SEO can be complicated — in many cases, overcomplicated. How many ranking factors are involved in generating strong organic search results? Ten? Twenty? Thirty? Two hundred?

A quick search for “SEO ranking factors” will give you all of these answers and myriad others. There is a lot of information out there. And the reality is, while there are likely hundreds of variables working together to determine final placement, much of what is suggested is guesswork. And certainly, not all ranking factors are relevant to every business.

Point being, it is easy to get lost down an algorithmic rabbit hole. It’s information overload out there, and you can spend all your time on a research hamster wheel and achieve very little.

In this article, I want to simplify things and outline the four main areas you should be focusing on with your SEO. Really, when it comes down to it, SEO is actually pretty simple at a strategic level.

The four pillars of SEO

The four key areas of SEO that site owners need to consider are:

  1. technical SEO: How well your content can be crawled and indexed.
  2. content: Having the most relevant and best answers to a prospect’s question.
  3. on-site SEO: The optimization of your content and HTML.
  4. off-site SEO: Building authority to ensure Google stacks the deck in your favor.

Of course, these four areas have some complexity and overlap, but understanding your strengths and weaknesses in relation to them is key to focusing your efforts.

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