Understanding The Three Pillars of SEO
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With any website, the SEO is based on three basic principles. If you are launching your own business, or looking to level up your website, this article will give you an overview of how the different pillars of SEO support your goals. The three pillars are infrastructure, content and backlinks. Of course they each have an important job to do when it comes to holding up your site, but they also work together in some important ways. I don't recommend over focusing on one and neglecting the others.
Here's a deeper look at the three pillars of SEO, and the role each one plays in supporting your SEO strategy and meeting your business goals:
Pillar #1 – Infrastructure
So you want to build a website? Great. The first thing you should do is think about the general structure, such as how many pages it will have, what kind of landing pages you need, product pages, choosing a menu system, etc. That’s all part of your infrastructure considerations, and it will impact your SEO.
A good practice with SEO is that whatever content you want the user to consume, make sure it's no more than three clicks away from any page of your website. That's a good structure!
The next thing you will want is a good Content Management System (CMS). The CMS you use will provide a lot of the infrastructure for you. Many CMS options, including WordPress, Joomla and Drupal, Squarespace have basic SEO features built in, so that will help you. The CMS you choose does depend on what kind of site you are building. If you want to make a very graphical site with interactive design and less maintenance, Squarespace is a good platform for that. But if you want to build a larger site with a lot of complicated marketing features, lead generation or complicated systems, you might want to use something with a lot of plugins options like WordPress or Drupal. If you're envisioning building a site with tens of thousands of pages something more scalable like Ghost or Contentful would be more suitable.
Once you are starting to build out your site, you will want to keep some other factors in mind: optimizing page speed and making your content accessible keep users from bouncing, which impacts your page ranking. If you want to learn more about the UX side of SEO, check out my post, Psychology: Another Important Factor for SEO.
If you'd like to evaluate your website infrastructure on your own, I've written a post on the Best Apps for Conducting an SEO Technical Audit. That should be enough to kickstart your infrastructure audit and if you need additional help, feel free to reach out to me!
Pillar #2 – Content
The easiest way to lead with SEO is content. I know, it's been said for a long time, but it's true – Content is King. A lot of websites do content very poorly. If you do content well, then you are already ahead of the game. So why is content important? People use the Internet to solve problems. If your content answers questions that people are already searching for, Google will reward you for that. Good content helps potential customers find your site, and it can increase the likelihood that they will buy your product when they could buy any number of other products.
To beat the competition, you need a content strategy. It's even better if you can bring in an SEO consultant to help you create that strategy. An expert will evaluate your site, and also analyze your competitors' sites and identify the gaps in content. They can also help you figure out how you can fill in those gaps so that you can outrank others in the same game.
To be a leader in content, you have to think about things from the reader’s perspective. Why do people want your product? Why do people use your product? The best strategy is to answer those questions on your website. That's basically how Google works. Their algorithm is checking to see if your website has all the information needed to solve a particular problem that users are looking for. If you do have the information, then Google sends users to you.
If you don't have the budget for an SEO consultant, check out SEO Toolbox: Apps To Step Up Your Content Strategy for my reviews on the best free and premium content research solutions out there.
Pillar #3 – Partnerships and Link Acquisition
One of the key ways Google ranks your website is by evaluating the number of backlinks you have. To put it very simply, the more pages that link to your site, the more Google sees your content and your site as valuable. So yes, you should definitely try to get more backlinks. But beware of all the shady people who will try to buy and sell these links. The good news is, there is a way to improve your backlink rankings without resorting to shady shit.
That’s why I tell all my clients that creating partnerships is one of the three pillars of SEO. I do not like the phrase "link building" because it has some negative connotations. The solution is not to go out and buy links (i.e., “link building), but to earn those links through building relationships with influencers. This is typically referred to as building partnerships, or “link acquisition.”
Relationship-building supports your online marketing strategy in multiple ways. In addition to securing those page rank-boosting backlinks, it also helps you create a team of ambassadors who will go out and promote your product for you. These relationships typically prioritize merit, not money. If you have a good product or service, put it in the hands of an influencer and ask them to give their honest opinion. You can offer them a free trial of your software, or just reach out and say, "We think we have a superior product in our industry, why don't you check it out?"
If they like your product and link to it, then you've just built a link without engaging in questionable "link building." An SEO consultant can help you drive this type of strategy by researching what influencers are talking about your industry, and analyzing where your competition is getting their backlinks. There is a lot you can do on your own, too. If you want to explore this topic in more detail, I'd recommend reading my previous posts on Boosting SEO with Partnerships and Link Acquisition and The Best Apps for Brand Building, Partnership Sourcing and Link Acquisition.
Now You Know the Basics, What's Next?
The best way to start building your search-optimized site is with Google, of course! I recommend reading Google's SEO Starter Guide as your first step. I always recommend giving this a read before starting to build a website or bringing in outside SEO help. The guide covers some really useful stuff, including information on organizing your site hierarchy, optimizing content and images, and making your site mobile friendly. And that's just a sampling. It's really a great resource, and I highly recommend taking a look.
I hope this article has given you a good overview of SEO, and a framework to keep in mind when building your strategy. There are tons of resources out there, but I think that understanding the three basic pillars of SEO will put you in the position to build a strong website that is poised to do well in search rankings.