Learning is basic to human progress and also to the fundamentals of SEO. For any new discoveries to become successful in mainstream, there have been thousands of hours or even days spent in researching, learning, working, tweaking, and then more work before it becomes perfect. The light bulb, electricity, motor engine, and the World Wide Web are just a few examples of discoveries which were birthed through learning.
Information is the most important component in learning. We seek to acquire new knowledge in a particular field of endeavour, with the goal of applying the same in solving pertinent problems. From time immemorial, humans have always devised means of sharing information from one generation to the next. Inscriptions of birds, trees, animals, nature etc were made inside caves by the earliest men. This was used in communicating thoughts to others, for learning, and preservation of knowledge.
Tablets of stones were invented for storing knowledge and a much better option than writing in cave walls because the stones could be transferred from one hand to the other. This form of preserving knowledge was more portable and better suited for students attending institutions of learning. From writing on stones to dried animal skins, to the invention of paper production. Information sharing has continued till today where most information has been encoded in digital format, with the internet being the largest repository of knowledge.
The Need to Organize Information
The prevalence of the internet and self-publishing tools has led to a constant barrage of information, news, educative and entertainment resources over the internet. The amount of information created within the past one hundred years is more than the total information created by man from the beginning of the world until then. This much information in existence presents another problem for humans, how to organize this information in order of relevance.
Libraries have a hierarchical structure used in organizing books:
Firstly, the books are organized by schools, colleges, faculties and departments. For instance, the medical sciences section, arts section, agriculture section etc. Finding a book or resource under any of these groups becomes easier if you know which group it falls under.
Next are shelves organized according to subjects. Political sciences, ecommerce, animal sciences, are some of the subjects you will find in a typical library.
Finally the books are organized in alphabetical order making it easier to find a book according to title.
The internet is a rapidly expanding library of libraries that is impossible to organize manually or using human librarians. This need prompted Larry Page and Sergey Brin into creating Google. Their goal was to help organize the internet’s information based on relevance so users can more easily access what they need. Google has become one of the most sought after librarians on the internet.
Search engines are responsible for an average 50% of all new visitors to a website. Google being the chief among the search engines, it is only natural that most of the activities towards increasing traffic be built around Google. To have your blog post feature prominently in Google’s search results, your blog has to be designed from scratch to follow certain rules.
What is SEO?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) involves the use of digital marketing techniques to position your blog for the best possible ranking in search results. The goal of SEO is to get your blog posts to show up on the first page of Google search results for a particular keyword or set of keywords.
For example, a mobile phone accessories company may want their blog to appear tops on Google search for the keywords “best mobile accessories” or “affordable mobile phone accessories”. To achieve this, the company will deploy a digital marketing strategy built around SEO, or may engage the services of SEO consultants if it doesn’t have the in-house capabilities to handle it.
For SEO to be effective there are certain fundamentals which have to be followed. These fundamentals are referred to as SEO Pillars, and we will be discussing them in the next sections of this post.
The Three Pillars of SEO
Pillars are structures that buildings rest on. They are trusted, dependable, and critical to the buildings that rested on. The three pillars of SEO function much the same way, they are fundamental to getting optimized search results from Google. They are in no particular order:
1. Technical SEO
2. On-Page SEO
3. Off-Page SEO
1. Technical SEO
Every great enterprise has a solid sub-structure that holds and supports it on the ground, giving it strength and structure. Your SEO starts right from the design phase where very important features are built into it, making it easier to build a robust blog that can accommodate important changes that may be needed in the future.
This part has the web designer/developer fully involved because most of the issues to be addressed lie within this domain. Basic skills that are required here are HTML, CSS, PHP, and FTP.
I. Navigation – One of the factors that determine engagement is ease of navigating your blog. The sitemap should be well structured so that visitors can easily find their way around. A well thought out navigation will never exceed 3 clicks from any two resources on your blog. Your blog is ranked pretty well by search engines if the time spent on your blog is higher than average.
II. Security – Google takes security very serious and urges website and blog owners to have SSL installed. You want to make sure you have HTTPS connections on your blog to comply with this standard. Any web hosting company worth its salt should offer an easy option of installing SSL on your domain.
III. Your Hosting Company – A lot depends on your hosting company at this stage, so choose wisely. Firstly, the hosting plan you go for should deliver as promised. If this is your first blog, you can start out with a shared hosting plan costing from $3 to $10 a month. Check out plans from GoDaddy, Namecheap or Bluehost. For a more robust hosting plan, I advise you opt for managed WordPress Hosting with plans starting from $15 a month.
The support from the hosting company should be excellent. You don’t want a host who is inaccessible while your blog is down. Look for a hosting company that has online chat, and prompt responses to messages sent.
The web hosting company should have up-to-date installations on its server. Maintain the highest standards in the industry, and have a proven track record of excellent performance. To find out more details about your proposed web hosting company, do a web search for their reviews.
IV. CMS – Content Management Systems make the task of administration, management, and updating of content effortless. There are a number of these Content Management Systems with WordPress, Joomla and Drupal being among the most popular ones. WordPress remains the best option for bloggers because of its relative speed in loading web pages and its adaptability to almost any type of site you want. Plus it comes with thousands of plugins and themes for customization.
V. Optimizing Tags – There are some tags that require optimization when using them to give good SEO. The ‘meta’ for describing content, ‘title’ tag to be used appropriately to match main keywords of the blog. On the page, the ‘header’ tags are used in an organized manner to show priorities according to headers. H1 is regarded as the most important header on the page, and should be used only once.
VI. Images – These have to be planned for before your blog goes live. The size of images on a page can affect the speed. Bulky images will take a much longer time to load than the smaller ones. Remember that load speed is a factor in page ranking, so plan your images to be moderate.
VII. Broken Links – It is good SEO practice to eliminate broken links from your blog pages and posts. A broken link is frowned at by search engines and likely to negatively impact your page ranking. Ensure to scan through your blog at intervals to find and remove any broken links.
VIII. Duplicate Content – Avoid the temptation to duplicate content either in part or full on your blog. Do not duplicate post topics, or copy and paste significant parts of your blog post into a new one. Your readers may not observe this but the search engines never forget. Scheduling scans to find duplicate content should be planned well ahead of going live. You don’t want your blog to come across as one that is lazy in terms of managing its content.
The attention given to this pillar will set the tone for the success of the remaining two.
2. On-Page SEO
The purpose of search engines is to deliver search results that are relevant to queries by the users. This is done by searching the indexed web pages on the search engine servers and displaying the same according to the page rank of each page. You could say that the page rank determines where a web page appears in relation to the topic searched for. Google has developed a complex algorithm for searching the web, organizing web pages found, indexing and responding to search queries by users.
The parameters used by Google’s algorithm to rank web pages may not be in the public domain, there are however two very important parameters used by Google to rank your web pages which are content and backlinks. This pillar deals with content and some important practices.
Your content marketing strategy should help you build relevance in the topics that your blog covers. An effective content marketing strategy should have:
I. Original Content – Nothing beats original and unique content. Information by its very definition is something new. Original content could be a new idea, message, concept or process. Your focus during content creation should be what appeals to humans, not just search engines. You want your posts to rank very well in search engines, but also you need to have readers enjoy your content. Avoid stuffing your posts with keywords just to rank very well.
A unique blog post will definitely get better page rank than one with duplicated content. Google has ways of finding out if a blog’s content is plagiarized and penalizing the owner(s).
II. Fresh and Updated Content – Your content marketing plan should include post frequency. It could be daily, twice weekly, and once weekly or whatever seems convenient for you. A freshly updated blog will rank much better than one which is sparingly updated or with no fresh updates.
III. Well-researched Content – A well-researched content can serve as an authoritative source of information provided the facts are accurate. Readers who find the information valuable will share them across social media networks and freely give you backlinks.
IV. Social Share – Integrating social share buttons into blog posts will encourage your readers to share them on their social profiles and groups they belong to. This will give you more visibility and followers on social networks.
3. Off-Page SEO
Your off-page SEO pillar extends to those activities that are external to your blog and yet essential for page ranking. These are:
I. Link Building – Backlinks are inbound links from external sources to your blog posts. These links are important metrics used by search engines to weigh the authority of a site. The higher the amount of quality backlinks on a site, the better the page rank of that site. Your content has to be informative, accurate, original, and unique for people to link to them.
Your content marketing strategy should cover the fundamentals of a link-worthy blog.
II. Social Media Marketing – Social media networks are unique in the way the users interact, share posts, the niche they cover, and the total number of users. There are lots of social media networks out there but the most popular should give you the desired exposure. These are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest.
III. PPC – Pay per Click advertising is a great way to drive inorganic traffic to your blog. Traffic from this source can then be converted to returning visitors and/or sales.
IV. Reviews – Submitting your blog posts, products or services for review will generate backlinks from the review sites, and increase the weight of the inbound links.
Pillars are very important components of high rise buildings, giving them the much needed support. The three pillars of SEO do just the same thing for your blog; they bring structure and organization to your blog, help create an effective content marketing strategy, and improve inbound links.