Everything You Want to Know About Yoast with Edwin Toonen

Published by Chris. Last Updated on February 22, 2021.

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As you might imagine, here at This Week in Blogging, we get a fair amount of questions as it relates to WordPress plug-ins, SEO , and all the rest of it.

One question that has been asked of us over and over again is whether bloggers and content creators should have Yoast as their primary SEO plug-in. Furthermore, people want to know whether Yoast Premium is going to be worth it for them to purchase. We decided it was best to take your most commonly asked questions, and ask them of the Yoast Team themselves.

On that note, we want to thank Edwin Toonen, a Strategic Content Specialist at Yoast, for taking the time to answer our questions. We hope that this serves our readers and subscribers well.
Using SEO

1. Our assumption is that most bloggers and content creators will be familiar with Yoast, but for those who aren’t, can you take a moment to explain who you are, and what your mission is?

Yoast SEO is one of the most popular WordPress plugins in history. It’s the first plugin that made search engine optimization available to a wide variety of people and their sites.

At the moment, over 11 million sites are running Yoast SEO — including some of the biggest sites on the planet, like The White House, Star Wars, and The Walt Disney Company. But we’re not here just for the big guys. Our mission is SEO for everyone — we want to level the playing field and give everyone a fair chance in the search results.

We do that in two ways: One, we build software that makes it easier to improve your site and content to give you a better chance to rank in the search engines. Two, we put out educational material that helps you understand SEO’s core concepts and everything related to that. We have an Academy section featuring several training courses on different aspects of SEO and WordPress. Yoast.com has a popular blog with hundreds of in-depth articles that’ll help you get better at writing content and maintaining your site.

Recently, we ‘married’ the educational part with the software part to create one all-encompassing Premium product. For a single price, you now get both Yoast SEO Premium and access to the thirteen courses in Yoast SEO Academy — and every new course that we add. Read about our mission and product philosophy to understand what we do and how we do it. 

2. Is Yoast SEO your most popular plugin? Furthermore, can you talk about what the plugin does?

Yes, Yoast SEO is by far our most popular plugin. It’s the go-to SEO plugin for millions of people around the world. The Yoast SEO plugin makes it easy for your site to meet the highest technical SEO standards. It also gives you the tools to bring your content to the highest standards of SEO and overall readability.

By simply installing the plugin and following the steps in our wizard, you’re already fixing many crucial technical SEO things for your site. That way, you don’t have to know about technical things such as robots.txt, clean permalink URLs, .htaccess files, and sitemaps. Our plugin will take care of these for you.

The plugin also uses our content SEO analysis to determine how your content scores on different factors, such as how many times you use your keyphrase, the length of your text, or whether you used any internal links. This gives you an easy overview of the overall score and what you can still tackle to increase your rankings

Another essential feature of Yoast SEO is the readability analysis. The plugin uses an algorithm to check your content on different factors that are proven to increase readability. We look at the use of transition words, the use of passive voice, your sentence and paragraph lengths, and more. We carefully crafted this algorithm to make it as accurate as possible without being too strict. All these checks help you write better content for both readers as search engines.

This is just the tip of the iceberg! You can find all the features of Yoast SEO on our product page.

3. Many people have the Yoast SEO plugin but haven’t yet upgraded to Yoast SEO Premium. What are the benefits of Yoast SEO Premium, and what are the costs to upgrade?

We built Yoast SEO with the idea of making it full-featured and useful for a broad audience. Installing the free plugin builds a solid foundation for your site. Out of the box, Yoast SEO set up a lot of technical aspects using sensible defaults. You can adjust these to your wishes. Besides, the readability and SEO analysis gamify the process of getting your content ready for search engines. But, Yoast SEO Premium adds several features that make it a no brainer!

Every time we do a survey on which feature our Premium customers love most, the Redirect manager comes out on top. This helps you create redirects to URLs whenever you delete a page or change a URL, and it does so automatically.

Yoast SEO Premium also comes with social previews that let you see how your content would look when shared on Twitter and Facebook. Furthermore, Premium has a sophisticated language analysis — in sixteen languages! — that finds all the grammatical forms of your focus keyphrase, making the process of optimizing your post a lot more natural. Premium also has an integration with Semrush that lets you find related keyphrases with the click of a button

We could go on and on, but Yoast SEO Premium also comes with internal linking suggestions that automatically suggest content to link to. Plus, you can use Yoast SEO inside Elementor and you get access to several cool blocks for the block editor, like the internal linking blocks.

Last but not least, with Premium you also get 24/7 access to our fantastic support team! And, of course, the previously mentioned Yoast SEO Academy courses.

All of this costs $89 a year.

4. What other WordPress plugins have you developed at Yoast?

We have many different plugins! We have our add-ons for Yoast SEO: Local SEO, Video SEO, News SEO, and WooCommerce SEO. These pretty much do what they say on the tin. These are essential if you operate in these spaces.

So, our local SEO plugin helps you get your business information in order if you are a local business. If the main focus on your site is video, then the Video SEO plugin has extra features that make it easier to get your videos ranked in Google. WooCommerce SEO is for everyone owning an online store powered by WooCommerce — among other things, and it helps your products stand out in the search results.

A non-Yoast SEO add-on I’d like to highlight is Yoast Duplicate Post. This plugin can duplicate — or clone — your content with one click. This comes in handy when you want to update content or if you want to use existing pages as templates for new ones. People use it for loads of things. It’s an essential tool! Recently, we added an excellent content workflow called Rewrite and Republish. This process lets you duplicate a post you want to update without taking the original one offline. Update your content in the draft and hit Republish to publish the posts over the original one. It makes maintaining and updating content a lot easier.

5. Can you talk a bit about your online training? We understand you have both free and premium training available?

Yes, we launched our Yoast SEO Academy as another way of helping people out with SEO. With Yoast SEO, we set out to lower the barrier to entering SEO. We made it a lot easier for people to work on their sites and get results. With Yoast SEO Academy, we teach people why they are doing what they are doing. We show them what everything means, why you should be doing it and how you could go about it in the best possible way. Not only that, the courses are hands-on — it isn’t about staring at a screen, you get to do something too!

At the moment, we have a training course on SEO basics, technical SEO, international SEO, keyword research, local SEO, SEO copywriting, site structure, structured data, and of course, the Yoast SEO plugin training. And, we also have several WordPress courses on the block editor, for instance. We regularly add new courses and update older ones with new content.

We have five free courses that anyone can sign up for. Yoast SEO Academy Premium gets you eight extra courses, for a total of thirteen courses. Pricing is simple, and you get free access to the Premium academy courses once you pay for a year of Yoast SEO. Or, you can turn it around — you pay for all the courses and get Yoast SEO Premium for free. It all depends on how you look at it.

6. We also know that you run an SEO blog? Can you speak to what role that serves for Yoast and how bloggers and content creators can take advantage?

Our SEO blog is and has always been crucial to our business. Back in the day, Yoast only consisted of a blog. Almost fifteen years ago, Joost de Valk, our founder and CPO, started blogging about WordPress and SEO. He quickly saw his reach and influence rise — while also noticing the need for a dedicated product in the WordPress space.

Years later, Yoast is still growing as a company, but our blog remains as crucial as ever. For us, it’s one of the primary sources of traffic. But not only that, we use it to show our expertise, help people out with difficult topics, explain trends, and build our brand. We can’t do without our SEO blog!

7. There are many other players in this space. What do you think makes Yoast different? 

With Yoast SEO, we pioneered the WordPress SEO plugin. We’ve years of experience, do our research, and know the industry inside out. We’ve built an SEO tool that helped millions of sites get results. We’ve also stimulated site owners to learn more about what they are doing. We try to educate our users not merely to do stuff but to understand why they are doing this. Our SEO blog and Yoast SEO Academy are essential tools for us to help people get results.

At Yoast, it’s more than just about our products. It’s also about giving back. We’re actively improving the web and WordPress — the tool we all love. We are the second largest contributor to WordPress development and have a team of five employees working full-time on that. All of this lets us combine our efforts to make better WordPress sites for all!

Thank you very much to Edwin Toonen on Team Yoast for taking the time to answer these questions for our readers. We appreciate the depth and thoughtfulness of the answers above, and hope that you found the same. 

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