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The 4 Pillars of SEO (and how they work together)

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Pillars of SEO Infographic
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The Pillars of SEO - Video Summary

Small businesses and site owners who are trying to implement search engine optimization may find themselves overwhelmed with the different SEO techniques and tools that can be used to optimize web content.

When trying to optimize your content to rank higher within search engine results, you can’t go wrong by focusing on the four pillars of search engine optimization, SEO.

What are the four pillars of SEO, and how do they fit together? How can you put the four pillars of SEO to the best use possible within your website?

There are four main categories of SEO that can become the foundation of your digital marketing decisions, and help you to create content that ranks well.

Hold off on hiring a digital agency to help, and let’s see if we can make the four SEO pillars clear to you.

What are the Pillars of SEO?

  • On-Page SEO: On-Page SEO, also known as on-site SEO, involves the core elements of your webpages, like your content, that you optimize for search engines and organic traffic.
  • Off-Page SEO: Off-Page SEO, or off-site SEO, includes various elements of search engine optimization that take place outside of your own website.
  • Technical SEO: Technical SEO involves the technical backend of your website. It takes into account the user experience of your website, like a responsive design and clean HTML code.
  • Local SEO: Local SEO includes the techniques that improve the visibility of your website within search engines in local markets. This can be particularly helpful for brick-and-mortar businesses with physical locations.

So, how do you improve each of these four pillars to ensure you are maximizing the effects of your SEO?

FIn this article, we’ll simplify the different categories of SEO and outline the techniques you should focus on when it comes to optimizing your website for search engines.

On-Page SEO

It is important to consider the layout of your website on an overall level across your entire website, as well as on an individual webpage level. On-page SEO is one of the important factors in the original three pillars of SEO.

Each of your other pages should include great content to ensure you rank as the relevant result for your customer’s search query.

Content creation is an important part of on-page SEO, and should consider the relevant topics that your customers will be searching for.

The structure of your website can have an impact on how your content performs, and establishing yourself as an authority, or one of the trusted websites, within your niche.

Some elements of on-page SEO that you should consider when creating relevant content include:

  • Keywords: Keywords are an impact ranking factor that will impact your visibility among potential customers. Search engine processes, such as the crawler process undertaken by Google bots, will register these keywords and help to make your content discoverable by your customers.
  • Page Titles and Title Tags: Your page titles are an opportunity for you to use your keywords, which may help you to stand out from other websites within your niche.
  • Content Optimization: When it comes to SEO, you may hear the phrase “content is king”. You should take this on board when it comes to developing a digital marketing strategy and researching your keywords, as your content is what will attract customers and ensure they stick around for more. Read on to discover how to write authoritative content, which can greatly improve your rankings within search engine results.
  • Call To Action: A call to action can be an effective element of on-page SEO when it comes to encouraging your customers to engage with your website further. You can also include internal linking within your content to help with your call to action, for example encouraging a customer to click through to a blog post on a similar topic.

Authoritative Content

Authoritative content puts the reader first, and focuses on providing high-quality content that informs and educates.

This type of content is prioritized by Google and other search engines. This type of content is what will generate the most organic traffic to your web pages.

Traditional SEO elements like keyword research and meta descriptions, while still important, now have less of an effect on your rankings within a customer’s web search.

So, how do you produce authoritative content?

How Can I Create Authoritative Content?

  1. Ensure you are knowledgeable on the topic you are creating content about. It is important to ensure accuracy within your content, to establish yourself as a trusted source for your customers. When it comes to the authority aspect of your content, having expertise in the topic you are writing about is a great way to get ahead of the competition.
  2. Turn your focus to well-written content. There is nothing worse than thinking you’ve found a website that answers all of your queries, only to be met with written content that is hardly readable. Establish yourself as an authority by writing unbeatable quality content. Include internal links to other helpful articles within your website, and outbound links to other sites within your niche to create networking opportunities.
  3. Consider your customer’s search intent. At the precise moment that your customers establish their search queries, they have a specific query intent in mind. Whether they are looking for more information on a topic or have the intention to make a purchase, ensure your website is there for them.

Relevant Keywords

Including relevant keywords within your content is a very important element when it comes to maximizing your website’s SEO success, during the indexing process undertaken by search bots.

It is important to plan the target keywords that you can use within your SEO strategy, to ensure search engines work to place your content in front of those who are searching for it.

Any digital marketing strategy should include a keyword research strategy. It is also one of the elements that make up the original three pillars of SEO.

You should also consider the placement of your keywords. Stuffing keywords within any page in your XML sitemap is not an effective strategy to succeed in the search bot crawl process.

So, how do you know where is the optimal place within your website to implement your keywords?

Consider the following places to implement keywords within your website that can help you to rank within search results:

  • Page Titles
  • Meta Descriptions
  • Content Body
  • Image Titles and Alt Text
  • URL

Optimizing these sections of your websites for your keywords to ensure the work you have put into search engine optimization pays off.

Off-Page SEO

When it comes to off-page SEO, you may feel intimidated when it comes to building a backlink profile with sufficient links, or networking within your niche to gain guest post opportunities.

Off-Page SEO is a term that embodies the actions you take away from your own website, which can improve your website’s position within search engine rankings.

Some SEO industry experts even consider off-page SEO optimization to be of more value to your website’s ranking than on-page SEO.

So, where can you start when it comes to the important link-building aspect of off-page SEO?

Building Your Backlink Profile

Link building is a large part of any SEO strategy, and should form the foundation of your digital marketing decisions.

Essentially, the more your site is promoted by other websites within your niche through the use of relevant links pointing back to your site, the higher your content will rank within search engines. Links act as a vote for your content from those with authority within your niche.

Link building methods include networking and outreach or writing guest posts for more authoritative websites. Link building is one of the most important ranking factors considered by search engines.

Figure out the methods of link building that work for you and your website. What is the one page on your website that attracts the most visitors? Why does the content on that page perform so well? Can you take advantage of outreach opportunities linked to that page?

These are all questions you can ask yourself in your journey to build links.

Google also asks questions when it comes across external links to your website. As you may have discovered, not all external links are equal and will not all provide the same SEO value to your website!

Google is interested in the following information when it comes to your backlinks:

  • What site is the linking page originating from?
  • What was the reason for the backlink?
  • What is the quality of the site linking to you? For example, is it an authoritative website within your niche?
  • What does the backlink profile of your own site look like? Has it been built up naturally?

The search query engine considers these elements of your backlink profile when it comes to determining the ranking of your website within search engines.

Sharing your posts among social media platforms may also have some impact on the signals which reach search engines, which may tell them your content is worth sharing.

Technical SEO

Technical SEO is often the aspect of search engine optimization that many site owners feel most intimidated by. However, it is not an element of SEO that you can simply opt-out of!

XML sitemaps, link graphs, HTTP status codes – what does it all mean? Is your site mobile-friendliness optimized to perform well on mobile devices?

Not to fear, as there are many techniques and tools when it comes to technical SEO that can help when it comes to this task.

The goal of technical SEO ultimately comes down to ensuring your website is easily accessible and readable by search engine bots and crawlers. Technical SEO can highlight issues that may prevent crawlers from exploring your website and accurately ranking your content.

So, what are the factors of technical SEO that you should be considering?

Website Speed

Page load speed is often confused with “website speed”. Page speed may also be described as either “page load time”, which is the time it takes to fully display the content on a specific page.

Site speed and page speed have been confirmed as an element that Google considers when ranking pages through its algorithm. A slow site and page speed will mean the Google bot can crawl less of your website within its allocated time, meaning you have less chance of appearing for certain terms. One of Google’s great free tools is their PageSpeed Insights, which allows you to check the speed of your (or any) website.

A slow page speed will also affect your user’s experience within your website. Web pages with longer load times have been shown to lead to higher bounce rates and lower the rate of conversions.

Leverage Schema

‘Schema’, is essentially a form of code you can implement on your website which can further help search engine crawlers to read the data within your site.

The data is organized into different types, which have different properties within them. Each type is ranked hierarchically.

Schema markup indicators can be used to help you attract targeted users, as it helps Google to show the most relevant pages within your website that match user queries.

This can help you to get the existing content within your website to work harder for you, and ensure the target that reaches your website is more targeted.

Local SEO

Our final pillar of search engine optimization is local SEO.

Local SEO is a search engine optimization strategy that helps your business to become more visible within your local market’s Google searches.

If your business harbors a physical location, local SEO can help you to attract more footfall to your brick and mortar store. Local SEO can also help your business if you offer services within a specific geographic area.

Google has specific software for helping you to manage your business within the context of your local market. This software is Google’s ‘My Business’.

Google My Business

‘My Business’ is software managed by Google, that allows you to control how your business is conveyed within its search query engine. It allows you to customize your site within Google Maps as well as in organic search results.

Google My Business can be a game-changer for those who rely on physical traffic and footfall within a store. It allows you to add your opening hours, photos of your store, contact information, and all-important reviews!

Location Targeted Landing Pages

Another aspect of local search engine optimization that you may find helpful, is to create local landing pages.

Landing pages which target a specific geographic location can be helpful when it comes to attracting customers in your local market.

A localized landing page allows you to tailor the content on this page to the customers within your area. This means that when a customer searches for one of your target keywords in conjunction with your location, they will be presented with the landing page most applicable to them.

Within this landing page, you could include your physical business address, directions and opening hours, or any other information this customer should know.

Summary

We know SEO can seem intimidating, but break it down to its four pillars and tackle each one at a time.

The four key areas of SEO; on-page, off-page, technical and local, are all easy to optimize once you know the correct tools and techniques to implement.

We hope this post has simplified some aspects of search engine optimization, and allowed you to get started on making the most of your content!

FAQs about the Pillars of SEO

The 3 main pillars of SEO are On-Page SEO, Off-Page SEO, and Technical SEO.

The 4 pillars of SEO are the 3 main ones (On-Page SEO, Off-Page SEO, and Technical SEO) as well as including Local SEO.

This will differ depending on what your goals are for your website. A global eCommerce website would have very different elements required when compared to a local business. However, you should always focus on creating optimized content that has strong authority.

The SEO principals refer to the basics that all websites need to allow search engines to have a better understanding of them. These relate to having a technically sufficient website, creating optimized content, and building your domain authority.

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