SEO may be difficult — and, in many circumstances, overly convoluted. How many ranking criteria are involved in producing high-quality organic search results? Ten? Twenty? Thirty? How many are there? 200?
A basic Google search for “SEO ranking factors” will get all of these results, as well as a plethora of others. There is a wealth of information available. And, while there are certainly hundreds of variables at work to decide ultimate placement, much of what is offered is speculative. And, of course, not all ranking variables are applicable to every firm.
The point is that it is very easy to become lost in an algorithmic rabbit hole. There is a lot of knowledge out there, and you might spend all of your time on a research hamster wheel and accomplish very little.
In this article, I’d want to simplify things and describe the four primary areas of SEO that you should be working on. When it comes down to it, SEO is actually quite easy from a strategic standpoint.
The four pillars of SEO
The four essential elements of SEO that site owners must examine are as follows:
- Technical SEO refers to the ease with which your content can be crawled and indexed.
- content: Having the most relevant and best replies to a prospect’s questions.
- on-site SEO: This refers to the optimization of your content and HTML.
- Off-site SEO is the process of establishing authority in order to ensure that Google stacks the deck in your favour.
Of course, there is some complexity and overlap in these four areas, but understanding your strengths and weaknesses in respect to them is critical for directing your efforts.
1. Technical SEO
Technical SEO may appear to be a little intimidating, but what we’re really talking about is ensuring that a search engine can understand your content and explore your site. The content management system you use will handle much of this, and tools like Screaming Frog and Deep Crawl can examine your website and reveal technical issues.
The following are the primary areas to consider:
- crawl. Is it possible for a search engine to crawl your website?
- index. Is it obvious which pages should be indexed and returned by the search engine?
- mobile. Is your website mobile-friendly?
- speed. Page load times are an important component in keeping your visitors satisfied.
- tech. Are you employing search engine-friendly technology or a content management system (CMS) for your website?
- hierarchy. How is your website’s content organised?
If you own a small business and use WordPress for your website, technical SEO should be something you can cross off your to-do list quite fast. Technical SEO becomes considerably more crucial if you have a huge, custom website with millions of pages.
Much of what is referred to as “technical SEO” in this context is actually part of your website’s design and development. The secret is to make sure your developer understands the relationship between website design, development, and SEO, as well as how to produce a lightning-fast, mobile-optimized site.
2. On-site SEO optimization
Your website should be optimized both overall and on a page-by-page basis. There is considerable overlap with technical SEO here, and you should start with a well-structured content hierarchy for your site.
Again, assuming you have a well-structured site, applying smart optimization is pretty simple. The following are the primary areas to concentrate on:
- keyword investigation Learn the language of your intended audience.
- URLs that are descriptive. Make sure each URL is short and meaningful.
- page headings Use keywords in the page title in a natural way.
- descriptions of meta-data Create meta descriptions as though they were ad material to get clicks.
- optimization of content Use keywords and variations sparingly in your page copy.
- excellent user experience (UX). Make sure your website is easy to use and navigate.
- Calls to action are strong. Make it simple for your users to understand what to do next.
- markup for structured data Utilize the most recent SERP improvements to increase click-through rates.
Consider your clients when optimizing your website. If you own a local business, local SEO is much more significant, and your address and location become critical optimization elements.
Layering your on-page optimization is simple when you have excellent technical SEO in place. Use tools like Screaming Frog to crawl your sites and detect flaws, and then work your way through them methodically.
The king of the hill is content. Isn’t that the saying? In some ways, this is correct. Your website is merely a container for your content. Your content informs prospects on what you do, where you do it, who you’ve done it for, and why they should employ your company. And, if you’re wise, your material should go beyond these obvious brochure-type aspects to assist your prospective consumers in achieving their goals.
We may divide your material into three categories for service businesses:
- Content of the service. What you do and where you do it are both important.
- Content with credibility. Why should a potential person do business with you?
- Marketing material. Content that positions you as an expert and places your company in front of prospects sooner in the purchase cycle.
It is critical to recognize that SEO is vital for all of these types of content, yet it is frequently only regarded for service-type material. When it comes to credible content like reviews, testimonials, and case studies, SEO is frequently overlooked.
As an example, I recently refurbished a Victorian-era house in the United Kingdom, and I was seeking for several professionals who could demonstrate relevant experience during the project. In this scenario, a well-optimized case study demonstrating renovation work on a similar house in the local area would serve as excellent long-tail SEO content — it also precisely proves that the contractor can perform the task, demonstrating their credibility. Win-win.
Make certain that you optimize all of your marketing content, including case studies, portfolio entries, and testimonials, not just the apparent service pages.
A strong content marketing and SEO plan is also the most scalable technique to advertise your company to a large number of people. And this offers the best ROI in general because there is no cost per click – so you can scale your marketing without immediately expanding your spending. This type of SEO technique is not appropriate for every firm, but when it is, it is nearly unbeatable.
The following are the important takeaways:
- Optimize all content along the consumer journey.
- Determine whether organic search content marketing is a suitable fit.
We still see far too many paint-by-numbers approaches to SEO, in which local firms pay agencies to generate blog content that is strategically unsuitable. Make sure all of your material is optimized, and if you’re conducting content marketing, make sure it’s a suitable fit for your marketing strategies.
4. Off-site authority building
All SEO rivers eventually lead to the same place: authority building. Link building is a big aspect of establishing your authority. Links are still an important part of achieving high organic rankings; yet, links might be the most difficult aspect of SEO to get right.
It is critical to nail out your link philosophy before you begin, as it may actually make or break your link-building efforts. While link building is a broad topic that we cannot discuss in full here, if you can develop a positive link-building mindset, you will be well ahead of the majority of your competitors.
The late, great Eric Ward wrote the clearest description of the appropriate link-building approach I’ve ever seen: “Connect what should be connected.”
This theory is lovely in its simplicity, and it serves to rectify the link-building attitude of “more, more, more.” We only want links from authoritative sources. This frequently means that, in order to scale our link-building efforts beyond the obvious approaches, we must create something that deserves links. You have links in places where it makes sense to have links. Simple.
Wikipedia has millions of links, but I doubt they’ve ever done any link building. This is due to the fact that they have reams of relevant stuff that is linked. These are genuine, natural links that enrich the connecting page, provide more context, and act as the true connective tissue of our hyperlinked world.
This type of natural link should serve as the foundation of your link-building activities. This may need you to revisit your site’s content and develop something of worth first, but if you can do that, you’ll be halfway there.
This approach should be the foundation of every secure, scalable link-building strategy.
The following are the important takeaways:
- Make sure you’re creating real links that make sense in the real world and won’t anger the algorithm’s qualitative and sometimes punitive components.
- Ensure that your material is worthy of ranking and linking to.
SEO does not have to be extremely complicated. There are four important areas of SEO to consider, and there is an organized, logical procedure for optimizing your site.
I genuinely hope this post assists you in cutting through the clutter, improving your ranks, and generating more money from organic search!