Understanding the 3 Pillars to SEO
The first spot in a Google Search result roughly receives 32% of all clicks. While the first page receives 80% or more of all clicks. Meaning that if you're not on the first page of Google, it's going to be hard to get any clicks at all.
If you want to have a chance of being on the front page of a search result, you just have to implement SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Search engines such as Google are now more advanced than ever before and their algorithms can read and understand your website (and content).
By implementing SEO into your website and its content in the right way, and with a little bit of time, you can be ranking on the first page of Google for the search terms you want!
Which is what we are here to talk about today. There are 3 pillars to SEO that you must implement if you want to get on that first page. Let's take a look!
What Do We Mean By The 3 Pillars To Search Engine Optimization?
SEO is one of the most important aspects of online marketing. Without SEO, your website will likely not be found by your target audience. This is because SEO is the process of optimizing your website and its content so that it appears higher in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
There are 3 pillars to SEO that you must implement in order to rank higher in the SERPs: on-site SEO, technical SEO, and backlinks. Each of these is going to play a critical role in ensuring that you can start ranking in SERPs.
It's important to note that you shouldn't just choose of these pillars to work on, you should work on all three together. They work hand in hand and most likely won't give you any results without implementing on three.
Just like a tricycle needs three wheels to ride, you won't be able to rank without the three pillars.
Let's take a look at each one and how you can implement them into your website.
The First Pillar: On-Site SEO
On-site SEO is the first pillar of SEO and arguably the most important. This is because on-site SEO is all about optimizing your website and its content so that it appears higher in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
Now, the question is: how do you optimize your website and its content so it can actually be found by search engines?
There are a number of different things that you can implement into your website and its content for on-site SEO. Each of these is going to play a critical role in ensuring that all areas of your site. From keywords to alt tags on images, and even meta descriptions. Understanding how to use each one effectively will result in higher rankings.
There are three things to keep in mind when talking about On-site SEO:
- Tags: Setting up your titles, descriptions, images, ext.
- EAT: Expertise, authority, and trust
- Content Writing: Everything that you are writing on your site with appropriate keywords
There are many different aspects of on-site SEO that you need to focus on, but these are going to be the most important. Let's dive into each area of on-site SEO while keeping these three things in mind.
Google has publicly announced that URLs aid them in better comprehending a website's purpose. This is because a URL can contain multiple factors that help Google (when it crawls your site) determine the topic of a page.
For example, if you have a URL that contains the keyword you're targeting, that's going to tell Google that your page is about that keyword. If you have a URL with the same structure as your domain name, that's going to tell Google that your site is about the same topic as your domain name.
Title Tags and Meta Descriptions
Meta titles and descriptions are one of the most important on-page SEO factors. They appear in search results as a headline which helps give users an idea of what your site is about.
The easiest way to ensure that you have these set up correctly is ensuring that they both match what's being talked about on the page. So, if a page is talking about X, make sure that it has a meta title and description about X!
Also, keep them short and simple with a clear CTA. Try to have them done in under 160 characters.
Images and Alt Tags
Alt tags are extremely important because when Google crawls your website it can't see images. To provide context around images, alt tags add descriptive text to help clarify what each image contains.
This is a good place to include your keywords, but only if it is relevant to the image. So try to find an image that is directly relevant to your content so that you can include that keyword.
Structured data markup (Schema) helps search engines better understand your content by providing them with information that they can index. Structured data is a way to provide additional details about specific types of content throughout your site.
If you have a product page that provides things such as the pricing, availability, etc. If you don't provide Google with this information via HTML, Google may not be able to understand it. So it's critical you include this, especially if you are in e-commerce.
Keywords are important aspects of on-page SEO. They are the words that you want to target to rank for in search results. With over 85K searches each second on Google, you want to make sure you've included a couple of popular ones.
There is a fine line between including your keywords and keyword stuffing though. Keyword stuffing will only hurt your rankings while putting your site at risk of being penalized because it doesn't provide any value to users.
Keywords are important, but make sure that they are used naturally throughout your content while making sense of what you're talking about.
Headers and Copy
Headers and copy play a huge role in on-site SEO. This is because headers help break up large chunks of text into smaller, easier-to-digest sections. So you don't want to have random blocks of content with no headings or titles.
It doesn't stop there though, this is where you are going to want to include your main keywords. Starting with the most important, H1 should be your first header, H2 for all of your other main headers, and you can use H3, H4, ext. where appropriate.
You'll also want to include the keyword that you used in the header, under it within the content. Usually within the first 100 words is most recommended.
Quality and Value
When it comes to SEO, it's not just about cramming in keywords and hoping for the best. You also need to focus on providing quality and valuable content for your website. This is what's going to keep people coming back for more, and it's also what Google looks for when determining whether or not to rank your site.
So how do you go about providing quality content? It starts with understanding your audience and what they want to read. Once you know that, you can start creating content that is relevant and helpful to them.
You also need to make sure that your content is well-written and easy to read. Nobody wants to slog through a bunch of text that doesn't make sense.
Lastly, make sure that you're going back and reviewing your content. Look at the words that you used, how many times a keyword has been repeated, and try to cut down on any filler words. You don't want fluff (sentences that aren't providing value to the reader)
Tags, EAT, and Content
As we mentioned earlier, these are the three things you want to work on for on-site SEO. Everything we just went over is going to have an effect on these three things so that Google will start to trust you.
Over time, you'll start to build authority and Google will start to notice and start putting you in front of the competition that wasn't implementing this SEO strategy.
The Second Pillar: Technical SEO
If you're asking yourself what is technical SEO, you're not alone. Unless you are already an SEO expert, you may have never even heard of it. Technical SEO is fairly simple though, and you don't need to be an SEO guru to implement or understand it.
Technical SEO refers to the technical aspects of your website that Google needs to crawl, index, and rank for relevant results. As an example: if you have an HTTPS site vs an HTTP site, this may affect how well you rank in and other factors such as mobile-friendliness.
In a nutshell, it's improving the elements of your website. Now let's take a look at everything that affects technical SEO and how you can improve on them!
How fast your website loads is an important aspect of technical SEO. Things such s your web design, page elements, hosting, and more will affect its speed. A website should strive to load in no more than 2 seconds. Otherwise, your bounce rate is likely to increase by 32%.
People are impatient, so if you don't have a fast-loading site, you could be losing potential customers.
Not only that, but Google will do a speed test of their own on your site. Google is going to promote websites that are faster because they want people to get the best experience possible. A slow-loading site doesn't provide a good experience!
If your page is taking too long to load it could be due to several factors. You can take a speed test here to help you determine what the issue may be.
Google announced back in 2015 that they are now giving mobile-friendliness just as much weight as content and links. Part of this is because more searches are being done through mobile devices, so it's important that your site is optimized for them!
It's not just about having a responsive theme either, Google has also published recommendations on how to optimize your site for mobile users including their suggestions.
Mobile optimization covers things such as page elements, ease of navigation, responsiveness, etc.
Search engines look at your website through what they call, crawling or spiders. They essentially are walking through your whole website and reviewing it. They'll take note of everything from your content, links, structure, errors, and everything else.
So you want to make sure that Google doesn't have any issues when it crawls your website. Does everything on your site load correctly and in a timely manner?
As an example, if you have a 404 error on your site, this is going to cause issues. Not only is the page not going to show up when someone searches for it, but Google isn't going to be able to crawl all of its pages either. This makes your overall indexing drop which lowers how well you rank overall.
This goes beyond just having a broken link though. Proper response codes are also important.
For instance, if everything on your site loads successfully except that one page that keeps giving a 500 internal server error then Google isn't going to be able to properly crawl your site! Fix any issues that could pose a problem for Google to crawl.
It's important to avoid having duplicate content on your site. If you have different URLs with the same content, Google can get confused from duplicate content and you don't want that!
It won't know which one to rank higher if they are the same. This could also lead to them both ranking lower. Not only will this confuse Google though. This can also confuse your visitors.
You want to avoid having duplicate content on your site in order to prevent confusion, maintain relevancy in search results, and more.
Having a website is essentially handing out your home address. You wouldn't have people knowing where you live so why would you want to give that information away on the internet?
It's important to have a secured website with SSL and HTTPS in order to protect your visitor's privacy and Google will notice this as well!
Google has said that SSL is just another ranking signal, not the most important factor but it does play an additional role. It shows that you are taking care of your site and protecting users.
An XML sitemap is a list of all pages of your site. It serves as a roadmap for search engines on your site. With it, you'll make sure search engines won't miss any important content on your site.
You should have one in the main directory of your website and it's easy to set up through Google Webmaster Tools or other similar tools to help guide you along.
You want to be sure that you are providing information about what's available on your website so that search engine bots can crawl it efficiently.
The Thirds Pillar: Backlinks
When it comes to SEO, you want to focus on building quality backlinks. What exactly are they though? Backlinks are simply links that point to your website from another website. They help promote your blog or site just by being hyperlinks to you from another source. Easy enough, right? Well, not so fast. When it comes to backlinks, quality matters.
In order for them to be of value, they have to provide something of value.
Quality Backlinks, Domain Authority, and Spam Score
While it's important to have a good number of backlinks, it's even more important to focus on quality. Quantity is important but if the links you have aren't providing any value to your website or blog, then they're not going to do you any good.
That's why it's so important to make sure that you're getting links from high-quality websites. Not only will this help improve your SEO ranking and visibility, but it will also help legitimize your site.
In order for backlinks to be effective, they need to come from reputable and high-authority websites. This is what is known as domain authority.
Domain authority (DA) is a metric created by Moz that measures the strength of a website to rank on search engines. It's used by marketers, SEO specialists, and search engine bots to gauge the popularity of websites.
On top of DA, you should also pay attention to a websites' spam score (SS). The spam score is measured by Google's algorithm to determine the quality of the website backlinks. You don't want your website to be associated with another website that has a high SS. A high spam score then leads to your backlink being devalued.
Do-Follow and No-Follow Links
There are two types of backlinks you can have: do-follow and no-follow.
Do-Follow - These links will pass on website strength through the link that is being shared with another site (this is what you want).
No-Follow - These links won't pass on website strength but still provide a visitor with the option to visit your site by being linked. This is great for branding as well as making sure visitors can still find you. However, this means nothing for your SEO.
As mentioned before, both of these kinds of backlinks are important but only a do-follow provides SEO value.
It's important to never buy backlinks because this can be looked upon unfavorably by Google and will hurt your site in the long run. So, how do you get more of these types of backlinks?
How to Get Backlinks
The best way to build high-quality backlinks is through influencers and outreach. You can either make friends with relevant people or reach out to them if they have a post relevant to yours.
If you want, you can offer them something in return like a guest post on your blog or a link from their website (depending on whether they're allowed to). This is very effective and the best way to gain backlinks.
However, this process can be long and tedious. Working with a marketing agency is highly recommended as they have the process down and most likely already have a list of high-quality websites.
How Not To Get Backlinks
There are several ways that you should not go about gaining backlinks. Here are two of the most important to remember.
Buying Backlinks: Every single SEO expert will advise against doing this because it is seen as very unethical and against Google guidelines. Not only does it leave you with no way to develop any kind of authority but buying links can also lead to your site being banned.
Spamming Links: This is considered even worse than buying links because spamming links is a sort of "black hat" technique that can damage your reputation. It's not natural to see 100 backlinks happen overnight and Google will notice.
Backlinks are still an important part of SEO in 2022, even though it is just one factor. Quality backlinks are effective but quantity doesn't hurt either (as long as it's not done in an unethical way).
It's important to build up a good number of quality backlinks because this helps improve your site's visibility and authority, which makes it easier for you to rank better on search engines.
Backlinks will build your DA, increase your ranking in SERPs, help you create stronger business relationships, and bring in more traffic from other sites.
Implementing SEO For Your Website or Business
In today's competitive online marketplace, it is more important than ever for your business to work on search engine optimization. Having a strong SEO campaign can help bring in new customers and make sure you rank well on Google searches.
We've discussed the importance of backlinks as one way marketers have found success with SEO campaigns, but you'll also need to implement on-site SEO, as well as technical SEO.
If you're looking for a reputable company to partner with in order to create an effective SEO strategy or if you want help implementing these principles into your own marketing plan, contact us today! We would love to work together so that we could see your website rise up through SERPs.