The 3 Main Areas of Effective SEO
Search engine optimization (SEO) remains one of the most popular digital marketing strategies – especially for new websites. It’s relatively inexpensive, it’s approachable for sites in practically every industry, and it has the potential to help your traffic explode.
The basic idea is to improve your website and its relationship to other websites in a way that allows it to rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs). With higher rankings, your brand will get more visibility and your website will get more clicks.
Of course, ranking higher in search engines isn’t a simple matter of flipping of switch. There are currently more than 200 ranking factors associated with Google, all of which will require your attention if you want to see the best results. On top of that, SEO tactics often take a long time to see results; even the best efforts will require weeks of development to start building momentum, and most webmasters are forced to wait months to see meaningful traffic increases.
If you want to get started with the basics of SEO, you’ll be comforted to know that this complexity is not irreducible. In fact, we can master the fundamentals of SEO by breaking it down to just three main areas of effective development:
- Technical onsite SEO. Technical onsite SEO is all about optimizing your website to perform well.
- Onsite content development. Onsite content development gives you a chance to establish your website’s trustworthiness and reputation while optimizing for specific keywords.
- Offsite SEO. With offsite content development and link building, you can boost your website’s domain authority (DA) and allow its pages to rank higher.
Let’s take a look at these in more detail.
How Search Engines Work
Most search engines work similarly, so we’ll focus on Google for this explanation. When Google formulates search results for a given query, it considers pages on the web in terms of both relevance and authority. The relevance of a given page refers to its topical closeness to the query; if you search for ice cream sundaes, Google wants to give you pages about ice cream sundaes, rather than chicken nuggets.
The authority depends on the relative trustworthiness or industry expertise of a page; the higher the website’s domain authority (DA) and the higher the page’s page authority (PA), the more likely it is to rank.
All SEO tactics are designed to improve your position in terms of relevance, authority, or both. You’re simply making adjustments to improve how search engine crawlers and algorithms “see” your website.
Technical Onsite SEO
Technical onsite SEO is designed to improve how your website works. The better it works, the easier it will be for Google crawlers to review and index it, and the more favorably it will come to be seen. For starters, you’ll need to make sure that all your content is “discoverable” by search bots, allowing it to be indexed properly.
From there, you’ll need to work to improve the loading speed of your pages, optimize your site for mobile devices, and code the site as efficiently as possible.
Onsite Content Development
Next, you’ll need to work on your onsite content. Good onsite content does two things: it makes your site appear more authoritative and gives you a chance to optimize your site for specific keywords and phrases. In other words, it helps you optimize for relevance and authority simultaneously.
Most people start by optimizing the core pages of their site, tweaking the title tags and meta descriptions as appropriate, and ensuring at least a few paragraphs of descriptive content on each page. From there, you’ll need to create an ongoing blog (or something similar), giving you a chance to publish new, high-quality content regularly.
The last main area of a successful SEO strategy is “offsite SEO.” Your authority, and therefore your ranking potential, relies heavily on the prominence of inbound links. Accordingly, your best bet to increase your site’s ranking potential is to build those inbound links. However, you’ll need to be careful, as “bad” or unnatural links can actually work against you, decreasing your ranking potential.
The best strategy is to write high-quality guest posts for offsite publishers. That way, you’ll get an opportunity to create relevant, natural, valuable links pointing back to your site – and you’ll attract some referral traffic while you’re at it.
This article barely scratches the surface on the complexities of SEO, but it should give you a good conceptual framework on which to build your knowledge. Even the most basic SEO strategies can give your website a much higher chance of ranking for relevant searches, so don’t be intimidated – get started as soon as possible so you can cash in the benefits sooner.