SEO for Everyone with Yoast for WordPress
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With 30% marketshare, WordPress is the world's most popular content management system (CMS) on the Internet today. Unsurprisingly, plugins designed to work with it, especially those that use the freemium business model to convert free to premium subscribers, also enjoy tremendous popularity and loyalty from their users.
In this episode of the B2B Lead Gen Podcast, sociologist and digital maven Marieke van de Rakt PhD talks about the intricacies of running an SEO company, technical aspects of SEO, how the pandemic has affected businesses, and more.
Marieke is the CEO of Yoast, a popular WordPress plugin used by more than 11 million people to make their website easier for Google to index. Armed with a PhD in Social Sciences, she is focused not just on Yoast’s growth, but also the company’s online SEO training academy, which offers free and premium subscriptions.
Yoast’s business growth (and keeping up with Google)
Yoast offers both a free version and a paid (premium) version with added features for site maintenance, site structure, and other SEO essentials. And for a plugin such as Yoast that works with WordPress — a content management system built on open source, public domain software — the premium version serves as the support system that allows the free version to keep being operational. “If you have an SEO plugin for 11 million sites, and you're not making any money off of it, that's not possible anymore,” Marieke explains. “So I think it's in the best interest of the whole WordPress community that we make money from it, so that we can give back to the people.”
In order to keep up with Google’s changes, Yoast maintains a close relationship with the internet giant. This involves maintaining constant communication with Google, or at least its relevant departments. “I don't see Google as one company,” shares Marieke. “They're so big that they don't know everything.”
There are certain limitations, though. A major algorithm change, for instance, is not something Yoast can immediately address until the team fully understands the extent of the changes. “So it's a lot of conversation and a lot of testing. And that keeps us up to speed.”
Reinventing the idea of small business
With approximately 400 million small- and medium-sized businesses in the global economy, Yoast has only really penetrated less than one percent of that ever-growing community. According to Marieke, their focus on WordPress is likely the biggest deterrent toward growing their market share.
Marieke says that Yoast is currently in the process of tweaking Yoast SEO for other platforms aside from WordPress. However, she also notes that such ventures are unlikely to scale as big as WordPress, which holds the lion’s share of the CMS market. However, she still thinks that there’s plenty of room for Yoast to grow, even if it’s just within WordPress. “There are a lot of challenges — and a lot of people who can build a website start with WordPress, which is good.”
Many small businesses have yet to take the leap towards the digital business game, which Marieke attributes to the inherent difficulty in putting together a WordPress site, as opposed to how easy it is to just create a Facebook page or an Instagram account. “On a website, you own your own stuff, and you have everything on your own domain. WordPress makes it the easiest part to get; the thing going on that it's yours, and you can do with it what you want. But that takes a little bit of training.”
Despite these challenges, Marieke still believes that people should own their own websites and own their own digital identity. She also proudly proclaims that their mission is SEO for everyone, which is why the Yoast Academy is offering free courses for everyone. “WordPress's mission is democratizing publishing, so we want to make it possible for everyone to make their own website. But nobody cares; If nobody finds your website, you don't want to have a website without an audience.”
Understanding site structure
Marieke has this tip for small businesses when it comes to their site structure: “Google uses your internal linking structure to index your site. So you should always keep that in mind when you're structuring your site or when you're linking pages to each other, because Google follows those links.” She explains that the way you structure your website, along with the way you internally link one page to another, is the same way Google determines which of your pages are the most important ones.
Last year, Yoast implemented an update that significantly improved the plugin’s performance. According to Marieke, they sought to solve the issue of Yoast being as “bloated” as other plugins out there. “Now, we are much faster than we used to be. We are saving our data in a different way. We built our own indexable tables, which also gets us ready to go for a headless WordPress system as well.”
To hear more of Marieke’s insights, including contextual linking, WooCommerce, and the impact of the pandemic on recurring revenue, make sure to listen to the full episode.And to support this podcast, rate and review us on Apple Podcasts here.