The four pillars of SEO you need to know
(This article was originally published on entrepreneur.com and was edited for content and style.)
Search engine optimization (SEO) can seem like a headache. But if you are a business owner, this can be one of the best ways to get your business found online. It provides a source of regular organic traffic that is more cost effective than other sources.
And trust me, when you finally find out, you’ll realize it’s not that daunting after all. In fact, after spending some time with SEO, you’ll probably love it.
Check out the four pillars of SEO you need to know.
Pillar 1: SEO on the page
As the name suggests, on-page SEO involves optimizing the content of your website. The extent to which web crawlers can read your content determines how well your site ranks in search engines, so it’s important to produce high-quality content with optimized metadata.
Focus on your content
To bolster your on-page SEO, make sure all your content is relevant, informative, and well-written. To maintain relevance, your content must provide answers to your audience’s searches.
To find out which searches are relevant to you, you can Google from a customer’s perspective. Look up relevant terms and questions related to your business and see what comes up in Google’s “People Also Ask” section. Also pay attention to the autocomplete suggestions in the search bar.
Once you know what content is being rewarded by Google, you can start formulating a content feed that will improve the content already in the ranking. If your website content can provide answers to your audience’s most important questions, search engines will view your content as credible and authoritative, helping you rank higher in search results.
Optimize for relevant keywords
Your website should also use keywords and search terms similar to how your audience searches for content. Using these keywords will help Google see that your content is relevant within your industry and serve your content to your audience.
Include keywords in your metadata, headlines, URLs, body, and alt text. This tells Google that your website content is relevant to your target audience’s searches, helping you rank higher in search results.
- Don’t forget to optimize your metadata. Metadata helps crawlers read your website, so you need to make sure your metadata conveys the essence of your web pages.
- An important tip when optimizing your keywords is to use one longtail keyword per page. This shows crawlers that your page is answering searches, which will increase your site’s authority.
Pillar 2: Off-page SEO
Off-page SEO includes everything you do outside of your website to optimize your presence in search results.
When it comes to off-page SEO, it’s important to tell search engines what others think of your website, which is where backlinks come in. Backlinks are links to your website that are hosted on other websites. Sometimes you can get backlinks without doing anything, but if you are a business with a smaller online presence, you often have to struggle to get backlinks.
Backlinks can be an indication of your website’s authority, so it’s important to build a web of quality backlinks. While it can be tempting to buy backlinks, search engines penalize websites with large amounts of spammy backlinks. So, when it comes to your backlink strategy, go for quality over quantity.
- Find a backlink outreach strategy that works for you. This may mean contacting authoritative websites and notifying them that you have content related to their web pages. Or you can choose to write free content for websites so that they can reward you with backlinks in return.
- Try to gain backlinks from low, medium and high authority sites as this indicates natural links to search engines.
- Have a strong social media strategy that links back to your website and web pages. While social media links are not technically counted as backlinks, they still generate valuable traffic to your website, making this a good SEO strategy.
Pillar 3: Technical SEO
Technical SEO determines the way users and search bots move through your website. You need to ensure that your website has a logical architecture and that it is easy to navigate for both users and web crawlers.
Provide a clear site structure
The structure of your website is very important. Have you ever been to a website where certain pages are hard to find or where the navigation menu is cluttered? If users and search bots find your website difficult to understand, it will hurt your site’s credibility. So it’s important to structure your site logically so that it can be easily searched by users and search bots. A general rule of thumb is to make sure that any web page can be opened in less than 3 clicks as this will ensure that your site is easy to navigate.
Page speed is an important element of technical SEO as it has a strong relationship with the user experience. Today it turned out that if a user has to wait longer than two seconds to load a page, they will most likely leave the page.
To make sure your web pages have fast loading times, you need to go through them Google Page Speed Insights. This tool tells you exactly how to reduce loading time. By optimizing page speed, you decrease your bounce rate, the percentage of users who leave your website after visiting one webpage.
- Keep your website mobile-friendly. All websites should be created with a mobile-first approach, such as: more than 90% of the world’s population uses their mobile phone Search.
- Keep responsive design elements in mind. Make sure your website is optimized for a range of screen sizes, as people’s browsing habits are varied and many households use multiple devices.
- Make sure there are no broken links (or links that lead nowhere) on your website.
- Use internal links to show crawlers the logical connections between your web pages. This gives your pages and site structure more authority according to Google.
Pillar 4: Local SEO
If your business has a physical location, it’s important to consider local SEO. Local SEO involves improving your site’s visibility in location-based search results. For example, suppose you own a bakery. When a customer in your area types “bakery near me” into Google, strong local SEO will help put your business at the top of search results.
- Google My Business is a great tool for businesses with brick and mortar stores. It helps people in your area find your store when they are looking for services related to your business. Because it’s linked to Google Maps, it tells people where your business is and how to get there. It will also display your opening hours, as well as an image of your store, so that potential customers get enough information about your business.
- Reviews are another invaluable tool when it comes to local SEO. Today, people rely heavily on reviews when buying goods and services. While they are good for customers, reviews are also important to search engines. A large number of positive reviews will tell Google that your business has great authority, which will make your store appear earlier in search results.
SEO is important for any business that has an online presence. No matter how big or small your business is, with a strong SEO strategy you will be found by the right people at the right time.