20 SEO Tips that All Bloggers Should Know

Any blogger or content writer who is seeking to get ranked in the search engines will be aware of the importance of SEO and the influence it can have over how we write. In a previous article What is SEO? I introduced many of the core components of search engine optimisation and what the latest algorithms from Google have meant for writers.

Other previous articles on this site have also looked at How to write quality SEO content and How to write on-page SEO. In this article however I wanted to expand the discussion slightly and see what other experts were saying in 2015 about SEO. I mention the year because any SEO advice that has been given prior to 2012 is probably out of date and could actually cause more harm than good at this stage.

Search Engine Rankings

This article was inspired after reading two different articles, by two of my favourite marketing gurus. The first was Neil Patel writing about The Ultimate Guide to Factors That Don’t Affect Search Rankings and the second was an article by Brian Dean on Google’s 200 Ranking Factors: The Complete List

Both articles are excellent but what struck me was that a simplified version was needed especially for newbies entering the SEO world for the first time. I have used both pieces of work as well as other resources, including my own experience to compile my own version of the 20 most important tips on SEO.

Keywords

Keywords are undoubtedly the first place where most content writers start when they think of SEO. The older thinking with keywords was to stuff them into every space and literary orifice you could find. This isn’t the recommended approach now, but keywords should still be prominent in your writing so that google is clear about the topic of your content. There are 3 ways this can be achieved without stuffing your content and causing it to be unreadable.

Number 1 – Placing keywords in title tags is important, and according to Brian Dean the earlier they are placed in the title the better.

Number 2 – Place keywords in H1 tags as these act like mini title tags and help reaffirm the theme of your content.

Number 3 – Use LSI keywords to help google know more about the exact nature of your topic.

LSI or latent semantic indexing looks for patterns of keywords that are associated together within a topic. For example the word Apple mentioned with computer brings one set of results, whereas apple mentioned with fruit stall brings up a separate list of results.

Not all places in your content need keywords, according to Neil Patel’s article

Number 4 – putting keywords into meta tags will have absolutely no impact on rankings whatsoever.

Meta tags are in the code section of your content and this used to be considered one of the ways to increase ranking positions.

Keyword word order

The order of keywords can influence ranking so that articles that have words closest to the search request will be ranked higher. The aim is to get ranked for specific keywords, in a certain order, which is where keyword research really comes in.

Number 5 – Use a keyword tool and do the research to see what combination of keywords will rank best before publishing the post

Meta Descriptions

Meta descriptions are the snippets that google displays when you run a search, as you can see in this screenshot. At one time it was believed that meta descriptions were another way of improving ranking, however this is not the case.

Image screenshot google search item with meta description

Meta description label in a google search result

The meta description does not improve rankings, but …

Number 6  – an accurate description will ensure that only those people who are interested in your article will click through.

This helps to improve bounce rates (clicking on a site and then immediately leaving again) and shows google that your content is relevant.

Image Alt Text

Alt text is the alternative text that appears if an image can’t load properly, or if the page is being read by someone who is visually impaired and cannot see the images. It is also read by search engines who can’t see images either. It does therefore have a very important function.

Number 7 – always include alt text so that there are no gaps in your content for either search engines or readers who cannot view the images.

The alt text and image caption both give details about the image, but they are used for different purposes. The caption is a title about the image whereas the alt text describes the actual image. For example if I take the image of the meta description screenshot used above on this page, here is the caption text and alt image texts for that image.

screenshot comparing image text and alt text descriptions

Number 8 – the alt text needs to enhance the reader experience not push keywords at search engines.

 

Links

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 13.51.16

Image found on Neil Patel

One of the questions that I hear a lot is in relation to links -do you or do you not use them? Backlinks in particular appear to cause confusion especially since Google has been known to penalise lots of spam links coming from weak sites.

The introduction of the Hummingbird algorithm emphasised that natural and engaging content is key, if your links meet that requirement then use them.

Number 9 – make links natural and organic, choose material that is consistent with your niche.

Number 10 – links from older and more established domains and sites will possibly rank better, check what the added value factor is that the link is giving.

One of the main purposes for using links is to establish authority and demonstrate expertise and knowledge within your chosen niche topic. Therefore all links need to be carefully considered to ensure that they achieve this. Internal links can also demonstrate your expertise, by showing how posts on the site work together to build authority on the Image linkssubject matter.

Number 11 – Internal links are important to demonstrate how your content connects together and to demonstrate the building of expertise within a particular topic.

Affiliate Links

Another area that many affiliate marketeers are concerned about is whether affiliate links are penalised by google and other search engines. Sites that are stuffed with links and have very little content to offer the readers, will be penalised.

Google state on their support page that thin affiliate sites are classed as;

"Pages with product affiliate links on which the 
product descriptions and reviews are copied directly 
from the original merchant without any original 
content or added value." - Google

Number 12 – Affiliate links are not penalised by google unless they are on sites with thin content, or very little content.

Mobile Use & Page Loading Speed

One of the newer SEO factors is the link to mobile technology. Statistics show that mobile devices now account for more than 50% of entry points to websites and are a priority area for google.

graph mobile versus desktop access to internet

Image reproduced from smartinsights.com

Number 13 – Make sure blog sites are mobile enabled, this is now a priority factor for Google

Number 14 – Load time is another indicator to google that the site is relevant and useful to searchers. Many people will not stay with a site that loads too slowly and this causes the bounce rate to increase. This and file size tells search engines whether the site is too slow.

Content Length & Recency 

Many blog posts have focused on producing content of around 500 words, but content marketing has increased the average blog and article size up to 1000 or 1500 words. So does larger content rank better?

Statistics show that higher ranking pages do seem to contain more words on average (between 2000 – 2,500). However google likes websites with relevant content and writing for the sake of it may not actually improve ranking.

Number 15 – content length should be appropriate for the topic however if readers become bored bounce rate can increase.

Number 16 – longer posts have greater potential to rank for a number of different keywords.

Content Readability

Google’s main focus is on the readers’ experience. There is still some debate as to whether bad grammar and spelling will affect ranking but other types of readability factors are thought to affect it. Here are some of the main ones.

Number 17 – bullets and numbered lists are a great way to break up content and make it easier to read. This adds to the readability of the content and may or may not enhance rankings.

Number 18 – the recency of posts is thought to affect rank indirectly, it could also affect click through rate because the date is usually shown on the search snippet.

Number 19 – the originality of the post is considered a factor by google and duplicate content will be penalised heavily.

Finally the last point relates to the categorisation of posts on your website

Number 20 – According to Brian Dean’s list the category that a post is listed under may affect ranking. This is because it is another indication as to the relevance of the content.

Therefore posts that are left as uncategorised or wrongly categorised might not be placed as highly as posts categorised under their proper relevant headings.

There are many other factors that affect SEO and ranking positions but when you are starting out it is better to master a few good SEO practices first and then slowly expand your knowledge base. These 20 tips will hopefully give you a good foundation in SEO use and the following articles may help with more detail on some of the issues.

I would love to hear about any other SEO tips you use, so please feel free to add to the comments below and share you experiences, thanks.

 

12 thoughts on “20 SEO Tips that All Bloggers Should Know

  1. Juan

    Your 20 SEO tips are all very comprehensive. I believe they are all equally important but I wanted to mention how important number 5 is. I use a research keyword tool named Jaaxy that has work wonders for me. It has helped take my website to the next level and generating a lot of traffic through creating quality content.

    Reply
    1. Marie

      Hi Juan thanks so much for your input and comment. I agree about the importance of keywords and yes I’m also a big fan of Jaaxy. I think like any good tradesman it is the quality of the tools you use that reflects your success (that and a lot of hard work!).

      Thanks again, Marie

  2. Chuck

    SEO is obviously critical to getting on page 1. As a new online marketer it is imperative that one follows the 20 simple rules mentioned in this article. As a newbie I think keeping SEO simple. I like the idea of getting really good at fewer strategies works best.
    The most important aspect of SEO is that the writer truly is trying to help his reader. He must have a natural flow with great content. Are these 20 tips enough to get a page 1 ranking?

    Reply
    1. Marie

      Hi Chuck I think as a newbie it is important to master the basics first, SEO is first and foremost about quality content that meets the need of searchers. Ultimately that is what will get you ranked. The SEO tips here are ways in which you can inform Google about your content so that it is aware of what you are offering searchers. If all these things are done together then that is the framework for getting ranked.

      Other factors such as Understanding Google Sandbox 2.0 are also important, so that you spend time working on the most suited SEO strategy for your content.

      Thanks for your comment and good luck with your own site, you might also be interested in more SEO detail in this simple e-book on writing SEO content Books and Resources

  3. Hanizan

    Great articles for SEO tips you are doing very well…i like this articles and also this site. It open my eyes now about comments, alt text image, meta description and so many things..I learn here..just from 1 article..how awesome you are..
    I think you can be a good writer since people especially newbie will understand this easily….keep up with your good work and all the best in future…

    Reply
    1. admin

      Hi Hanizan thanks for wonderful feedback it’s lovely to hear. I admit it can be challenging writing for both newbies and more experienced internet businesses, so I’m glad that you think the content is useful I appreciate that.

      Another article that is useful for new marketeers and which you may enjoy is What is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)?

      Best of luck with your own site, Marie

  4. rufat

    Great article about SEO tips. I think for someone who is looking for this kind of stuff it will be a great resource to learn SEO and how to apply this knowledge properly. What do you think about comments added to a post as a ranking factor? As I know, officially it was not mentioned as a ranking factor, but from my experience I can definitely say that adding comments to a post does help improve rankings. What is your experience?

    Reply
    1. admin

      Hi Rufat and thanks for taking the time to comment it’s much appreciated. I think comments are important because they add to two of the ranking factors – they increase the content length and they are also a way of updating the content and telling search engines that the material is relevant.

      Increasingly google is looking for evidence that the content is useful and I personally believe that in the future social media shares and building community influence through engagement will become more and more important, so again comments still have a vital role to play in that process.

  5. Eric Thompson

    Thank you for your post Marie. For me it was a tutorial. I have learned a lot from it. You have certainly cleared up some of my misunderstanding and raise my awareness of SEO.

    Because of your post my blogs will be produced on a higher level than before.

    This is an excellent article that anyone who is still learning can benefit from.
    Thanks again,

    Eric

    Reply
    1. admin

      Hi Eric thanks for your generous comments, and I’m glad you feel the post will be useful. Some of the articles at the bottom give some more detail on the topic which may also be helpful.

      I have published a small guide on SEO writing which you might also find interesting which you can check out here Books and Resources

      Best of luck with your own writing.

  6. Alan

    Hi I like your stuffs to get paid by doing well the seo natural wow I like also how it simple and intressing and is very important to take in considération the social média is true my favorite part is getting paid is tell us you did à good work with the seo

    Reply
    1. admin

      Hi Alan thanks for your comment and you’re right social media is playing a greater role both in getting traffic directly rather than through ranking and also in affecting ranking positions within search engines.

      I also appreciate that SEO is especially difficult when working through a second language, I hope to do more work on that in the future. Thanks Marie

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