An Interview with Joost de Valk, Founder and CEO, Yoast SEO

In SEO

Yoast SEO is the most popular SEO plug-in on WordPress. The software currently runs on more than 4 million sites and on 9.5% of the top 1 million sites in the world. Yoast has simplified search engine optimization for millions of businesses, brands and bloggers around the world, making a complex subject such as SEO easy for everyone.

.TECH Domains caught up with the founder and CEO of Yoast, Joost de Valk, for a quick interview where he talks about the story of Yoast, common misconceptions about SEO and some valuable tips for businesses and developers.

How did you start Yoast and what made it the most downloaded WordPress plugin of all times?

I started Yoast as a hobby, the blog and plugins were things I did on the side, while working as a digital marketing consultant and SEO for major brands all over the world. The plugin became so popular, though, that I needed to invest more time on it, and had to hire people for support. That’s when I decided to make a business out of it.

What are the most common misconceptions about SEO?

Probably the most common misconception is that it’s all in the code and that you don’t have to do anything about it anymore after a site has been built. With Yoast SEO we try to take away all the technical aspects of SEO away and help you focus on the stuff that you need to: improvising on your site’s content.

Joost de Valk, Founder - CEO, Yoast SEO
Joost de Valk, Founder - CEO, Yoast SEO

Give us some SEO tips for tech startups/tech brands.

Just. do. it. Might sound cheesy but it is not something you can leave off your list. Start with keyword research, create a content plan and start writing. Oh, and make sure your PR person understands the value of SEO too.

How do you define sustainable SEO and what can brands do to achieve it?

Sustainable SEO is one that doesn’t use lame tricks to rank high in the short term, but in fact, goes after the long term goal of actually being the #1 website for your chosen keywords.

What should one keep in mind while choosing a domain name to make it SEO friendly?

A good domain name needs to be like a good brand name: catchy and memorable. “Yoast” as a term had nothing to do with SEO when I started using it, but it’s a nice and short domain name, a catchy term that people can easily remember and recall.

What is your advice to young developers who wish to follow in your footsteps?

Decide whether you want to be a developer or an entrepreneur. If you want to be a developer: go work for someone else. If you want to be an entrepreneur, become the best developer you can be, find a niche in which you can build a worthwhile product, build it, release it and keep working on it. Make it insanely good, and make sure you have an easy path for people to “enter”. Our free Yoast SEO plugin is the biggest seller of our premium product. You might think “well, duh”, but starting with just a premium product is not really a good option in these markets anymore. 

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