Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was a successful website teeming with traffic. But what does lead to significant results is strategic, long-term work.
There are arguably dozens of pillars of SEO, and different professionals have unique opinions about what they look like. Still, the four pillars of SEO we’ve compiled here are perhaps the most crucial pieces of any strong online presence.
Below, we’ll discuss why SEO pillars like on-page, off-page, technical, and content SEO make such a difference so that you can stand out from the crowd.
Overall, search engine optimization (SEO) aims to help websites establish themselves as credible and reliable so that they’ll rank well in search engine result pages (SERPs). The better a webpage ranks, the more traffic it will generate – and more clicks means more leads.
SEO is not a single process but a collection of techniques. From creating written content to optimizing page titles, there’s no shortage of options to put your site on the digital map.
And, with most online leads generated through organic search results – results that aren’t sponsored – it’s safe to say the benefits of SEO far outweigh its costs. While SEO involves many tactics, it’s wise to understand the key pillars to improve SEO.
The so-called “four pillars of SEO” create a strong foundation for businesses to build upon. These main ideas target optimization from different angles to ensure that each area of a site is set up for success. Let’s take a closer look.
Think of technical SEO as a look at a website’s skeleton: it focuses on information that helps search engines understand what’s on a webpage. In other words, technical SEO focuses on a website’s infrastructure or the settings and configurations that help users navigate its content.
Unlike other pillars of SEO, this tactic doesn’t involve creating new content. Instead, effective technical SEO ensures search engines can “read” your webpage, locate it, and understand how it relates to search inquiries.
Examples of aspects technical SEO considers include:
- Site speed
- Optimization for mobile devices
- URL creation
- Site maps
- Secured connections
- HTML tags
Other SEO pillars rely on technical SEO to thrive. All in all, the friendlier your website is to search engines, the more likely it is to receive better organic rankings.
Below are some quick and easy ways to enhance your technical SEO and make your site a better fit for SERPs.
- Enhance Site Performance: Limit clutter in your site’s code, organization, and content to help it load quickly. Consider new elements carefully to prioritize changes that enhance your site rather than slow it down.
- Index Your Site: Indexing your site ensures it’s discoverable by Google – in other words, it ensures Google knows your site exists. Creating a site map and submitting information using Google Search Console are easy first steps to take.
- Create a Plan: Since technical SEO may involve cleaning up your site and using changes made using other pillars of SEO, it’s wise to develop a clear plan. What changes will you target now, and what can you do in the future?
As the name suggests, this SEO pillar hones in on individual pages on your site. On-page SEO analyzes web pages’ content and HTML source code to find room for improvement.
The overarching goal is still to ensure the page is easily readable and understood by search engines. However, instead of tinkering with the site’s skeleton, on-page SEO provides information about appendages (individual pages).
Examples of elements on-page SEO focuses on include:
- SEO keyword implementation
- Meta tags
- Page titles or headers
- Meta titles
- Meta descriptions
- Page and alt text descriptions
- URL structures
- Page functionality and user experience
On-page optimization is one of the key pillars to improve SEO because it helps search engines see your site as complete, informative, and organized. As a result, your site is more likely to outrank the competition.
This area of optimization is a bit more straightforward than other pillars of SEO, but it can still take some patience. Follow these general steps to implement on-page SEO into your site.
- Discover Room for Improvement: Conduct an audit of your site to see what works and what doesn’t. Note any missing information, duplicate content, and other areas of concern. Delete what you don’t need, and enhance what you do.
- Add Details: Go through existing pages to add details like meta tags, page titles, clear URL structures, and whatever else you deem necessary. It also may help to create an on-page SEO checklist to use as you create new pages or content.
Not all SEO work is done on your actual website – some of the most valuable efforts happen behind the scenes.
Off-page SEO relates to work done off the site being optimized, but it still aims to improve organic ranking. You can think of it as “side projects” that are still necessary to bring your main project to fruition.
Common types of off-page SEO include:
- Link building
- Guest posting
- Social media marketing
- Influencer and brand collaborations
Out of all the pillars of SEO, this type is arguably the most important. Off-page SEO shows a search engine crawler your site has a relative amount of authority.
Trusted sites rank higher and drive more leads. So, though off-page SEO doesn’t touch your site itself, it creates the important context that makes your brand recognizable.
To make sure your off-page SEO works as intended, keep the below tips in mind and create a clear strategy that focuses on specific goals.
- Think Outside the Box: Don’t write off new opportunities to gain exposure for your site. Guest blogging on new sites, giving interviews, collaborating on projects, and other seemingly unrelated tasks can mean big changes to your site’s ranking.
- Create Valuable Content: If you create new content to put elsewhere on the web, ensure it represents your site well. Put the same time and effort into off-page projects as those on your site. Link building is one of the best ways to gain visibility, so readers should be compelled enough by your content (or content that mentions you) that they’ll click your link and visit your site.
Our four pillars of SEO wouldn’t be complete without content. Creating high-quality and useful content your target audience values is key. Valuable information is shareable information, and more sharing means more exposure and backlinks (links to your site from others).
SEO changes on a near-daily basis. At Firestarter SEO, we have learned that despite this truth, content is king. It adds long-lasting value to a site that can’t be replicated, especially given that search engines prefer to rank content-rich sites.
Some types of content you might encounter when exploring SEO include:
- FAQ and information pages
A site that’s been well-organized, readable, and established as credible with the help of other SEO pillars still has little to offer without good content.
After all, the internet is a hub for information – meaningful content shows that your site is worth staying on. Users who spend longer on your site are more likely to engage with it and your services.
Content creation is nuanced, but some key principles can help you succeed. These SEO content pillars ensure your efforts make sense for your goals and produce real results.
- Make Use of Keywords: Content represents the easiest and most effective way to feature SEO keywords on a site. Consistently adding keyword-rich (but not keyword-stuffed) content to a site will significantly boost its ranking.
- Focus on Quality: It’s tempting to try and pump out as much optimized content as possible – after all, casting a wide net can yield bigger results. But search engines and readers can tell the difference between helpful content and content that barely scratches the surface. For content that consistently ranks better with time, conduct research, create excellent writing, and include what readers need to know.
- Think Like a Reader: Make sure your content matches what readers seek. It should be readable, easy to navigate on mobile devices, and engaging (or perhaps even entertaining).
Between our four pillars of SEO – technical, on-page, off-page, and content – you should be able to cover all bases necessary to make your website attractive to search engines. Of course, SERPs aren’t everything, but they are important – not showing up in SERPs is the modern equivalent of not having your name in the phone book.
At Firestarter SEO, we understand how crucial a strong SEO strategy is for success. That’s because we have over 12 years of experience delivering tailored SEO solutions to clients from a myriad of industries.
Firestarter is an award-winning Denver SEO company with the experience and expertise your business needs to thrive. We’re here to demystify SEO and take care of the hard work for you. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you.