In the digital world we live in, it's a must that your business's website is visible online. One way to improve your online visibility is through search engine optimization, which is the process of optimizing your website to help it rank better on online search engines (Google, Bing, etc.).
So how do you "do" SEO? It's not one strategy in particular, but rather a few core areas that you need to optimize. In this article, I'll overview what I see as the four pillars of good search engine optimization.
Pillar 1 - Content
“Content is king” is the old saying… and it’s true. To be found for a keyword, you have to have relevant content that exists on your website. The more you publish content on a given topic, the more opportunities you have to rank for its related keywords and keyphrases.
Simply stuffing keywords into a page is not enough. You want your website to be the resource for online search users to find the information they are looking for. Focus on quality and quantity of content.
- Use variations of related keywords to increase relevancy.
- Every page should have a minimum of 300 words.
- Try to publish new content at least monthly.
- Write for a specific, targeted audience.
Pillar 2 - Links
Google’s ranking algorithm and website crawlers rely heavily on link metrics to determine website authority. Also called “backlinks”, the web of who links to you, and who you link to, helps to paint an algorithmic picture of which website has the best information on any given topic.
As part of your search engine optimization efforts, you should be actively trying to curate links from high authority (high quality and high traffic websites) back to your website. The more you can create a “web” of high-quality links, the better your overall domain authority will be.
- Actively seek backlinks from partner organizations.
- Publish independent research and/or unique content.
- Add links to your content to relevant and authoritative sources.
Pillar 3 - User Experience
The goal of a search engine is to provide the best possible experience for its users. In doing so, they’ll keep their users coming back to use their service for future searches (and make money from them). That makes sense, right?
As an extension of the overall search engine experience, your website’s user experience plays a role in ranking factors. This includes many aspects of design and development, such as mobile-friendliness, speed, security, accessibility, and more.
User Experience Tips
- Ensure your website is mobile-friendly.
- Keep your page load times as low as possible.
- Design your website to be accessible to those with disabilities.
- Follow security best practices.
Pillar 4 - Crawlability
Search engine robots, called crawlers, are what visit, scan, and index every page across the internet. These crawler bots rely heavily on technical files and website code to decipher what content exists and where. Errors in the code or markup can cause them to remove web pages from the index.
While you can certainly scrutinize every line of code on your website for more advanced SEO, I recommend starting with the basics of crawlability - making sure all content is readable by the bots.
- Host an accurate robots.txt file.
- Ensure redirects and URL structures are working properly.
- Setup correct permissions across your server.
- Use accurate headers and CSS designations.
Strengthening Your Pillars
It’s important to recognize that no one pillar of SEO can stand on its own. They each play an important role in helping you get found on search engines.
As you go about trying to optimize your website, be mindful of your SEO strengths and weaknesses. Do you have lots of content, but no links? Or maybe your bad user experience from a slow load time is causing visitors to leave right away?
Create a strategy by which you strengthen your SEO pillars and ensure that a weak link isn't holding you back. With consistent optimization over time, you should be able to raise your rankings and improve your overall online visibility.
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