Building a successful website is a long-term process that requires you to understand your audience and know how to appeal to their interests. Once you’ve designed a website, among the most important strategies necessary for obtaining consistent success is to implement search engine optimization wherever possible. SEO is a standard marketing strategy that’s designed to help improve site visibility on search engines like Google and Bing.
By optimizing the content and performance of your website, your website should place higher on Google SERPs. Keep in mind that less than 1% of people who use Google Search will look at the second page of results, which is why it’s highly recommended that you work on improving your rankings. Search engine optimization is important because of how Google ranks websites. If a website performs poorly or doesn’t provide users with the content they’re looking for, Google won’t want to reward that website with a high ranking on relevant search results.
On the other hand, websites that are properly optimized will invariably be more appealing to site visitors, which will result in Google placing them towards the top of relevant search results. If you’ve never focused on optimizing your website for search engines, doing so is surprisingly simple and straightforward. There are many optimization techniques you can use to improve your site rankings, which is why the most difficult aspect of SEO is making the decision on which techniques to use.
The four key pillars of SEO that you should be aware of before you start optimizing include technical SEO, on-site optimization, off-site optimization, and content SEO. This article provides you with a comprehensive overview of the four SEO pillars and why each of them is equally important for an effective SEO strategy.
1. Technical SEO
The initial pillar of SEO that you should focus on is technical SEO. This form of SEO is important because Google must first locate, crawl, and eventually index the pages of your website if you want your site to appear towards the top of search engine results. To make sure that your website is properly indexed, you should implement technical SEO.
While Google is the primary search engine to focus on when optimizing your website for search engines, Bing and Yahoo also use spiders to effectively crawl the internet and obtain information about the various web pages they visit. By placing small amounts of code into your website, it’s possible to provide instructions to search engine spiders pertaining to the crawling and indexing of your site.
You can use a basic robots.txt file to tell search engines places they shouldn’t visit on your website. While you should typically allow search engines like Google to crawl every page of the website, you may have pages on your website with duplicate or relatively thin content that you wouldn’t want to appear on search engines. In this situation, you have the ability to tell search engine spiders to avoid indexing some web pages with a robots.txt file.
You can also use a powerful XML sitemap to essentially tell search engines which pages on your websites you would like to have crawled and indexed. A sitemap can show search engines when a specific web page was updated and what priority the page has in comparison to other site pages. Three additional factors that are important to technical SEO include speed, security, and responsiveness, the latter of which refers to how mobile-friendly your website is.
Security is available in the form of HTTPS connections, which will show up in the site URL. Keep in mind that almost 60% of all website traffic comes from mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, which is why your website should have a responsive design. As for speed, performance has proven to be essential for making sure that visitors are engaged and remain on your website.
If load times are longer than two seconds, most visitors will become frustrated with the experience, which means that they will also be frustrated with Google for displaying the poorly performing website. Google always rewards high-speed websites. Make sure that the structure and layout of your website is easy to understand. A cluttered design could damage your site performance with search engines like Google. You can find numerous types of software that will help you with technical SEO at this link.
2. On-site SEO Optimization
There are many elements of your website that should be optimized if you want your site to appear towards the top of search results. Along with the technical improvements that you should make to the site performance, some of the on-site elements that you should work on optimizing include:
- Alternative text – By placing alternative text on site images, you’ll be able to provide Google with a description of these images, which allows Google to better understand the meaning of the image when indexing your website.
- Meta descriptions and page titles – Meta descriptions and page titles are tags that are placed in website headers. Search engines like Google will use these tags to create the pieces of information that are shown on pages for search engine results. The page titles you use for each page can influence the ranking you receive as well as the likelihood that users click into your website. As for meta descriptions, they can also help you improve click-through rates when implemented correctly.
- H1-H6 tags – These tags can be used when formatting headers and breaking up site content. Using these tags properly on your website can help considerably with readability. Search engines prefer when content is broken up with headers.
- Structured data – These are small bits of code that provide search engines with the information they require to understand the subject matter on a webpage. With this information, Google can identify where to place webpages when taking context into account. Structured data allows search engines like Google to provide users with search results in less than one-tenth of a second.
- Internal links – These links provide site users and search engines with the ability to click to other pages that can be found on your website. When implemented correctly, an internal link is clickable. Once a user or search engine clicks on the link, the ranking power from the initial page will be transferred directly to the other page.
You can improve on-site optimization will many of the tools in this guide.
3. Off-site SEO Optimization
Off-site SEO refers to the many different types of optimization that you can perform in other places outside of your website. While your on-site SEO can help you improve your website’s ranking, off-site SEO is necessary to build your website’s authority and trust, which also factor into the rankings you receive. The three primary options for off-site SEO include links, social media, and local search.
Links that direct users to your website can be placed on other websites. Let’s say that an owner for a more popular website includes a link to your website in their site content. When a user clicks on this link, the ranking power of the other website will transfer to your own. This is a great way to build authority on the internet.
Social media is also able to influence SEO in numerous ways. While links that connect a social media page to your website won’t have as much authority as the ones that are placed on traditional websites, linking via social media profiles can still increase your value with search engines while also helping you bring more traffic to your website. Social media profiles like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn are the most popular options at your disposal.
You can build local search profiles with Google Maps. In fact, creating a Google Maps listing with your Google My Business account is practically essential if you have a brick-and-mortar location. By verifying your location with this tool, you can effectively build trust with Google. Once you obtain comments and reviews on your Google Maps page, you will build even more trust. The tools mentioned in this guide should help you improve your off-site SEO.
4. Content SEO
Content is considered to be a core component of any SEO strategy and is essential if you want to provide your target audience with relevant content that they will be interested in. Site content can include everything from text and PDFs to images and videos. In fact, a comprehensive content strategy will include all types of content. Five factors that you should consider when creating content SEO include:
- Quality – The content must be well-written to ensure that users are provided with premium content.
- Recency – Content should be updated on a frequent basis to make sure that search engines receive fresh content when ranking your website.
- Keywords – When you equip your content with keywords and phrases, Google will view your content as more relevant for those specific terms. Try to use synonyms of important keywords to make sure that your content isn’t too repetitive.
- Relevancy – Content that’s more relevant will match well with search queries. Pages with more relevant content invariably perform better in search results.
- Type – If you want your webpages to be appealing, engaging, and dynamic, you should use the right type of content with each page. Most pages benefit from a combination of text, video, and imagery.
You can improve the content SEO for your website with some of the tools mentioned in this guide.
Even though search engine optimization involves many different components and strategies, focusing on the four pillars of SEO should ensure that your strategy is comprehensive. Over time, you will likely be able to identify which SEO techniques are most effective at improving your search engine rankings.