It’s almost 2020 and a brand-new decade is right around the corner! A decade ago, Yoast didn’t even exist yet. A lot has changed in the past 10 years. In this blog post, I would like to look back at (almost) 10 years of Yoast. And, I’ll look at our plans for next year! 2020 is going to be a great year!
The very beginning
Yoast was founded by Joost de Valk. Until 2010, Joost had been working as an SEO consultant. He was doing consultancy at major companies like eBay and KLM. In 2010, Joost decided to give up his job as an SEO consultant. He took a leap of faith and began a company. Back then, he was pretty sure he would never hire any employees. So, he named his one-man-company after himself and his blog: Yoast.
Joost was mainly doing consultancy and website reviews at the very beginning of Yoast. In his free time and basically as a hobby, he was developing lots of little WordPress-plugins that improved the SEO of a site. He never thought he could make money with these plugins though. In October 2010, Joost finally made one plugin of all these little ones: WordPress SEO (now Yoast SEO) was born.
The evolving logo of Yoast SEO over time.
If you want to read more about the growth of Yoast, please check out our history of Yoast page!
Up until 2012, Yoast did not make any money with WordPress-plugins. But, WordPress SEO had over a million active installs. In the early days, Joost did all of the support on these plugins himself. That became a bit too much. In September 2012, Yoast launched Video SEO, the first premium add-on.
In the mean-time, Joost had hired some people. It became clear that this wasn’t going to remain a one-man-company after all. In 2012, Michiel became the first Yoast employee. That year, Erwin (our illustrator) and Mijke (our designer) also joined our team. Branding and design have been at the heart of the company throughout our entire journey.
After Video SEO, Yoast released more premium add-ons: News SEO, Local SEO. In 2014, we released a premium variant of the free version of our plugin. Nowadays, this is the most popular of all our plugins. By that time, Yoast was still doing site reviews as well.
Growth, changes & failed projects
Since Yoast started, a lot of things have changed. Nowadays, we’re not doing site reviews anymore, while that was our main source of income in the very early years. The growth of our company was mainly driven by our plugins. At one point, it makes sense to focus all your energy on that, which made us decide to stop doing site reviews. And of course, we have tried some projects that just did not work as we planned. Did you know we have once tried to build and sell WordPress themes? Let’s just say that that wasn’t the success we hoped it to be :-).
After 5 years of Yoast: Major rebranding
In 2015 – after 5 years of Yoast – the company underwent a major redesign. Up until then, our design team made a lot of avatars of Joost de Valk. His face featured on every page on our site. Our design team replaced the many avatars featuring Joost with new colorful illustrations. The logo was no longer orange but became green and purple. The change in design reflected the shift in the business. Yoast was no longer a synonym for Joost de Valk.
Joost’s avatars as they were on the site before the redesign.
Yoast SEO academy
Also in 2015, we launched Yoast SEO academy. In the years before that, I (Marieke) was getting more and more involved in the company. Yoast SEO academy was my personal Yoast-baby (FYI: I also have four real babies with the person Joost). We had written some eBooks before that helped people to do SEO themselves. The next step was the development of an online course. The first online SEO course – Basic SEO – appeared in 2015. Since then, we have made many online courses about SEO. Yoast SEO academy grew to be an online course platform with courses on every aspect of SEO. This year, we also released a free course about WordPress.
Growth of Yoast – the company
Yoast SEO started out as a hobby. Although we still love it, It is not a hobby anymore. When software is running on 10 million sites, you need a professional company. And we’ve grown into a professional company (albeit a bit crazy).
In 2011, Yoast was Joost. At the end of 2012, Yoast consisted of Joost and another four employees. At the end of 2013, Yoast consisted of ten employees. And at the end of 2015, Yoast employed a total of 25 people. At the end of 2017, there were more than 50 people and now, at the end of 2019, there are more than 90 people working in the Wijchen offices. Also, more than a dozen people are working for Yoast in countries around the world.
Nowadays, product ideas still mainly come from Joost de Valk. Next to Joost, we have a big team of developers and a kick-ass testing team. Our software has to work on so many sites, with so many different configurations of plugins. That’s a lot of work and needs extensive testing.
Besides that, we keep close relationships with both Google and Bing. At the same time, WordPress and open-source remain very important to us. Giving back to the community that got Yoast to where it is today is crucial to the company.
Features in Yoast SEO (Premium)
Since the birth of Yoast SEO, we’ve added and improved upon many features. Most of our features are available for both our free and premium users. Some features were only rolled out in premium though.
We’ve added a redirect manager with which people can easily manage their redirects. In 2016, we added our readability analysis, which helps people to write texts that are understandable for both their audience and Google. We’ve also created an internal linking tool, which helps people to manage their site’s structure. In 2018, we did a recalibration of our SEO analysis, which also lead to the introduction of Word forms. Our Premium SEO analysis is now able to recognize plurals, past tense and synonyms.
In 2019: Schema!
In 2019, with Yoast SEO 11.0, we released a major Schema update. Yoast SEO 11.0 featured a completely rewritten Schema.org implementation — one that is destined to give search engines all your connections on a silver platter. This is a great development, not only for you and for search engines, but, more importantly, for the web in general.
Also in 2019, I (Marieke) took over the role of CEO from Joost, which was kind of a big deal for me personally. Joost now is our Chief Product Officer. We both enjoy our new roles!
What to expect from Yoast SEO in 2020?
You can expect great things for Yoast SEO in 2020! We have a lot of awesome features that’ll be rolled out in 2020. We’re very excited about our ‘indexables’ update. Indexables is a pretty awesome rebuild of how we store and generate our metadata. Instead of re-generating robots, canonical and other tags on every page load, we’ll store them in our own table. This makes loads of our processes much much faster.
On top of that data, we’ll add an enhancement to our premium internal linking suggestions functionality, which we’re dramatically improving the quality of. Some real nice applied computer science stuff there in how we’ve applied information retrieval algorithms within WordPress without external storage.
We’re finishing up a brand new update for our internal linking tool. Also, you can expect some cool new schema-blocks! And that’s only half of it! We’re very excited: we decided that 2020 is going to be the ‘new features in Yoast SEO-year’.
In 2020, Yoast will celebrate its 10th birthday! And we’re going to host a huge birthday party: YoastCon 2020 It’s going to be a very special edition. YoastCon 2020 will take place on 24 April 2020 and tickets are completely free. If you want to find out more about YoastCon (and how to apply for tickets) check out the YoastCon page.