SEO can be complex. In many cases is more complicated than. What ranking factors play a role in strong organic search results? Ten? Twenty? Thirty? Two hundred?

You can find all these answers by doing a quick Google search for SEO ranking factors. There’s a lot of information available. There are hundreds of factors that can be combined to determine final placement. However, much of the information is just guesswork. Not all ranking factors are applicable to every business.

It is easy to fall into an algorithmic rabbit hole. There is a lot of information out there. You can spend your entire time researching and accomplish very little.

This article will simplify the process and highlight four areas that should be your main focus in SEO. SEO can be quite simple when you look at it from a strategic perspective.

SEO’s four pillars

These are the four areas of SEO site owners should be aware of:

  1. technical SEO How easily your content can crawled and indexed.
  2. content: The most relevant and effective answers to prospects’ questions.
  3. On-Site SEO: Optimization of your content and HTML.
  4. Off-Site SEO: Building authority so Google favors you.

These four areas are complex and overlap. Understanding your strengths and weaknesses is crucial to focusing your efforts.

1. Technical SEO

Although technical SEO may seem daunting, it is actually a way to ensure that search engines can access your site and read your content. The content management system that you use will take care of a lot of this. Tools like Deep Crawl and Screaming Frog can also be used to explore your site and identify technical issues.

These are the main areas you should be thinking about:

  • Crawl. Does a search engine have to explore your site?
  • index. Does it make sense to indicate which pages the search engine should return and index?
  • Mobile. Does the site work for mobile users?
  • Speed. A fast page load time is a key factor in keeping your visitors satisfied.
  • Tech. Are search engines friendly tech or CMS used for your website?
  • Hierarchy. How are your web pages structured?

Technical SEO is something that you should check if you have a small business that uses WordPress to manage your website. Technical SEO is more important if you have a large website that has millions of pages.

Many of the technical SEO terminology you hear about is part of website design and development. It is important to make sure your developer understands how website design, development, and SEO interact and how to create a mobile-friendly site .

2. SEO Optimization on-site

Optimizing your website as a whole should not be done at the page level. You will need to consider the impact of technical SEO on your website. To start, you should create a content hierarchy.

It is relatively easy to apply sensible optimization to a site that has been well-structured. These are the main areas you should focus on:

  • Keyword research. Learn the language of your target market.
  • Use descriptive URLs. Make sure each URL is clear and concise.
  • Page titles. Include keywords naturally in the page title.
  • Meta descriptions. Craft metadata descriptions. Craft meta description like ad copy to drive clicks.
  • Content optimization. Use keywords and variations as part of your page copy.
  • Good user experience (UX). Make your site easy to navigate.
  • Strong calls to action. Make sure your users know where to go next.
  • Structured data markup. Use the most recent SERP features to increase click-through rates.

Your customers are important when optimizing your website. Local SEO is important if you’re a local business. Your address and location are crucial optimization points.

Layering your on-page SEO is easy when you have solid technical SEO. Screaming Frog is a tool that allows you to crawl your pages and find weaknesses. It also helps you to methodically go through them.

3. Content

Content is the king. It’s true, you know. This is true in a certain way. Your website is a wrapper for all your content. Your content tells potential customers what you do, where it is done, who it was for, and why they should use it. Your content should go beyond the obvious brochure-type elements to help your customers reach their goals.

We can break down your content into three categories for service businesses:

  • Service content. Where and what you do it.
  • Credibility content. Why prospects should interact with your business.
  • Marketing content. Content to position your business as an expert and get you in front of prospects sooner in the buying process.

SEO is essential for all types of content. However, it is rarely considered for service-type content. SEO is often overlooked when it comes credibility content such as reviews, testimonials, and case studies.

For example, I recently renovated an old Victorian-era house in the UK. I searched for professionals with relevant experience throughout the project. A well-optimized case study of a similar renovation in the area would be a great SEO content. It also shows that the contractor is capable of the job, which demonstrates their credibility. Win-win.

Optimize all marketing content including portfolio entries, testimonials , and case studies.

It is the best way to reach a broad audience with your business by using solid content marketing strategies. This strategy has the highest ROI because there is no cost per view. You can scale your marketing without increasing your costs. Although this type of SEO strategy may not be right for every company, it is almost impossible to beat when it is.

These are the main takeaways

  • Optimize every content throughout the customer journey.
  • Assess whether content marketing via search engines is a good fit.

There are still too many “paint-by-numbers” approaches to SEO. Local businesses pay agencies to produce blog posts that are not strategically appropriate. Make sure that your content is optimized and that it fits your marketing strategy.

4. Building authority off-site

All SEO rivers eventually lead to the same spot: authority building. Link building is a large part of building your authority. Link building is still an important component of strong organic rankings. However, it can be difficult to get the links right.

This is a crucial step to make sure you have a clear understanding of your link philosophy before you begin. It can really make or break your efforts in link-building. Although link building can be a complex topic that we won’t go into here, it is possible to develop a positive approach to link building and you will be ahead of most of your competitors.

Eric Ward , the great and late Eric Ward , wrote the best description of the right mindset for link-building: “Connect what should you be connected.”

This simple philosophy is beautiful and corrects the mentality of “more, more…more” link building. Only relevant sites are acceptable. This means that we must create links that are worthy of them in order to increase our link-building efforts. It makes sense to have links wherever it makes sense. Simple.

Wikipedia boasts millions of links. Yet, I’m pretty certain they have never done any form of link building. Because they have tons of useful content that is linked. These natural links are the true connective tissue in the hyperlinked world that we live in. They enrich the linking page and provide context.

This type of natural link should be your backbone for link-building efforts. You may need to reexamine the content of your website and create something valuable first. But if you do that, you’re halfway there.

This mindset is essential for any safe and scalable link-building strategy.

Here are the key takeaways:

Summary

SEO doesn’t have to be complicated. SEO is not complicated. There are four main areas that you should consider.

I hope you find this article helpful in cutting through the noise and helping to improve your rankings so that organic search can bring more business!