if you’ve got some time during the holidays to translate one of our plugins, do sign up!

Site Reviews

While our plugins are probably the reason most people know us, an ever growing group of customers is using our site review service. This service, in which our team reviews your site and gives you lots of actionable feedback, has seen several overhauls this year, including new names, new offerings and more, leading to our current Silver, Gold, Platinum and Diamond site reviews that make me proud.

My goal has always been to make our knowledge available to as many people as we can. This inevitably leads to problems with scale. Our site reviews make it possible for our customers to get a lot of solid feedback on their site for less than 10% of what the agencies I once worked for myself would charge for similar reports. We’ve done 400+ reviews in 2014 and I expect we’ll do 600+ in 2015. We have an interesting Holiday sale going on with them right now if you want to get your site reviewed early in 2015.

eBooks

We released our first two eBooks this year, books we honestly hadn’t even planned on at the beginning of the year, to tremendous success. We’ve sold over 6,000 copies now and had some very good feedback. Our next eBook, written by Marieke and myself entirely, focuses entirely on Content SEO. It’s in the final production stages now and will be available for purchase in the first quarter of 2015. If you want to be among the first to hear when it’s released, subscribe to our newsletter!

Posts

Outside of the posts I’ve already linked to in the sections above, we’ve had some other posts that received a lot of positive feedback that I’d like to highlight:

The team

Last but not least, our team has grown, a lot. As said we added 4 people in support internationally and we now have 15 people in our office in Wijchen and are currently looking for 3 more, so if you want to start the new year with new job, live close by and fit the profile, do apply!

Conclusion: 2014 was great!

I can honestly say 2014 exceeded all my expectations. We’re far from done here at Yoast so we’ll be doing lots of cool things in 2015, but first, we’re going to take a short break and relax.

I wish you all very happy holidays and hope to “see” you in 2015!

This post first appeared on Yoast. Whoopity Doo!

December 24th 2014 wordpress

Yoast’s Holiday Sale

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happy holidays yoastx2The holidays are just around the corner! At Yoast, we truly do love Christmas and New Year’s eve. The main reason we love it so much, is because it gives people the motivation to start so many new and inspiring things each year. What are your new year’s resolutions? Do you have some big plans for the new year?

We’d love to give you a little nudge in achieving your goals! That’s why we have an awesome all-round sale, which starts now and lasts until January 2nd! Curious what we’ve got for you? Here it is!

The New Year’s Resolution discount

Get a whopping 20% discount on both our Silver SEO Review and our Gold SEO Review. No need for special links or coupons, this discount is for everyone!
Note: We’ll start these reviews after the holidays, so they won’t be completed in the regular 2-week time frame.

Get your 20% discount on a Silver or Gold SEO Review »

Prancer’s Premium Plugin Pack

Get over 35% discount on a pack including both WordPress SEO Premium and Google Analytics by Yoast Premium. And just during this period we’ll also be including the Optimize Your WordPress site ebook!

Get Prancer’s Premium Plugin Pack here »

The Decorate Your Site bundle

All of our themes for the price of just one! That means 4 awesome, completely SEO-proof themes for just $59!

Get the Decorate Your Site bundle here »

That’s it! We hope this will help you enjoy the holidays as much as we will!

This post first appeared on Yoast. Whoopity Doo!

December 12th 2014 wordpress

Writing a blog: creating a clear blog post structure

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Creating a blog post structureA few weeks ago, I wrote a post about obtaining an attractive writing style. I gave some practical tips to make your blogs more readable. In this post, I will give practical tips to help you set up a nice and clear blog structure. Before the end of this year, I will write a final post about text objectives.

Why is blog post structure important?

It really pays off to think about the structure of your piece before you actually start writing. The structure is the skeleton of your text: it will help the reader grasp the main idea of your text.

Writing awesome articles will not instantly improve your ranking. But: in the long run it will definitely have a positive effect on your SEO! Well structured texts have lower bounce rates and higher chances to receive social media attention.

Post with clear blog post structure will also result in higher conversions on your website. If your message is properly understood by your audience, chances are much larger for them to buy your products or return to your website.

How to set up your structure

Think before you start writing. Take a piece of paper and write down what you want to write about. Set up a blog post structure, before you start writing and hold on to that structure while writing your blog post. Setting up a structure of your text can (for instance) be done following these three steps:

Step 1: Create a list

If you have gathered all the information you want to use in your post or article, you can start with structuring. You can write down a list with all the topics. You should just make some kind of list of everything your text should cover.

Step 2: Bundling topics together

If you have a clear overview of all the topics you want to discuss in your article, you start bundling topics. Topics which are similar should of course be discussed together.

Step 3: Ordering topics

If you are done bundling, you should decide upon the order you want to present the topics in your article. In most cases you will decide to order thematically. For instance, if you want to discuss various aspects or angles of the main topic of your blog. You should then discuss every aspect in a new paragraph.

Next to ordening according to theme, you could also order chronological or discuss your topics in a didactic order. Especially when you try to explain complicated material, a didactic order, in which you explain easy stuff first and difficult aspects later could be a very good idea.

Table 1: Types of ordening
Type of ordening
Thematic ordened on theme, aspect, topic
Chronological old- new
Didactic easy – hard
Problem- solution(s) introduce problem first and then possible solutions

After you have ordered the topics you want to address in your article, you should make a new list. This list is actually kind of a summary of the article you are about to write. You could write a short sentence or a few words for every paragraph you plan to write. This list serves as the skeleton of your article and you should keep it well in mind during the remainder of the writing process.

Creation of paragraphs

In the blog post structure you have set up, you have bundled topics together. You can then start to write paragraphs. But what makes a good paragraph? A paragraph can be defined by three things. Remember these things while writing!

  1. A paragraph should form a thematic unit.
  2. A paragraph contains one core sentence and an elaboration of this core sentence.
  3. A paragraph should be made visible (by using whitespace).

Lots of people make mistakes while creating paragraphs. Writers just put some white spaces in their text on random places for esthetic purposes, but do not really think about the coherence and structure of the text. I also see a lot of paragraphs containing only one sentence. In many cases, the coherence within paragraphs and between paragraphs remains unclear. These kinds of mistakes can really mess up the structure of your articles.

Paragraphs can be short or long. The length of a paragraph is decided by the theme you are discussing. It could be two sentences, but a paragraph could also contain 15 sentences. For writing on websites, we would advise to create short paragraphs (stick to less than 6 or 7 sentences).

For texts on websites, we would advise you to start your paragraph with the most important sentence. Then explain or elaborate on that sentence. A reader will be able to grasp the most important content from your article, just by reading the first sentences of your paragraphs. You can conclude (longer) paragraph with a summarizing sentence to make your point extra clear.

Use of signal words

In order to guide your reader, you should use plenty signal words. Signal words give direction to your readers. These words show the reader that you are summarizing (and, too), comparing (less than, rather) or concluding something (thus, consequently, hence).

Table 2: examples of signal words
Type of relation Examples of signal words
enumerate and, first of all, also, another, furthermore, finally, in addition
cause because, so, due to, while, since, therefore
comparison/ contrast same, less, rather, while, yet, opposite, much as, either
conclusion as a result, hence, consequently, therefore, in conclusion
fuzzy signals seems like, maybe, probably, almost
emphasis most of all, most noteworthy, especially relevant

Using signal words will be like putting cement between your sentences. Readers will understand your content much better if you make proper use of these kinds of words

Headings

Headings are important for SEO purposes. Google uses your headings to determine the topic of the content on your website. Your headings thus should be used to optimize your post. However, headings are of great importance for your readers as well. Headers allow your readers to quickly scan through your text and to decide whether or not (or which parts) they would like to read your article. Headings thus should be attractive and should cover the content of the paragraph.

You can put a header above each paragraph, or above a number of paragraphs which contain similar topics. The headers should reflect the structure of your text. We would advise you to put a header above every long paragraph ( or above a few short paragraphs which are thematically similar).

Conclusion

Setting up a coherent structure for your blog post will result in better understanding of the message of your post. If people understand your message, they will be much more likely to share your post on social media or buy the stuff you have to offer.

Taking the time to think about a clear blog post structure before you start writing is a very important first step. While writing, think about the structure of your paragraphs, your use of signal words and the headings in your post. If you follow these ‘rules’ your blog post will be understandable and readable to your audience (also if your writing style is rather crappy).

This post first appeared on Yoast. Whoopity Doo!

December 11th 2014 wordpress

Google Analytics by Yoast gets Dashboards

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Today we released quite a big upgrade to our Google Analytics plugin, for both free and premium users. We’ve built a dashboards feature that shows you some top of the line stats for your site, and if you’re a premium customer, provides high-quality reports on the custom dimensions included in it.

Basic reports

The first ones are easy, we show you a graph of your sites sessions and bounce rate, for instance the sessions looks like this:

yoast session dashboard

On the second tab, “reports”, we give you some basic reports in tabular data that are very easy to use, see the popular pages table below:

Google Analytics dashboard popular pages

One of the cool things here is the search option, top right. Just typing /wordpress/ into that immediately gives me this:

popular pages filtered

The same power that powers these extremely fast tables powers another feature that we’re very happy to release: the Custom dimension reports.

Custom dimension reports

As Thijs was writing his posts about custom dimensions it became incredibly clear that what we were building was needed. The reports for these custom dimensions are hard to get right in Google Analytics (even though that obviously gives you much more reporting power than we do in our plugin). If you want a quick overview of how many pageviews an author generated in a month, this is what you use:

custom dimension report author

You can select all of the custom dimensions that you’ve set up for your site in the settings:

Custom dimensions drop-down

New custom dimensions

Those of you who know our plugin well will go “hey, I see custom dimensions in that screenshot that I’ve never heard of”. You’re right. We added several new custom dimensions, of which “Tags” is the easiest one to explain: it stores the tag of the post that is being viewed. The other two new ones are specific to those of you who use our WordPress SEO plugin as well.

You can now save custom dimensions with the SEO Score of an article and with the focus keyword. This gives you reports that are incredibly useful when you’re working on keyword research.

So, upgrade to Google Analytics by Yoast 5.2, or Google Analytics by Yoast Premium 1.1 or go get it if you don’t have it yet!

This post first appeared on Yoast. Whoopity Doo!

December 10th 2014 Analytics, wordpress

Recent posts and comments for WordPress

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recent posts commentsWhen I was writing the chapter about internal links for our ebook, I also mentioned Recent Posts and Recent Comments. But these subjects were mentioned only very briefly. It seems so logical to add these for any blog, that it didn’t seem necessary to use more than a page to explain these. But if it is common sense to me, is it to everyone? My post about Common sense for your website taught me it isn’t. And if it is for you, it won’t hurt to emphasize that common sense.

In this post I will discuss a number of common internal links that can easily be added via WordPress itself. Or any plugin that is created up for the purpose.

Recent posts

For any website with a blog, adding recent posts or a section with a selection of links to posts (examples listed below) can be a valuable asset. We do that on our website as well. It’s an easy way of telling your visitor:

  • about recent market developments;
  • about recently added information to your website that might be of interest for him or her;
  • about new products or services your company offers;
  • or simply to let your visitor know that you have a blog.

versatile recent postsThis section usually consists of a simple list of links. WordPress offers this functionality by default like shown in the image on the right (this is actually in our Versatile Theme). But to be honest, even if you are less technical, you can create a nice PHP snippet using the examples WordPress gives for the wp_get_recent_posts function. If you prefer shortcodes, I recommend Bill Ericksons’ Display Posts Shortcode plugin.

Just recently, I also started playing with this very customizable plugin called Recent Posts Widget Extended. This plugin is very customizable right from the Appearance > Widget section in WordPress. If you don’t want to use shortcodes in widgets and prefer a customizable recent posts widget, you should really try this plugin.

There are many variations to the recent posts links:

  • Related Posts: usually below the actual article. Very helpful for people that want to read related posts if they like (the subject of) your article.
  • Featured posts: link to your main posts, best read articles or posts that relate to recent market development, for instance by linking to the most recent posts in a category.

Besides that, in the previous examples you can of course replace ‘post’ with ‘products’, and all will make sense as well.

Recent comments

You have to think about this section. If you add a recent comments section and your last comment is dated 2013, that will immediately add an expire date to your website as well. Apparently you haven’t written anything interesting last year?

But if you have comments on all your posts (thank you, valued commenters on this website) and you write articles on a regular basis, the recent comments section will be very valuable. Comments allow for keyword variations, as a visitor might have used a different keyword than the one you are using over and over on your blog. Next to that, and more importantly, a recent comments section will show your visitor you have a vivid and engaging reader base. Meaning you must have something interesting to say.

Note that in most cases you want to limit the number of links on your page (we aim for max 50 links per page), so the link value per link will be best. That might be a reason to choose between recent posts or recent links in your sidebar. In that case I would recommend recent posts. The reason for that is simple: If you have a vivid blog, chances are all recent comment links will go to the same page :)

WordPress has a function for recent comments as well: get_comments. It’s highly customizable, by the way. It’s really easy to display for instance just the comments made in the last week. As I don’t have any experience with plugins that can help you with these recent comments, I’m looking forward to any suggestions you might have.

Like with the recent post alternatives, something similar to the recent comments could be recent reviews or testimonials. Both are user generated content of course. In a recent project I found this plugin for testimonials very useful. It adds schema.org, for instance. If you are looking for a nice way to add testimonials to your WordPress site, be sure to check it out. It’s a new kid on the block, only released in May 2014, but I really like it!

Closing thought

Recent posts and recent comments are valuable internal links for any website. There are many ways to add these and it isn’t that hard to do. If you feel people aren’t visiting or even finding the blog on your website, you should simply add a small widget to your sidebar and see the traffic grow!

This post first appeared on Yoast. Whoopity Doo!

December 3rd 2014 wordpress