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.

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.

Search Engine Results

Just to share the random ways in which people can find you and your blog, I’m sharing some of the searches people have used to find me via Search Engine over the past year. (If you don’t know, this means someone has gone to Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo, etc… and searched these things and my blog has come up in their search results)

  • Ice Carving at Lake Louise
  • Natalia Grace
  • Life in the Rocky Mountains
  • Grow through what you go through
  • The Struggles of being Male
  • Vitamin B12 Deficiency personal stories
  • Yolo so you don’t waste your life
  • What causes people to do bad things
  • When your day is a shit day
  • How to decorate inside a teepee tent
  • Job hunting rant
  • Natalia Grace bone density
  • Natalia Grace on Dr. Phil
  • Another year around the sun
  • Millennial Job Interview
  • How do you spell milenial?
  • Feeling the need to call HR
  • Natalia Grace still has baby teeth
  • Whats it like to be homeless
  • Amazon

I hope this serves as a reminder that you really can’t fathom the extents to which your posts can reach. You can implement SEO and try to be strategic about it, but sometimes people are going to type a random sentence into a search engine and somehow, your blog will appear. I mean… I’ve never written a darn thing about teepees on my blog but somehow that’s how someone found me.

What are people typing to search engines to find you?

SEO without an established brand is a waste of your time.

I know that I ramble a lot, so I am going to try to keep this brief.

First and foremost, if anyone doesn’t know, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of increasing the quality and quantity of website traffic by increasing the visibility of a website or a web page to users of a web search engine. 

In layman’s terms – SEO is trying to make your webpage appear at, or near the top, of google, bing, duckduckgo, etc… when people search certain terms.


SEO without an established blog and brand is a waste of your time.

But why?

Well, the idea of SEO is ranking your blog/website high on search engines so that when people search certain terms, your blog/website is one of the first things that they see. It’s the idea of gaining raw, organic traffic to your site.

But, and this is a big but, if your brand and blog are not established, what’s the point of ranking at the top of search engines? Heaven knows, if you actually write something that goes viral, without an established brand for your blog, people are going to accidentally stumble on your page, read only the searched term and leave.

Now, if you’re thinking ‘hey, at least I got that traffic!’ I would strongly recommend you readjust your thinking. Successful blogging involves building a community. You want readers to find your blog, read your blog, fall in love with your blog and want to come back. You want them to hit that follow button, like your posts, or submit their email address for subscriptions. Why? Because this is blog growth.

If you write something that does happen to go viral, you want people to read it and to want to come back. If your blog isn’t established, what are people coming back for?

I see a lot of bloggers feel the desire to jump on the SEO bandwagon right away. As much as I hate the statement, you really ought to learn to walk before you can run.

Build that blog. Create that community and that space which you’re damn proud of. Make it a place for people to come, fall in love with you, what you share and who you are. Make it yours. Design a layout. Talk about your passions. Make a safe space for thoughts, hopes and dreams, and everything that you love to write about.

Picture it like you’re building a house. Jumping on the SEO bandwagon before your blog and brand are built is like moving into your master bedroom when the roof hasn’t been put on the house.

SEO is a great tool, when you’re established. And when you’re established, it’s something that you’ll find a great deal of fulfillment in learning and trying to master. But, until you’re established with your blog, any of your posts ranking highly on search engines will likely garner only temporary attention. A day or two of a lot of a traffic might be exciting in theory, but in reality, it’ll show a fatal flaw in your blogging structure in that, you’ll be failing to keep any of that traffic as a piece to your community.

I’m not saying don’t ever establish SEO for your blog, I’m just saying that there are more important steps to establish first.

Build the blog (people will find you from WordPress during the process) then invite the people from the interwebs.

False Marketing.

Screenshot of the DuckDuckGo browser.

As one might conclude from my previous posts on this blog, I’m a bit of a ‘self-dubbed’ analytics nerd. I like tracking movements that people make online (tracking habits), and, with respect to my blog, I like tracking what brings people to my blog and what keeps them on my blog.

Lately I’ve been noticing a lot of people have been finding me from the search engine ‘DuckDuckGo’. I’ve never used DuckDuckGo before. I’ve pretty much solely used Google Chrome and Safari for about ten years now, so seeing such a high refer rate from DuckDuckGo had me interested.

I must be ranking highly on the search engine, right?

I went to DuckDuckGo to see how I am ranking and the first thing I read is “DuckDuckGo – The search engine that doesn’t track you.”

lol

DuckDuckGo doesn’t track you. It just tells me what state you live in, what time and date you found my blog and what you searched online that allowed you to find my blog.

That doesn’t sound like tacking at all…

This is what I would suggest is very false marketing.

While my posts seem to rank really highly on DuckDuckGo (and that’s pretty cool), I’d like to remind anyone reading this, if you’re someone that uses that browser, it’s being tracked… regardless of what the front page of the browser might advertise. I’m pretty sure we’re always being tracked online. Unless you’re a seriously articulate A+ level, 1 in a million underworld hacker, your movements online are being tracked.