Effective search engine optimisation (SEO) can be complex but at its core, there are four key elements that every strategy should encompass.
There is an argument to be made that SEO strategies can very quickly become overly complicated. A quick Google search for ranking factors will throw up myriad results and it can be easy to find yourself lost amongst the streams of algorithmic information that might not even be wholly relevant to your business.
As SEO doesn’t need to be impossibly complicated, this article will look at the four pillars of a powerful SEO strategy which should help you to determine where you should be focusing your efforts.
A Brief Overview of the Four Pillars of SEO
- Technical SEO: This will determine how effectively your content can be indexed by search engines.
- Content: Great content ensures that you always deliver the highest quality and most relevant answers to every question posed by your prospective customers.
- On-Site SEO: Content needs to be fully optimised to secure maximum search visibility.
- Off-Site SEO: Google only wants to recommend the highest quality websites to its users. You must, therefore, build your reputation as an authoritative site that will effectively answer queries and deliver positive user experiences.
Let’s look at each one of these areas in a little more detail.
The term technical SEO might initially appear to be somewhat daunting, but when we boil it down it is simply the process of ensuring that search engine crawlers can efficiently explore your website and read your content. This can involve a lot of things, depending on how well your site has been built and hosted.
The primary points of consideration here are:
- Can a search engine efficiently explore your site?
- Is it clear which pages should be crawled and indexed?
- Is your website mobile friendly?
- Do your pages load efficiently?
- Have you structured your content in a logical, easy to explore way?
Many elements of technical SEO are integral to your website design and development process. A good web developer will have a solid understanding, not only of how to design a site that is highly intuitive and engaging but one that is highly optimised and discoverable.
A fully optimised website begins with a solid structure. From here, running through individual site-level optimisation processes should be a relatively straightforward process. There are a variety of on-site optimisation elements to consider, the primary ones being:
In addition to demonstrating an understanding of the language that your target audience uses, integrating relevant keywords into your content will help you to rank well for important search terms and phrases.
Page titles and meta descriptions
Important keywords should be integrated into page titles and meta descriptions should be shaped to drive clicks. Visitors will use this information to decide whether to click through to your website, which is why it is so important to represent your content accurately.
Clear Calls-To-Action (CTAs)
Calls to action (CTAs) must always be clear to your users which steps they should take next to obtain the information they are looking for. Engaging with your website should always be a positive and intuitive experience and on-site optimisation will ensure that your site is a joy to browse and contains the information they were promised when conducting their initial search.
Content really is king when it comes to SEO and poor quality or thin content will hamper your efforts, so investing in this is crucial. Your content should clearly tell your prospective customers who you are, what you do and why your business is the right choice for their needs.
For many businesses, content strategies can be broken down into three core categories:
- Service content: which will explain the fundamentals of what your business does. Category, product and service pages all come under this.
- Credibility content: also known as thought leadership content, this will largely live on your blog and should showcase your expertise and knowledge of your industry.
- Marketing content: this will help you to position your business as an authoritative voice within your field and ensure that your potential customers know who you are.
Content strategies are scalable and can deliver a significant return on investment (ROI) when implemented correctly. In addition to ensuring that the content you are creating is relevant, interesting and valuable, thoroughly optimising it will help you to drive additional high-quality, convertible traffic to your website.
Links to any website are seen as markers of authority to Google. Building your authority relies, therefore, in deploying a safe but effective link building strategy. This is widely regarded as one of the trickiest element of SEO to perfect but the fact of the matter is that links are a key part of establishing strong organic rankings.
Establishing a link strategy will help you to make the right link building decisions because it can be very easy to get caught up on quantity over quality. Instead, quality is of paramount importance here and you might find it helpful to focus only on linking to the pages that really merit it.
Natural links will deliver additional context and act as key connection points between valuable pieces of content. Focusing on building links that make sense is key but you must always begin by creating content that truly deserves the links.