Google considers over 200 signals when ranking a web page in search results. Whilst some signals are weighted higher than others, many bloggers fail to implement even the most basic of SEO practices, missing opportunities to reach more people. This article therefore offers five simple tips that can have a dramatic SEO impact.

1) Keywords

Thinking about the keywords to include on your blog may sound obvious, but it is often overlooked. Keywords are important because Google will only return your blog if it is relevant. By thinking about what your potential visitors are searching, you can include relevant keywords within your articles. Using synonyms and acronyms will also help increase your reach. However, don’t overload your articles with keywords and don’t dilute your primary keyword by trying to target too many variations. Remember, your article is to be read by people, not just Google, so keep it natural.

2) Meta title

The meta title is the title text that appears in Google and is a highly-weighted signal. Whilst some content management systems may not allow you to define the meta title, most will. It is important that your meta title describes what is on the page and includes your primary keyword, but it must also be enticing. It shouldn’t be a repetition of your article title, rather it should be concise at around 65 characters. A call to action is often useful.

3) Article Title / H1 Tag

Unlike the meta title, the article title is displayed on the page. First, you should make sure the title is used in conjunction with the ‘h1’ HTML tag. As the page heading typically describes what the page is about, Google uses it as a highly-weighted signal. It is therefore essential to ensure your primary keyword is included in the title, but by differing it from the meta title you also have an opportunity to vary your keyword phrases. There is also no character limit, so you do not have to be constrained to 65 characters, although the longer the H1 tag the more it’s SEO impact is diluted.

4) Content

Whilst it is useful to include acronyms and synonyms of your target keywords within the articles you write, you should remember that your content should be first and foremost targeted at your users, not Google. However, many often forget some basic requirements enforced by Google, namely that content must be unique and authoritative. In other words, you should ask yourself whether Google is right to rank your page over others.

In the case of duplicate content, Google will often ignore pages that are very similar to others, and will penalise websites in extreme circumstances. If you just copy and paste content you shouldn’t expect it to rank well. However, Google may also perceive your content to be duplicated or low-authority if your page has very little text content present. For example, if you are posting a status, the amount of text used may form a relatively small proportion of the entire page. Therefore, as a blogger, it is recommended that your articles are of a reasonable size, at least 300 words in my opinion, although this is just a suggestion rather than a strict rule.

5) Images

Optimising your images by including descriptive filenames and alt text attributes provides more opportunities to expose your website to more visitors by appearing in Google Image search results. Whilst SmartFrame automatically optimises your images, you can also optimise your regular images by creating an Image Sitemap, and using keywords in your filenames and alt text. Many bloggers overlook the potential of image searches. Whilst some may consider the alt text, it is very common for filenames to be ignored, instead keeping system generated filenames. It is important to use hyphens instead of underscored within filenames because Google perceives hyphens as spaces, but does not do so for underscores.