Before we dive into defining the pillars of SEO, it is important to have a foundational understanding of search engine optimization (SEO).
What is SEO?
SEO stands for search engine optimization. It is the art and science of getting your website found in the free or organic space of Google, Yahoo, and Bing. The objective is to increase sales, generate leads, and improve brand awareness – all things that help a company grow!
Traditional Pillars of SEO
When an SEO wants to improve a website’s ranking, she looks at the following 3 traditional pillars: technical, content, and popularity.
The technical pillar deals with all aspects of how the website complies with accessibility requirements for search engines. Technical SEO is even an expertise in itself. Some professionals are specialized in technical SEO because it’s complex and evolving constantly.
The traditional SEO audit is the place where the technical pillar is most visible. A website can host a multitude of elements, in need to be optimized. In the end, very few websites can put everything in order to comply with the technical audit. Technical limitations and marketing goals can be a definitive roadblock for SEO to be firmly planted.
It’s not unusual to have less than 10 or 20% of SEO recommendations carried out. Usually, the bigger the site, the most difficult it is to push SEO recommendations all the way through. And of course, the more expensive it is too. These issues don’t fix themselves.
The content pillar takes care of how content is optimized for SEO. From a quality standpoint, a search engine is not very difficult to please. The level of quality from a human perspective is much more complex, but Google put out some guidelines around what is quality.
A SEO carries out the mission to optimize the content for search engines. A bunch of tags and advices on keywords are the basics. However, the border is hard to define between the end of the job of basic SEO about content and where the content marketer and copywriter kick in.
The Panda Google penalty put some order in content. The level has risen, but it’s still not great. Most of the content is just a notch above what was around before. For the most part, content meant for SEO purposes only can’t pretend to attract much natural traction.
Our advice? Hire an SEO copywriter and see if their work produces results. If not, move onto the next one – rinse and repeat!
Popularity is all about links. Here, the situation is a bit awkward. Google says SEO should not acquire links artificially, but in all reality, backlinks are pay-to-play. Regardless, put out great content out there and links will come.
Modern SEO practitioners have gotten pretty good at getting links in the most unnatural manners, while also staying under Google’s radar. The Penguin Google penalty tried to put some order into this mess, but it didn’t go so well. Negative SEO has never been more possible than during the Penguin reign of terror.
Besides keywords in anchor text, nothing really changed in the art of getting links. The strategies are less aggressive today, but pages in top results on Google’s search results page don’t usually get all their links in the most organic manner.
When an SEO expert traditionally analyzes a website, she looks at these 3 fundamental aspects in order to formulate a profitable SEO strategy.
Today, we’ll take a different approach.
A Modern Approach to The 3 Pillars of SEO
What does Google really want?
Of course, it values a well-built website, great content, and qualitative backlink portfolio. That’s the old school way to look at it. I’m not saying we should not do it anymore, but it’s just the basics. Today, we need to dig deeper and look at it differently.
Google is looking at 3 very specific factors, in order to evaluate if a web page has value: expertise, authority, and trust.
By looking at the analysis from the following perspective, the dimension changes completely.
Defining the Modern Pillars of SEO
Do you know what you are talking about, and can you express it very well to your audience? Basic SEO optimization should not be the end of our job:
- Title tags and meta description should target specific keywords
- Headers need to be optimized
- The length of content matters
- Presence of keywords in content
Automatic SEO audit tools can do that today. Where the value of an SEO Consultant comes in should go beyond those basics. At Frasca Digital, We push clients to be real authorities within their industries. These brands need to express out loud how good they are at whatever it is they are doing; moreover, they need to tell their expertise in the best way possible for people to understand and connect with the content.
It’s not easy to build brand awareness, but regarding content, it’s the most important challenge today.
Is your content good enough for influencers within your industry to mention you? Is your competition talking about you on the Web? When people you are competing against have no choice, but to mention you, it starts to get really funky! If not, go back to create more compelling content.
It’s just a routine to be sure that the content is SEO compliant. Furthermore, recommendations will extend to content promotion and analytics of results. Buying links and spamming the web can only go so far. When real authority is detected, wonderful things can happen.
The website starts to make jumps to the top 3 of the search engine results page. It’s still possible to achieve great results by buying links & Co., but the authority website will win at the end, always!
Is your website safe for users? Are you taking good care of them, protecting their private data and making sure the experience will be pleasant and safe? Beyond the basics, to make sure a website can be indexed, it’s time to go deeper into the complex challenge of trust.
Going for https is only the tip of the iceberg. A shady website can switch to https, but it will remain dangerous for the user. A SEO should make sure everything is in order for the user experience to be perfect.
3 Common Approaches to SEO
As you get started with SEO, pause to consider which approach best fits your unique business. We break these into common approaches:
Hiring an SEO Agency
Outsourcing your SEO to an agency allows you to rely on experts. Some agencies like ours focus only on search engine marketing, while others offer a full suite of services — from web design and development to email marketing and more. Agencies can save you time, but they always come at a cost. Because SEO is a long-term initiative, most SEO services need to be managed via a monthly retainer. They also don’t occur in a vacuum; they require active collaboration with you and your business. We liken this to an 80/20 rule. The agency can do 80% of the work, but you’ll need to contribute 20%.
A DIY approach saves money, but costs (a lot of) time — most businesses that engage in DIY start by learning SEO before doing SEO. There are a lot of online resources to learn SEO — courses, blog posts, and tutorials. The primary value of DIY SEO is that you already know your business and audience, which is required. The downside is that you probably don’t want to become an SEO expert just to grow your business.
Getting coached on SEO is the middle ground between DIY and hiring an agency. It gives you a process without asking you to become an expert in SEO. It offers a series of lessons with specific homework assignments so that you can start to get your site ranking in just a few hours a week. It also adds monthly coaching to keep you accountable and answer all your critical questions.
Building Expertise, Authority and Trust for Websites
It’s hard to stand out in the crowded marketplace today. A website needs design and content that build relationships with customers and Google.
If increasing your domain’s authority with Google is an objective, contact Frasca Digital today and we’ll run a quick website audit to get you started.