Blogger Interview: Joost de Valk aka Yoast

In this installment of the Blogger Interviews series, I have the chance to introduce to you to Joost De Valk. Joost is well known throughout the WordPress community so I hope you’re ready for this one. Ok then, let’s dive right in!

Interview with Joost De Valk aka Yoast

First I’d like to start off by saying what an honor it is to have this interview with you here on Basic Blog Tips. I’m familiar with your work and I know that you have done an impressive job with your blog and your work with WordPress plugin development, but..

Joost De ValkFor those who aren’t familiar with you please give us some background about yourself and your personal life and a little bit about how you got started with blogging.

While I built my first website when I was 12, in ’94, my first blog didn’t come into existence until around 2003/2004. Back then it was on joostdevalk.nl, where I shared code samples. A lot of that was CSS3, so I decided to split that off into CSS3.info, which became the best resource on CSS3 on the web for quite a while.

A few years later I decided to move to yoast.com (yoast being the correct way to pronounce my first name if you’re an english native speaker) and the rest is history.

On a personal level I’m now 30 years old, the father of 2 boys, 5.5 and 3 months old and 1 daughter of 2.5 and happily married to my wife Marieke, who’s a teacher and holds a Ph. D. in Criminology.

When you were first introduced to the WordPress blogging platform, what impressed you about it the most and why did you choose WordPress over other self-hosted blogging platforms like Joomla, Drupal or even Typepad?

Because it was easier to use and had better SEO capabilities. Joomla back then was an even bigger mess than it is now, Drupal had no decent user interface and was harder to use, Typepad was hosted and I’ve always wanted to own my own stuff.

Tell us more about your blogs and your other websites. I remember that you had a podcast, are you still podcasting and where can we find the podcast and your other websites.

I’m currently on a pro-longed hiatus with podcasting. I am however working on doing webinars, my first, paid, webinar series on Advanced WordPress SEO will be coming soon. If you or your readers are interested in that they should definitely subscribe to my newsletter.

Talk to us about the whole idea of developing WordPress plugins. What kind of expertise or education does someone need who is interested in getting into plugin development?


You should be proficient at PHP and then start picking other plugins apart. My bigger ones might be hard to start with but simpler plugins like my comment redirect plugin for instance might be a great start. WordPress has a lot of built-in API’s that make a lot of things easier, but it also has some wrappers around functionality that you might be used to using so that it works on all platforms.

Next, if you’re building a plugin, make sure that you also market it, there’s nothing I hate more than see a good plugin go to waste because nobody told anyone. So, build cool stuff, tell cool people.

I’m thinking about attending Blog World NYC in June. Have you ever been an attendee or a speaker at a major blogging conference? What is that experience like, and do you recommend that to bloggers as a way of expanding their audience and engaging with others. What’s a good success story you can share with have to tell about your experience with conferences.

I’m a regular speaker on WordCamps around Europe as well as on SEO conferences around the world, both of which I think are awesome fun. I’ve never spoken at Blog World before but know a lot of my friends have and speak highly of the conference.

Through conferences you meet people and make real relations. The difference between emailing someone you’ve only known through email and emailing someone you’ve had a few beers with is ginormous, so I would really suggest walking up to people and talking to them. I’ve noticed in the past that some people can become “star struck”, don’t let that happen to you, walk up to people you admire and ask if you can buy them a beer or something else, I know that for me you’ll always strike gold with that :)

I asked Kim Castleberry from Just Ask Kim this question in an interview I did with her and she gave some fantastic feedback, so I’m going to ask you the same question. Joost, when you talk to your readers, what kinds of problems or questions do they have? Do you ever get questions from people that have you stumped? What do you do when that happens?

Most of my readers have questions and issues related to WordPress. I can solve 90% of them easily and the last 10% I have to dive into the code for, funnily enough I like that last 10% best as it makes me learn new stuff. I’ve recently had to take a few steps back though and cut a lot of the email out, I was getting hundreds of emails a day and that’s really a productivity killer.

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SEO Advice from Joost

I’d like to switch gears a little and ask about SEO. I know that a lot of people hear your name and they start to think about SEO. But for some others that don’t know about your famous plugin WordPress SEO by Yoast, what are some of the basic reasons why bloggers should care about SEO? In addition, can you talk about some of the SEO services that you offer?

For the same reason that plugin developers should market their plugins, bloggers should do SEO: when you write interesting stuff, people should hear / find out about it. SEO is one of the easiest ways to get traffic, a lot of bloggers really don’t need to do a whole lot more than the following:

  • for each post you write, think about the keywords people would search for when searching for solutions around this topic
  • pick one of those keywords, maybe using the Google suggest box in my plugin or Google Trends or something else
  • embed those keywords in your post, your post title, etc.

It’s exactly that process that my SEO plugin (which is free btw) aims to help you with. It shows you a preview of what your post might look like as a search result, helping you to position yourself as a searcher searching for that topic.

As for services, I basically have two of them: SEO consulting and training, which I mostly do for the bigger brands out there, and website reviews. The latter I do because I love being able to help people out with their sites for a reasonable price (€495 at the moment, which is about $650-$700).

I’m a big fan of YouTube and I love to create and video tutorials. What are you doing in terms of video that readers can check out and where does video fit in your content portfolio.

Not enough. I’ve got a whole lot of things planned though, especially when my Video SEO module for my WordPress SEO plugin finally hits the street :)

What social networks do you like, are you a big Twitter user or is Facebook more your speed. How about Google+ and Pinterest. Are they high on your priority list or are you outsourcing those forms of engagement. I mean we know that there are only so many hours in a day and if your developing plugins I’m sure something else gets neglected, so if you had to pick where would you, or where DO you, spend most of your time on social networks.

I do Facebook, Twitter and Google+, where the first two are the most important so far. While I’ve got more followers on Twitter I find that Facebook allows for a bit better interaction.

The solution I’ve found to the hours in a day problem is to just sleep less ;)

Joost, please share with us some insider info. What do you see as the next thing in terms of the world of WordPress or plugin development. What features would you like to see next that could make all of our lives as bloggers easier?

There are talks about adding some of the functionality, like titles and meta descriptions, that is in SEO plugins like mine into WordPress core. I think that would benefit all of us so let’s hope it happens.

Any parting words of advice that you would like to share? Joost, give us one thing that you see lacking in most blogs that we should all be looking at and taking action on if necessary.

I think if you take the SEO advice I gave above and run with it, you’ll see a tremendous improvement already. Once you do that, start thinking about how you relate your content, start making lists of related posts, guide your reader through what you’ve got on your site by using related posts and round-up posts as well as widgets that link to your evergreen content and both your reader and Google will love you for it.

About 

Welcome! I'm Ileane and this blog was created to help you learn about WordPress blogging, Social Media Optimization, YouTube Tutorials and more. Subscribe to my YouTube channel and be the first to know when I upload a new tutorial.
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69 Comments (click here to leave a comment)

  1. Amrik Virdi

    Hi Ms. Ileane, Its a great interview from Joost de Valk, I really enjoyed reading it. Hope I can see more interviews from successful bloggers!!

  2. Good interview! Yoast’s plugins are well known and highly recommended. But there are also other good and popular free WP plugins doing much of the same job. It could be very interesting to learn more obout the differences between yoast and for instance SEO Ultimate… Why should i pick yoast before another popular free seo plugin?

    • Hi Rick, that is an excellent question. I’ll see if I can get a response to that one as I’m sure many people would like to hear more about these two.
      Thanks!

  3. Hi Ileane, Its a great interview from Joost de Valk.
    I really always love to read interviews type article and really from that type of article we always get so many tips.
    Hope I can see more interviews from successful bloggers!!

  4. What a great interview Ileane. I do not know Joost personally, although I wish I did :) Being a SEO enthusiasts myself, I am very familiar with his work and plugins, which BTW, is the one that I highly recommend for any blogger of any level to use. It is an incredible plugin and is mind boggling why it is free. So to show you what type of contribution he makes for the community.

    Thanks, I got to know him a bit more with this interview.

    • DiTesco, I was happy to make a connection with Joost and honored to have this interview with him. Means a lot to me that you take the time to stop by and comment! Thank you!

  5. Ileane,

    I enjoyed the interview. I was wondering if you are using Thesis do you still recommend Joost’s WP plugin. I’m so overwhelmed with plugins, that it’s hard for me to keep up. At the minimum, I incorporate my keyword within my blog post.

    Janet

    • Janet, I’m glad you asked this question because Hesham from Famous Bloggers addressed this issue in his review of Thesis Theme. Hesham has created the Thesis Awesome Blogskin that I use here on Basic Blog Tips, and he has also developed a few plugins as well. Here is what is had to say about using an SEO plugin with Thesis theme installed.

      Thesis Theme has solid SEO features, so you don’t need to use any SEO plugin if you are running Thesis Theme on your blog. However, you may want to empower your blog SEO with some plugin So let me tell you this… You simply don’t have the choice!

      I’ve tried WordPress SEO by Yoast, and it’s a really awesome plugin, and I see good potential in using it, especially if this gives you more control over SEO. However, it didn’t work well for me as I am using Thesis. SEO features conflict and duplicate in some areas, and I was about to mess things up by editing some part of the framework or disable its SEO functionality so I can use the plugin instead, but I changed my mind, I really don’t need more headaches.

      I still see some people using the SEO plugin with Thesis, this is just not right!

      Please head over to Hesham’s blog and read the full review.

      http://www.famousbloggers.net/thesis-theme-review.html

  6. More good stuff. keep it coming.

    I think it was a good idea to bring in Joost De Valk. His advance techniques mixed with basic blog tips = success.

    Hours in a day problem solved. Now its time to fix the dollars in bank account issue :)
    Very good interview. One more in a huge stack of great posts.

    PS:
    The #IBCT is about identifying the best websites in the world. Your blog made the top 75 in the world. What is your reaction to being selected as one of the best worldwide? who would you pick as #1?

    • Hi Jacko, thank you for your kind words. I must admit, I’m not at all familiar with IBCT but I always like when someone acknowledges the work that goes into Basic Blog Tips. I can’t begin to take all the credit because I have the best team of guest bloggers on the planet!

  7. Great to see him here, I love Joost and read his blog every time I wanna figure out some technical stuff, lol. Not to mention that his WP SEO plugin is probably my favorite plugin of all times :) Great job on this one, Ileane!

    • Hi Brankica, you are so good with all the technical stuff, now I know where you’re getting some of your skills from. Thanks for coming by Brankica. You’re interview was the 2nd one here and now this interview with Joost makes #10!

  8. Great interview! I installed Yoast’s wordpress SEO plugin on all of my websites just one week ago. And I liked it so much ’cause the way it organizes SEO things and allows me to customize mine.

  9. Great interview Ms. Ileane!

    I absolutely love the WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin. It took the place of several plugins on my site and far surpasses All in One SEO. I love having something I can trust too. There are too many dodgy plugins out there.

    Now, more importantly, if you end up going to the BlogWorld expo in NYC we have to connect. I live in the area so I’m going to commute (from NJ) to the conference every day. I’d love to meet you since I’ve been so impressed in the short time since I discovered your blog. One of my mentors is going to be there too – Lynn Terry from Clicknewz. If you don’t know her, you should meet.

    Again, thanks for the interview. Hope we get to meet in June!

    - Sharyn

    • Hi Sharyn, I will certainly be sure to hook up with you guys if I make it to Blog World! I’ll keep you posted if I attend. Thanks for offering to hang out with me :)

  10. Loved the interview Ileane!

    Though I don’t know about Joost, but this is a wonderful source of information! I had heard about this plugin but never knew it’s so good- especially for SEO purposes! Just heading over to read more about it and download it!

    Thanks for sharing :)

    • Hi Harleena, I’m glad I could introduce you to Joost, he is really hands on when it comes to WordPress. Thanks for visiting.

  11. What a great online personality. I really liked your questions as well as the person you interview. As for promoting our sites, I think we have to keep up with technology if we want to stay in the business (social bookmarking).

  12. Hi Illeane,

    Nice And informative interview with Joost de valk.

    Joost really shared some awesome tips about SEO and also some background info too.

    Thanks Illeane for such a awesome interview of a awesome blogger & developer… :)

  13. It is one of the important interview from the wordpress guru. It is true that wordpress is CMS that is very user friendly related to SEO and lot of free themes

  14. Ileane, thanks for the awesome interview. I love Joost’s SEO pluugin. It’s easy to use and efficient. Joost is one of my favorite bloggers as he give really good information.

  15. Chris

    Great interview. It’s always cool to see how people started in blogging, strategies they used and how they go to where they are now.

  16. This man is SEO specialist as well as developer of plug-ins. He has dished up good stuff on SEO.This interview is a form of tutorial

  17. Wonderful stuff shared here Ileane, and I’ve known about Joost for a couple of years now, and I’m glad to know he chose the other name to help us pronounce his. lol I also like that he’s able to make a great income on his own terms and, in a way, is kind of living the life I’m working towards. Great interview from both of you; thanks!

      • I caught that webinar when it first aired and it is very indepth. The q and a session really cleared up alot of seo myths and one thing I found intriguing is that Yoast seems to be on WordPress’s speed dial…he is like the definitive SEO GOTO guy.

        • Thanks for your feedback on the webinar Caleb, I didn’t make it to the end yet, so maybe I’ll skip ahead and go back for the rest.

  18. Hey Ileane,

    Great interview, you ask some great questions. I admire the WordPress plugin authors so much because they’ve given us such great freedom with our blogs, but they’ve also made our blogs incredibly useful without requiring us (the users) to be technical, and I love that.

    I happen to use the Yoast SEO for WordPress plugin and like it a lot so getting to know a little more about Joost was interesting for me.

    Thanks,
    Liz

  19. Yoast is not only a great developper, he’s also a guy who know how to “sell” his stuff… ;-) Very interesting interview !
    Seriously, for those who haven’t used some of his stuff before, just don’t hesitate and go with it : it’s powerful and easy to use. Some people call it “premium” stuff… but it’s free.

    Yoast, I’ve got a question for you : considering you’re from Netherlands and are 30, were you a MSX user years ago ? (I was one… in France)

  20. I so love this guy, I have been using his plugin ever since i moved to WP and I had no doubts about the plugin. Keep rockin Mr Yoast :D

  21. Joost’s contribution to SEO is simply unbelievable. His SEO plugin is the best in the world. Fantastic ease of use and its absolutely free too. Brilliant interview Ileane..its always exciting to read or listen to Joost’s views on the subject.

  22. Joost, it was great learning more about your and your background. And it was really great learning how to pronounce your name correctly. I’m looking forward to your webinar on how to use your plug-in because, although it was suggested to me, I didn’t quite get it. Thank you for sharing!

  23. Joost has done some amazing work in the WordPress sphere.

    His plugins are of very good value and did enjoy adding them to my article for suggestion.

    Thanks for the interview and one of the rare ones he does :)

  24. What an interesting interview and some good information in the answers.
    I keep seeing articles on Joost’s SEO plugin and I have thought of giving it a try, but as he says, SEO is not that difficult, keywords, keywords, keywords…

    Enjoyable read and very informative.

  25. Great interview and I like your lengthy questions, thats the way we have to ask others to get perfect answers. Enjoyed a lot, expecting to see more.

  26. Millions of people using Yoast SEO wordpress Plug-in and its one of the top most priority based plug-in for each and every blog to make it 1st position of search engines.

    Today I heard about the person who developed that wonderful tool by this great interview, Joost, am very proud of you.

    I’d like to thanking you and Ms. Ileane Smith for conducting this great interview.

  27. Nice Interview Ileane, Yoast made life of many bloggers easy and his plugins are best in that category. Almost everyone using his plugins. :)

  28. Good interview of Joost. Nice to get to know him. Although I don’t use this plugin but I can’t escape it as most bloggers recomment it. I am using all-in-one SEO plugin and how does this compare with that one?

  29. Nice interview with Joost. His WordPress SEO plugin is one of the best SEO plugin I have ever used. He made our life a bit easier with his cool ideas and plugins. Thanks Ileane for sharing this!

  30. Hi there, Ileane! I love reading interviews/Q&As, and I’m so excited to try Yoast! Joost’s site is awesome–I’m truly learning a lot. I therefore conclude, we should never “ever” miss these must-read, (must-have) BBTs from you guys!

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