Search engine optimization consists of numerous smaller and bigger processes. Each one of them has a specific value to the website, improving the overall user experience.
If you wish to have a powerful brand, you should make an effort to build each one of the pillars so that your house doesn’t crumble. Google and other search engines value each process equally, so there aren’t any shortcuts in optimizing your site.
In this article, we’ll talk about all these technical procedures, what they entail, and why they are so important for your SEO strategy.
Three pillars of SEO
Reaching the top of search engine rankings is an arduous process. Google doesn’t like ranking sites and web pages that have no authority or don’t follow the company’s guidelines. Not only should you master the technical aspects of optimization, but you should also create unique, high-quality content.
Without further ado, here are the three pillars of SEO:
- Technical SEO (technical processes such as mobile friendliness, site speed, and XML sitemap)
- On-site SEO (creating relevant content, meta descriptions, and title tags)
- Off-site SEO (acquiring external links from other websites, being shared on social media, and building overall brand awareness)
In many ways, search engine optimization is like baking a cake. You need a good foundation so that the whole thing doesn’t crumble (technical SEO). After that, you add filling that makes the dessert worth eating (on-page SEO). Lastly, you add a cherry on the top, AKA the finishing touches (off-page SEO)
How do these processes work together?
Although you can reach the top of search engine results for minor keywords, don’t expect to make an impact without implementing all these practices. The competition within the SEO field is extremely fierce, and you need to cover all angles if you wish to reach the top.
Each one of these pillars has an impact on the overall user experience. Technical SEO factors affect the website as a whole and serve as the optimization basis. However, unless you have fantastic content, you won’t actually be able to rank on top of search engine pages.
Content is the thing that differentiates your brand from the competition. Search engines recognize quality pages from the rest by assessing the level of user engagement. Articles that get a lot of clicks and have a long time spent on a page usually perform better than the rest. So, it’s usually the people who judge websites’ usefulness, not Google.
But what happens when several sites create content of similar quality? Even worse, what if they copy articles from one another? This is when off-page factors come into play!
If we presume sites are on an equal playing field, the external entities are there to decide the winner. Link building has always been vital for the performance of web pages, and it still remains a crucial ranking factor in 2023. As large media platforms won’t link to just about anything, you need to have one-of-a-kind content to entice sharing.
If you don’t execute technical SEO properly, nothing else actually matters. In a way, technical optimization is more of a hindrance than anything else. Using best practices won’t necessarily boost your rankings. It will just put you on an equal playing field with all other modern sites.
Most website owners perform technical optimization when creating the website or when Google changes its policies. This makes SEO easier for vigilant entrepreneurs as they won’t have to come back and fix things every few months.
Aside from improving user experience, technical SEO is crucial for search engine bots. Having a simple, intuitive site structure makes crawling straightforward, so your pages can be indexed relatively quickly. Here are some of the main aspects of technical optimization
· Website speed
In the last few years, there has been more and more emphasis on site speed. This is a crucial UX factor that makes browsing better for visitors. As you can tell by its name, website speed refers to how quickly our website pages load.
Ideally, your pages should open in less than three seconds. If visitors have to wait longer than that, they’ll slowly start bouncing, which sends a negative signal to modern search engines.
Mobile-friendliness has become more important in the last few years with the increased usage of mobile devices. Back in the day, even authoritative websites were having trouble loading properly on phones. They had a broken design, which had an incredibly bad effect on visitors.
Nowadays, some companies go as far as to create a separate version of the site for mobile phones. That way, their most loyal users can access the information without any hindrance. Alternatively, some of them provide apps so you can access their platforms as if you’re using a desktop computer.
· XML sitemaps
A sitemap is a file that shows all pages on your website. Given that all information is compressed and stored in one place, it’s much easier for search engine crawlers to access it. Each time you write a new article, robots will quickly learn about its existence, expediting the ranking process.
· Website structure
The general rule is that website visitors should be able to access any page on your site in just three clicks. Having numerous articles that lead to other articles is usually a bad practice. Instead, they should all be categorized within a few larger sections, based on topic or use, so they’re easily accessible.
Another common SEO strategy is using breadcrumbs. They’re fantastic for tracking steps you make while browsing pages on a website.
More than anything, technical SEO is focused on finding and resolving errors. We use it to asses our accessibility, duplicate content, broken links, and many other factors. Generally speaking, the more complex the website, the more it relies on best technical practices.
Performing a technical audit is especially important for sites that have been hit with a Google penalty. In this case, there was something horribly wrong with your pages, and you have to take manual action to resolve it. Even if you’re not suffering from any issues, performing a periodic checkup is a wise decision.
One of the hardest things to mimic is the style and charisma of certain writers. Similar goes for high-quality information that took weeks and even months to gather. So, even if you were to rewrite a web piece, it can sound completely different from the original. This is why Google puts so much emphasis on content creation.
Having unique, relevant content can easily separate you from the pack. This is especially true when creating studies and white papers, which are almost impossible to replicate fully. All users are driven by quality information, so that’s their main priority during internet browsing.
Aside from article creation, on-site optimization refers to all other related processes. For example, many sites have subpar writers, but they still manage to reach the top of search results through beautiful graphic design. You can also move a needle by having better meta tags and, thus, better click rates.
· Written articles
When we talk about creating content for your site, we primarily refer to article creation. Written posts are still considered the basis for Google optimization, although you can also optimize your pages for image search.
However, not all search queries are made the same. Some of them might be irrelevant to your site, having no impact on topical authority and driving organic traffic that serves no purpose. This is why it’s so important to focus on relevant keywords that can bring potential customers instead of random users.
· Page titles
The page title contains the most important piece of information within an article. It includes our focus keyword, which helps search engines establish what the post is all about.
Aside from that, titles are also crucial for conversion. Well-written titles can significantly improve our click rate by generating curiosity or controversy.
· Internal links
Until recently, internal links were severely underused by the site owners. Nevertheless, they have a major impact on your optimization.
By linking a page with another page, you’re creating a logical structure. This is crucial when making pillar pages and topical clusters. When done properly, interlinking can boost the power of several vital articles on your site. We can use it to transfer authority from less important pieces to more important ones.
Also, links act as guides for search engine crawlers. If an older page is already indexed, you can use a link to send web crawlers toward the new piece hastening indexing.
· Meta tags
We use meta tags in XHTML and HTML documents to provide valuable metadata about a page. We use them to provide valuable info about page content. Meta tags can also be used for mobile page rendering, indexing, character encoding, social sharing, and so on.
In most cases, when an SEO company mentions metadata, they primarily refer to meta and title tags. A title tag is a summarization of the page’s content, while a meta description is a brief excerpt of the article. Although these tags are important for search engines, they’re more vital for users persuading them to click on a result.
It’s hard to have a successful page without visual solutions. Images are a necessity for just about any type of blog post, allowing you to break down blocks of text. Of course, you can also use image graphs to present numbers in a more appealing manner.
Images are also crucial for industries that rely on visuals. The best example of that is fashion, where you have to showcase what specific clothes look like. So, it’s not only about aesthetics but also about relaying information to the end user. Aside from using them to boost written posts, images can also drive traffic.
EAT, or Experience, authority, and trustworthiness, is one of the most important factors for assessing the quality of page content. Although recently revealed, the company has been using it for more than 10 years. EAT concept applies to all search queries across the board.
To reach the top spots in search engine ranking pages, website owners have to provide quality, relevant information. The search engine analyzes the authority of every page and website as a whole. It also evaluates the author’s reputation. On top of that, Google also takes into account the quality and quantity of info provided in the article.
· User experience
User experience is the most intangible part of on-page optimization. It refers to how people interact with our pages and content. Nowadays, user experience is so important for any digital marketing strategy that companies often employ CRO specialists to work in unison with the SEO teams.
As soon as a person lands on our site, Google starts tracking their behavior. It measures how much time they’ve spent on the initial page, how many pages they browsed during a session, whether they clicked on links, etc. The worst thing that can happen is for a person to bounce off a page immediately after opening it.
To get the most from user experience, your pages should be optimized for conversion, and you also need to drive the right website traffic. In other words, you need an effective keyword research strategy and to share your articles on the right platforms.
Off-page SEO involves various processes and actions that are done off a website. When talking about these methods, most people immediately think of link-building. However, off-page optimization can also refer to social media strategies, brand mentions, and managing online reviews.
Nowadays, Google takes into account everything that’s said about our brand online. Every minor mention, link, or share can have a cascading effect on the company. Even if an off-page factor doesn’t have a direct effect on our rankings, it might cause numerous indirect improvements.
· Link building
SEO experts perform link-building to improve the placement of articles within organic search results. Google gives the advantage to content that manages to accrue lots of backlinks from an authoritative source. In the end, if large platforms liked your post and used it as a reference, this should be a good indication of quality.
In practice, a random web page won’t get numerous links without your engagement. In fact, if you’re a small website, most people won’t even know about your existence. So, you need to perform extensive promotional campaigns reaching out to other bloggers and social media accounts. Often, people even pay for this kind of traffic. In addition to outreach campaigns and paid traffic, techniques can be employed for successful link-building strategies. One effective method is to create valuable content in your niche as guest posting. This can also lead to link opportunities while establishing yourself as a thought leader in your field.
Although most SEO agencies focus on links’ optimization benefits, they also provide another major boon. You can use them to drive referral traffic to your website. Keep in mind that dozens of people read posts on large platforms. So, one link can drive enormous amounts of indirect traffic to your site, serving as an excellent promotional tool.
· Local SEO
Local optimization is one of the newest, hottest SEO services. By performing certain actions, you can put a business on Google Maps, allowing users to easily find the company in their neighborhood. Unlike traditional SEO, this type of optimization is crucial for smaller brands that rely on local consumers.
Local optimization starts by adding the company to all major directories, such as Google My Business. You need to add information such as a business address, working hours, phone, etc. It’s imperative to have the same data across the board.
Basic optimization will only show you on the map. But, with some work, the local business might also appear at the top of rich snippets for local services.
· Online mentions
As the name implies, online mentions refer to all mentions of our brand online. Among others, it might also refer to non-follow backlinks. Of course, it depends on the author how they classify each category.
Online mentions can also refer to feedback in Google. Receiving numerous positive online reviews at a fast rate can have a major impact on your local rankings. In fact, reputation management is the backbone of local optimization. Google takes note of these mentions, which might even lead to placement in a rich local snippet.
· Social media
Being mentioned on social media platforms can provide lots of indirect benefits. Although you won’t get a ranking boost as you would get with links, you can reap numerous other perks.
Most notably, sharing your post on social media can increase overall brand awareness. It can put your company in front of people who otherwise don’t read blog posts. That being said, social platforms unlock a new segment of the audience that you couldn’t reach otherwise.
Social media can also help your link-building efforts. If you have lots of followers, each sharing of a post can lead to numerous backlinks to your site.
Lastly, sites like Facebook and Instagram can help drive a highly targeted audience that is more interested in your posts than regular users. These users will have longer and better interactions with your pages, which will increase their performance in search engines.
If you wish to learn more about SEO pillars or need SEO services, contact MiroMind today!