#Update: I noticed that the latest plugin update to Yoast SEO 2.0 for WordPRess is the public release of the beta described in this article 03/26/2015
The Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress has long been my favorite tool to use in optimizing new and existing websites. Yesterday I downloaded the beta release of the newest version of the plugin (Yoast SEO 2.0). I wanted to see what was in store and I am really excited by the direction that the folks at Yoast are taking.
I make a living by building WordPress websites that are compliant with Google’s best practices. To that end, any tool that is available to make my job easier has a lot of value. The Yoast SEO plugin has always made it easier/faster to optimize WordPress sites according to Google Best Practices and with the Yoast SEO 2.0 version they go even further along that road.
For the balance of the article I will do some comparisons between the existing plugin and the beta version so that I can highlight the changes. For those who have not yet used the Yoast SEO plugin I will explain why it is so useful when designing a site and in your ongoing content strategy.
The current version of the Yoast SEO plugin helps you do many things. Here is a list of the most important features that are available from the main WordPress dashboard (there are more on the pages when you create individual pages or posts). I will also point out the improvements and additions to each section:
Yoast SEO 2.0 Dashboard:
This is the first page you encounter with the Yoast plugin. From this page you can easily install the meta tags associated with claiming your site on Google Webmaster Tools, Bing Webmanster Tools, Pinterest, Alexa and the Russian search engine Yandex.
In the Yoast SEO 2.0 version the Dashboard page is renamed “General” and the search engine meta tag function has moved to a tab within the General section. Other tabs in the General section include a tab called “Your Info” which lets you add Knowledge Graph meta tags to your site which specify your site as belonging to a Company or Individual. If you choose “Company” it has fields for your company name and to upload your company logo. The Pinterest meta tag box has moved into the Social Networks section of the plugin.
Yoast SEO 2.0 Titles And Metas
This section has remained pretty much unchanged. It allows you to set various things for your site in relation to how various types of pages and posts are indexed, displayed and rendered. Since this section has not really changed in the new version I will not focus on it here except to say that it is really handy to have all of the controls that the section gives you when optimizing a site.
Yoast SEO 2.0 Social
In this section reside some of the cool new additions to the plugin. In the current public version there are 3 tabs in the social section; Facebook, Twitter and Google+. You can use these tabs to somewhat connect your social networks with your site. The Yoast plugin will add open graph meta data to your site (twitter card). It will allow you to connect with Facebook as a page admin and set a preferred image for Facebook when posts from your site are shared to Facebook.
In the new version Yoast has added the ability to enter your social network links so that Google will have them to display as part of the Knowledge Graph card for your site in search results. This is a fairly new feature of Google search which I wrote about last week. I think it is really awesome that Yoast has included this in the beta version of their plugin! It will be one more thing that is now easier to do and having the function within the plugin will make it easier to remember to do it.
As I said the Pinterest verification tag entry field has moved to this section as well as you can see in the image.
These are the main changes in the plugin and I think they are exciting because they do seem to be aligning with Google best practices and keeping pace with changes at Google. This makes it much easier to build and maintain best practices compliant sites.
Some of the other minor changes are the condensing of several of the previous stand alone sections of the plugin into other pages. This makes the Yoast SEO 2.0 version of the plugin take up less room in the WordPress dashboard sidebar.
The only obvious change to the on page/post part of Yoast SEO that is below the WordPRess Editor is that in the Social section there is now only Facebook. Previously in that section you could set the title, description and image for the individual post or page when it was shared to Facebook, Twitter or Google+ and now it is only Facebook. I am not sure why they did not include Twitter and Google+ but I personally did not use that feature much anyway so I will not miss it.
I think that Yoast has definitely improved their SEO plugin in this new version and I will be happy to see it come out of beta and be adopted into general usage. It will make building and maintaining a WordPress site easier, especially if you are trying to stay in line with Google best practices.