SEO Pillars: How to Build a Strong Foundation for Your Online Strategy

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Four SEO pillars against the sky.

You need to know the 4 SEO pillars to develop a good foundation for your online marketing strategy.

These pillars are the core principles that help you make sure your website is optimized.

In this post, we’ll go through the 4 major pillars and how they play into a strong SEO strategy.

SEO Pillar #1: Technical SEO

Technical SEO is the optimization that you apply to your website behind the scenes. The aim is to improve visibility and rankings by making the website crawlable, indexable, and understandable to search engines. 


Search engines use software called crawlers to browse your website. Technical SEO best practices guide your site structure to become clear and organized for them. A proper sitemap, for example, tells crawlers where to go. This path makes it easy for search engines to find all your content.


Optimizing elements like title tags, meta descriptions, and header structures helps crawlers understand your content. As the crawlers navigate your website, these tags are like clear labels and descriptions for crawlers so the search engines can properly categorize your content in their index. This way, users know what they’re getting, and your pages get tagged as accurate.


Most people use mobile devices to search on the internet. Technical SEO helps generate responsive pages that automatically adjust to users’ screen sizes. This means they can see your website clearly no matter what device they have. By providing a more positive user experience, your website has a better chance of ranking in search results.

Website Speed

Technical SEO also looks at optimizing website speed because this helps both users and search engines. Fast loading times improve the experience and make it easier for crawlers to navigate and index your content.


Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) are both encryption protocols. They secure communication between users’ web browsers and your website. SSL certificates verify the authenticity of your website, which means users can trust it. HTTPS works similarly. Search engines rank safe websites higher because they protect sensitive information like login credentials, credit card details, and personal data. This is an often overlooked but most crucial of SEO pillars.

Two women looking at website content on a laptop.

SEO Pillar #2: On-page SEO

On-page SEO optimizes both web page content that users see and HTML source code that search engines look at. 

Content Optimization

High-quality content is the cornerstone of on-page SEO. It begins with unique, informative, and valuable information that’s relevant to your target audience’s search intent. Then you strategically add in keywords that target users who are looking for that information. 

HTML Optimization

Uniform Resource Locators

Start with your page URL structure, which shows the address of a webpage. For example, https://subdoman.websitename.topleveldomain/subdirectory/path. The parts you can control are the subdomains (if you have them), subdirectories and paths. 

A subdomain is a major section of the website, the part that you would see before the name of your website. A subdirectory or subfolder is a section of your website under the main part, like a category in your online store. The path is where a specific file or page is, like a blog post. 

URL structures tell search engines where to find content and its level of importance based on its location. Users mostly rely on menus, but advanced users can track URLs, too. Make sure you have a unique, clear and descriptive URL for each page that reflects its content.

With optimized URLs, you can get the most out of strategically linking to relevant internal pages within your website. This signals content importance to search engines and improves user navigation.

Title and Header Tags

Content and HTML optimization overlap in the area of title and header tags, and images. These elements are visible to users and coded for search engines to notice. 

For users, titles help them see what a page is about. Headings (H1 page titles) and subheadings (H2-H6 tags) as well as images help to break up the text content. This way, it’s easier for readers to scan. For search engines, the tags show content hierarchy and readability. Your title and header tags need to be interesting and contain a spread of your main keywords and variations. 

Descriptions and Images

Meta descriptions appear under the title tags in search results. They need to be concise and informative summaries of the page content for both users and search engines. 

You also need relevant images with correct alt tags, or alternative descriptions. This is text that tells what’s in the image and includes your relevant, target keyword. Alt tags help search engines understand the images and improve accessibility for visually impaired users.

When all your tags accurately reflect your webpage content, they work together to attract user clicks and improve rankings.

Two computer monitors showing code, image, and text content for a website.

SEO Pillar #3: Content

As mentioned in the previous section, high-quality, engaging content satisfies search intent. This is what search engines look for above all because it’s why users are on the search engine to begin with. Content is the most complex but highly valuable of the SEO pillars.

The EEAT principle – Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness – accurately summarizes this concept. This gives you content that resonates with both users and search engines. 

EEAT is a core concept in Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines. They guide human evaluators in assessing the quality and value of search results. This is why they’re great for website owners like you, so you can stay on top of your SEO game. Note that EEAT is not a direct ranking factor, the principle is crucial for high-quality content that ranks well.


Google loves content that demonstrates practical knowledge and unique insights. Aim to give firsthand experience and show proven success on the topic. This adds value to content, especially for YMYL topics – those that deal with Your Money or Your Life.


Demonstrating a deep understanding of the topic is particularly important topics like health, finance, and legal matters. Google looks for citations of reliable and trustworthy sources to back up claims. These links strengthen your website’s image as a content expert.


Google rewards content from well-established authors and websites with good reputations. The search engine considers them recognized authorities in the field, and their words carry more weight. Establish consistency in publishing quality content. Build up a name for internal content authors and invite reputable guests to publish on your website. 


Google penalizes content that is not accurate or is misleading. They reward verifiable content and transparency about authors’ credentials, affiliations, and any potential biases. This builds trust, alongside encryption and other security measures that demonstrate a commitment to user safety and data protection.

A man typing on a laptop.

SEO Pillar #4: Off-page SEO

Proper off-page SEO focuses on building your website’s reputation and authority through external means. This includes techniques like link building, social media engagement, and influencer partnerships. These helps users, but are mostly for search engines.

Link Building

One of the most important off-page SEO strategies is earning backlinks from high-quality, relevant websites. Backlinks act like votes of trust for your website that search engines count to rate how valuable and trustworthy your content is. You can use a variety of link building strategies, like guest blogging, creating link-worthy content, and broken link building.

Brand Building and Public Relations (PR)

Increasing overall awareness for your brand online can positively impact your website’s search ranking. You can achieve this through online advertising, social media marketing,public relations, and influencer marketing.

You can also develop an outreach system for securing positive media coverage and features. Focus on online publications, news articles, and industry blogs related to your niche. This generates valuable backlinks and enhances your website’s credibility.

Content Marketing

If I haven’t mentioned it enough, Google loves high-quality, shareable content. Develop a system for regularly publishing engaging content that people can easily share across different platforms. This can drive referral traffic back to your website and improve brand awareness.

Local SEO

Google My Business allows local businesses to claim and optimize profiles for better local visibility. First, make sure your business information is accurate and consistent across all your listings on the web, though. Then, strategically promote your profile to encourage customer reviews, which builds trust and local authority.

Don’t forget to build citations on local directories and websites that are relevant to your industry. This can improve your local search ranking even further.

Social Media Marketing

Maintain an active social media presence by regularly engaging with your audience on popular platforms. Getting on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram can increase brand awareness, build relationships and drive quality traffic back to your website.

Get on online forums and communities, too, and participate in relevant industry events. Research which ones work for your business and maintain a genuine presence there. Participating in relevant discussions gives you the chance to establish yourself as an expert. You can also potentially earn backlinks through your contributions.

Influencer Marketing

Partnering with relevant influencers in your niche exposes your website to a wider audience. This builds brand awareness and potentially generates valuable backlinks. Most of all, it gives you a quality endorsement from a person who is seen, known, loved, and trusted.

Advanced SEO Tips and Strategies

Leveraging AI

Using AI can help you streamline your SEO workflow and create a more competitive and user-friendly website. It can also give you valuable data-driven insights. Be careful to be strategic, though, because AI is only a tool. Google is on to sites that have abused AI content

All things considered, artificial intelligence has become a game-changer for SEO. It offers powerful options and insights for website optimization. It can give you enhanced keyword research by analyzing vast amounts of search data. This helps you target the right audience and create better search intent-focused content.

Advanced Analytics

After this, AI can automatically track your rankings and deliver insights into your website’s overall performance. This allows you to focus on adjusting your strategy instead of spending time researching.

AI can analyze your website to identify any technical SEO issues. This helps you prioritize website improvements that directly impact search engine ranking. It can even analyze your existing content alongside competitor websites to show you trending topics and content clusters. Use this to create a more comprehensive content strategy that can cover all the available relevant subtopics in your niche.

Predictive SEO

Predictive SEO uses AI and machine learning to analyze trends and data. This allows you to proactively optimize your website for better future search performance. AI can analyze user search trends and predict future queries. This makes anticipating user needs much easier. Then you can focus on creating the content that users will soon crave, which positions your website for faster future ranking.

Wrapping It Up

By implementing a combination of techniques from these four main SEO pillars, you can build a strong online presence. When you establish trust and authority in your field, you can attract more organic traffic to your website. SEO is a long-term strategy, but if you focus on creating value, you can build a strong foundation. The key is quality and consistency in your content, relationship-building, and promotion.

SEO Pillars: Your Burning Questions Answered

A woman preparing to write on a notepad.

How often should I revisit my SEO strategy to incorporate new trends?

Changes in search engine algorithms can impact your existing SEO strategies, I recommend checking trends for fast-paced industries like technology or fashion every 3-6 months. For more stable industries, you can revisit your overall strategy every 6-12 months. I would still schedule a review of performance data and competitor tactics every quarter at least. 

How can small businesses compete with larger companies in SEO?

Large companies may have more resources for SEO than small businesses. However, several advantages can help these businesses compete. 

First, you can focus on a niche while larger companies target broad keywords. Niche keywords are easier to rank for. You can dominate specific niches with long-tail keyword targeting for unique offerings. Smaller teams are also usually better able to adapt to changes and update content quicker. This allows you to stay relevant to current trends and user needs, unlike larger, bureaucratic organizations.

Second, as a small business, you can also leverage your niche focus to create highly relevant content. With the ability to more deeply understand their target audience, you can bring greater value. This can establish you as a trusted authority. 

Similarly, you can provide more personalized customer service. This is a valuable opportunity to build stronger relationships with customers, which encourages more positive reviews and testimonials. These are crucial for local SEO especially. 

Finally, smaller teams are also usually better able to adapt to changes and update content quicker. This allows you to stay relevant to current trends and user needs, unlike larger, bureaucratic organizations.

Want me to run SEO for you? 
Apply to work with me & my SEO team. I’ll research your SEO then reach out with next steps. 

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better SEO?

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About Connor Gillivan

In the past 10 years, I’ve started 7 businesses & built two to $10M+ in annual revenue, teams of 30+ & an exit in 2019. Today, I run SEO & growth for my 4 B2B companies while teaching millions how to make SEO simple.

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