Guest Post: SEO Basics: Optimize your blog with Yoast and improve traffic

The following is a guest post written by Debby from the blog DebbySEO. *Please note that certain plugins may not be available to all WordPress accounts due to them only being available for certain plans.

Often I am asked what the best SEO tools and plugins are that I recommend. This comes as no surprise as search engines are a major source of traffic for most sites, and every blogger wants to increase website ranking in an effort to get more sales. Sometimes we just don’t know what to do or where to start in order to make SEO work for us.

In this article I will share the best WordPress SEO plugins and tools for you to use. I have noticed that many WordPress sites on are offering great content, but simply lack the SEO plugins required to perform well. In this article I will explain how to install the Yoast WP plugin for SEO, and lightly touch topics such as keyword analysis, off-site link building and more.

Note that when reading SEO tips found in top 10 results, or when searching for phrases like “best free WordPress SEO plugins” you will find many results and recommendations. The truth is that the top recommendations are not always the best ones. After all, everyone in the Google top 10 listings seems to be out to sell something. I have been providing affordable SEO services for years and will provide you with reliable information so you can kick-start your business and blog using whitehat SEO techniques without paying a penny.

Obsessive Compulsive Keyword Disorder

Do you suffer from obsessive compulsive keyword disorder? Yes Ma’am! Keywords are extremely important for SEO as they draw the right visitors to your website. They can make or break a website. Having a better understanding of the specific keywords your visitors are searching for allows you to offer better services and products on your blog.

On the other hand, you should be careful not to use SEO tools to over-optimize. If you use keywords too frequently the website will look spammy and you may even be penalized. The Yoast plugin is designed to help you optimize SEO by spreading out keywords in a responsible manner, taking into consideration the proper density and placement based on a real-time comparison with top ranking websites.

I think of Google Analytics & Google Webmaster as a friend

Proper use of keywords has the biggest impact on your SEO campaign, make sure to use Google to better target them. If you have not already done so, I recommend that you first sign up for a free Google Analytics and Google Webmaster account. This will enable you to measure the difference in traffic before and after installation of SEO plugins such as Yoast.

There is nothing more important than SEO titles and descriptions

And Yoast is all you need to successfully complete this task. You can quickly add SEO titles and descriptions to all blog posts and pages on your website, and you can even include open graph metadata and social media images to your postings. The best way to decide what title is appropriate, is to look in Google analytics to see what your audience is searching for, and then decide on which keywords you wish to target. The descriptions should always take some special consideration as this will be listed in search engines and as such determines your click-through rate.

And at the end of the night, they realized how important those little XML Sitemaps were, which they ignored while adoring the beauty of their sites

Yoast SEO will generate your XML sitemap with images in no-time! All you have to do is press the button and it will create a highly optimized cached page that will quickly load and be automatically updated every time you make a post. You can also easily import SEO data if you have been using another plugin. Yoast is the all-round solution for both rookies and veterans.

Let me quickly line out the features here. Yoast offers to change post’s SEO titles and meta descriptions on a per post basis, it supports meta descriptions for taxonomies (for example category and tags), it will focus on your keyword testing, configure your robot.txt file in order to add noindex, nofollow pages etc. You will additionally be able to configure an RSS footer/header, get Google search result snippet previews, clean up permalinks while still allowing for Google custom search, import data from other SEO plugins such as Platinum SEO pack and All in One SEO pack and more. Did I just dazzle you?

This might indeed all sound a bit overwhelming but it is in fact really easy and it just requires you to play around until you become comfortable with the full functionality. So far I have discussed only the free version of the plugin but there is paid version too which offers a redirect manager, focus on multiple keywords, ability to export focus keywords, internal linking suggestions, video tutorials to help you better understand how everything works and premium support to get the most out of your site’s SEO. The paid version can be obtained for less than $90, but in my opinion the free version offers plenty of functionality.

It does not do to dwell on Yoast SEO and forget to build offsite links

Yoast has been around since I just started my first SEO Company, and their plugin has worked miracles for the websites I have worked on. All the websites I have worked on increased their traffic by focusing on important keywords for their niche market, but still, if you don’t spend time on off-site link building your SEO campaign will not be very successful. Google must see links pointed to your site in order to determine that your content is relevant.

A good way to get some link juice flowing is to install a plugin that allows you to setup a resource directory where you can exchange links with content related websites. If done right, this will also add value to your blog. Another SEO technique that is often employed is to write guest postings and to obtain offsite links in topic related directories. The more links pointing to your website, the higher the relevancy. Obviously keywords used for the anchor text and surrounding content is very important for relevancy. SEO always has a high payoff in the long run, it may take time but it is definitely worth it.

Yoast drowns out all but the brightest SEO plugins

I will now mention some other SEO plugins for you to enjoy. SEMrush is said to be the most effective SEO tool but it does come at a cost. You can use it to find organic keywords and search terms that you can easily rank for. Such keywords are known as niche market keywords which are in high demand as they have little competing websites. Next up is Ahrefs, you have probably heard of the name, it is an all-in-one SEO tool for bloggers, marketers and businesses. It is an alternative to SEMRush and offers similar features and tools.

More free SEO tools are offered by AllinOneSeoPack, a popular WordPress SEO plugin offering a comprehensive set of tools to improve your ranking. You can use it to optimize SEO titles and metatags, image sitemaps, open graph meta tags and more. I have used All in One SEO Pack in the past and would rate it just below Yoast. Both offer their plugins for free so don’t wait and start optimizing. SEOPress is another free Yoast alternative that offers a premium version at lower cost. It comes with easier setup for beginners and advanced controls for more experienced users so it may be something you may wish to consider.

Remember, install only one SEO plugin at a time and frequently check for broken links on your site as these are harmful to your listings. I hope you enjoyed this article, make sure to check out the Yoast SEO installation video at:

Thank you to Debby from the blog DebbySEO for contributing the following post to #MillennialLifeCrisis.

21 thoughts on “Guest Post: SEO Basics: Optimize your blog with Yoast and improve traffic

  1. Ok, so…because: quarantine, with a side of “I’ve also finished both my ST: Voyager binge *and* the last episode of Picard”, I’m going to try this out.
    I’ve read for sone time now your posts on analytics and SEO with an outsider’s oblivion. But today – tomorrow at the latest – I’m gonna go into my WP settings and try adding in this – damnit, I’ve already forgotten the name of it! – SEO plug-in. Then, I’m gonna see if I can figure out those Google things Debby mentions.
    Mind you, I didn’t even recognize all the words on this post, so this is a big day for old me!
    If you smell smoke, it’s just my brain. Luckily, we aren’t in fire season in the PNDub…

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Oooh, nope! I withdraw my earlier commitment, now that I’m learning plug-ins only work with WP business. I’m already weighting whether maintaining my $99/year account is worthwhile…I don’t think tripling that cost fits with my current priorities. 🤷🏽‍♂️
      But, boo…tackling something new was kind of an exciting idea. Guess I’ll just settle for “running” stairs.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yeah, I’m beginning to think my $99/year is more a chance for WP to make $99/year versus any real value to me. Seems like it only “protects” my domain name. Maybe?

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Making small adjustments to Improve SEO can never hurt. If you do your research and take the time, it can definitely benefit you. That being said, it depends on what you want your blog to be long term!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a bit of a loaded question. Honestly, I don’t know, you may want to check with Debby on that one.

      From my perspective, if you’re going to make the investment to pay for the business plan, you should have a plan in place for blog growth, direction and content production. Because, if you’re just blogging to blog, or blogging to make friends, or blogging to share, that’s not necessarily going to be worth the investment for you. I see a lot of people purchase the business plan from wordpress and then suffer burnout 3-5 months later because they think that now they’ve made the investment, they need to up their blogging game and the lose sight of their path.

      If you’re like ‘Yeah, this is my business’ or ‘Yeah, I want to make a go at this’ or ‘Yeah, I’ve got the extra money in strides so it’s not a huge investment for me’, then do it. But if you’re someone who’s living pay cheque to pay cheque, or really has to consider where you put your money, I would say build yourself a plan for the blog before you invest in the business plan.

      (Sorry Debby if your advice differs from mine! If you see this, feel free to share you best tips as well)

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Aaaww, V, Thank you so much for everything you’ve put in to answer my question, you little angel. I’m medically retired now and blogging has become another little window into the outside world – it’s now my favourite interest. I would love to keep my blog going as long as I think people get something from it.

        I’ve spoken to Debby and let’s see where I go from here. Once again, thank you V xx

        Liked by 2 people

    1. If you have a paid-for business account with wordpress you can add a plug-in (extra feature) to your wordpress blog that will increase traffic to your blog from things like google searches or bing searches.


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