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.

Quarantine Day 5,000

Dear Patrice,

I know that it feels like just yesterday that I was writing we were on day 3,000 and something. What can I say? When you’re in the middle of an International Health Pandemic, you really lose all sense of time.

My mom has this ‘schtick’ that she does where she pretends she doesn’t know how to use technology. Part of me thinks she does it because she thinks it’s charming to be the grandma who doesn’t know how to use technology, but mostly, I think she just does it as an excuse to not have to do things for herself.

Thinking I was being smart, I bought her a tablet of her own. Reasons for this were many, but most importantly because she could keep all of her accounts logged into, so all she had to do was open an App.

Today, I was informed that she broke her tablet.

Her response to not being able to check her bank balance? Not to use the computer, no. She’s just going to get in her car and go to the bank. Because… there’s no Pandemic ongoing. She’s not less than a year in remission. Who gives a fuck?

I told her that she needs to use the computer and not go out unless she has to. She told me that she has to because she doesn’t know how to use the computer. This started a twenty minute argument about how poorly I treat her and try to force technology on her that she just doesn’t understand and that she’s a grown woman and if she wants to go to the bank, she can go to the bank.

Yeah, you bat-shit crazy old woman, on any normal day feel free and go to the bank, I wouldn’t give a fuck. But today there’s a deadly disease sweeping the globe. I think you can handle logging in a computer rather than your tablet.

I got the computer out.

I opened up the website.

I said ‘Input your card number where it says card number, then input your password where it says password’.

All she had to do was input her information.

‘I don’t know how to do that!’ She yelled at me.

Feeling like she was just fucking with me to purposefully to make me angry at this point, I said: ‘You don’t know how to use a fucking keyboard?’

‘I don’t need your abuse’, she said, knowing that she was swinging low when she said that.

I took her card, I typed the card number into the computer. Then she proclaims she doesn’t have a password.

You literally cannot have online banking services without a password, but OHHHHHHHHHKAY.

This started another argument about how I always think I know more than her about things and that she genuinely doesn’t have a password. OOOOOOOHKAY. I left. I went downstairs to cool off.

10 minutes later she comes downstairs to:

  1. Tell me that she could have been to the bank and back already by now.
  2. Tell me that she now remembers her password so I need to log in for her.

Knowing she was trying to bait me to start another argument, I didn’t bite. I silently followed her up the stairs, sat down in front of the computer and waited for her to tell me the password.

She tells me that her password is her first and last name.

I told her that’s not possible, banks require at least one number to be used.

She told me that it’s her first and last name and that I need to type that in.

I typed it in.

It obviously didn’t work

Then she yelled at me because, and I quote, ‘Your attitude is appalling’.

You’re right. Stupid me, the stupid little Millennial trying to teach her mother how to sign into online banking on a computer so that she doesn’t go out, unnecessarily, in the middle of a health pandemic. You being less than a year in remission, you’re right, my attitude is awful.

She walks away, presumably to go stick pins in my voodoo doll. Upon returning she’s had an epiphany. She now knows what her password is and it’s not her first and last name.

She also now knows how to use the keyboard because she reaches overtop of me and types it into the computer herself.

MIRACULOUS!

She even knows how to hit the ‘Sign In’ button. When did that happen?

Being now signed in, after the longest twenty minutes of my life, she tells me to leave because she doesn’t want me to see her banking information.

No arguments from me. I left and came back downstairs.

Less than five minutes later she comes back downstairs to bring my my computer. Instead of saying thank you, or I am sorry, or even just saying ‘Here’s your computer!’ she opens the door and sticks the computer in the doorway and says ‘Come get it. And next time you want to force technology on me that I don’t understand, just mind your own business’.

This…

This is why we don’t get along.

This is why I don’t like being around her.

I love her. She’s my mother and that will always be the case, but we’re cut from a different cloth. The two of us in the same room is like mixing mixing vinegar into the jar of baking soda.

I’m the stupid spoiled millennial who abuses her and has a horrible attitude and she is the world’s smartest grandma who can do no wrong.

Quarantine day 5,000 has been a long one. And it’s only 2:30 pm.

Quarantine Day 3,487

Dear Patrice (HIMYM Reference),

The days are so long and tiresome, they’re all morphing together. How long has it been? When will it end? Much like the theme of my blog suggests, I have a lot of questions and zero answers.

This morning, at least I think it was this morning (let’s face it, it could have been yesterday at this point, or perhaps even tomorrow seeing as I’m so delusional) the snowplows came down our road at 6:15. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard the sound of graters scraping against pavement for thirty minutes straight, but it’s not the most pleasant sound to have to listen to, let alone wake up to.

The snowplows grinding our street at 6:15 am made next to no sense given the fact that it was snowing… as they were plowing. And we had six inches of snow in the forecast for today. Perhaps they’re occupied tomorrow. Perhaps they were just excited that being a snowplow driver allows them to work while social distancing.

Anyways, enough about snowplows.

I want to talk about home.

I’m one of those delusional characters who is of the belief that home is where the heart is. For that reason, I’ve actually felt the genuine sense of home for very little of my life.

Earlier this month, I felt like I was getting close. I’ll admit, I had my hopes up. I thought there was a chance I’d be on my way home soon. After two successful interviews with the Engineering firm, I had one final interview scheduled with the CEO on March 10th. On March 9th the HR Manager reached out and said that the CEO’s wife was ill and he wasn’t going to be at work so the interview would have to be postponed. On the 5th when the interview with the CEO was scheduled for the 10th, I was hoping it was going to be for a job offer. They rescheduled my interview for the 17th and well, shit hit the proverbial fan and all my dreams are postponed. The Engineering firm has been closed since the 13th, with only the Engineers themselves working at this point, and only for emergency services.

Don’t get me wrong. International pandemic, I totally get it. I absolutely understand. We’ve been aware of the Corona Virus in Canada since January. In fact, when I went to the hospital in January, they were already taking precautions at that point and had me tested for it. I’m well aware of the serious nature of this virus and do not blame the firm for closing. I think it was smart of them.

I just… am mourning the loss of what could have been whilst simultaneously facing a day to day misery of not feeling welcome where I’m living, whilst simultaneously recognizing that virtually no one is hiring right now. Except Wal-Mart. And yes, I applied.

I’m whining. It’s 12:30 am and I am whining. I fully understand that. I also completely grasp that there are people in this world in absolutely worse situations than mine all around. But, sometimes you just have to let things out. Sometimes you just have to free the thoughts from your brain so that you can think clearly again.

Will this help? Well, if I sleep even in the slightest tonight, I’ll consider it a win.

I had a brief FaceTime call with Knight tonight. It’s amazing how, even in just ten minutes time at one-o-clock in the morning, he makes the whole day better. He just gives me a whole different perspective on things. He changes me. Makes me better. I need that in my life.

There’s a great big world out there. One that needs conquering tomorrow.

Stay safe, stay healthy and stay at least a six foot distance from people. #FlattenTheCurve

Goodnight, World.

1:30 am thoughts

I had thoughts, but honestly, quarantine brain is getting the better of me. I’m feeling disconnected from the people that matter most to me and there’s not a whole lot I can do about it in this time. I’m insecure and second guessing every decision I’ve been making.

I feel like this is a really accurate depiction of life right now. What people look like on the outside versus how they feel on the inside. Because I know I’m not the only one going crazy with this self-quarantine.

Updates from Canada

Places deemed essential services are still open – this includes grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations and the hospital.

Schools are all closed indefinitely.

Daycares are all closed indefinitely.

Medical school students have now taken on the job of childminding for Doctors and Nurses and healthcare workers so that these people integral to saving lives can continue saving lives without worrying about childcare.

You can order take out from certain restaurants, but you’re not allowed to go into any restaurants to sit down.

You’re not allowed to host an event in which more than 50 people could be in the same room. You’re strongly warned against going to any event that could include any grouping of people whatsoever.

Certain provinces are threatening jail time and hefty fines for those who do not oblige with social distancing regulations.

I live in a small town, so being able to do things like take the dog for a walk has been a relatively easy thing to do. We can walk for miles without meeting anyone. That being said, I do feel people in larger centres need to be more mindful of going out for a walk. I’ve been seeing photos of people at English Bay in Vancouver the past couple of days that have made me very angry.

Our washing machine is broken. The laundromat is closed. How we are going to clean our clothing, I am not too sure. But that’s life.

It’s snowing. Yes, the first day of spring may have come and gone but we are still very much in winter mode around here.

I have an intense, sharp pain in my lower side that has been going on for about four days now. I’m a mild hypochondriac, so it is worrisome. But I’m working on staying calm right now, so I’m trying to not get too worked up about it. I think I know what’s causing it. I’ve definitely suffered from this pain before. And, it can wait for now.

Social distancing and self quarantining have included:

  • Applying for jobs, even though I know basically 96% of the world has halted their hiring right now
  • Weeding through the Corona Virus hiring scams that are posted all over Indeed and LinkedIn right now
  • Dreaming about running away and hiding out in Knight’s apartment
  • Worrying about Knight
  • Writing tons of posts that I’ll never publish on this blog
  • Hiding in my room
  • Cleaning. Everything. With bleach.

Stay healthy. Stay safe. Be smart. Sending my best.

Quitting cold turkey

I’ve decided that I’m not going to take anxiety medication anymore. It’s just too tough on my body. And honestly, the withdrawals are even harder for my body to deal with when I don’t have them then the side effects are when I do. If I’m being totally honest with myself, I’ve been using them to hide from the sheer misery that is my life… and instead of hiding from it, I really need to learn to cope. This is my life, after all.

Addition after the fact: After reading some of the comments on this post, I am feeling a need to clarify. My decision to stop with medication is entirely related to my struggles with medication itself. I am a huge advocate for taking medication if it is right for you and if it helps you. I am not now, nor will I ever, judge anyone for taking medication. In my personal case, it’s reached a point where it is doing more harm than anything else and I need to make a change. I hope that you can understand.

I haven’t been sleeping lately. I doze off for twenty or thirty minute periods two-to-three times in the night, but for the most part, I just end up laying there. Perhaps it’s stress. Perhaps I’m just wired different. Either way, the nights give me a long time to think. I have been taking supplements to help me sleep but the supplements aren’t working anymore so there’s no point in continuing to take it.

Self quarantine has also given me a lot of time to think. Frankly, I’m not too happy with myself. I’m also not really happy with the people who’ve been taking advantage of me for far too long now. People take advantage of my kindness and it’s time I stand up for myself. I saw a quote that said “you can be a good person with a kind heart and still say no” and I realized that’s who I need to be.

‘Give em hell, kid.’

My Uncle was an extremely kind, socially awkward genius who cared about two things in life – his family and sports. He never married, never had children. He treated us like we were his kids. Actually, to that point, at one time in our lives, he took my siblings and I in for an extended period of time so that we didn’t have to be placed in foster care. Family was everything to him.

His profession was accounting and his passion was sports. His superpower was analysis. Numbers always came easy to him. I think that’s why he liked accounting so much, everything had balance if he worked at it long enough. Where the majority of the population looked at a page of numbers and saw a headache, he looked and saw potential. Whether through accounting or through sports, numbers were always his answer.

Baseball, Basketball, Football, Soccer, Hockey, Horse Racing, Golf… you name it, he loved it. He loved studying sports. He analyzed statistics and he used them to create a pretty lucrative career for himself just from sports betting alone. I remember the day he told us he made his first million from betting, we presumed he was going to phone it in and sail off into the sunset. Nope. He easily made triple his accounting salary from sports betting every year and it never changed him. He got up every day at 6:00 am and went to his accounting job for 42 years.

He treated my siblings and I as though we were his own kids. Gave us lectures when we made stupid choices, purchased us things (wants and needs) just because he could, never forgot a birthday, Christmas or anniversary EVER. When we had all graduated from highschool and went on to University, he made it a point to visit each one of us every single year at least one time. He’d pull the regular parent move of just casually happening to find a toaster on sale, after only 12 hours earlier noticing I didn’t own a toaster. And well, ‘it’s here kid, so you might as well take it’, he’d say.

When he retired in 2017, he told us that it was his dream to watch an MLB game from every MLB Stadium and an NHL Game from every arena. And that’s what he set out to do. He’d spent the majority of the past two and a half years travelling across the continent, watching any and all sporting events he could get himself tickets to. He was, in the truest definition of the phrase, living his best life.

Yesterday my dad got some of the things from his home. Memorabilia he’d collected over the years, a watch collection (he loved his watches), things he’d held onto that he never told us about, and lots of pictures. Lots and lots of pictures of us kids. Pictures I don’t even remember taking. Pictures I didn’t even know existed. Graduation programs of each of us that he’d gone through and highlighted each of our names in.

My uncle will forever hold a special place in my heart. There was this one phrase that he always said to me, when I was 3, when I was 20, when I turned 30. Every time he saw me, he’d find some way to say ‘Give em hell, kid’, in the midst of our conversations. Actually, with respect to that, in 2015 I was working as a Communications Director for the World Championships. I had the ability to get tickets for someone, and, knowing that he’d be able to cross that off his bucketlist of tournaments to attend, I gave the tickets to him. I remember during the final, the place was packed to the highest capacity the Fire Marshall’s wold allow. I brought him up to the press box so that he could see the game with an unobstructed view. Canada ended up losing that game in over-time and morale sunk for 20,000+ people in about fifteen seconds. I told him that I had to head down to the scrum, gave him a hug and pointed out the staircase he’d need to use to exit. As I walked off to face an onslaught of journalists from around the world, not looking forward to what was coming, he laughed and said ‘You’ve got this. Give em hell, kid’.

That moment will forever stand out in my mind. I was about to get bullied by a group of journalists from around the world and he knew I could handle it with grace.

Now, as I see this extensive collection of photos of my siblings and I from over the years, a watch collection (that was literally the only valuable things he ever bought for himself) and some bits and bobs from his home, I’m reminded of how much of his life he spent doing things for others, rather than for himself. I remember how he bought the home he and his siblings grew up in and gifted it to his brother for a place to call home, again. I remember how he would drive four hours on a Saturday just to watch his great-nephew’s hockey game, to turn around and drive home.

In a world filled with selfish, hyper-consumer driven, unrelenting divisiveness, he was the glue that tied our family together. He was that shining halo to always see the brighter side, the softer side and that giving was far better than receiving.

Everyone grieves differently, I understand that. The majority of the family seems to fighting over who’s going to get his money. Not just his savings, but who’ll profit from the sale of his home, and the few possessions he owned. The rest of the family who isn’t fighting about money are all grossly disappointed and frustrated that we can’t have a Memorial Service for him due to the present health pandemic sweeping the globe. I honestly don’t care who takes his money. I just want to make sure that he’s remembered in the way that he deserves to be remembered.

He ALWAYS remembered each of us. And I think now more then ever, it’s important that we remember him in the way that he deserves. Since we can’t give him a proper Memorial right now, I’m not really sure what that looks like.

I think I’m going to see if I can get my hands on his list of stadiums and arenas he’s visited. I’m honestly not even sure if he made it to each of them or not. If he didn’t, though, I think it’d be a nice thing if we went for him.

Anyways, I guess we’ll continue to see how this unravels.

That’s all for now.