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Understanding the 3 Pillars of SEO

As a business owner or someone who has worked with digital marketing, I’m sure by now you have heard the term SEO. But what exactly is SEO and why does it matter to you and your business?

In this article, I am going to walk you through the three pillars of SEO and how it all relates.

Let’s first talk about what SEO is. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of optimizing quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results (DMI, 2020). In short, it is understanding how people get to your website through organic (free) means.

Pillar 1- On Page SEO

On Page SEO describes how search engines like Google or Bing view your website’s pages to rank them accordingly. This means that what you have on your website (words, videos, graphics, etc) will impact how your website is ranked on these search engines.

There are three ways that this happens, and this is where things get technical.

1. Crawling

Crawlers also known as spiders or robots are sent from the search engine to discover new web pages that exist. Once they find new pages, they will record and store that information. The crawlers are checking to see if these web pages have been updated or changed recently.

2. Indexing

The next step with on-page SEO is called Indexing. This is when the search engines will check the website for things like duplicated content, or if the content is low in value or spammy. The worst possible thing is if the page itself couldn’t be crawled, which means that your website won’t show up on these search engines.

3. Ranking

The last step is ranking your website. Are you using keywords in your title tag (headings, url structure)? What is the loading time of your website? What is your website’s reputation (linking to other websites, linking to other pages on your website)? All of these things will help Google or Bing rank your website for searchers.

Remember, these search engines want to maintain their reputation by only offering websites to searchers that match what they request. This means that your keywords and website need to match so that you are ranked on the search engine results page correctly.

Pillar 2- Off Page SEO

The next pillar of SEO is off page. This basically means, backlinks which are links to credible articles or pages into your blogs and pages on your website. According to the DMI in 2019, “a single quality backlink from an authoritative site is worth more than 10 or even 100 low-quality links.”

Examples of high quality backlinks include, government websites, credible news sources, research companies, etc. Having these backlinks will increase your website’s credibility, and in turn increase your website’s ranking on search engines.

Pillar 3- Technical SEO

The third pillar of SEO can be the most difficult, at least in my mind. This one may require a computer programer or an expert in the area. According to Backlinko, “technical SEO is the process of ensuring that a website meets the technical requirements of search engines.”

Some things to take into consideration when working on your technical side of SEO are your sitemap, URL structure, if your website is pulling up any errors, etc. These are only a few but there are quite a few that you can look up. By understanding how your site is going to be crawled and indexed in a technical sense, you will be able to design your website with this in mind so that you can be ranked higher!

Besides search engines, there are other ways to drive traffic to your website. One simple way is by social media. You can share your website’s link on your platforms as another way to increase your traffic. Don’t forget about other kinds of content such as blogs (blogging for other people and linking back to your site is gold!), podcasts, case studies, and so on will all help you on your SEO journey.

The pillars of SEO can be daunting to tackle. There are so many technical terms that it can be overwhelming to try and do it on your own.


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