Wishing I was at #FeelingRestful…

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Wishing I was at #FeelingRestful to talk/learn about, IMHO, the most exciting changes in #WordPress since CPT/3.0.

January 29th 2016 personal, wordpress

HTTP 451: content unavailable for legal reasons

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At the end of last year, a new HTTP status code saw the light. This status code, HTTP 451, is intended to be shown specifically when content has been blocked for legal reasons. If you’ve received a take down request, or are ordered by a judge to delete content, this is the status code that allows you to indicate that. The upcoming Yoast SEO Premium 3.1 release will have support for this new status code, allowing you to set a HTTP 451 status code for pages.

HTTP 451 status code introduction

What does HTTP 451 mean?

The HTTP 451 header is introduced with the specific meaning of making it explicitly clear when content is blocked for legal reasons. Or, in the wording of the official draft:

This status code can be used to provide transparency in circumstances where issues of law or public policy affect server operations.

While the end result is the same as for instance a 403 Forbidden status code, this status code makes it much clearer what is happening. It might make you search for something just a little bit deeper. The original idea stems from this blog post which is worth a read.

How to set an HTTP 451 header

There are two ways to set an HTTP 451 header:

Deleting the post or page

In the upcoming Yoast SEO Premium 3.1 release we’ve changed what happens when you delete a post or page. You will now get the following notice:

page-deleted-notice

The link underneath “Read this post” links to my earlier article about what to do when deleting a post or page. Because we’re assuming that most of the time when you delete content, it has nothing to do with a court order (we sure hope so), we haven’t added the 451 option here.

Creating a header without deleting the post or page

You can also just keep the post or page alive, which is especially useful if the court order, injunction or whatever it is that is forcing you to block the page, has a time restraint. Simply go into the redirects screen of Yoast SEO and create a 451 header for that specific URL:

451-header

An HTTP 451 template file

Along with the changes that allow you to set a 451 HTTP header, we’ve also created the option to have an HTTP 451 template file in your theme. It’s as simple as copy pasting the 404.php file in your theme to 451.php and modifying the content to have a good message.

I honestly hope you’ll never need this HTTP error, but if you do, you know now that you can do the right thing, provided you’re using Yoast SEO Premium!

January 22nd 2016 wordpress

Why you should buy Yoast SEO Premium

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One of the questions people ask us sometimes is “Why should I buy Yoast SEO Premium when Yoast SEO free is so awesome already?”. Well, we’re glad you asked! Let me explain the two most important features you’ll get when you buy Yoast SEO Premium.

I’ll discuss both the redirects module and the multiple focus keywords functionality below. But you also get something that is not a feature. It’s access to our top-notch support team, who answer your questions around the clock. In fact, in the last month, which was a very busy for us due to the launch of Yoast SEO 3.0, over 50% of our support emails got a response within 30 minutes!

But if all is well, you won’t even need our support team and you can just use these two awesome features:

Redirects module

When you’re building out your site, you’re bound to run into cases where you’re deleting pages, moving pages, changing URLs for categories, etc. All these changes can cause problems when you’re not properly redirecting the old URLs to new ones. In all these cases and more, our redirects module can help you fix those. Let me explain to you in this video:

Multiple focus keywords

When you want to optimize your text for more than one focus keyword, whether they’re synonyms or just related topics, Yoast SEO doesn’t allow for that. Yoast SEO Premium does, let me explain why we did that:

Get Yoast SEO Premium now!

Convinced? Make sure to grab your copy before the sale ends and the price goes back up from $69 to $89 for a single site license!

Get Yoast SEO Premium

December 18th 2015 wordpress

Free idea for #wordpress folks:…

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Free idea for #wordpress folks: A #Calypso skin for wp-admin :)

December 16th 2015 personal, wordpress

Yoast SEO Import & Export features

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When you’re a web developer or SEO, working with many clients, you probably have a set of settings for Yoast SEO for WordPress that you prefer. You might have a default title template for instance, default XML sitemap settings, etc. This post will teach you how to easily apply those settings to a site quickly using the Yoast SEO Import and Export features.

Import and export in the Yoast SEO plugin

Making a reusable Yoast SEO Export file

Let’s make a reusable settings file! First, pick a site and set it up as you would any site, applying all of your default SEO settings. Then you go to the Yoast SEO Import and Export page (Yoast SEO → Tools → Import and Export). On this page, you’ll find a couple of tabs:

Tools_-_Yoast_SEO_‹_Yoast_—_WordPress

Click on Export for the first step. You’ve got an option on this tab to include taxonomy metadata but you can ignore that for this reusable file, as this would include specific category meta descriptions and so forth, not really something you wish to apply to every site. Click Export, if all goes well, this should create a notice that allows you to download a file called settings.zip:

Example of a notice on the Yoast SEO Export screen allowing you to download the export file

The secret of Yoast SEO Export files

The (not so secret) secret of Yoast SEO Export files is that the zip file contains a single file, called settings.ini. This .ini file is easily editable with any text editor and follows the standard PHP .ini file structure. It’ll look something like this:

settings.ini - the contents of a Yoast SEO Export file

Each set of options starts with the option name in brackets, like [wpseo] and [wpseo_permalinks] in the example above. The reason you’ll want to edit it is because you want it to be reusable. So you’ll want to remove any and all site specific data, like a company logo & name, verification strings for Bing, Google, Yandex, etc.

Once you’ve made your changes, simply save the file and zip it again. We force you to zip the file because most hosts will not allow the direct upload of .ini files for security reasons.

Import the Yoast SEO Export file

Now, on the site you want to apply these settings to, go to the Yoast SEO Import page (Yoast SEO → Tools → Import and Export, the first tab), select your new zip file and click Import settings. That’s it. Nothing more to it, you’ve easily applied all your default settings to your new site.

If you set up a lot of sites, this will save you valuable minutes every time you do so!

December 11th 2015 wordpress

December 5th is officially #WordPress…

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December 5th is officially #WordPress day in Philadelphia #wcus!!!

December 6th 2015 personal, wordpress

Full house for @gcorne and…

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Full house for @gcorne and…

Full house for @gcorne and @matias_ventura to talk about #reactjs in #wordpress #wcus https://t.co/SJEJDpXjx0

December 5th 2015 personal, wordpress

Yoast SEO 3.0 release: a recap

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What. a. week. We released Yoast SEO 3.0 last week. This was arguably one of the biggest releases we’ve ever done. There was quite a bit of buzz around this release, both positive and negative. I wanted to post an update after a week to show where we stand and what we’ve learned.

We’ve made mistakes, obviously. Of course, there were bugs, which we have worked on hard and are still working on right now. We’ve made mistakes in communication too. We’re sorry about that.

All that being said, we’re still very proud of this release. Very proud of the real time feedback our plugin now gives. Very proud of the multiple keywords functionality in our premium plugin.

We have very specific ideas about why these changes needed to happen and what we’re going to do moving forward. My post about keyword density highlights just one of the results you’ll see. In the upcoming releases we’ll add more and more functionality that really needed this major release as a baseline.

On bugs and testing

We knew right when we hit the publish button that there’d be bugs. Of course you always hope everything will be awesome. But we’ve done this too often not to know better. There were a few bugs that I think we should’ve caught in our testing period (which was extensive) and we’re taking precautions to make sure we do next time. But bugs will happen. Always. There are too many different configurations within our user base  to test everything. We love the amount of users we have… except when we release a new plugin update :) .

Taco covered it in his post about the road to Yoast SEO 3.0: we’d been preparing for this update for months. The number of people actually testing these updates was still really small though. That could be one of the reasons some of the major bugs were not found in our testing cycles. But how can we get more people to test our betas and release candidates more extensively?  We’d love your ideas.

In the past week, we’ve been fixing bugs steadily, with several releases in the last week as a result. Today, version 3.0.6 shipped, bringing yet more fixes for specific issues. I’m very happy to see that those releases were in part the result of bug fixes submitted by the community. Thank you all for that!

On communication

We think we were very active right from the start in responding to issues and trying to fix problems. I was personally active on Twitter in responding to people, our support team (5 people working full time) was active on the wordpress.org forums and in email, but we missed Facebook in the beginning, leading to some harsh comments there. Comments that, to be honest, were sometimes really painful to read.

In our email support queues, we prioritized paying customers and told free customers that we couldn’t support them over email. This was probably, in hindsight, not what we should’ve done. For future major releases we will try to actively support everybody for a period of time.

Usability issues

Of course, when we change an interface, some people will complain. That’s a truth we’ve known right from the start. And people complained indeed.  We made a video of how to use the new snippet editor, which is in our release post and was also on the about page for this release. We thought the interface was intuitive, we also thought people would watch that (30 second) video, but we were obviously wrong. We’re now thinking about how to improve the snippet editor so it’s more obvious how you are able to edit.

We also saw some people complain about the traffic light in the publish box. We can discuss where it should be, I actually wanted it to be less intrusive than the whole line we used before… If you’ve got a good idea and know how to code it, pull requests are always welcome on GitHub. If you just have a good idea of what it could look like but don’t know how to code it, open an issue on GitHub and add an image with your idea. We’re listening!

Praise

Luckily there was also praise. People seem to love the new multiple keywords functionality in our premium version, which we’re very happy with ourselves too. The real time feedback also has made some people very, very happy. Several people made remarks like “Christmas come early” about these features and that was great to see.

Thank you!

Some people deserve specific thank yous. The moderators on the WordPress.org support forums have been incredibly helpful, both in combatting spam on posts about our plugin but also in providing helpful feedback to both users and us.

I also wanted to personally thank Daniel SeripapAaron HippleZvonko BiškupWPExplorer and Craig Pearson. Each of them contributed a bugfix or helped us test so that we could get fixes out. It’s people like them that make us happy to be in an open source community.

Finally, thank you. For reading. For supporting. For understanding that we’re human and make mistakes. But most of all, thank you for using Yoast SEO and telling all your friends!

December 2nd 2015 wordpress

Since I had a few…

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Since I had a few days off, I refreshed Keyring (https://t.co/obXsqlDKV7) and the Social Importers (https://t.co/MLtZDFSihW) for #WordPress

December 1st 2015 personal, wordpress

Keyword density in a post-Panda world

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The Yoast SEO plugin helps you to optimize your text for the keyword you want to be found for. In Yoast SEO 3.0 we made some big changes in our content analysis. In this post we’ll discuss the adaption of our Yoast SEO keyword density check and the possibility to optimize for multiple keywords in Yoast SEO Premium.

keyword stuffing is not a good idea in a post-Panda world

Keyword stuffing is not a great SEO strategy. You’ll be hit by Google Panda (or another update) in no time. Optimizing your text for specific keywords however, is something you definitely can do! This is the reason we have our focus keyword functionality in Yoast SEO. If you go to far though, over-optimization is around the corner. Over-optimization can be seriously dangerous, which is why our Yoast SEO plugin has some safeguards (in the form of red bullets) of doing so.

Keyword density check is much stricter now

Google prefers nice, readable texts. Your text should be well structured and attractively written. Texts with a high keyword density do not read nicely. They are, in fact, terrible to read!  Instead of using your focus keyword over and over, you should use synonyms if possible. Google actually recognizes synonyms to keywords now. With Google’s ability to recognize synonyms, optimizing for a single focus keyword becomes more and more silly.

We therefore decided to update the keyword density check in Yoast SEO. In the new Yoast SEO the keyword density for your post has to be between 0.5 and 2.5%. In the old analysis, you could get away with a keyword density of as high as 4.5%. We’ve come to the conclusion that that’s just too high in this post-Panda world!

If you want to check your old posts and make sure their keyword densities are within our new guideline, you can do so. When you upgrade you’ll see (or have seen) a notice about recalculating SEO scores. This is one of the things we recalculate at that point. This does mean that a post that was green before can now suddenly turn red… If you can’t find that notice, you can find the tool under SEO → Tools.

Multiple keywords

In Yoast SEO premium we have a new feature which enables you to optimize for more than one focus keyword. You could use this in optimizing for two related keywords, allowing you to rank in Google on different keywords. You could also use this to optimize for two synonyms. Optimizing a post for two or three synonyms simultaneously while still requiring a 1% keyword density as a minimum, would lead to over-optimization and thus angry Pandas. This was one of the reasons to lower our “required” keyword density to 0.5%. We are actually working on some new functionality now, allowing you to treat synonyms and multiple keywords differently in our Content SEO analysis. As that has multiple implications that’ll take a while to get right.

Your SEO strategy should never focus on one single keyword. You really do need a proper keyword strategy. Sometimes it’s useful to try to make a single post or page rank for multiple (related) keywords. Perhaps you have a shop in ballet accessories and are writing a post about ballet shoes. But, you’d also like this post to rank for [dance shoes], as [dance shoes] is a more general (and common) search term. Our multiple keywords functionality is actually really well fitted to help you optimize for more than one keyword like this. It also allows you to focus on multiple angles and words, reducing the risk that you over-optimize your texts.

Until the end of the year, Yoast SEO Premium, Yoast_SEO_In_Icon_71_x2which has this multiple keywords functionality, costs only $69 per year for support, upgrades and updates.

November 26th 2015 wordpress