Rob Cairns sits down to talk to Taco from Yoast.
1. Why Yoast?
2. New things coming in Yoast.
3. How Yoast contributes to the WordPress community.
Hey everybody, Rob here again. And today I’m here with my good friend Taco from Yost. How are you today, Taco?
I’m good. I’m good. How are you?
Doing well, Canada’s a little hot right now. We’re at the time of this record. We’re going into our Thanksgiving long weekend and it’s feels like summer. Out there so.
You know, I know. Are you doing?
Yeah, so basically this is the the end of my work week and I’m looking back at A at a fun week with a lot of new challenges, so. Yeah, and a lot. Of fun stuff coming up at Jost, so that’s.
Yeah, and and it’s and you’re obviously wearing a Yost T-shirt. I should tell you Burgundy is one of my favorite colors. So and we didn’t talk before the show, did we?
Not at all.
No, no, no. So. How long you been at Yost now, Taco, you’ve been there since before it was acquired. After you’re going on, like over 10. Years aren’t you?
Yeah. Just over 10 years, August 1st marked 10 years for me at Jose, so.
That’s why maybe.
You can see it in the background. Let me see always in. Mirror over there. Yes, there’s a little thingy that says Yos. 10 years, yeah, so. Yeah, if you’re at Yost for for 10 years, you. Got one of those.
Congratulations, my friend. In 10 years for a company in the digital space is a long time. So.
It is, yeah, but it’s still fun journey.
Yeah. And. And you were with yours before they were acquired by Newfield, right. So you’ve been there for a long time. How’s that done for the cultural Yost, have you done? Has it mashed really well, or has it had its challenges or cultures always interesting.
Yes, so. Obviously a.
Both the good thing is that in the whole sales process for for Yoast, the old board really looked at which company is a good cultural fit has similar. Core values as Yost, so that made integration a whole lot easier because we’re looking at the same things where. I mean we we just started October, which is diversity Awareness Month. And that’s in diversity and inclusion has always been important at Yost, and it is very important for new folk as well. So those values align really well, and that makes it so much easier to have that integration.
Yeah, it’s so true. And I think more and more companies, that’s one of their core values is diversity. Certainly in Canada, we’ve gone through those challenges. I am so glad I don’t live in that country South of me because they have bigger challenges than we do. As you know, and. And I I I think. Like, I really think diversity and inclusion means accepting people for who they are. I really do. And that’s a big.
Yeah. And I mean and and that is accepting people, but also creating a workspace that will actively welcome. Them to your workspace I think is is a vital part of having that discussion. It’s it’s not just we have people who are very different at our company, but it’s making them feel at home at your company or in your community that matters.
And making them valued and wanted to too that include on that, yeah. That’s really cool. What? It’s funny people think of you. And they say, I said, stop, no code. They’re the Yost. And he said to me the SEO plug him with the traffic light, right. Yeah. Which is the red white. And blue. And I think what people need to realize is those traffic lights are only a measure of what you’re doing. And it’s only part of the solution. It’s like a guide. What’s your thoughts around that?
Yeah. So. So the fun thing is the traffic lights are gamification. It’s challenging you to be better at all of the checks that are SEO experts came up with and all of those contribute to building a good page and to increasing. More chances to rank well in the search. What we often. Hear is when we talk about people talk about websites with with people they say yeah, I’m using WordPress obviously. Then I ask are you using Yoast? No, no, never, never heard of Yost. I I don’t know Yost, but what I ask, do you have lights that help you write your content? They go look. Yes. That’s an amazing feature of WordPress.
So they are using Yost.
Goodness, where we need to. Work on our branding a little bit. But yeah, we have a lot of those sort of. Dormant users, they don’t know they’re they’re using our product. They actively are.
Yeah. So that means your branding isn’t as strong as you think it is. I mean, people like myself who have been in the community over 15. Others know who who Yost is know who you are. Even though we’ve until lately not really spoken. But you know the community is a small place. We all know who the big players are, where they say what they stand on. And I think a lot of these younger generation kids or people or adults. They don’t have that same community involvement that we do, so they don’t always have the same values and and recognition.
Yeah, I don’t think that everyone who uses WordPress needs to be in the WordPress community even though they buy using WordPress, they sort of are. But I think there’s a difference between the whole 43% of the Internet using WordPress versus the.
10,000 people that make the active workers community that comes together at events and talks about WordPress online and. There’s there’s a huge. Gap in numbers between the two. Yeah, and. I think that well. Within the 10,000 active contributors that that core community of WordPress. You’re right, we we’re doing pretty well in our vending, but to the overall WordPress users, I think there’s room for improvement still.
Yeah, there’s always room for improvement. I think when the day we stop improving is the day we start growing. If somebody’s looking at Yost and saying. Umm I should use those to help manage my SEO. What’s the number one selling feature would you say?
So the the one I’m most proud of is not necessarily the number one selling, but is the inclusive language checks that we released earlier this year, which helps you write for a broader audience because SEO is about being found in search engines. Which means that you. You you want to reach a as broad audience as you can because you’re as long as they search for something that’s related to your website. If you then manage to end up in the top three of the search results, people click on your results and you accidentally. Offend them or alienate them by using the wrong words. I think that. Is problematic because you can win them over in the search, but if you then lose them when they reach your site, that’s not helpful. So that’s why I’m super proud of that inclusive language feature. It’s not utilized enough, it’s something that you have to enable on your site in your stasio and I think that more people could benefit from it still. At this point the the number one feature that people will go to the paid version four is probably access to our amazing support team.
And you’re and you’re supporting is amazing, and they should be commended. I would say that’s the biggest reason and and frankly to support the plugin to say hey guys, I’m using this every day, I don’t want it to go away and and folks the only way to make sure plugins don’t go away is to is to pay for them honestly.
I I. Do believe that?
It’s sometimes surprising because we’re, I mean, the free plugin is installed by roughly 13 million sites, which is quite a lot. Are are paying customers both paying customers is a lot smaller. The the the paying customers are paying for the development for the entire thing and the fact that we have a company behind the product which makes it.
Sustainable. Yeah, yeah.
It’s so true and and not. And if it’s not sustainable, it just goes away. We we saw that recently with and I’m trying to remember the name of it. There was a theme shop. They were bought and then the new owner just closed it down in the last couple of weeks and. There’s been stuff like that going on. It just makes it really. What is your most requested feature for Yost?
Ohh, I think that the the most requested one is if I install yours as your can you make me rank first? No, I wish. I wish we’d be having an entirely different. Conversation if that was possible, but just installing a plugin to immediately get on top of everyone else. I mean, we talk about SEO as search engine optimization, but really it stands for seriously effortful optimization. Because you need to put. In the work you the. Tool your socio is just a guide to help you become the best result, but in the end it’s going to be. You, who’s writing content, who builds the site structure, and who’s doing all the the optimization and all the all the content writing.
You know, I I think honestly, I think where people fall on SCO is they don’t do keyword research number. One, and then the worst thing. They even worse, they don’t do is they don’t do competitors research #2. So I always tell my clients and dirty little marketing secret is Create an e-mail address that nobody knows what there’s and sign up for all your competitors newsletters so they can figure out what your competitors are. Doing at the end.
Day. Yeah, yeah. So or have your own strength and build on that. I mean, that’s the. The other approach to. Do online marketing, I guess.
Yeah, there’s a there’s a really good book out there called the inside advantage. It was written in 2009 by a guy named Robert Bloom. And what he he talks about exactly that how to make your business different. So you stand out from everybody else. So that’s really, really important. So yeah, and by the way, if you could make them run ranked number one, you’d be a millionaire. And so would I. With him, we’d all. Oh yeah, because it’s funny. If I read one, get one more e-mail snake oil e-mail from an SEO expert saying I can have your rank number one in 30 days. I’m just you know, it’s just not happening in this market.
Well, the interesting thing is that even if that’s true and they make you rank number one by using all The Dirty tricks in the book for cat asios chances that you’ll stay #1. Or stay in. The search results for a long time. Are slim to none. And yeah, that’s why at Jos we we talk a lot about holistic SEO. So it’s not just technical optimizations, it’s not just side speed. It’s not just the best content. It’s not just the most user-friendly website. It’s the combination of. All of those factors and and many more that make your website a success because. In the end. Googles and I’m using Google because that’s the most user use search engine. But Google’s goal is to provide people with an answer. And to provide people with the best results to their question or query and the way to rank number one is to be the best results in all of those aspects. So that’s that’s what we suggest people do and that’s what we teach them in the Yoshio cademy as well.
Yeah. And. And the other thing I I would ask is and I don’t know if you can answer this or not, but I’m going. To go there is. Are you planning on doing anything with AI?
We already do. I think it’s now six weeks, six weeks ago that we launched our first AI features. If I could, I would show. You the video, but I don’t have it at hand right now. Because we we made a really cute. Police video with a little robot that’s takes his first step into SEO and and that is where we are at with AI. These these are the first steps. But there’s so much awesomeness coming that I can’t talk about just yet, but the team is is really working hard to, well, build more than just another content generator, but really make it. Work for your SEO and help. You write that original. Content and help you build a really good web.
Yeah. And by the way, more awesomeness means an excuse to get you back one day so we can, when it comes down. The road right now is.
Ohh I. I will happily come back. Absolutely yes.
There’s a lot of interesting stuff going on in the AI space, and I think what we all need to realize is it’s not from my standpoint, it’s not changing how we do, it’s changing how we do our jobs, not eliminating our jobs. And that’s the biggest.
I I think that’s true for.
Most jobs. Yeah. Yeah. For most. Yeah. Now, correct me if I’m wrong. And it could be, but I don’t think I’m Yost. Branch out to Shopify at one time as well. Don’t you ever.
You are absolutely correct, yes.
How is that? How is that going?
So that that was really interesting because even when I joined Joes 10 years ago, we already had quite the name because of the founder, Yoster Falk, who was a known and still is a known face in WordPress and in in SEO. And with our venture into Shopify, we explored a whole new area with a community that we never interacted with before. That is very different from the open source WordPress community. So we basically had to start from scratch.
Our our name didn’t mean a whole lot in that in that Shopify Community yet. So that was a really interesting experience and fortunately I can say that both our product teams have done an amazing job in building a super valuable app for Shopify, but also the marketing team has been killed. Doing it and as we said before, supports amazing. So they’ve been helping customers on on live chats in Shopify. And yeah, we really see Shopify grow fast at the moment and it’s going really, really well.
Ohh, I’m glad to hear that. And you know you just mentioned something interesting you said your marketing team is killing it and that is telling because I don’t think technology companies. Do a really good job at marketing. I really don’t. Being a marketer myself, I think they leave money on the table all the time. They don’t market well. They don’t know what their customers are. They look at sales and say we get them. I mean, even the big boys like the one is probably Apple. That does a hell of a job at marketing. And we know that they’ve created super fence, which is a big deal, but even web creatives, they leave money on the table all the time. They don’t do a good job.
Yeah, I I think that. One of so one of the. Earliest hires at Yost by Yost, folk at the time was Erin and Erwin is our illustrator.
And he created the avatars. He created the whole Yost style. And I think that has been a brilliant move for vending because what we what we see is that. We have the recognizable avatars, we have the Yost style on the website, but also in the plug-in. People immediately recognize the images and the the overall style of our branding. And that’s been working fantastic.
Yeah. And you’re such a leader that you redid your dashboard. A little bit a while ago. And everybody in the community said, why isn’t coral like? Like you remember those discussions, right? We all looked at it and and that tells me how recognize your stays as a company, how recognized you are in our community of people, talk WordPress and you should be really congratulated for that cause. The new dashboard looks absolutely great.
Yeah. And what? So the thing that. Fits well with our company, of course, is that we open source the whole UI library for it. So if you go to uilibrary.yost.com, you’ll have access to. The whole thing. And we actually saw other plugins but also. Blue host with. Their redesign is using that same UI in their their. Admin panels and. That is probably the biggest compliment that we could get. For for doing that.
Yeah. And their and their redesign’s been going on and it looks really good actually. So you know, maybe maybe it can trigger some people an idea to get the UI changed in core because that’s one of my biggest complaints in WordPress is the UI looks so. 10 years ago at this point, right. So.
Well, and and that’s not strange because the current admin UI was introduced with the MP 6 project in WordPress 3.7 which was about 10 years.
Ago. Yeah. You’re dating yourself? Me too. You know it’s true. And but you’ve done a lot and you’ve given me. Community ought to think about, so that’s that’s appreciated. Besides AI, is there anything any new thing coming down on the road map that you’re in a position that you can share or? Not really at. This point.
Yes to the first question, no to the second. Yes, there is absolutely coming stuff soon, but not that I can talk about. Just yet, so keep an eye out on the website sign. Up for the newsletter and you’ll be amongst the first to know.
Follow Taco on on X, formerly known as Forever right.
Yes. Yeah, absolutely. I try to be a little bit more active on LinkedIn as well, but I still don’t fully understand that network, so.
Come make come join the WordPress product community. Shameless plug.
I will. I will.
Yeah, you know, I Co manage that community. Yeah. So yeah, so it’s like, yeah. Because I think there’s. A lot of people concerned about SCO and I think truthfully, I think it’s harder to do today than it was 10 years ago when you and I started at, I think 10 years ago, there was a lot if you threw it. Out there, you. Threw. What’s his name out of Australia? The The the master. Blogger. Ohh. I’m gonna kill myself. That’s OK. He he wrote a how to write a blog every day for 30 days and that would increase your SCO. And it was true to that at that time. But those are all tactics. They don’t. Work well anymore. To be honest with you.
Well, so the the interesting thing is that. Yes, a lot has changed technology wise. We have a lot more options nowadays. The addition of schema and and the adoption broader adoption of schema is a huge game changer and and at the same time the advice that we gave 10 years ago. Is still valid today because we never said. You should put white text on a white background and that will get you ranked. We’ve it worked, it worked back in the day. Maybe not ten years ago, that was 15, but still the the advice that we’ve been giving for the last 10 years, which still works is if you want to rank #1. You have to be the best result and that holistic vision, even though technology changed a little. It, but it’s still true. The only thing is site speed your website used to be fast. If you had a four second loading time back in 2019, my former colleague Jono Alderson gave a talk that said 0.6 seconds is the new slow. And these changes happen all the time, but the overall story your website should be fast, usable, user friendly and and provide value. Yeah, those haven’t changed.
You know the biggest challenge with site speed is mobile, and the reason mobile is you’re lucky in the Netherlands. I assume you get pretty good mobile site speeds. We have 5G in Canada now being in a major outside of major cities. So that’s not an issue. But you get into some of these countries and their mobile. Speeds are it’s God awful and that is a challenge from an SEO.
Yeah, absolutely. And especially if you realize that. Large parts of the world will.
Only have a mobile phone? Yeah, they they don’t have a laptop. They don’t have a a computer. They have their mobile phone and.
That is it that. Is the way they interact with the Internet.
So, but we’re seeing that more and more even in Canada, like you look at you take somebody like my partner and she she has a desktop at work. OK, so that’s fine. She goes home and she does everything on an iPhone or an iPad mobile. There’s no. I mean, they have the Internet at home, but what I’m saying is more and more people are are ditching their computers at home unless they need them professionally. It’s just totally changing. Been a game changer.
Yeah. Yeah. And and that’s not strange because I mean this little thing can do much more. And my old Nokia 3310 back in the.
It’s true, it is a computer. And the memory in your pocket like. Who would have thought that the mobile phone beside me? Which I got no last year cost me more than the laptop that’s in the corner that I got no last year. Like, who would ever thought right? That go, it’s just.
Yeah. And and I mean, if you’re old enough, I’m not sure what the demographic of the audience of your podcast is. But if you’re old enough, you’ll remember someone saying it’s 64 K is enough for everyone.
Yes, I do.
Yeah, I don’t think. That still holds true.
I can remember being on a healthcare project right around the. Year 2000. Where we were fighting over. 64 and 128 Meg PC’s and the cost differential at that time. So yeah.
I can imagine, yeah.
I remember those days, so talked about about Yoast. How’s it working? I know we talked to about for one there, but you’re part of a bigger company, new fold. You do a lot of work with Blue Host and other new full brands. How’s that working out for you?
So that’s a game changer. The the interesting thing about having a plugin in WordPress and especially a free plugin is that you cannot do any tracking unless people opt in, which, let’s put it mildly, people are not very tempted to.
No, they’re not. With privacy issues, especially in EU, EU, that’s not happening.
Yeah. So basically you’re building your product. Blind we we build what we feel is needed, what people need. For their websites. Well-being the SEO experts, we can tell. People, this is what? You need SEO wise and we can do user research with specific user. Groups, but there’s. Not a whole lot of feedback from. The entire group of users. And then we join new fold and we started talking to blue hosts a lot more and they are obviously a huge host in the workhouse space. So they have a lot of data on how people use their websites and how people use the. Admin of their. Website including some data on how plugins are used. So all of a sudden we could sort of peek behind the curtain. And see how yeast was used by. New host users. And that has. Been a huge game changer for our product development and it it’s one of the amazing synergies that happen being part of the the same brand.
Yeah, I’m sure because it’s all in the analytics, right to some degree.
Yeah, for sure.
I would think so. Is there anything else you’d like to share that we haven’t touched on or would like to mention about Yost or what’s going on?
So there’s there’s. Two things that I always love to talk about and that my community team is super happy when they do talk about them. And that’s the two funds that we have at. Because we have a Yost Diversity Fund, which aims to take away financial barriers from for speakers from typically underrepresented groups in tech. So if people apply to speak at a work camp and they’re part of an underrepresented group. And they have financial struggles. To be able to travel to that work camp or even to a meet up. Yeah, let’s say. You need to go for childcare in. Order to go. To your local meet up or you need to stay at a hotel because the city is just too far away for you to drive back and forth for the work camp that you’re speaking at. You can reach out to the Host Diversity Fund. And we will. In most cases help you cover all or part of the costs that you’re making, but taking taking away that financial barrier that keeps you from speaking at the meet up or the webcam. It’s one of the things I’m most proud of that we that we do and.
I’m hoping that.
People will help spread the work because still. We have, we talked. About diversity at the start and I think it’s. Everything we do circles back to it because, yeah, we we want to increase the diversity of all the events that we’re running because we have so many amazing people who are currently not getting the spotlight they deserve.
Yeah, that’s so true. And you should be commended for doing that. Congrats.
Yeah. And so the other fund that I talked about is the Oscar fund, which is slightly different. Because that’s available for everyone. Well, if you’re nominated, because what we see is that a lot of people contribute to WordPress to the WordPress project, spending their time not work hours. They’re not sponsored contributors, but their own time on the project. Yeah. And we saw that happening a couple of years ago where a lot of self-employed web developers were spending a lot of time on the WordPress project and we wanted to have a way to celebrate them. And so we came up with the Yost, careful and which is short for Community Appreciation rewards. But Karen itself already says it all, I guess. And So what? What you can do is. If you have. Such a hidden gem someone working. Their own time on the workplace projects doing valuable work but not getting a whole of lot of recognition for it. You can nominate them for the Oscar fund. When accepted there, you will hold an interview with them that will be published on thehost.com website so that we surface those hidden gems in our community worldwide. And there’s a little grant connected to. It’s so a financial stimulation to continue doing the awesome work that they’re already doing. So that’s also one of the things that I’m super proud of. And as I said, my community team is always happy when I talk about that because more people should know and we hope. To get now. Hundreds of applications a year.
That would be amazing if you did too, but thank you for making a difference in our community. That means a lot. If somebody wants to get a hold of your Taco house, the best one.
So I’m pretty active on X previous Twitter. I keep calling it Twitter because X is stupid name. Sorry Elon, you can find me on LinkedIn and of course in the make breakfast slack in most of the places I go by Taco Verdo, which is the 1st 5 letters of my last name. Because my full last name kills people when they try to pronounce it.
Yeah, me included, by the way, I have to tell you. Thank you, Sir. You have a wonderful day. I appreciate your time.
Thank you so much for having me.
It was fantastic.