When you think of SEO, what do you actually think about? If you were going to “practice” SEO, what would you be doing? Would you be writing content? Analyzing your performance? Engaging with your audience on social media?
Modern SEO is a complex, multifaceted collection of different sub-strategies, nearly all of which can function independently on their own as a way to boost brand visibility and build customer relationships. As a quick example, content marketing is a necessary strategy for SEO, but even without a deliberate SEO process, it can be valuable in terms of increasing customer engagement and building brand trust.
With that being said, is modern SEO anything more than just the sum of its interconnected parts? Is there any one strategic initiative that functions exclusively to increase a brand’s rankings for various search queries?
I’m not going to try and list every little factor or tactic that could conceivably impact a company’s organic search rankings, so don’t expect this to be comprehensive. Instead, this is going to serve as a general list of strategies that all feed into a brand’s search engine performance, one way or another:
- On-site optimization. This is a general term that covers all kinds of technical improvements and creative choices. Mobile optimization, site speed, site security, meta titles and descriptions, rich snippets and structured data, site architecture, site mapping, navigation structuring and content availability are just some of the ways you can optimize your site directly to be found and favored by search engines. But almost all of these strategies are as much about improving customer experience as they are about making search engines happy: better structured, faster sites are easier to use.
- On-site content. On-site content could be called “content marketing,” but I avoided using the term here because content marketing is sometimes associated with a blog. On-site content, on the other hand, includes all pages of a site. The quality, accuracy, conciseness, detail and uniqueness of your content can all help your search rankings (as can the frequency and consistency of your posts), but primarily, this content serves as a means of building customer loyalty.
- Link building. Link building exists in a few forms. Traditional link building could be considered an SEO-exclusive strategy because that’s its primary function (and most people aren’t interested in referral traffic for these links). However, more advanced, modern link-building tactics involve guest posting and content syndication — and these have far more brand visibility benefits than just ranking higher in search engines.