SEO can be complicated — in many cases, overcomplicated. How many ranking factors are involved in generating strong organic search results? Ten? Twenty? Thirty? Two hundred?
A quick search for “SEO ranking factors” will give you all of these answers and myriad others. There is a lot of information out there. And the reality is, while there are likely hundreds of variables working together to determine final placement, much of what is suggested is guesswork. And indeed, not all ranking factors are relevant to every business.
The point being, it is easy to get lost down an algorithmic rabbit hole. It’s information overload out there, and you can spend all your time on a research hamster wheel and achieve very little.
In this article, I want to simplify things and outline the four main areas you should be focusing on with your SEO. When it comes down to it, SEO is pretty simple at a strategic level.
The four pillars of SEO
The four key areas of SEO that site owners need to consider are:
- technical SEO: How well your content can be crawled and indexed.
- Content: Having the most relevant and best answers to a prospect’s question.
- On-site SEO: The optimization of your content and HTML.
- Off-site SEO: Building authority to ensure Google stacks the deck in your favor.
Of course, these four areas have some complexity and overlap, but understanding your strengths and weaknesses concerning them is key to focusing your efforts. Suppose you don’t have the knowledge and ability to do it yourself. In that case, you could consider using a comprehensive and cutting edge SEO strategy by Infintech Designs.
Technical SEO can seem a little daunting; what we are talking about is ensuring that a search engine can read your content and explore your site. Much of this technical SEO process will be taken care of by the content management system you use. Tools like Screaming Frog and DeepCrawl can explore your website and highlight technical problems.
The main areas to consider here are:
- Crawl. Can a search engine explore your site?
- Index. Is it clear which pages the search engine should index and return?
- Mobile. Does your site adapt to mobile users?
- Speed. Fast page load times are a crucial factor in keeping your visitors happy.
- Tech. Are you using search-engine-friendly tech or CMS for your website?
- Hierarchy. How is your content structured on your website?
Suppose you are a small business using WordPress for your website. In that case, technical SEO should be something you can check off your list pretty quickly. If you have a large, bespoke website with millions of pages, technical SEO becomes much more important.
Much of what is considered “technical SEO” here is part of your website design and development. The trick is to ensure your developer understands the interplay between website design, development, and SEO and how to build a blisteringly fast and mobile-optimized site.
Content is king. Your website is just a wrapper for your content; your content tells prospects what you do, where you do it, who you have done it for, and why someone should use your business. And if you’re smart, your content should also go beyond these prominent brochure-type elements and help your prospective customers achieve their goals.
For service businesses, we can loosely break your content down into three categories:
- Service content. What you do and where you do it.
- Marketing content. Content that helps position you as an expert and puts your business in front of prospects earlier in the buying cycle.
It’s essential to realize that SEO is important for all kinds of content. Still, it is often only really considered for service-type content. SEO is often forgotten when it comes to credibility content like reviews, testimonials, and case studies.