Interview with Yoast CTO Omar Reiss

Get the lowdown on Yoast

Recently GoDaddy attended WordPress Europe Berlin, where we spoke to Omar Reiss, CTO for SEO plugin Yoast.

We talked about the importance of WordPress meetups, the future of search engine optimization and what’s next for Yoast.

Hi Omar, Welcome to the WordCamp Europe! How important are WordCamps for you as a provider of one of the most used SEO plugins worldwide?

Hi Wolf! WordCamps are very important to us! We strongly believe in open source and in giving back. Attending WordCamps and contributing in all kinds of different ways is a great way to get connected in the WordPress ecosystem. Through WordCamps we meet lots of interesting people, including users of our products. We receive valuable feedback and forge different types of collaboration. We love being a part of the WordPress community!

Is there still a professional WordPress website that does not use a Yoast SEO plugin? No, I’m kidding. Seriously: how big is your market share in WordPress websites right now?

It’s quite big indeed. The free version of Yoast SEO is installed on over 9 million websites.

In how many languages ​​is the Yoast SEO Plugin available?

The free version is translated fully into 25 languages, the premium version is translated fully into 22 languages. They’re translated partially in many more languages. Anyone is welcome to contribute more translations on https://translate.wordpress.org and https://translate.yoast.com.

Are you specialized just for WordPress or is the Yoast SEO Plugin / Extension available for other content management systems as well? If so, for which kind of CMS are you supporting with Yoast SEO Plugs?

We definitely have our roots in WordPress and that will continue to be our home base. However, we believe our mission “SEO for everyone” should also extend to other platforms, as long as they are open source. We’ve organised a partner process for that. So far we’ve got a few fantastic collaborations going with partners on Yoast SEO for TYPO3, Magento and Neos, and a couple more are in the works. If anyone wants to partner on building Yoast SEO for their platform of choice, we have a process described for that right here: https://yoast.com/yoast-seo-platforms/your-platform/.

Do Yoast SEO Plugins / Extensions for other CMS have the same functionality as Yoast SEO Plugins for WordPress?

All Yoast SEO modules have to adhere to a set of fundamental technical SEO and content SEO features that we’ve described in our product sheet. Our WordPress plugin has much more features than that and is also the product where we add new functionality first. Our TYPO3 module is also seeing quite active development and has got quite a rich feature set: https://yoast.com/typo3-extensions-seo/.

There are two kinds of Yoast SEO Plugin. A free version and a premium version. What are the 3 most convincing reasons for choosing a premium version?

There are many reasons, but I guess these are the main ones:

– With Yoast SEO Premium it’s easier to rank for a topic because of our advanced SEO analysis, which takes into account related keyphrases, synonyms and different word forms for you keyphrases as well, instead of just a single keyphrase.

– Yoast SEO Premium helps users to prevent Google crawl errors through built-in redirect functionality. It contains a redirect manager to create and manage redirects and automatically detects when urls change and a redirect should be added.

– Yoast SEO Premium helps users optimize their site structure by providing them useful internal linking suggestions which can be added to the content.

One of the highlights for me is, that the premium version offers the possibility to create individual previews for social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Co. Let’s stay in the range of extended Yoast settings. What else does Yoast have to offer? On the one hand in the free version and on the other hand in the premium version?

We offer a few really nice site structure features which many users are not yet aware of. For instance, Yoast SEO adds a text link counter to the post overview, making it easy to see how much internal links a text contains, and how many posts link back to that post on the site. If users have marked the most important articles on their site as cornerstone content, that makes it really easy for them to quickly see which links they should add to optimize their site structure. Our CEO Marieke has written a great post explaining how it’s done here: https://yoast.com/how-to-use-the-text-link-counter/.

Google, Facebook and Co. change their algorithms and rules over and over again. What was the biggest challenge for you as a provider of SEO plug-ins to keep your tool up-to-date?

At Yoast we have a culture and reputation of shipping fast and shipping often. The challenge there is shipping a plugin to 9 million websites with many different setups and environments. In order to be able to do that, we have invested heavily in our QA process. We’ve written at length about it here: https://developer.yoast.com/continuous-delivery-at-yoast/

How closely are you working with the WordPress community in terms of developing Yoast SEO? Are there coming a lot of suggestions and requests from the community, or are you ahead of the SEO community and you develop proactive new features for the WordPress users?

We get a lot of inspiration on WordCamps, by simply talking a lot to users and other WordPress business owners. Most of our code is open source and anyone can contribute to it on Github. We frequently receive pull requests, feature requests and bug reports from external contributors. That’s something that we’re very thankful of. I’d especially like to give a big shoutout to a contributor named Sasa Todorovic. He is very active in our issue tracker helping us answer questions and solving issues

What are in the pipeline of Yoast currently? Can you tell us something about upcoming interesting new features?

In the short run we will primarily be focusing on some performance improvements and extending our schema functionality further. Apart from that we are working hard to keep improving the SEO and readability analyses and make those available for more languages. We’ve got many more interesting things planned which we will tell you about when they are ready!

Thank you for the interview and the interesting insights into Yoast

You’re welcome!

Wolf-Dieter Fiege
Wolf-Dieter Fiege is senior content marketing & SEO specialist at GoDaddy. He is a passionate blogger - always looking for interesting topics from the world of web design and online business. As a specialist author and editor, he is active on numerous IT blogs. In his free time you can find him on a bike, jogging, in the pool, among friends or with a good book.