The interesting part of looking for search engine optimization (SEO) tips and tricks is that while everyone talks about it differently, the same basic concepts hold true at the heart. Most advice you’ve read before will fall into one of three broad categories called the ‘pillars’ of SEO because they hold up the foundation of the science. Some reads mention four pillars, while others claim there are six — so let’s strip that away and look at how everything stacks up.
Pillar One: Content Development and Presentation
When you’re looking to put out content for SEO success, the content itself is king, first and foremost. The content is more than your product: it’s your brand and your image, and without great content, even the best SEO tools won’t bring you a win. Your content needs to prove that you’re an authority on your topic; readers use search engines to find answers or learn new things, and they look for experts on the topic at hand. It needs to be high-quality content that provides value to those browsing, it should be trustworthy, and it should be unique. You’ll want to have a regular schedule you stick to because growing a library of related work helps you rank higher in search engine metrics.
Equally important is how you present your content. This isn’t just content marketing - the strategy you use to get your content seen - it’s also about user experience and site accessibility. Your page should be straightforward and visitors should find it easy to use. The look and feel of the site should be professional and in line with the topics you’re writing about. Navigating through the site should be simple to do so that users can easily move from topic to topic.
Pillar Two: Technical SEO
Technical SEO includes a number of things you do on your content pages once you have the content in place. Technical SEO helps Google, Yahoo, Bing, and other engines search and index your pages to include them in search results. It starts with fixing the title and meta descriptions in the code for each page, which helps search engines understand how to filter and index each page within their own system. It often involves the website’s structure and files like an XML sitemap that can help show a search engine where they should look.
In addition, things like speed and security are often added here, as they’re controlled at the owner’s end. Most search engines prefer sites with good security that load quickly, and most users do as well. It’s all weighed by importance in that split-second it takes an algorithm to produce results.
Pillar Three: Link Building and Online Presence
There are two kinds of links that are talked about regarding SEO. The first type is reference links: hyperlinks to a related source or article that can provide support to the point you’re making within the content you’re delivering. Including hyperlinks to similar articles shows your readers that you’ve done research into your topic and you know what information is available. For search engines, this acts a little bit like a bibliography in a research paper: it shows where you’re getting your information. Linking well-established, credible sites helps convince users and engines both that you know what you’re talking about.
The second kind of important links are backlinks. This is what happens when someone on another site links back to you from a page. This implies that these other pages are using your page as a reference — which can significantly increase the amount of credibility a search engine gives your site. They need to be reliable backlinks, too; Google, for example, has built-in ways to tell when a content creator is cheating with backlinks, which puts you lower in the search engine results. Building up credible backlinks is one of the best ways to move your page’s ranking higher in search indices.
This is done by moderating your online presence. For example, you could look for affiliates posting about similar things, and offer your content as a reference. You can ask to do a guest blog on a more established site; this often helps you link back to your blog and other content from an authoritative site. In addition, look to build up the rest of your internet presence. If you have a physical presence, adding your business to Google Maps establishes your existence online and adds to your authority. Using social media to crosspost articles doesn’t count as a direct backlink, but it helps spread your content, and social media shares do count in search engine calculations.
Nearly all good advice you get about how to improve search engine optimization for your site will fall under one of these three pillars. Finding SEO success is about focusing on each pillar until all three are strong enough to raise your site upwards in search metrics.
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