The Four Pillars of SEO: A Comprehensive Guide

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the art and science of getting a website to the top of organic search engine results. It can be difficult and, in many cases, too complex. But how many ranking criteria are used to produce high-quality organic search results? Ten? 20? 30? 200? SEO is composed of four main pillars: technical SEO, content, on-site optimization, and off-site SEO. Let's take a look at each one in more detail.

The first pillar is technical SEO. This includes security, responsiveness (mobile friendly), and speed. Technical SEO ensures that search engines can find and index your web pages. To do this, you need to create a robots.txt file that tells search engines where not to go. Most of the time, you want to allow search engines to crawl all your web content. You may also use robots.txt to keep crawlers out of sections of your website that may have duplicate, thin, or private content that you don't want to appear in search results.

In addition, you need to include meta directives in the form of code snippets found in the header of each web page. These policies are not visible to website visitors. Instead, they provide search engines with page-by-page instructions on how to index the content of a page. If you have a small business and you use WordPress for your website, technical SEO should be something you can cross off your to-do list pretty quickly. However, if you have a huge, personalized website with millions of pages, technical SEO becomes considerably more important.

The second pillar is content. Content has been the backbone of SEO since its inception. It includes text, images, video, tables, PDFs, and much more. Search engines extract the meaning of each web page based on the content of the page. To improve your content for SEO purposes, use H1 — H6 tags to standardize the format of headings and divide content into easy-to-read parts. Search engines recognize these tags as the header of a page or a content section.

You should also use structured data in the form of snippets of code that provide search engines with accurate information about the content of a web page. This allows them to easily place web pages in the right context in search results. Structured data is what allows Google to quickly show recipes, movie times, or concert information directly in search results.

The third pillar is on-site optimization. This involves optimizing both overall and page by page. There is considerable overlap here with technical SEO, so start with a well-structured content hierarchy for your site. Use tools like Screaming Frog to crawl your sites and spot flaws, and then methodically work through them.

Your website is simply a container for your content. Your content informs potential customers about what you do, where you do it, who you did it for, and why they should employ your company. Make sure all your material is optimized and if you're doing content marketing make sure it fits your marketing strategies.

The fourth pillar is off-site SEO. This involves link building activities such as natural link building which requires you to first review the content of your site and develop something worthwhile. You should also optimize all your marketing content including case studies, portfolio entries and testimonials.

Finally, mobile ease of use is something that no one can ignore. Especially since Google uses mobile indexing first which means that Google uses the mobile version of the website to index and rank it (the very “important” part).

In conclusion, SEO is composed of four main pillars: technical SEO, content optimization, on-site optimization and off-site SEO. If done correctly it sends signals to search engines which in turn will help get your website to the top of organic search engine results.