- Technical SEO establishes site infrastructure for search bots to crawl and index pages. This includes site architecture, speed, mobile optimization and more.
- On-page SEO improves individual page content for relevance to keyword topics. Elements like titles, headers, content, alt text and internal links matter.
- Off-page SEO refers to link building, social signals, citations and other external ranking factors. Quality backlinks are highly valued.
- Local SEO optimizes for location-based keywords and listings for businesses serving local customers.
- Search engines use multiple ranking factors related to technical, on-page, off-page and local SEO. Using best practices across all four areas is needed for the best results.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving a website’s rankings in search engine results pages (SERPs). The main goal of SEO is to help a website appear higher in search engines like Google for relevant queries. This allows the website to get more organic traffic and visibility.
There are four main types of SEO that all play an important role in improving a website’s search visibility and traffic. These four pillars of SEO include:
- Technical SEO
- On-page SEO
- Off-page SEO
- Local SEO
Understanding these four categories of SEO is key for creating a comprehensive SEO strategy. Implementing best practices across technical, on-page, off-page and local SEO provides the best chance to rank well in search engines and earn more traffic.
1. Technical SEO
Technical SEO refers to the behind-the-scenes, technical health and optimization of a website. It focuses on improving a site’s indexation and crawlability by search engine bots. Technical SEO establishes the critical foundation needed for a website to rank well.
The main elements of technical SEO include:
- Site Architecture: This includes how a site is structured with logical URL structures and clear navigation. It also covers proper use of headers, page titles, alt text and internal linking.
- Indexation: Getting pages properly indexed by search engines is vital. Technical SEO best practices help search bots discover new pages and content.
- Page Speed: Faster page speeds improve user experience and lead to better rankings. Technical SEO involves optimizing images, site hosting, page caching and more.
- Mobile Optimization: With more searches happening on mobile devices, having a mobile-friendly site is critical. Technical SEO covers areas like responsive design, accelerated mobile pages (AMP), and mobile load speeds.
- Structured Data: Adding schema markup and structured data makes it easier for search bots to understand site content. This can lead to rich results like star ratings, images, and review counts in SERPs.
Mastering technical SEO forms the foundation for higher rankings. Taking the time to optimize site architecture, indexation, speed, mobile friendliness and structured data improves the crawling, indexing and page experience signals search engines use in rankings.
2. On-Page SEO
On-page SEO refers to the optimization of individual web pages to improve search visibility and rankings. Proper on-page SEO helps search bots understand the topic and content of each page.
The main on-page SEO elements include:
- Page Titles: Title tags appear as the clickable headline in SERPs. They should contain the target keyword and compelling page content description.
- Meta Descriptions: Meta descriptions summarize page content. While not directly used in rankings, compelling meta descriptions can improve click-through-rates.
- Headings: Proper heading tags (H1 to H6) help structure content on the page. Target keywords in strategic headings improves ranking potential.
- Content: The content on each page plays a major role. Unique, valuable content with target keywords used appropriately throughout helps pages rank for desired terms.
- Alt Text/Image Optimization: Alt text provides description for images on a page. It helps search bots understand the topic of images. Properly optimizing and compressing images also enhances page speed.
- Internal Linking: Linking to related content improves discoverability of pages. Anchor text in these internal links can highlight important keywords and topics.
Optimizing each page for specific keywords improves that page’s ability to rank in SERPs. On-page SEO establishes relevance and authority for ranking well in competitive searches.
3. Off-Page SEO
Off-page SEO refers to actions taken outside of a website to improve search visibility. Off-page SEO focuses heavily on link-building to earn high-quality backlinks from external websites.
The main off-page SEO tactics include:
- Link Building: Getting backlinks from relevant, authoritative sites helps pages rank better. Natural link building techniques like outreach, guest posting and earned media build quality links.
- Social Sharing: Promoting content on social media platforms can drive visitors and social shares. These social signals may have an impact on search rankings.
- Local Citations: Having consistent NAP (name, address, phone) information on directories like Google My Business helps with local SEO rankings.
- Reviews: Positive online reviews on sites like Yelp and industry-specific directories improve local search visibility and clicks.
- Site Promotion: Overall brand and website promotion efforts increase external awareness and backlinks. This includes PR, online ads,directories, and more.
Earning high-quality backlinks remains one of the most important ranking factors for Google and other search engines. A strong off-page SEO strategy ensures a website earns the quantity and quality of backlinks needed to compete and rank well.
4. Local SEO
For businesses who serve local customers in specific geographic areas, local SEO is critical. Local SEO helps improve visibility for location-based searches like “pizza NYC” or “plumber Miami”.
Key local SEO factors include:
- Local Business Listings: Consistent NAP listings on directories like Google My Business, Yelp and more helps local rankings.
- Reviews: Earning and monitoring online reviews on GMB, Yelp and other sites improves local reputation and clicks.
- On-Site Optimization: Adding business name, address and local info across site helps search engines understand geographical relevance.
- Citations: Local backlinks help establish relevance. Getting mentioned or linked from local news sites, blogs, directories and partners builds citations.
- Local Keywords: Optimizing pages and content for local keywords that include city/region names boosts local visibility. Ex: “auto body shop Newark NJ”.
For businesses with a physical location, optimizing for local SEO is necessary to connect with nearby customers searching by location. Comprehensive local SEO improves visibility and clicks for service area searches.
Why the 4 Types of SEO Matter
There is no single solution or “quick fix” when it comes to search engine optimization. Achieving high search rankings requires a holistic approach that includes proper technical SEO, on-page optimization, off-page link building and local SEO if relevant.
Each of these four categories impact search rankings in different ways:
- Technical SEO – Provides the infrastructure and site health needed for good rankings.
- On-page SEO – Optimizes individual pages to establish relevance for target keywords.
- Off-page SEO – Earns quality backlinks and authority indicators that search engines favor.
- Local SEO – Improves visibility and clicks for location-based searches.
While search algorithm updates may impact the influence of individual factors over time, search engines will always rely on some core elements: crawled accessibility, page relevance, external signals like links and local factors for geo-located businesses.
Using best practices across technical, on-page, off-page and local SEO offers the best chance to rank well in competitive searches. An integrated approach is the key to long-term SEO success. No single ranking factor overwhelms the others when you maintain a high-quality website with relevant pages, authoritative backlinks and optimize location factors if applicable.
If you have any other questions about the four main types of search engine optimization, please let me know!
There are four core pillars of search engine optimization – technical SEO, on-page SEO, off-page SEO and local SEO. Each plays an important role in helping pages and websites rank better in search engines. Technical SEO provides site infrastructure and optimization to improve indexing and crawling. On-page SEO optimizes individual pages for target keywords and relevance. Off-page SEO focuses on link building from external sites to drive authority. Local SEO improves visibility in location-based searches.
Using best practices across all four areas of SEO leads to the best results. A balanced approach is needed, as search algorithms rely on multiple ranking factors related to these categories. For long term success, SEO is an ongoing process requiring continued optimization across technical, on-page, off-page and local factors.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the most important on-page SEO elements?
Some of the most important on-page SEO elements include page titles, H1 and H2 tags, image optimization, meta descriptions, content, and internal linking structure.
What are some great options for technical SEO audits?
Useful technical SEO audit tools include Google Search Console, Pingdom Website Speed Test, Google PageSpeed Insights, Screaming Frog SEO Spider, and Google Mobile-Friendly Test.
What are some white hat link building strategies?
Quality white hat link building tactics include guest posting, resource page link building, influencer outreach, contributed articles to online publications, and optimizing digital PR opportunities.
How can I improve my local SEO?
Important local SEO optimization tips include complete and consistent NAP listings, earning positive local reviews, optimizing Google My Business, adding schema markup, and building local citations and partnerships.
How often should you do an SEO audit?
Most experts recommend doing a full technical and on-page SEO audit 1-2 times per year. However, regular monthly checks on key issues can help spot problems sooner.
Let me know if you have any other SEO or ranking related questions!