Search engines don’t only assess the quality and relevance of the content. They also take into account the website’s technological elements. That’s because they aim to give a fantastic customer experience, not just answers. So to best understand SEO, we view them as the 4 pillars of SEO and then dive deeper into understanding them from there onward.
The 4 Pillars of SEO
Let’s now break into each of the four pillars of SEO to better understand the role of SEO, the 4 pillars are technical SEO, on-page SEO, content SEO, and off-page SEO.
1. Technical SEO: Makes Your Discoverable
Technical SEO makes it easier for search engine bots to discover, crawl, and index your pages. They display the results to users who are most likely to click on them as a result.
Additionally, some elements of this kind of optimization enhance the user experience on your website as a whole.
Because they want consumers to be satisfied with the results they see in the SERPs, search engines are concerned about UX. Make sure your website complies with the fundamental technical standards and the 4 SEO pillars as a whole. If not, the system can pass over your pages in favour of others that provide users with a better experience.
Many technical SEO concerns are automatically handled by contemporary CMS systems like WordPress, and you can also take care of the remaining ones with the aid of plugins.
When taking care of technical SEO, consider the following factors:
Elements of Technical SEO
- Website Structure
All of the pages you want the bots to crawl should be accessible to them. If you do not want certain pages to be included in the index, include them in a robots.txt file. Bots may still crawl these pages, but they will not be indexed or displayed in search results.
These can include service pages, pages with little or no content, duplicates, private pages, and so on.
- A sitemap is the best way to ensure that bots find and index all of the pages you want them to. This is a list of the URLs of the pages, along with the number of images on each and the date the page was last modified/updated.
- A Seo plugin, such as Yoast or Rank math, can generate a sitemap for WordPress websites.
- Because the majority of content is now consumed on mobile devices, search engines work hard to provide users with pages that look good on screens of all shapes and sizes.
- Google has shifted to a mobile-first indexing strategy. This means that, while desktop-only websites may not be removed from search engine indexes, they are unlikely to be displayed to users on mobile devices. This may have a negative impact on their overall ranking.
- Search engines prefer websites that are quick and simple to navigate. For good reason, speed is one of the most important page experience signals.
- Online users have little patience for slow-loading websites and are more likely to click on the next link in the SERPs if the one they click on takes too long to load. As a result, when the algorithm decides which pages to show the user, it prioritizes the faster ones.
- In line with this, you should also optimize your core web vitals, which are a set of page experience signals that indicate a page’s loading speed, interactivity, and visual stability.
The organization of pages on your website – the homepage, top-level pages, subpages, and so on – is known as website structure, also known as website information architecture. Complex website structures have the potential to confuse both bots and visitors, causing them to abandon their search for what they are looking for.
2. On-Page SEO: Makes Your Pages Understandable
While technical SEO is concerned with the design and backend of your website, on-page SEO, the second pillar of SEO (also known as on-site SEO) is concerned with the content of individual pages.
This type of optimization increases the likelihood that bots will understand what your pages are about. As a result, they can better index them, resulting in more relevant queries appearing in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) that users are more likely to click on.
The more additional information you can provide – organized and presented in a readable format – the better your pages will be understood.
Here are the main factors to consider when optimizing your pages:
Elements of On-page SEO
- Page Title (H1)
- H-Tages ( H2, H3…)
- URL slugs
- Meta description
- Image alt text
- Internal Links
- Structured Data
A relevant title of up to 70 characters should be used for the page. Also, make certain that you optimise it with the main keywords you intend to target. If your title does not match the content of the page, the algorithm may generate a different one to display in the SERPs.
The URL slug is the part of the link that comes after the main domain and the category and is unique to each page on your website.
Avoid generic slugs that are only numbers and symbols, or are too general and consist of one or two words.
Descriptive URLs that include the main keywords and parts of the headline are beneficial to both SEO and UX.
Meta descriptions are brief summaries of the page’s content that appear in search engine results alongside the page title and link. The character limit is 155 here.
If you do not provide a description, the search engine will generate one for you. It’s usually the first 155 characters of the page’s content.
Using H-tags to divide the content on the page improves structure and readability. This makes it easier to understand not only for bots but also for your visitors.
These subheadings are recognized by search engines (as well as bullets and numbering). Bots, for example, can use H-tags to generate special results such as featured snippets.
Keywords help you match your content to the user’s query and intent.
The main keywords for the page should be used in the headline, subheadings, meta description, URL, and throughout the text. However, don’t overdo it because keyword stuffing not only sounds unnatural and irritating, but it can also result in a Google penalty. Use synonyms, keyword variations, and related keywords on relevant subtopics to broaden your search terms. This demonstrates to the bots that you are researching various aspects of the topic and providing comprehensive information.
Image Alt Text
Images’ alt text is used to describe their content.
It has more than one advantage in SEO. It increases accessibility, demonstrating that you are providing a good user experience. Furthermore, it allows bots to better understand what’s on your image.
Furthermore, if there is a problem rendering the image, the page may display the alt text and the image file name instead of a blank space.
Alt text is used to describe the content of images.
It has more than one benefit in SEO. It improves accessibility, demonstrating that you are providing a good user experience. Furthermore, it enables bots to better understand what is on your image. In addition, if there is a problem rendering the image, the page may display the alt text and the image file name instead of a blank space.
Structured data and schema markup are two of SEO’s most valuable assets. Simply put, by marking up your pages, you provide search engines with organised information about the most important data about a page that they need to know. This reduces the possibility of bots misinterpreting the page’s purpose and content.
But wait, there’s more. Rich snippets are generated by the search algorithm using structured data. They are search results with additional information, images, review stars, prices, and other page-specific details. These SERP links are highly clickable and can increase traffic and engagement.
3. Content: Provide Value (arguably the most critical pillar)
Regardless of how well you optimise your pages and the technical aspects of your website, the most important component of your efforts will always be high-quality content. The purpose of search engines is to deliver the information that users are looking for. Google’s content criteria have evolved in tandem with its algorithm. It’s safe to assume that if your content is of low quality, it will eventually drop out of the SERPs.
Here are the factors to consider to meet both Google’s and the audience’s expectations:
Elements of Content
- Expertise, Authority, Trustworthiness (EAT)
- Mobile Friendliness
The author and/or publisher of the content must be a verified expert in their field with significant authority, credibility, and respectability in the industry.
Furthermore, the website where the content is published must provide clear information about who is behind it (whether it is a person or a company) and maintain a positive online reputation. All of this contributes to the information on the page is accurate, credible, and useful.
The content must be pertinent to the user’s query. This means that when you optimize for specific keywords, you must provide information that is relevant to the keywords and useful to the users who search for them.
As previously stated, the content must also be consistent with the headline; otherwise, it will be deemed misleading, so no clickbait.
Long-form content is frequently preferred by search engines. This is because, when written well, it provides the user with more relevant information and allows them to find everything they need in one place. As a result, when creating your content, you should investigate the related subtopics. This is done so that you can include all of the information that may assist the user in better understanding the topic. You also help search engines understand what the content is about by mentioning related topics and subtopics.
This is due to the on the Knowledge Graph –, which is a database of entities with basic information about them and how they are related to one another.
The freshness of content is frequently related to its accuracy and credibility. Google strives to provide the most recent relevant pages and even displays dates content was written/saved into its index. This means that even if you publish evergreen content, you should revisit it and update it with more recent information on a regular basis.
Pages with a variety of content, such as text, graphics, images, tables, videos, audio, and so on, are more engaging to users and, as a result, contribute to better SEO.
However, avoid overcrowding the page. This can have an effect on the loading speed. All multimedia content should be included because it adds value and may be useful to the visitor.
Yes, the Call-to-action buttons may appear out of place in this list, but they are very important. They invite (or push) the user to continue their journey on your website, resulting in users clicking on more of your links and spending more time on your website. The more engaged the user is, the better the impression the bots get.
When discussing technical SEO, we already mentioned mobile-friendliness. However, optimizing your page layouts and making your content mobile-friendly are not synonymous. Your content should have enough white space, short sentences and paragraphs, a lot of subheadings and bullets, and simple enough vocabulary to be visually appealing and easy to read on a small screen.
4. Off-Page SEO: Speaks to Your Authority
Off-page SEO is the last but not least of the four SEO pillars. Off-page SEO, also known as off-site SEO, refers to the outside factors that affect your presence in the SERPs
Elements of Off-Page SEO
- Local Search
- Social Media Presence
- Reputation Management
Backlinks are critical for SEO, and they are frequently cited as the most important factor determining your success in the SERPs.
This is because these are links from other websites to yours, and Google considers them to be the highest form of recommendation. Why? They indicate that a third party thinks your content is valuable enough that it wants its readers to see it. The more backlinks a page has, the more authoritative it becomes.
However, while quantity is always beneficial, the quality and relevance of these links are what really matters.
Furthermore, links from authoritative websites are far more valuable than links from unpopular or low-quality domains. High-authority links transfer link equity (or, more colloquially, “link juice”) and can increase the authority of your own pages. This means that when building backlinks, you should always prioritize those that will help your page’s visibility. Avoid opportunities that will simply waste your time and resources by clicking on every link you can find.
SEO relies heavily on online reputation. What others say about you can mean the difference between success and failure. Third-party website and platform reviews form the foundation of your digital reputation. Although you have no control over what others say about you, you should always strive to respond to all reviews, good and bad.
Engaging with people who have left a negative opinion about your company allows you to try to make amends and improve their perception of you. As a result, they might reconsider. Even if they don’t, it’s courteous. It can also influence how others perceive you – as someone who is concerned about the quality of their services.
Monitor brand mentions as well, and try to stay ahead of negative backlash. Use Google Alerts, and social listening tools to keep track of what people are saying about you.
If you are a local business with a small audience, optimizing your Google My Business profile can help your overall SEO significantly. You can include not only a link to your website, your address, and a map of your physical location, but also images, answers to questions, and relevant information. Reviews, as previously stated, are also an important feature.
You should also try to get listed in local directories. These backlinks are not very valuable. Your presence in these listings, on the other hand, can boost your reputation and credibility, bringing in significant traffic.
Creating profiles on all social media platforms can have an impact on your credibility. Do your best even if you are not active on one of the popular platforms. Make a profile and send a message to potential customers. They can find you on other channels where you are more active this way.
Why are you doing this? Search engines consider third-party platform profiles to be proof of your existence and credibility. Social media platforms, along with your physical address, phone number, email address, and other personal information, confirm that you are a real person.
There are three key factors to remember when working with SEO and the four SEO pillars.
- Firstly, remember that search robots can find and comprehend your sites.
- Second, these robots that crawl your website think you are knowledgeable enough about the subject to allow users to see your content.
- Thirdly, keep in mind that a human person visiting your website must be able to find the information they’re looking for.
Overall, ranking high on search engines may boost your company’s credibility in the eyes of potential customers. Now because the effects of SEO are long-lasting, the benefits of a successful SEO campaign can last for months or even years after it is implemented.
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