Google’s new subtopics ranking, a page builder that’s also focusing on performance and a tool to easily rewrite and repost old content. These are a few of the news items that our SEO experts Joost de Valk and Jono Alderson discussed during our SEO news webinar on the 26th of January 2021. Missed it? No worries, we have the video and highlights right here. So dive into the latest news in SEO and WordPress this month!

Watch the January 2021 SEO news webinar

You can (re)watch the January 2021 SEO news webinar right here. Or if you prefer reading, simply scroll down to read all about the highlights of this webinar. And don’t forget: the next edition will be on the 23rd of February 2021. We hope to see you there!

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What’s new with Google?

Google has launched some new stuff that’s worth discussing, such as the Question Hub tools, subtopics ranking and an updated performance report for Google My Business. In addition, there’s some other news this month, so let’s dive in right away!

Google launches Question Hub

Although still only available in the US, India, Indonesia and Nigeria, Google has launched their new tool Question Hub. In their own words, “Question Hub is a tool that enables creators to create richer content by leveraging unanswered questions. Question Hub collects these unanswered user questions and surfaces them to bloggers, writers and content creators like you.”

screenshot of Question Hub in Google
Homepage of Google Question Hub

What this translates to is that when a user searches for something niche online, Google will sometimes save these queries for Question Hub. So when a content creator logs into Question Hub through their Google Search account, these questions will be shown and this content creator will have the option to write fitting content.

Sounds like a great way to get some inspiration for new focus keyphrases, right? The downside, however, is that these are very niche and focused questions. So this will probably not be a game-changer when it comes to your keyword strategy. It can however inspire you when you’re out of ideas for new keyphrases, so it’s interesting to see where this goes.

Google subtopics ranking

There is another piece of interesting news, but it’s not about something Google launched this month. Without making too much noise about it, Google rolled out subtopics ranking in mid-November of 2020. The idea is that Google now understands that when you search for something, this ‘something’ can have subtopics that you’re actually interested in. To give an example, when you type in ‘exercise bikes’ you might be looking for cheap exercise bikes, or top of the line exercise bikes, or even exercise bikes that can be delivered tomorrow. Google wants to make sure these different categories are represented and can therefore choose to show users three results per subtopic. Instead of the top results for the term ‘exercise bikes’.

It’s interesting to see what it will do for rankings. For some site owners, this may mean that you need to focus more on being a specific result and not just being the best result for a more general term. As you may now be competing for a place in a subtopic more often, and not just the top ten results. Google wants to balance information with eCommerce, to give people a variety of results that will hopefully contain the type of page they’re looking for.

New performance reports for Google My Business

Google has been working on improving their data tools quite a bit recently, and they’ve now launched new performance reports for Google My Business. They’ve had some people complaining about the way this Google My Business Insights section looks, and how little insight people had into this performance, and it seems they’ve taken this to heart. These new performance reports look quite good and definitely a step in the right direction. It does still feel like early days, as there are still some metrics that would be great to see there, but make sure to check it out.

An updated Search Console coverage report

Google has definitely not been sitting still, and another thing they’ve updated is the Search Console coverage report. To give you an idea, this report tell you about errors, warnings and other notable things that are found on your site. This is great, but up until now still left too much to the imagination to really work on your individual pages. For example, this report told us that we had lots of pages with a ‘search anomaly’ on yoast.com, feedback that we noticed other sites getting as well. With only this information to go on, it was quite difficult to figure out what the exact issue was.

Google has worked on this section and now gives you specific categories for the errors it encounters on your site. This helps site owners figure out what’s going wrong and what they need to do to improve their page.

What’s new in WordPress?

In addition to Google’s SEO news, we also have some fun WordPress news. First of all, there’s news about the performance of page builder Gutenberg. Secondly, related to that, there is a block-based version of the Twenty Twenty-one theme on its way. And thirdly, we have some cool news on the official site for the White House.

Page builders vs performance

If you work with WordPress, you might be familiar with page builders. These are nifty tools to help you create your page without having to be an expert in coding. Which makes creating a website way more accessible for everyone, something that we and the WordPress community really believe in. But, unfortunately, using a page builder often means compromising on the performance of your site.

The block editor, formerly known as the Gutenberg editor, is actually taking its first steps in becoming the go-to page builder when people don’t want to compromise on performance. This means, that you’ll be able to create the page you want by simply dragging and dropping easy to use blocks. Sounds like the solution to this problem right? There is, however, a catch. At the moment it takes way too much time to do this. And we do mean way too much time. So the first step is there, but we still have a few steps to go before page builders can promise us the performance we want.

Block-based version of Twenty Twenty-One

In related news, WordPress is also working on a project named full site editing. This would make it possible to build your site using nothing else but blocks. This possibility is coming closer every day, and we’re quite excited about it. Also part of this is the block-based version of the Twenty Twenty-One theme, on which some of our WordPress core team members have also been working. Our hopes for this full site editing are high, but we’re still a long way from making this usable for everyone.

Example of the block based version of Twenty Twenty-One
The Twenty Twenty-One theme in WordPress

Whitehouse.gov revamped in six weeks

Some encouraging news we’d love to share with you is about whitehouse.gov, which has been rebuilt for the new president of the United States. First of all, they’ve decided to keep using WordPress for their site and what’s even cooler is that they’ve used the block editor for everything. It also scores great on accessibility and gives you the option to switch to dark mode.

There is still some work to be done, but they’ve done a great job considering that the team revamped whitehouse.gov in 6 weeks. This gives you a great example of what WordPress can do and how it has evolved from its early days as ‘just a blogging platform’. In addition, we’re also happy to see that this site continues to use Yoast SEO as their SEO plugin and it will be interesting to see how this site will be used for the coming four years.

What’s new at Yoast?

Our latest two Yoast SEO release

At Yoast, we have a new release (almost) every two weeks. This means that we’ve already had two releases since the start of the new year. In our first release of 2021, Yoast SEO 15.6, we’ve added support for Norwegian word forms, helping you write great content in yet another language. Another feature in this release is our new Estimated Reading Time block, which allows you to tell people how much time it takes them to read your article. A good way to manage their expectations right at the beginning of your post or page.

Estimated reading time block appears
The Yoast SEO Estimated Reading Time block

The second release we’ve had this month is Yoast SEO 15.7. For Premium users, this new release comes with full readability and word form support for the Turkish language. Although we already have support for lots of different, we’re not there yet and still have many other languages coming.

Rewrite & Republish with Yoast Duplicate Post

Last year, the plugin Duplicate Post and its creator joined Yoast. Something we really wanted to build for this plugin is the feature that’s out right now: Rewrite & Republish. So what does it do? One of the things we do a lot for yoast.com, and especially our blog, is write content. But a year later that content is old and needs to be rewritten to make sure it’s still up to date. Until now you would use a plugin like Duplicate Post to duplicate the post and when you’re done with your changes, you would copy the entire text over the old post and hit update. Or you would publish the new version, delete the old one and rename your slugs to make sure it’s still the right URL.

This was a lot of work to rewrite your post. That’s where this new feature comes in. You can now simply use Rewrite & Republish to create a draft where you make all the necessary changes and hit publish when you’re done. This will replace the old post and you won’t need to delete anything or change any URLs. It makes this process a whole lot easier. Note that this is a feature in our Yoast Duplicate Post plugin, which you can download for free.

Our latest podcast with Jason Barnard

This month was also our fourth podcast where Joost de Valk talks to different SEO experts about a range of topics. This month’s episode is with Jason Barnard, who shared a lot of interesting stuff about brand search, knowledge panels and how you can optimize for your brand name or even your own name. It’s a fun episode, so make sure to give it a listen as Jason also gives lots of tiny tidbits on what you can do to optimize for the brand SERPs.

Coming soon: A new structured data training

Next week we’re launching another course on structured data. If you’ve been following our webinar or blog the last couple of months, you may already know that structured data is on the move and becoming more important by the day. To help you master this topic and use it on your own site, we’ve recently launched a free structured data for beginners course. And now, we’re launching its prequel Understanding Structured Data training course. To get access to this new course, you’ll need a Yoast SEO Premium subscription that will also give you access to all of our other courses and the Yoast SEO plugin!

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And in other news

Shopify wants to hire 2021 engineers in 2021

Shopify is aiming to hire a whopping 2021 engineers in the year 2021. Before we get into that high number, we’d like to note what a great way this is to draw attention to the fact that you want to hire lots of people. That being said, this high number of new employees they’re planning to hire shows you their plans to really take on the eCommerce market in addition to players such as WooCommerce. Of course, Shopify isn’t part of WordPress, but they are building a strong platform and investing a lot into SEO. It will be interesting to keep an eye on.

DuckDuckGo hits new record

The search engine DuckDuckGo hits a record of 100 million searches in one day. For an underdog, competing with search engines such as Google and Bing, this is quite a milestone. Obviously, DuckDuckGo doesn’t offer users as many features as other competitors do, but they do shine in the privacy department. This is why a lot of people use DuckDuckGo. The number or accuracy of results may be less, but this search engine focuses a lot on protecting the privacy of its users and avoiding the filter bubble that ends up showing you the same types of results.

That was the SEO news in January 2021!

Those were the highlights of our January 2021 edition of the SEO news webinar. If you want to know what else Joost and Jono discussed, I would recommend watching the webinar to find out. Either way, we hope you’ve enjoyed this SEO, WordPress and other related news and if you’re interested in more, make sure to join our next edition. It will take place on the 23rd of February 2021 and also gives you the option to ask Joost and Jono some questions. Make sure to get notified about our next edition by subscribing to our newsletter below this post, and receive SEO tips and other news in the meantime!

Read more: The latest news in SEO and WordPress: December 2020 »



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