4 pillars of SEO: Increase website ranking with these SEO pillars

For any successful SEO strategy to work, webmasters will need to utilize the four pillars of SEO. The 4 pillars of SEO are:

  1. Technical SEO
  2. Content Writing
  3. On-site SEO
  4. Off-site SEO

These SEO pillars all have an important role in a website’s SEO success on search engines. Each pillar helps satisfy a different component of search engine algorithms such as: providing value to the reader, being trustworthy and authoritative, and meeting the technical requirements of the core web vitals.

No matter if you are an SEO expert or a website owner building your website for the first time, these pillars are easy to implement. Moreover, to ensure that you reach your SEO objectives and goals you should consider the 4 SEO pillars as a complete package and not stand-alone pillars. If you utilize each of the pillars, you will have the best chance of ranking well on SERPs and increasing website traffic.

The overall process can be broken up into two distinct pillars: the content pillar and the SEO pillar. As SEO is an important component of the pillar strategy, let’s first discuss what search engine optimization is.

What Is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?

To understand the 4 pillars of SEO, it is essential that we start with search engine optimization (SEO) basics. SEO is the steps taken to improve a website’s visibility on search engines like Google, Bing, Baidu as well as others. These steps include three major elements: on-page optimization, off-page optimization as well as technical SEO components.

These three elements will directly influence the visibility of a website in search engine results pages (SERPs). Whereas, by building a website correctly with these SEO building blocks a website then has the highest chance of meeting the demands of search engine algorithms as well as search users.

SEO, if done adequately, can increase a website’s performance on search engines, which will result in a better ranking on SERPs. This then will lead to more organic traffic and the potential to attract highly motivated customers to the website. To ensure you have a sound digital marketing strategy, it is essential to know everything about the different types of SEO. 

How does SEO work

Now that we know what SEO is, we should discuss how exactly it works. We will use Google for our examples as it commands approximately 90% of the search engine users. However, much of the information for Google will apply to other search engines like Bing as well.

Google uses bots known as crawlers or spiders to crawl websites and their pages. These spiders will scan websites, going from one page to the next, collecting information about the page and its content. After these crawlers have collected information they will begin parsing through it to understand exactly the purpose of each piece of content. 

More specifically, the crawler is looking to understand what search intent, or search query the content matches. Whereas, the spider needs to understand which questions or topics the content seeks to provide answers to and if it does a good job answering them. 

After the crawler has scanned the page it will decide whether to index the page or not. The goal of every website is to get its pages indexed by Google. Without being indexed by search engines, a website’s pages and posts will not be displayed to searchers while they are looking for answers, services, or products.

Google is a library of websites – Make sure it indexes you:

You can think of being indexed, as being placed in a large library. A library that keeps track of every website or the internet. Let’s take an example.

Google is a librarian, which has millions of students (searchers) looking for books on specific topics and areas of interest to them. These searchers then enter phrases or keywords to inform Google what they are looking for. Google then takes that information and combs through its repository of website pages, news articles, documents, videos, and posts to find a piece of content that will provide them with content it believes will match their search intent or query the best.

In order for Google to be the best librarian around, it relies heavily on search engine algorithms to analyze the content in its index, as well as possible content to add to the index. These algorithms are complex and always changing, with reports showing that it changes over 500 times per year. They are made up of on-page, off-page, and technical signals to determine how the respective page will rank for a particular query. 

These signals are well known by Google and they use them to evaluate and rank every website in its library (multiple times usually), so it can provide the searcher with the most relevant and comprehensive answer it has.

Make SEO and Google work for you

To get the most out of Google you will need to use the four pillars of SEO to provide clues and information to Google (our librarian) so it can fully understand our website’s content. These clues provide search engines with a deeper insight into the topic of the content, its credibility and authority of it, and if it is worth displaying in Google SERPs or not. 

In order to have Google display our content, we need to ensure our 4 pillars and SEO are on point. The good news about our librarian is that it is very giving – if we make SEO work for us.

To make SEO work for us we need to provide Google the librarian with ample information and clues about our content. This can include robust and in-depth content, keywords, backlinks, and a great user experience. These are all different elements of our pillars that we cover in detail below. 

Ultimately, these elements will contribute to a web page ranking well. Ranking well means that the site will get additional website traffic, and receive a higher quality of visitors altogether. The great part about this is that getting ranked on Google’s SERPs is free and doesn’t cost the website anything, unlike paid search ads. 

Moreover, when it comes to comparing ads to organic traffic, organic traffic time and time again receives more clicks than ads. If free traffic, a higher quality of visitors, and a better click-through rate don’t convince you to start using SEO, I am not sure what will.

To sum up how SEO works, it is the positive signals that you are building into your website to tell Google exactly what your web page is about. Google will then crawl, index and rank your website with its bots (spiders) by using its algorithm to understand the page’s content, it’s quality and depth, as well as overall value. In the end, if Google determines that the content it crawled matches a user intent and does a better job at answering the search query than your competitor, it will rank the page better than theirs. Resulting in better visibility and more organic visitors.

The 4 Pillars of SEO

Let’s break SEO into its most relevant parts – the 4 pillars of SEO. In order to build a strong website that will rank well, and be sustainable while doing so, you will have to make sure the foundation is set from the beginning. In order to do that, Clear Door SEO believes (and we practice it) that the 4 pillars of SEO are the following:

4 Pillars of SEO: technical SEO, content writing, on-page SEO, off-page SEO
The 4 pillars of SEO are: Technical SEO, Content, On-Site SEO, and Off-Site SEO
  1. Technical SEO: Is the portion of SEO that focuses on optimizing the website and server for search engines to more easily crawl and index the website’s pages.
  2. Content writing: Content is used throughout the website to provide information to the reader. It helps describe the website’s purpose and intent. Content is what is optimized through SEO to rank in search engines. Although this is point number two, make no mistake: Content is still King!
  3. On-Site SEO: On-site SEO or on-page SEO, are the processes that are used to optimize the user-facing elements on a website. These processes typically include optimizing elements such as meta descriptions, title tags, interlinking, and using keywords.
  4. Off-Site SEO: Off-page SEO or off-site SEO is the process undertaken to optimize elements that are not located on the actual website. Moreover, these are typically components that include building backlinks, citations (great for local SEO), social shares, and reviews for your website. All these send positive signals to search engines about a website’s content, credibility, and authority.

All of these elements play an essential role in ensuring that a website is well structured and can be indexed by search engines. Moreover, these elements help get the website indexed, as well as contribute to the website’s overall ranking on search engines. 

The rest of this post will describe each of the 4 pillars of SEO, and provide you with enough knowledge to start building a successful website.

Pillar 1 – Technical SEO:

We have put technical SEO #1 on our list of 4 pillars as it is the foundation of every website. If the technical part of a website is not done right, it can severely affect its ability to get indexed and ranked. Luckily, there is no reason to be worried as most technical SEO components are easy to implement and only need to be done periodically. 

We like to joke that – technical SEO is the most crucial part of a website. Until it isn’t. 

What we mean by this is, that if you treat your technical SEO as the foundation of your website, you really only need to do it once. Just like building a house, you first make sure that the foundation is strong and capable of supporting the rest of the house above it. After that, you only need to monitor it occasionally to make sure it is still functioning correctly. It’s the same with your website.

Therefore, make sure that you put the time and energy into the correct technical mechanisms from the beginning. Let’s now dive into what Technical SEO is.

What is Technical SEO?

Technical SEO is all the little things you do at the beginning to make sure that your website and server are optimized in order to help search engines crawl and index your site more effectively. These elements will be the basis of your website’s ranking.

Why is technical SEO important?

Technical SEO is essential as it ensures that the correct elements are in place and correct to allow search engines to find, crawl and index your content in the most effective way. Therefore, no matter if you have the best, most in-depth content that meets the user’s intent exactly if Google can’t see it and read it, no one will be able to find it.

Technical SEO will allow your site to be found, crawled, and indexed by Google. Meaning that search engine users will be able to find it as well.

To help ensure you have the best technical SEO elements in place, make sure to follow the following suggestions:

Implement SSL

First things first: Security. The security of your website is not only important to its users but also to search engines as well. SSL, or Secure Sockets Layer, provides a layer of protection between the server and the person browsing the site. This layer or SSL is what makes your website secure from attacks. For users and customers, this means that they can feel comfortable submitting payment and contact information as it is less likely to get stolen or hacked.

Typically, you will be able to see a ‘lock’ in the URL bar of your browser that indicates that the site is indeed secure – see the image below. Another way to know that a website is secure is if the address starts with https:// as opposed to anything else like just www or http://.

image showing what SSL and a secure site look like as a part of the 4 pillars of SEO
Website security is an essential component to technical SEO

Search engines prioritize secure sites — in fact, Google announced as early as 2014 that SSL would be considered a ranking factor. Because of this, be sure to set the SSL variant of your homepage as your preferred domain.

The first thing you should do is check for the lock on your website. The next thing you will want to check is that all of the variants of your webpage are redirected back to the secure version. To check the status of your site you can use site checker’s free tool.

Optimize Page Speed

After you ensure that your website is secure, make sure it is fast! Site speed and page load speed impact two main components of your website:

  1. The first component is the bounce rate. Studies show that the average website visitor will wait six seconds for a website to load before they leave it. Moreover, data shows that the bounce rate will increase by a staggering 90% when a page load time increases from one to five seconds.
  2. The second component is that Google puts significant weight on page load speed, making it one of their most important ranking factors.

To help optimize your site speed we have come up with four quick tips:

  • Make sure to compress your images and aim for small image size (under 150kb). Additionally, the images should have a defined width and height before placing them on your webpage. Having these ratios and the image size defined, will do wonders for site load speed. 
  • Monitor the redirects that are on your website. One or two will be ok, but having to redirect multiple pages across all of your websites, will result in a heavy load for your server. Negatively impacting its processing speed and load time. If redirects are needed, you will need to use a WordPress plugin or an HTML redirect.
  • Plugins can take a toll on your site speed. Having multiple plugins or outdated versions of them may leave your site open to attacks as well as negatively impact load speed. It is crucial that you limit the number of plugins, keep them updated, and only download them from trusted sources to maximize your website’s performance.
  • Content distribution networks (CDNs) can help speed up your site if you plan on serving a large geographic area with your products or services. CDNs are web servers in different geographic regions that store copies of your website, for distribution to browsers. This allows for a faster load time as the server closest to the request will provide the user with a copy of your website.

Now that we have a site that is secure against hackers, and loads fast for our users no matter where they are, let’s get our pages found and crawled by search engines.

Website Crawlability

The crawlability of your website is everything. It will be the main make-or-break element of your website. If your website can’t be found and indexed, no one will be able to access your services and products. 

We need to make sure that the spiders can crawl through your web pages and gather all the necessary information in order to rank them. However, if you block crawlers from accessing your pages, either knowingly or unknowingly, your site won’t be indexed or ranked for any search queries. 

Since crawlability is everything, let’s look at how to make sure Google can find your site, can access all the pages, and give your site the best chance of getting indexed and ranked!

1. Create an XML sitemap.

To ensure Google knows about and has access to a site, a webmaster should submit an XML sitemap to Google Search Console. A sitemap is a structured list that shows all of your pages and posts in an organized manner that is easy for the search engine to read and navigate through.

In other words – it is the map to your entire website. You should monitor your sitemap and ensure that you submit your XML sitemap to Google Search Console. Submitting a sitemap to Search Console will help Google find and crawl new pages on your site quicker and easier.

Just remember that the sitemap will constantly be changing as you add and remove various pages from your site. So make sure to keep an eye on it!

2. Maximize your crawl budget.

Now that Google Search Console has your sitemap, and is getting ready to crawl it, we need to make sure we wisely use our crawl budget. The crawl budget refers to the pages and resources on your site search bots crawl which will be taken away from your ‘crawl budget’. It doesn’t actually cost anything to have Google crawl your site, however, Google has a lot of websites to crawl and read, so the amount of time they can spend on yours is limited.

In order to ensure that you get the most out of your crawl budget, and Google finds everything that it should, check out these 6 tips: 

  1. Remove duplicate pages. You can also canonicalize them, but this is a little more advanced
  2. Ensure that you don’t have any broken links or 404 pages. These are like dead ends for crawlers
  3. Monitor your crawl status on Google Search Console to see for any irregular increases or decreases
  4. Ensure that the bots and pages you have blocked or meant to be blocked. We don’t want to accidentally block one of our most important pages from being crawled and indexed
  5. Get rid of all old and out-of-date content. Tip, if you focus on evergreen content, you can make sure your content always stays relevant!
  6. Monitor any dynamically generated URLs that may multiply your overall number of pages

3. Optimize your site architecture.

Websites have multiple pages, interlinked and layered upon each other. It can become confusing for your users as well as search engines if they are not organized well. Organizing your pages into a well-thought-out structure will make it easier for search engine crawlers to locate and crawl through the entire website. The website structure is often referred to as its ‘information architecture’. 

For example, related pages will be grouped together and organized under a certain ‘node’. The easiest way to think about this is to consider a family tree. At the very top of the tree is where the family (website) begins. As new generations (pages and posts) emerge, they will be organized under their respective parent pages. And so forth and so on. Having this family tree for your website will help indicate relationships between pages, posts, and topics.

The site architecture should also indicate the importance of each page in relation to the home page, or another main page. Thinking about the family tree example again, the closer you are to someone on the tree, the deeper the connection and the more importance you will put on the relationship. In website terms, this means that the closer Page 1 is to your homepage the more links that page will probably have. 

With more links, comes more Page Authority or link equity being passed between the two. Depending on how you structure your website will depend on how the link juice will flow throughout it and to certain pages – this is an important concept when it comes to domain authority.

Search engines will pick up on the structure as well as how link equity flows throughout your website. Whereas, the more link equity and Page Authority a page has, the higher Google will value it and consider it to be a ‘significant’ component of your overall site.

4. Set a URL structure.

Continuing with the theme of building a good site structure, your URLs also have an optimal structure. URL structure is how a particular URL or permalink is structured. The structure of your URLs will help users understand what the particular page is about and what it contains. For example, URLs can have subdirectories and subfolders to them. These would look something like this:

  • Subdirectory – blog.cleardoorseo.com 
  • Subfolders –  cleardoorseo.com/blog

Another example of how URLs can help people and bots understand them can be seen in the blog and product page example:

  • Blog Page: cleardoorseo.com/blog/4-pillars-of-seo
  • Service Page: cleardoorseo.com/services/on-page-seo

The URLs clearly indicate what type of page the user will be opening and what information they will be presented with. The actual language you use, ‘services’, ‘portfolio’, ‘projects’, or whatever you decide, is entirely up to you. What is essential is that you use a uniform pattern, or set of rules to guide how you build your URL structures throughout the entire site. You shouldn’t be switching up the structure randomly. Develop a strategy, nail down how you will structure the URLs, and stick to it.

Five other elements you should consider while building your URLs are:

  1. URLs should always be built in lowercase
  2. Dashes should be used to signify separate words and placed where spaces usually are
  3. Stick to short and sweet URLs. Make them descriptive and easy to understand
  4. Don’t use unnecessary characters in your URLs, and you can also skip the prepositions
  5. Always optimize! Include keywords to help signify the importance to the bots crawling the pages 

After you start building your site architecture with well-structured URLs, it’s time to submit the sitemap that we discussed earlier. Now the search engines will have a little bit of extra reading material and will easily be able to locate your website with all those descriptive URLs!

5. Utilize robots.txt.

Now with all the technical components built well and you have submitted your sitemap to your preferred search engines, it is time to check the /robot.txt. While crawling your pages, the bot will start by checking for the Robot Exclusion Protocol, or ‘/robot.txt’. The protocol tells the bots crawling your pages if it is allowed or disallowed to crawl the respective page. This protocol can even be more focused on a specific section of a page if you so desire.

However, for most websites, especially when starting out, you will want to allow the bots to crawl all your pages and index them as you won’t have too much content at the beginning. However, one such reason that you may want to block bots from crawling your site is because of security threats, or hackers trying to steal your content or spam your community members. If this does happen, you may want to use a robot.txt to prevent them from entering your website.

Besides security threats, another reason you may want to block bots from crawling your website is because of what we mentioned above: Your crawl budget. If you have unnecessary pages or duplicates of a similar page, you may want to block them so you can conserve your budget for other pages. 

By blocking less important pages, you can ensure that the bots are finding your relevant content only. Moreover, by allowing only the most important pages to be crawled, you can ensure no random pages from your website get indexed. A few examples of pages you may want to block include:

  • A thank you page from an offer that you had
  • If you have an e-commerce website and you are selling five different colors of one shirt in five different sizes
  • Pages that have print-friendly versions

Crawling these types of pages will provide little to no value to your website and overall ranking. 

For every website, the overall strategy will be different. So come up with a strategy to determine which pages need to be indexed and which do not. This will help you conserve your crawl budget as well as make sure only important pages get indexed.

No matter what you decide, the robot.txt protocol you go with should be developed with an overarching objective or strategy.

Takeaways: Pillar 1 – Technical SEO: 

Technical SEO is a key pillar of SEO. Technical SEO encompasses many different elements – From security to building a proper structure, and even ensuring that your website speed has been optimized. These key elements, if done correctly, will make sure that your website has a strong foundation to build on.

As one of the 4 pillars of SEO, technical SEO will help build a strong and sturdy foundation on that you can build your entire website. This pillar will help you on your path to getting ranked on search engines. However, it is only one of the pillars of a successful website, to increase your rankings further, you will need to focus on, and develop your content for SEO.

Pillar 2 – Content Writing:

Technical SEO ensures that your web pages are indexed and search engines can find them. But what they find on each of these pages is the content. Let’s discuss why content writing for SEO is one of the four pillars of search engine optimization.

It is hard to deny the fact that good content is the cornerstone of an effective online marketing campaign. Every piece of content created communicates a brand’s message, educates its audience, and persuades them to purchase a product or service over the competitors. 

As a matter of fact, offering high-quality content is one of the easiest yet essential ways to attract prospects and create interest in your business. No wonder, content has been one of the most crucial elements of SEO. Content doesn’t have to be limited to text and can take form, i.e. images, videos, infographics, and many more.

A blend of Content and SEO: Six Key Elements To Keep in Mind:

When writing or developing content for a website, a webmaster should work to provide as much information as possible to its audience. Moreover, it should follow Google’s guidelines for what they call E-A-T (expertise, authority, and trustworthiness). E-A-T is an essential component of Google’s algorithm and its guiding principles can help websites perform better on search engines. 

To ensure that the content pillar of your website meets the standards Google sets out, make sure to keep in mind the following points:

  1. Quality over quantity: A website can never go wrong with a well-written and unique piece of content. Additionally, the piece should add value to your readers. One, a well-written blog will always be better than 10 low-quality, AI-spun pieces of content.
  2. Develop topical authority: Focus on a pillar topic and develop the most useful piece of information around it as possible. Next go into depth about the topics around it by creating cluster content that supports the pillar content. Topical authority will help websites build authority around a topic, through its proven expertise and trust in the field.
  3. Keywords: A well-crafted content is incomplete without keywords. Content needs to consist of keyword phrases that you want to gain exposure for in the search results. Group related keywords together and use synonyms to offer a wider and richer context to readers.
  4. Updates: Just as we prefer our food to be fresh and straight out of the oven, search engines also like updated and fresh content. In fact, blogs should be frequently updated with new data, statistics, and information. 
  5. Relevancy: In addition to quality, using keywords, and updating your content, these are not enough to get your site to rank on Google. Whereas, search engines also check the relevancy of your content in regard to the search query. In other words, does your content do a good job at addressing and answering the search query. Therefore, the content on your site needs to be relevant to the search query for your site to perform well in search engine results.
  6. Content type: Wait a minute, you’re not done yet! Throwing out a bunch of content isn’t going to attract prospects or readers to your site. Your page needs to be a blend of text, images, infographics, videos, and any other content. This ensures that your page is visually appealing, dynamic, and engaging to your visitors. Moreover, these elements will give you additional places to optimize your on-page SEO (more on this later)

You can have the perfect content on your website, but if visitors have a hard time interacting with it or navigating through it, your bounce rate may go up. And you can be sure that search engines will take notice. 

Making content user-friendly:

User experience influences a website’s rankings by sending positive and negative signals to Google’s algorithm. If there are too many negative signals, you may find your website slipping in the SERPs. Therefore, some easy ways to make sure your content and website are user-friendly include:

1. Navigation:

Just like looking for things at a grocery store, your website needs to have a simple yet logical flow of information. This helps the visitors to find the content easily and increases engagement with your website. To do this it’s a good idea to include internal linking throughout your content, as well as thought-out calls to action to get visitors to your important content.

2. Look:

Hate to say this, but when it comes to a website, looks are everything. But that doesn’t mean flashy colors, covering your web pages with pictures and images, or making every page too white. Your website needs to be simple yet aesthetically pleasing. Make it easy for visitors to read and focus on your content. This will help convey authority, credibility, and trust when it comes to your content.

3. Feel of the website:

Looks aside, users like to enjoy the experience and interaction with a website. So ensure that your website is friendly for all devices and offers the same feel whether interacting on a mobile device or a laptop.

4. Usability:

Ensure that your website is easy to navigate, and all the features are constructed in a uniform way. You need to meet your user’s expectations in a positive way and leave them wanting to come back again.

How to write content that performs well:

Learning how to write engaging, informative content for your audience and search engines can be challenging. It requires the writer to have an understanding of what search engines and their readers are looking for.

Lean too far one way, and you may end up pleasing search engines, but having a high bounce rate because the audience doesn’t find it useful. But leaning too far to please the readers, and you may find your article nowhere to be found on SERPs.

To help content marketers walk the tightrope between their readers and Google’s algorithm and produce the best piece of content, consider the following suggestions:

1. Define your purpose:

For content writers to succeed, they need to first understand what the purpose of the blog or copy is. By knowing the end goal from the beginning, writers can craft a piece that serves the exact need of the business, the readers, and search engines.

The objective of the copy supports the goals of the business. So, find your answers to the questions about it:

  1. Is the content intended to sell something or provide information?
  2. Is it focused on increasing website traffic with the intention of generating ad revenue or sponsorships?
  3. Is the content written to attract new clients and generate leads?
  4. Is the copy’s objective to attract subscribers and build a community?

2. Understand your target audience:

Let’s take an example, and say generating new leads is the primary goal of your content. To attract potential leads you need to know your target audience’s persona. The more you know about their persona, the better chance you will have to convert them into a lead.

To write content that accomplishes this goal, you need to understand your target audience:

  • Who are the people coming to your website? 
  • What kinds of issues do the readers want to solve?
  • What keywords or search terms would they use to search for this issue?

By learning how to write in a way that your target audience thinks or searches, you can build trust with them. This is because you understand their needs, and communicate with them in terms that resonate with them. Use their language to write to them while answering their search queries exactly.

3. Write a strong Intro:

Readers are bombarded with information constantly, and their attention is hard to capture. 

As a writer you have a very short amount of time to capture the reader’s attention – experts say about 15 seconds. If you can’t interest them in the first couple sentences of your blog, you may find your readers losing interest and exiting the website.

Therefore, it is essential to write strong intro paragraphs:

  • Start with an interesting fact, data or statistic
  • Write short concise sentences
  • Don’t waste time repeating the title of the article
  • Connect with the reader about the problem you are going to solve for them
  • Describe the purpose of the article in a few short sentences

4. Make your content scannable

People don’t have a lot of time, and they want information fast. More than likely, they are not going to read your entire article and they are just going to search for the information related to their query. 

Therefore, it is important to make the blog or copy easy to scan and locate information quickly. To do this use the following suggestions:

  • Use headings and subheadings throughout the article to describe the purpose of the section
  • Keep your paragraphs short and to the point
  • Write clearly and concisely
  • Utilize infographics and images to support the points you are making
  • Put information in lists – numbered or bullet is fine

Takeaways: Pillar 2 – Content Writing

Content and SEO mixed together is a match made in heaven. If leveraged properly, it will prove to be one of the most effective methods to grow your audience engagement, develop your brand awareness, drive organic traffic to your website, and increase conversions and sales. To maximize these benefits, a few key things to remember:

  • Don’t think that working on only one aspect of your content will bring potential customers to your website, you need that complete package. This means great content as well as a great website design
  • Don’t try to overdo it – it will get messy and search engines won’t like it
  • Be consistent with your content web design. Make sure that you use the same structure on each blog
  • Original content will help improve a website’s conversion rate
  • Your brand will get more visibility thanks to SEO

In a nutshell, creating a content marketing and SEO strategy is one of the most effective steps you can take to market your business. Figure out what works for your business and get the most out of it.

Pillar 3 – On-Site SEO:

Also known as on-page SEO or on-page optimization, is the process of optimizing various elements on a website in order to perform better in search results. These on-page elements help inform search engines about the purpose of the article and provide signals about what it should be ranked for.

On-page SEO is an important search engine optimization pillar as it is a process that the webmaster has complete control over. Meaning, that an SEO expert can include keywords to change elements such as titles, headers, keywords, URLs, and so forth, on their website. Resulting in them having the best chance of ranking well on search engine results pages.

On-site SEO helps search engines as well as website visitors quickly interrupt and understand what a page is about and whether or not it addresses the search query correctly. Fundamentally, a good on-site optimization will help search engines to understand what visitors will see and what value they will receive from that information during the crawling, indexing, and ranking process.

The on-page SEO pillar provides information to Google in order to meet the goals and objectives of their search engine. Which is to provide the most relevant, high-quality content possible to its users. In this regard, let’s take a look at what this means for users and on-page SEO.

The ultimate goal of on-site SEO is to make it easy for search engines and visitors to:

  • Identify that a page is relevant to a search query (i.e. use of a specific or set of keywords)
  • Understand what the webpage is about
  • Find that page valuable and worthy of ranking well on a search result

To help accomplish these goals of on-site SEO for your readers and for search engines, it is important to use SEO best practices. These techniques can include using keywords in the following places:

On-page SEO Keyword Placement
Using keywords in the right place is an important step for on-page SEO success
  • Keyword Research: Understand the intent of your target audience and the keyword for a specific query
  • Descriptive URLs: Ensure that each URL is easy, and simple to understand and uses keywords to describe the content on the page 
  • Page titles: Ensure that keywords are used naturally in page titles to provide as much information about the page as possible to readers and search engines
  • Header Tags: Use keywords in your header tags throughout the body of your text. This will help readers scan content more easily, as well as provide important information about which query that section of text looks to answer
  • Meta descriptions: Create unique and intent focused descriptions that help to describe the web page and ultimately increase the page’s click-through rate
  • Content optimization: Evenly distribute primary and secondary keywords throughout your page copy
  • Internal links: Allows search engines and visitors to easily navigate to other important pages related to their search query on your website – make sure to use descriptive anchor text by using keywords for the target page. Moreover, internal linking will also provide additional context to search engines about what the article is about and help them rank them more effectively. Finally, internal links help pass page authority from one page to another.
  • User experience: Ensure your site is easy to navigate and gives users a pleasant experience while reading your content. Don’t spam affiliate links or Google ads in your content, making it difficult for users to consume your information
  • Call to action (CTAs): CTAs need to be easy for users to take the next steps. CTAs will help push website visitors through your sales funnel.
  • Structured data markup: Improve click-through rates by giving search engines precise information about what the content on a webpage is about. This can be done by creating rich snippets by including Schema markup on your web pages. Rich snippets on your website will also help search engines better understand the important components of the text as well as easily categorize the web page’s content in the correct category on search results.

Takeaways: Pillar 3 – On-site SEO:

On-site SEO is one of the 4 most important pillars of SEO. Take time to consider your target audience and optimize your site accordingly. For instance, if you are a local business, then optimizing for local SEO is more important. Additionally, your address and location also become key points for optimization. 

By keeping in mind the key areas of on-page optimization a website can better communicate to search engines what the topic of the article is and which questions it aims to answer for readers. By including keywords in important places throughout your web page and content, you will be able to increase your organic ranking.

However, it is important to remember that without high-quality content, it won’t matter how much on-site optimization you do. Google wants to show content that follows its E-A-T guidelines. Therefore, make sure you fulfill all the important components of Pillar 2 – Content writing before you start focusing on optimizing your page.

Pillar 4 – Off-Site SEO:

Off-page SEO is all the steps taken to optimize your website that don’t involve updating your website or publishing content to it. These steps are taken to build domain authority (DA), page authority, trust, and credibility, which are important signals for Google when it comes to ranking your website.

There are three main places that search engines turn to see off-site signals that build your site’s authority, trust, and relevance. The three elements that search engines look at are brand building, citation building, and even social media.

Another thing to be aware of is that historically, people would refer to off-page SEO and link building as one thing. However, off-site SEO is much broader than just link building. Below we highlight link building, local SEO, and social media as important components of off-site SEO, the last pillar of SEO.

1. Link Building (Backlinks):

Link building is the process of building backlinks off your website that point back to yours. These backlinks are essential to your website’s domain authority (DA) as they will pass authority or ranking power from one site to another. The easiest way to think about backlinks is to consider them as votes of confidence from a third party. The external website that is linking back to yours is saying, ‘I trust this website. And so can my readers.’

Backlinks however are not made equal. Whereas, websites with a higher domain authority will have more valuable votes. For example, a link from Forbes, Washington Post, or a website with a TLD (top-level domain) such as ‘.edu’ or ‘.gov’, will provide additional link power! 

Before you get excited and start spamming websites and directories with links to your website, it is crucial to know that there are Black Hat and White Hat tactics when it comes to link building. It is best to build your links in a White Hat manner, or you may risk being penalized by Google.

2. Local SEO – Like Google My Business and directories:

Local SEO is important for businesses to get visited by potential customers in their area. Tools and directories like Google Business Profile (formally Google My Business), Google Maps, Angie’s list, Yelp, or Foursquare can be extremely beneficial to your online business. As they send valuable backlinks to your website confirming your NAP (name, address, and phone number).

By verifying your location and a few contact details, you can get your business featured in your particular geographic area. This will send positive signals to your website as Google will see that you are a legitimate business. Additionally, it will tell potential customers that you are actually a local, real business, that they can actually trust and work with. 

Finally, once customers start using your service or buying your products, make sure you ask them to leave reviews and comments on your Google Business Profile page! This is a quick way to send social signals to Google (as well as future customers) that you are trusted! Just remember to interact and respond to your customers!

3. Social Media

The last element we want to mention is setting up social media accounts, which are essential for referral traffic. Social media will have a direct impact on your SEO as platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and so forth, will pass on trust and authority back to your website. Just don’t expect to get the same amount as we discussed in the traditional backlink section.

While setting up your social media account, make sure to register your exact business name, include your NAP information and add your website URL to the page description. These elements will help solidify your credibility and better build your brand out. Typically, these social links are the first backlinks a new website builds – just remember to keep all information consistent across the different platforms.

In addition to the three outlined above, a few other off-page SEO elements that will influence your sites domain authority are:

  • Citations
  • Forums
  • Influencer Marketing
  • Guest Posting

Why is Off-Page SEO Important?

Finally, let’s discuss why off-page SEO is important to your online business and is one of the 4 pillars of SEO. Think about off-page SEO as building your business’s credibility and trust across the internet and especially in your industry niche. By getting websites to use your domain as an external link on their site, they are telling the internet that the website can be trusted.

Being trusted on the internet is extremely important as Google values these signals when ranking websites – especially when it comes to YMYL (your money, your life) related content. This is because Google does not want to promote unreliable or untrustworthy content and websites to their users as it can have a direct impact on their decision-making process.

Without a good backlink profile and domain rating, your site might struggle to outrank your competitors. Whereas, higher authority websites tend to rank better than those with low or no authority because search engines consider them more credible, relevant, and trustworthy.

The goal should be to signal to search engines that websites trust, share, and reference your site’s information. Links are one way to show that.

Takeaways: Pillar 4 – Off-site SEO:

In this section, we discussed off-page SEO as one of our 4 pillars of SEO. We covered the importance of off-site SEO and why having a strong backlink profile is crucial to SEO performance. From link building to local SEO and even domain authority which ties it all together – it is important to show that a website is credible and trustworthy through off-page signals.

In the beginning, it may be difficult to build organic backlinks to your site. However, Clear Door SEO cannot stress enough that engaging in Black Hat link-building tactics can be detrimental to your website’s long-term performance. 

You may find quick ways to get, or buy backlinks on the internet or on Youtube – but Google is smart! A website may be able to trick Google at first, but eventually, these tactics will end up getting the website penalized and even blacklisted from ranking.

Start small and get easy wins with social media platforms. Build trust and authority with your community, and build from there. Your community will share, like, and interact with your posts which will be beneficial to your website’s domain authority. 

Also, set up Google Business Profile and register with relevant, trusted directories in your niche. This will allow potential customers to find you easily and it will show that you are a legitimate business.

Just remember, off-page SEO can be one of the most difficult aspects of building a website. It will take time and energy to do. Continue to do the small things and get small wins when you can, and eventually, they will all add up to a good domain authority for your website.

Key Takeaways: 4 Pillars of SEO

To recap, online businesses should focus on building a strong foundation for their website and use the 4 pillars of SEO to build it up. If the right mechanisms are put in place, a website will be able to engage in sustainable and long-term growth. To recap, let’s look one more time at:

What are the 4 pillars of SEO:

  1. Technical SEO
  2. Content Writing
  3. On-Site SEO
  4. Off-Site SEO

These 4 pillars of SEO don’t need to be overwhelming. Break them into their respective sections and work on them independently of each other. There are no bonus points for getting a website up and running faster than others. So take your time and work through all the sections to make sure that your foundation is strong and can be built upon for years to come!

Clear Door SEO, an SEO agency in Portland Oregon would be happy to provide any information you may need regarding the SEO pillars we covered. Or even a free site audit to make sure your website has the necessary infrastructure to be successful.

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