Today is a special day. Today, a project we’ve been working on for a year sees the light of day. Yoast SEO 14.0 rewrites the playbook on how a WordPress SEO plugin can work. Thanks to an approach we call indexables, we bring you a much faster experience and a new foundation that helps us get ready for an exciting future!
Think like a search engine
SEO has always been about thinking like a search engine. Search engines want to retrieve as much information as possible, and use it to provide searchers with the best possible answers to their questions. This means we constantly have to ask ourselves; how does a search engine treat information?
Information on the web is addressable via URLs. Anything that has a URL is something that could be discovered, scraped, indexed, and shown in the search results. WordPress has posts, pages, custom post types, categories, tags, custom taxonomies, different types of archives, special pages, and maybe even more types of content. Do you think a search engine like Google cares about that? It doesn’t really. It just looks for things with a URL, that it can scrape and index.
A better information architecture for WordPress
From an SEO perspective, any type of page in WordPress is simply an indexable object. This is the basic intuition that has led to indexables. In its core, indexables is just a database table that contains metadata and URLs for all indexables on a site. The abstraction normalizes the information architecture for any type of page in WordPress and makes its metadata directly queryable. On top of that, we can now easily and economically relate different indexable objects to each other and to other things, such as links, redirects, attachments, and perhaps even schema markup.
Looking for more background on indexables and the future it holds? Read Omar’s post The exciting technology that is indexables
A direct benefit of indexables: a speed boost
While all the magic happens behind the scenes, the first notable ‘feature’ of indexables is a speed boost. With all the testing we’ve done, Yoast SEO 14.0 can provide a speed boost of 5-10%. Your entire site will load faster. Of course, this depends on various elements, like the type of site, the number of plugins installed, the hosting provider et cetera. This kind of speed boost is not only good for you, your visitors and your site in general, but also for search engines. Search engines have been advocating faster sites for a while now and with Yoast SEO 14.0 we can help you speed up your site as well.
A new architecture ready for new features
One of the main benefits of indexables is what we can build on top of it. Rethinking Yoast SEO with indexables in mind, helped us build a new information architecture that will allow us to add and expand sitewide SEO features. The architecture makes our code easier to maintain and improve, while also helping us build new and complex features more quickly.
One of the first features built on top of indexables is our new headless WordPress API. Developers using headless WordPress installs can now generate metadata from a frontend request. Thanks to a simple metadata endpoint, developers can use the REST API to grab the data and output it wherever they want.
One of the indirect benefits of this release is new outside access to data. Thanks to the new architecture, we built a set of APIs that make it easier for third-party developers to hook into Yoast SEO. For this, we introduce surfaces. A surface is an object which we explicitly expose for third party use and which we promise to keep backward compatible. Find out more about surfaces in our developer documentation.
As we’ve rebuilt a large part of the plugin, we have ample documentation for developers to come to grips with the changes. If you hook into Yoast SEO, it’s a good idea to go over our documentation and developer blog posts to see what changed and how you can use this to your advantage. This release makes it a lot easier for developers to hook into. Of course, this also applies to our Schema.org framework. Find more information in our developer documentation for Yoast SEO 14.0.
Try it out before updating
It’s important to test plugins before you update, but since this is a really big one it might be a good idea to try it out before adding it to your site. Of course, Yoast SEO 14.0 is thoroughly tested, but since we can’t test every set up out there, there’s always a chance that some rare combination of factors raises an issue. In that case, use a staging environment to test your plugins on a copy of your site.
For developers and testers, we made our internal Yoast SEO Test Helper available as a plugin. This can help you test our plugins on your staging environment.
Yoast SEO 14.0: The Indexables release
Yoast SEO 14.0 is out of this world. We’ve rebuilt a large part of how the plugin gets its data, which helped us to make it faster and to help your site load faster. This innovative way of handling data inside WordPress helps us — and you — get ready for a very exciting future!