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:   https://youtu.be/4KOc-oM7Yr8


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

Word to the wise.

Do not answer your phone whilst you are doing the dishes. You will, in fact, drop your phone in the sink. I don’t care how careful you think you are. Lightning does strike and phones do drown. Don’t make the same mistakes I make.

Today is off to a great start.

It’s currently sitting in a bowl of rice. Rice is good for so much. I mean… cross your fingers for me.

KEEP ON SMILING. Don’t let them know your inner penguin.

Is it legit? Being mindful of emails that try to scam bloggers.

One of the most exciting things you can receive as a blogger is emails about business opportunities/partnerships. Sadly, a lot of these emails often end up being scams. But, in receiving one, you can sometimes get so excited that you’ve been sent this email you forget to look for the small details.

It’s important to be able to tell if an email is a legitimate business opportunity for your blog, or a phishing scam. Lately I’ve both received, and heard of, a lot of different scam emails being sent to bloggers. If you have a ‘Contact Me’ page on your blog, or offer your email address on your blog, you may have even gotten some of these yourself. Here are some things to look for that can help determine whether or not the request you’ve gotten is legitimate.

  • The email should be addressed to you, not to the name of your blog, or a generic phrase such as ‘dear customer’. If you do not provide a first name on your blog, a legitimate business request will include them introducing themselves and asking for your first name
  • The email should have proper spelling and grammar. (This email I’ve included as example is a hot mess) Scams will often exchange ‘o’ for ‘0’ to bypass spam filters that services like hotmail, gmail and yahoo mail have in place.
  • The email should include a company name, at bare minimum, in the signature. If they’re smart, they’ll include it elsewhere in the email as well. If they are self employed, they will acknowledge that.
  • The email should NEVER ask you to do something in direct violation of law. IE Post a paid for advertisement to your blog whilst not disclosing that it was paid for.
  • The email should never request for personal information such as a phone number, access to your blog, pay-pal account info, and so on and so forth. If no business relationship has been established (yet) why would they need this information immediately?
  • A legitimate business opportunity for your blog will never come from someone who ‘expects’ anything from you. Initial emails should be a request and nothing more.
  • Take a close look at the email address, not just the sender name. Often times the domain can be a dead giveaway that an email isn’t legitimate. And, while it is true that some self-employed/small business owners do use services such as GMAIL for business, they will always have their name, or their company name used in the email. In the case of the email example I have attached, the name in the email address of who the email was from did not match the name on the bottom of the email.
  • Do not open poorly labeled or unlabeled attachments. And, if attachments are labeled, be careful to make sure that it’s not a scam before you open.

Last, but certainly not least, does the email make your ‘spidey sense’ flare up?

This list may sound obvious when you’re reading it, but there are a lot of people in this world who fall for email scams. People get so caught up in the excitement of them that there are a lot of Nigerian Princes with a lot of money right now. And, a lot of Lawyers in Monaco that won’t be wiring that 4.2 million they promised from your dearly departed relative that you’ve never met that they set up the will for.

I would strongly encourage that, if you feel an email could be a scam, you do not respond. Even a simple ‘No thank you’ can send them after you for months on end, request after request, annoying the crap out of you in an effort to wear you down.

If you think it could be a scam just hit delete.


Have you ever received a business request/opportunity for your blog that you felt could be a scam? What did it say? How could you tell that it just wasn’t quite right?

I LOVE ANALYTICS.

What can your analytics teach you? What should your analytics teach you? If you have a blog, or any form of social media, you have access to analytics. Do you use them?

346 people have visited my blog today from 53 countries and territories around the world. How cool is that? People from all over the world have found my blog, my words, my little corner of the internet.

3,321 people have viewed my published tweets.

1,106 people have viewed my Instagram page.

18 people found my blog through search engine results.

6 people found my blog from Facebook. And I don’t even have a Facebook account.

I don’t say this to brag, I say this because analytics fascinate me. I love tracking visitors, hits, interactions, popularity (or lack thereof depending on the post) and reach.

I use my analytics to determine what the best time of day is to post something, as well, what the best day of the week is to post something. I also use my analytics to determine what topics will garner more hits, and what topics won’t really resonate with my community. Also, on that note, I use my analytics to understand my community.

Why?

An estimated 40% of the people who read #MillennialLifeCrisis are Gen X-ers. That’s right, the largest group of people who read this blog are not even Millennials. That tells me that these things that I’ve felt alienated me for so long now are in fact, not generational, but more so just the overall human condition.

Quite often I’m asked different variations of ‘what’s your secret? How’d you get so many followers?’ What’s my secret? I don’t keep secrets. I use analytics. I’ve been using them since I worked in corporate settings and I can say without a doubt, that if you’re looking to grow an audience for your personal blog, analytics are going to play a major factor in your success, or lack thereof.

How many people viewed your blog today? What countries did they come from? What did you do as a measure to help convince them to return to your blog? How can you use your analytics to your favour?

Here, I’ll give you an example:

Let’s pretend that you live in London, England. Now, upon reading the base analytics that WordPress provides to EVERY user (regardless of if your account is free or paid), you notice that far and above anywhere else, the majority of your audience is from the United States. If you want the most people possible to see your post, I do not recommend hitting publish at 9:00 AM Greenwhich Mean Time. Why? Because for the majority of your audience, that’s the middle of the night and they’re asleep. Instead, I recommend you schedule your post to be published at 9:00 AM Eastern Standard Time. Your post will be top of feed for all of your American audience to see, and you stand a much higher chance of having farther reach.

If you’e blogging for a hobby and you don’t care how many hits/visitors your blog gets, analytics probably won’t matter to you. But, if you want to build a community, your analytics can be one of your best assets. They will tell you what you’re doing wrong, what you’re doing right and how to improve upon all of it.

I still post what I want when I want. But, I also know that if I do something like… posting this after 7:00 PM Pacific Standard Time, it’s going to get far less hits than had I gotten by butt in gear and posted this 10 hours ago.

That is how I use, or don’t use, analytics in my favour. Whether I post it at the optimal time or not, I’m still going to track visitors, hits, interaction. Why? Because I’m a nerd who loves data. Because I believe in the value of analytics. Because this blog is my pride and joy and I really appreciate knowing all that I can about it.

So what do your analytics teach you? How can you use that information to your favour?


If you liked this post and would like to read more of my blogging tips, click here. All blogging tips/tricks/advice/suggestions are all categorized under ‘Marketing’ on my blog’s main menu.

If you would like to support myself and the content created on #MillennialLifeCrisis, I have an official Patreon account with patron options starting as low as $1 per month. Click here >

Backlinking – THE INTRODUCTORY BASICS

Disclaimer: SEO, Backlinking and DA are all extremely convoluted subjects. Different people have different opinions as to what works best and what doesn’t. Because of this, different platforms will offer different advice. This is the main reason why I’ve put off writing about this topic for such a long time. There are a lot of layers to the subject matter so please, take everything said in this post with a grain of salt. If you’ve found results using different tactics, then keep using the tactics that have given you results.

Also, there will be posts coming in the future on these topics. Because there are so many layers to Backlinking, SEO and DA, it’s not something that could ever be covered in one single post. So if you like this, I’ll try to make sure it isn’t a year before I write a part two.

Okay, onto the meat and potatoes…


If you’ve ever googled ‘SEO’ before (googling SEO… now that’s funny to me) one of the most common terms you’ll come across is ‘Backlink’.

What is a backlink?

A backlink is a link created when one url links to another. Backlinks are also called “inbound links” or “incoming links.” Backlinks are important to SEO.

Why is a backlink important?

A backlink to your site is the web’s equivalent to someone saying ‘Yeah you can trust them’. It’s vouching for a website, letting search engines know that cataloging said content will be of value to the search engine. A backlink is a reference that is comparable to a citation in printed work.

It is worth noting that not all backlinks are treated the same. Some are more valuable than others. A backlink from a more trusted site is going to be seen as a more valuable than say, one from a site that has only been up and running for a month, for example.

A SIMPLE how to for bloggers:

BACKLINK TO YOUR OWN SITE

In 2017 while in the process of rebuilding the the website for the company I was working for, the hosting company I was working with to build the site informed me that you can, in fact, backlink to your own site. While these backlinks aren’t quite as valuable as those from other sites, they do still count.

When you make a new post to your blog, each individual post is given its own link. So, if you’re writing a post on February 3, 2020 and you link a post from the past (referencing a story, for example) inserting a link to a previous post that you’ve made counts as a backlink.

INTERNAL LINKING

A good internal linking structure plays a key role in the success of a blog because, with a good internal linking structure, you can help your audience and potential audience easily navigate through your website and increase the user experience. What does this mean? This means you should make sure that your menus are in order, that your links go to where you say they’re going to go, that there’s no ‘dead pages’ on your blog with zero content on them. Dead pages decrease the value of your site in search engine algorithms .

For WordPress users, it’s quite easy to create a navigable menu at the top or the bottom of your page. Ensuring that you’re choosing proper titles and linking people to the right places boost your link legitimacy in SEO.

  • Personally, I always tell people to keep menu links to a smaller amount so that your linking is more manageable. This is a personal preference so you need not listen to me when I say this, but you’re going to have a lot easier of a time managing 8 categories for your posts than you are managing 30. However many categories you choose, though, please make sure they’re all being properly linked in whatever menu structure you’re using.

WRITE GUEST POSTS

Guest blogging is an effective way for bloggers to reach new audiences and, in the process, earn backlinks. When you write a guest post for someone else’s blog or website, not only will your own content be exposed to new readers, but said readers can then use the backlink to find their way to your website.

It’s a simple way of increasing your audience, building your reputation and earning backlinks in the process.

REBLOGGING

When you reblog someone’s content, so long as they do not delete the link to your blog (the source), that counts in their favour as a backlink. Likewise, when someone reblogs your content, that counts in your favour as a backlink.

LEAVE COMMENTS

If you’ve ever noticed someone leaving a comment on your blog who shares a link to their own blog at the end of their comment this is, in itself, a backlink. You can do this when you’re leaving a comment on someone’s blog, though I’d be careful to do it in a tasteful way because it can, at times, piss some people off. This can also be done to write reviews and testimonials… of a blog, or a book, or a product of some sort. Basically, wherever you can slide your link in, there’s a means of backlinking your site and making it look more legitimate.

To conclude:

It is important to note that after reading this you SHOULD NOT start spamming your link out to every corner of the internet. Backlinking should be done in a strategic manner, associating your blog and your brand with sites that you feel will benefit your growth and legitimacy.

DO NOT SPAM PEOPLE.

DO NOT START TWEETING OUT YOUR BLOG LINK TO EVERYONE ON YOUR TWITTER OR INSTAGRAM FOLLOWERS LIST.

I apologize for the caps lock there, but I just wanted to drill those two points home.

Be strategic about where you backlinking appears. If you’re going to use this means as a measure to grow your place on the world wide web, you want your url to be associated with the right places. EX: If you’re a family friendly blog talking about how to build the perfect school lunches for kids, it might not be the best idea to use an Adult Content Only website to banklink your content.

If you have questions about backlinking, share them in the comments section. If you have anything to add, please feel free to share that in the comments as well. I tried to keep this as simple as possible because, as mentioned at the head of this post, it’s a very convoluted subject with many layers to it. So, some of the layers may not yet have been touched on in this post.


Thanks to https://myhomefarm.co.uk/ (yes, this is a backlink) for giving me motivation to write this post and share some of my thoughts on the subject.

Blogging Tip: Stay True to You

Blogging isn’t about picking the right topic; it’s about finding the right voice. Your voice. What matters, what people really resonate with, isn’t so much what you say, but how.

People are going to tell if you’re being inauthentic. People are going to be able to tell if you’re writing for attention. People can always tell. Believe me when I say this, if you’re blogging well, people will know the motives behind your words.

My advice? Write from the heart. Speak your truth. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Not everything has to be polished, but everything should showcase who you are and what you stand for. The world, and the blogging community does not need more mindless drones pumping out the same thing over and over. People need creativity, words that speak from our innermost desires and pictures so beautiful that they make us stop in our tracks.

When you sit down to create your next post remember the fact that there is only one you. What piece of your personality are you going to bring to your brand, your blog and your readers? What piece of your story will bring people to your blog? I’m not talking about having the perfect logo, a beautiful title, the perfect formatting or any of that, I’m talking about creating content that speaks to who you are and why someone wants to read what you write. For example: anyone can share a product review so how are you going to make your review of that product different from everyone else on the web?

While I’m here, let’s also talk about the fact that too many people believe finding success comes from a high follower count. Finding success isn’t really about finding a lot of followers. Finding success is about finding interaction, about finding people who resonate with what you’re sharing. Whether that’s five people, five hundred people or five million people, be grateful for every person who takes time out of their day to view your content.

If you saw a YouTube channel that had one million followers and averaged ten thousand views per video and you saw a YouTube channel that had one hundred followers and was averaging 90 views per video, which would you deem more successful? Stop looking at follower counts and start thinking about your message and your reach. I encourage you, when you look at your blog posts, to look at something in the most positive light. It’s easy to say ‘Nobody liked my most recent post’. It sounds lackluster and can make you feel defeated. It’s also really easy to say ‘250 people read my most recent post’. 250 people stopped, took five or more minutes out of their day to check in with you and see more of your story. That’s HUGE!

Lastly, while I have you here, I just want to remind you that not everything you post is going to be a hit. Sometimes you’ll make killer content and sometimes it’s going to flop. That’s the trials and tribulations that happen when you’re building a brand… your brand. If something doesn’t work, take note, improve upon that the next time. If you’re smart though, you won’t let those flops speak for you. Improve upon them. Focus on making your blog, your brand and your content better each and every time you hit publish.

Be You. Find your voice. Fall in love with your creativity. And then, just do it.

“Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.” I actually don’t know where this quote is from. But, it’s pretty relevant.

Thinking out loud.

I applied for a job that I’m perfectly qualified for, suited for, could rock better than any other candidate on the planet, and I know that. This job wouldn’t just be a job to bide time, this would be a career move. A career move that could open up some serious opportunities for me moving forward.

This job is in Calgary. I am in British Columbia. I am more than willing to move, and wanting to move.

The HR Manager responded to my resume submission with an email that contained her name and email address in it and a note that says “In the meantime, please feel free to contact me with any questions you might have”.

It wasn’t a LinkedIn Automated response, or message. It was taking the time to send me an email response stating they received my resume.

Would it be bothering her if replied to her email (resubmitting my resume in the email so she knows what candidate I am based in the email alone) letting her know my desire and willingness to move? Would that come across as needy? Is there any way that makes me look bad? I can see the benefits to doing so, but I am not allowing myself to do it because I’m worried it will make my application look bad and that I should just let go and let be what be…

Should I email her? Should I leave it alone?