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I'm Joost de Valk, founder and CEO at Yoast. Ask me anything!

May. 31, 2017

I've been using WordPress since 2006 and contributing to it since 2007. I founded Yoast in 2010. Yoast now has 50+ employees that serve 6.5 million websites (and many more people) using our plugin. This whole ride still leaves me pinching myself every once in a while, but it's certainly been great.

I run Yoast together with Michiel, Omar and my awesome wife Marieke. Marieke and I also have 4 kids and we live about 1 kilometer away from the Yoast office, in Wijchen, the Netherlands.

I'm passionate about LEGO, open source, open standards and their applications, as well as entrepreneurship in general.

I’ve got my coffee ready, so: ask me anything!

Comment
41 vote   Flag
Andrew de Lisle

Hi,

How come you update the plugin so frequently? Feels like there is an update every week :)

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Joost de Valk

We do an update once every two weeks in a continuous cycle. Normally we have about 15 people working on the plugin, so two weeks of work is a LOT of code. A lot of bugfixes and both smaller and bigger enhancements.

If, on top of that continuous cycle, we find a bug that annoys a significant group of people, we push out a bugfix. This way we feel you get the best plugin we can deliver you and the test process is limited to a relatively small number of issues. You can understand that if we would do a release every two months, we'd have to test an enormous amount of changes, especially as some of our changes have an impact on other plugins as well.

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Mustaasam Saleem

Hi Joost,

I have seen you almost everywhere, helping the WordPress Community, I always have a SINGLE question.

Any particular reason, you folks uses Animated Avatars? :D

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Joost de Valk

Yes! We use them because they're very recognizable. You'll instantly recognize someone as working for Yoast :)

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Mustaasam Saleem

Indeed!

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Milan Ivanović

Hey, Joost!

Thanks for being here!

Question, what are you guys cooking for us at Yoast atm?

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Joost de Valk

We're very close to launching an actual user account system. Very boring backoffice stuff but this needed to happen. Alongside that we're developing more sitewide SEO features within Yoast SEO and working on a new course for Yoast Academy as well :)

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Bojana Milosevic

Hi Joost,

I have a few questions:

1. Why did you choose WordPress over other self-hosted blogging platforms?
2. Twitter or Facebook?
3. What is your motivation to make a successful work day?
4. The top 5 work values employers look for?

Thanks for being here.

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Joost de Valk

1. Why did you choose WordPress over other self-hosted blogging platforms?

I chose it, back in 2006, for its SEO qualities, and that remains the same today.

2. Twitter or Facebook?

Different purposes, but I like both.

3. What is your motivation to make a successful work day?

Make it possible for people all around the world to make a well optimized website.

4. The top 5 work values employers look for?

We look at intelligence, work ethic and attitude. Everything else can be learned.

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Georg Griesser

Hello Joost,

I love your product!

As you are leading one of WordPress' biggest companies, I would love to hear something about you regarding business:

In his latest newsletter Brian Krogsgard from Post Status wrote the following:

"It’s hard to pinpoint exactly how and why a transition occurred with Rainmaker that would’ve caused growth to stop, incentivized the company to spin out the Rainmaker product into a service business, and take on a partner. But I believe it’s probably indicative of broader market shifts, in part.

Nearly every mature business I’ve spoken to in the world of WordPress plugins and themes has seen growth slow, or even stop, in the past year or so."

I was quite surprised to get to know that WordPress' Growth might already have slowed down - or has plateaued. So my questions are:

1: Whats your take on this, can you report something similar?
2: Where do you see WordPress Businesses heading to - is there nothing more to come?
3: Would you recommend new entrepreneurs to jump into the WordPress niche to bootstrap new ventures?
4: What was your biggest error regarding your business?

Thank you for taking the time for this!

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Joost de Valk

1: I can't really comment as to WordPress' growth, but we're not even close to slowing down in our growth, in fact, we're still speeding up.
2: Lots and lots more to come, because of 1 :)
3: No, new entrepreneurs should focus on other business entirely ;) all kidding aside: yes.
4: That I didn't start sooner.

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Ahmad Awais

Hey, Joost!

Big fan! As you already know! I have a few questions!

— How much time do YOU spend on code nowadays?
— What's the marketing strategy of Yoast? Do you prefer content marketing over ads?
— How do you decide the percentage that goes into marketing?
— If you were to analyze the revenue of your products? What has been the most promising factor of growth?
— Why is Yoast not a remote company?

Looking forward!

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Joost de Valk

— How much time do YOU spend on code nowadays?

Hardly any, one of the side effects of having such a large team. I try to set some time apart to spend time coding but it's getting harder and harder :)

— What's the marketing strategy of Yoast? Do you prefer content marketing over ads?

Ads? What are ads? Yes. We prefer content marketing, all though a lot of the posts we write aren't even necessarily meant for marketing purposes but just to help people out and give back.

— How do you decide the percentage that goes into marketing?

I've never looked at it as a percentage of something. Marketing is part of who we are.

— If you were to analyze the revenue of your products? What has been the most promising factor of growth?

Both our Yoast Academy courses and Yoast SEO premium are showing triple digit growth percentages compared to last year, so I'd say both are doing fine :)

— Why is Yoast not a remote company?

Because we do not believe in that concept. I personally would not thrive if I didn't have colleagues around me daily and I know that goes for many of my colleagues. I think some people are made for the remote culture, and if it works for them that's awesome. For us, I like a team together, in one place, working together on projects.

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Ahmad Awais

Thanks for the answers man :)

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David McCan

Hi Joost,

What's something awesome that you've seen in the WordPress universe lately that you'd like to share?

Thanks

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Joost de Valk

One thing that I'me excited about is the progress in how WordPress core developers have been dealing with JavaScript in the last few months. It has been truly remarkable. The discussions are changing to very mature discussions about how we deal with frameworks and what we should base our choices for a framework on. I hope the community decides to use React, as both Automatic and Yoast have extensive experience with that already, but love seeing the discussion.

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David McCan

Good answer! I'm happy to see movement towards modernization.

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Dave L

Hi Joost!

First of all, thanks a LOT for the Yoast plugin! Soon after installing a became aware of your blog which guided me very quick in the world of SEO & UX. I'm now running a marketplace for mediapeople, and due to all the tips & tricks + your e-book I can say that it is my fulltime business now within only 6 months. Thanks!!

My question.. :) I wrote 10-15 blogposts which are - with the knowledge of today - 'cornerstone' articles, not blogposts. They ranking constantly in the top 1 or 2 for my long tails. Is it 'save' to make them page posts instead of blogposts (doesnt it lose/change rankings then?) or is it an option to delete the date stamp in my blogpost code (sinds I mostly write evergreen stuff).

And the last question; do you have a favourite e-book you can advice - besides Yoasts ones :-) for experienced SEOs?

Groeten/Regards, Dave

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Joost de Valk

Hey Dave,

both options are fine, but removing the date does not remove the responsibility of updating the content regularly to make sure it's all still "ok".

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Matt Cromwell

Hey Joost! I'd love to hear your take on the main differences between the WordPress community in the US versus in Europe. How can each learn from each other and benefit from each other more?

Thanks!

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Joost de Valk

Hey Matt,

Well I think the thing that the EU community should push harder on are the things that we do NOT have in common with the US. There's no way that multi-lingual functionality would not be in core, had WordPress been developed in Europe, for instance. These are things that are way more important to us than they are to the average American company, for obvious reasons. We should explain those things to our US friends.

At the same time, some of the entrepreneurial spirit from the US could certainly be used in the EU WordPress community.

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Vladimir Prelovac

Hey Joost

It seems to me that the number of things one can do to influence ratings is getting smaller and smaller and each year.

Where do you think SEO will be 5 years from now and what will your plugin be capable of doing then?

Thanks!

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Livingstone Were

Hi Joost.

We have been seeing null Yoast SEO Premium plugins on the internet. What's is the effect of using these null plugins? What are you doing to stop this? Will WP sites using null yoast premium plugins rank in Google. Please elaborate further on this.

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Girish Karthik

Hi Joost,

First I need to thank you for making my SEO learning curve so much easier with YOAST. I have two questions

1. What was your first plugin? Are you still using or updating that plugin?

2. As an entrepreneur's point of view how was your initial time in developing YOAST. Your worst experience at the initial stage and how you overcame it?

Thanks!

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David Ransier

Hi Joost,

Andy Williams posted an article about changes in Yoast SEO plugin that sound like a change I need more info from you on. Can you comment on this article: ezseonews.com/wordpresstutorials/missing-yoast-seo-settings/

Thanks,
David R

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