If you are using WordPress, and I ask you, Which SEO Plugin do you use ? For most of you, the reply coming would be, I use WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin. So, Guess who is with me in the interview session today ? If you are still wondering the SEO yoast plugin would give you a hint, I’ll today be talking with Michiel Heijmans from the team yoast. I conducted the interview on Email and Twitter, It was a nice time talking with michiel, below I am sharing what we talked.
Who is Michiel Heijmans ?
Michiel Heijmans is human resource manager at yoast.com , Michiel built his first website in 1995, started blogging in 2001.
In the last couple of years he has been general manager of a local web design company, started his own business (internet consultancy and websites) in 2009 and met Joost during these years. April 2011, they started working together and February 2012 they sealed that cooperation with a contract.
Married in 2005 and they have two beautiful daughters. At Yoast, his days are currently filled managing and doing the site reviews.
Rachit : Michiel, how it feels to be the human resource manager of the company that created the widely used WordPress SEO plugin, which empowers thousands of WordPress websites and blogs.
Michiel Heijmans : We’re having a blast at Yoast. Started 5 years ago as an official business, I joined Joost in 2012 as a first employer and at the moment we’re at 16 and counting. It great to work in an internationally orientated company with this potential. We highly appreciate the community we are working with and for, with our plugins being used by millions. And, having stared at computers screens all day for over about 15 years, it’s nice to work on the human side of a business as well 🙂
Rachit : There is a shout in the blogosphere that the SEO has changed its definition and meanings, after a lot of algorithms introduced by Google, SEO has changed widely, what are your regards on the changing phase of SEO ?
Michiel Heijmans : The basis is still pretty much the same. I can’t emphasize this enough: write good content. Decide on the goal of your content and do your very best to write unique, appealing content that will be shared on social media, that will trigger people to think about a subject. And if you are a professional, back things up with knowledge gathered over the years, like we do in our site reviews. We have done over hundreds and hundreds of reviews, meaning we have seen at least that many websites as well. Post ideas surface when things are done wrong over and over by different websites.
All of the algorithm changes target quality. Bad backlinks? Could be Penguin. Duplicate content? Could be Panda. Write good content. Good links will come from that and the content won’t be duplicate. That’s it in a nutshell. Of course having a solid, technical basis also helps a lot.
There is another tip: Users first. Google is becoming more and more human. Things that annoy a visitor, like a surplus of banners, ‘irritate’ Google as well. Make sure to focus on user experience, next to SEO. That is why we’d rather use ‘website optimization’ instead of SEO when talking about Yoast.
Rachit : You know michiel your WordPress SEO Plugin offers two versions, first which is paid and the second which is premium. But what is major advantage of upgrading to the premium plugin ? Like , I’ve used the premium version, there were couple of options which were not in the free version, but don’t you think apart from video tutorials, you can also add a live optimizer like Squirly SEO does, which could help optimize content better ?
Michiel Heijmans : All of our plugins are works in progress. The internet (not just Google) changes, and so do our plugins. The main benefits of the Premium license of WordPress SEO are email support and upgrades. We aim for 24/7 email support, with support engineers in the US, Spain, Netherlands and the Philippines. Next to that, WordPress SEO Premium also includes a redirect manager that communicates with Google Webmaster Tools’ crawl errors. As a WordPress user, I found that one to be very helpful!
Rachit : Lets leave the serious stuff, Michiel what are your other hobbies ? Is there anything which you enjoy even more than blogging ? Michiel apart from being a pro-blogger and human resource manager, what are you ? Like a music freak, adventurous guy, food lover or anything …
Michiel Heijmans : I like to clear my mind by cycling every now and then, and really enjoy spending time with my wife and two daughters (9 and 5 yo). There nothing better than seeing these girls grow, learn to read, write, etc. My oldest one is taking French lessons in school and if I’m not mistaking they will both get English lessons as well, starting next year. Things have changed since I was in elementary school myself…
Next to that, I do a little occasional drawing and have to admit I spend too much time watching Netflix and playing simple games like Subway Surfers and Clash of Clans on my iPad 🙂
Rachit : You know we all have someone who inspires us, motivates us to keep going. It can be the one who ignited the fire within us to start , or who inspired us to start. So, who is the one who inspired you in this industry ?
Michiel Heijmans : That’s really clear 🙂 I’ve had a million internet related jobs, from general manager at a webdesign agency to community manager for a recipe website. I have designed and built my share of websites for others and my own company. But was able to funnel that all down to SEO after meeting Joost. I can think of a dozen others that inspire me as well, but for SEO and website optimization, Joost clearly triggered all that focus. Joost has the rare ability to explain SEO in a way that it becomes common sense – just the way I like it.
By the way, way back in 2000 it was ‘ignorance’ that pushed me towards the internet. I was in the consultancy business, working in a large company, mainly on software projects for the government. The internet was expanding rapidly and getting more and more important, but due to ignorance, the company I worked for didn’t feel the need for a good website or developing internet related products. I took it on me to set up a department for that.
Rachit : I understand that your friend circle would be full of technical guys who know what is SEO, website optimization, and similar things. But when you visit parties or functions, how do you justify what you do to persons who aren’t much aware of things. Like most of my relatives know, that “ I do something on web “, So, how exactly do you justify yourself #Laughing
Michiel Heijmans : I keep away from discussions on hardware, that is step one. “You are working with computers, right?” No, I work with the internet. A computer is just needed for that. That narrows the conversation down to websites. Then people ask “Can you build me a website” and I explain that is also not what we do. In our site reviews, we explain to people how they can serve their website to Google in the best way we know possible. We don’t guarantee #1 rankings, and please don’t trust SEO consultants that do. If you want your website to rank high consistently, please keep on writing good content and make sure your website is fast and clear. Both on a desktop and on a mobile device. We help people achieve just that.
Rachit : I’ve seen WordPress themes by Yoast, although they all seem fine and fast. I would like to ask, which one is your favorite theme, also there are only 4 themes, is the yoast time looking forward to create more themes, or is this the end for themes. Also, which is the most seo friendly theme according to you ?
Michiel Heijmans : Themes is really a different trade and we learned that along the way. We have created some themes based upon SEO and UX. It’s really good to do projects like these themes once in a while. It’s why we actively maintain WordPress websites as well. But to be honest, I’d rather talk about our eBooks 🙂 We have released two eBooks at the time of writing, and are planning to publish more. We really enjoy sharing knowledge, by means of our blog articles and these eBooks. The fact that we have a designer and illustrator working at Yoast as well, makes these eBooks group efforts from all the people at Yoast. It’s really nice to work on a project with a skilled team and get great comments about that. Keep a keen eye on the site for updates on our eBooks 🙂
Rachit : Michiel, we all have faced internet haters, some of which leave strange and awful comments on our articles. Can you tell us about the most weird and funny comments or feedbacks you ever received on your website.
Michiel Heijmans : We don’t get these a lot, apart from spam. This might be a good opportunity to ask your readers something else: please don’t use comments for support questions. We have a good support system for premium customers via email, but besides that we have also set up a knowledge base that we actively use to answer the most asked questions. Please read that before posting an unrelated question in our comment section. Thanks in advance!
Rachit :A lot of my readers would be eager to know how to keep their website in the lovely eyes of google, I Mean what are the best SEO practices one can use to keep their website SEO friendly ?
Michiel Heijmans : Most of that I have already mentioned above. Perhaps my post on Common sense for your website would help your readers in this. Besides that, read our eBook! In fact, I’d be happy to give away three free copies of our new Content SEO eBook to the first three people commenting on this post!
Rachit : It was lovely time talking to you michiel , Michiel can you leave a friendly remark for my readers, Tell me what do you think about my blog, and if you would like to leave a message for my readers.
Michiel Heijmans : Rachit, I appreciate your enthusiasm and all the comments on our blog posts. Keep up the good work. One last SEO tip to send you off with: Never forget to take the time to write a decent title for your page. And take a break now and then 😉