The 4 types of SEO you need to know in order to rank

Feb 19, 2024 | Marketing, SEO

Does hearing the term “SEO” make your eyes glaze over? Or worse, cause some kind of feeling of dread or discomfort? Let’s change that. Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the best ways to grow your business, and contrary to popular belief, it’s actually a simple strategy at its core. It’s more simple, I would even argue, than social media marketing.

To illustrate how simple SEO can be, we’re going to break it down into four categories: on-page, off-page, technical, and local. Each of these types of SEO contribute to your website rankings and traffic in different ways. In this guide, we’ll cover what you need to know about each in order to see results with SEO.

Why is SEO important?

Before we dive in, it’s important to first understand the benefits of SEO and how it can support you in achieving your business goals. If you don’t see the value and potential of SEO for your business, it’ll be hard to motivate yourself to continue working at it, especially since it takes time (typically several months) to start seeing results.

So, what is SEO exactly? Simply put, it’s a marketing strategy for increasing both the quality and quantity of organic traffic going to your website. Organic traffic refers to website visits that you didn’t pay for through advertising. In other words, SEO is a free way to get more eyes on your website, in turn growing your audience and sales.

Most people focus on quantity when thinking about SEO; in other words, their main concern is getting more visitors and pageviews. But although quantity is certainly important and something you should aim to increase, it’s equally important to consider the quality of that increased traffic. It won’t do you much good to double your website traffic if none of those new visitors fit your ideal audience profile.

If you’re not sure who your ideal audience is, grab a copy of my free brand clarity workbook. This is important to clarify before you invest time in SEO!

To summarize, SEO is important because it can help you:

  • Grow your website traffic without paid ads (quantity)
  • Attract website visitors who align with your ideal audience profile (quality)
  • Increase your revenue by reaching more of your ideal customers
  • Grow your brand’s reach steadily without relying on fickle social media platforms

The 4 types of SEO

Without further ado, let’s get into the four types of SEO you’ll need to understand in order to implement SEO effectively.

1. On-page SEO

On-page SEO is the most important, as well as the meatiest, type of SEO to understand, so we’ll start here. In a nutshell, on-page SEO involves optimizing your website pages for specific keywords.

This process can be broken down into three steps:

  1. Keyword research: discovering which words and phrases your audience types into search engines to find information about your industry. In general, you should aim for long-tail keywords (3 or more words, e.g. “Philadelphia web designer”).
  2. Keyword optimization: Once you have your keywords, you’ll need to optimize the content on your website in order to rank for them. Assign one primary keyword to each page on your site, including blog posts, and aim for a keyword density of 1-3% (1-3 instances for every 100 words of content).
  3. Metadata: In addition to using keywords in your website content, you’ll need to add them to your page titles, meta descriptions, page URLs, and image tags. Most modern web platforms like Squarespace, WordPress, and Wix make these fields easy to find and edit (a quick Google search can help you find them if not).

For an in-depth guide on finding and implementing keywords on your site, click here to sign up for my free SEO masterclass.

Related post: Blogging for SEO: How to write posts that rank on Google

2. Off-page SEO

Once you’ve mastered on-page SEO, you should start implementing off-page SEO in order to improve your chances of ranking competitively on Google. Off-page SEO involves activities that take place outside of your website and therefore is harder to control. For that reason, I consider it to be of secondary importance compared to on-page SEO.

Implementing off-page SEO effectively means acquiring backlinks, or links to your website from other websites. The purpose of backlinks is to signal to search engines that your website is reputable. The more websites that are linking to your website, the more trustworthy your domain is seen as.

Off-page SEO has an important caveat, however. The quality of the backlinks your website gets is just as important, if not more important, as the quantity of links. For example, if you have a lot of spam websites linking to your site, Google will assume your site is spammy as well. On the other hand, if you’re able to secure links from authoritative websites like Forbes, your website will be considered more authoritative by association.

Related post: 6 common SEO myths and misconceptions to ignore

3. Technical SEO

The third type of SEO is one that sounds pretty intimidating, but is usually the least time-intensive of the four types. Technical SEO refers to ensuring your site is able to be crawled and indexed by search engine bots.

Fortunately, most modern website builders are sophisticated enough to handle the most difficult parts of technical SEO for us. If you worked with a professional web designer to create your website, you likely have a leg up as well, since most designers know how to structure a website properly.

For SEO beginners, here are the tech essentials you should make sure are handled for your site:

  • Install Google Analytics and Google Search Console. These are two totally free services that will help Google find your site and help you track your SEO performance.
  • Install an SSL certificate. This is standard practice for every website these days, so you likely already have this covered if you have a live website currently.
  • Check your page speed. Slow websites are bad for SEO. Using a free tool like GTmetrix, you can assess your load time on desktop and mobile and receive personalized recommendations on how to improve it.

It probably goes without saying that the larger, older, and more complex your website is, the more work will be required to improve your technical SEO. Depending on your situation, it may be worthwhile to hire a professional to handle this type of SEO for you so you can focus on on-page and off-page SEO.

Related post: 7 easy ways to improve SEO on your website

4. Local SEO

The fourth type of SEO that’s important for most business owners to understand is local SEO. And yes, even if your business is virtual with worldwide customers, it’s still worth investing some time into local SEO.

Local SEO involves increasing the likelihood that your website will come up in search results within your geographic area. If your business has an in-person component or primarily serves customers in your area, local SEO is especially important, perhaps even more important than on-page SEO.

There are two ways to improve your local SEO:

  • Create and optimize your Google Business listing to show up higher on Google Maps search results.
  • Add location-based keywords to your website to rank higher in searches specific to your location (e.g. New Orleans wedding venues).

It can also help to add your website to online business directories in your region, thanks to the power of backlinks.

Click here for a comprehensive guide to local SEO for beginners.

Master the 4 types of SEO

In this post, we covered the four fundamental types of SEO that you should know in order to improve your website’s search rankings and traffic. On-page SEO involves finding and implementing relevant keywords to help your target audience find your website. Off-page SEO refers to acquiring backlinks from reputable websites in order to improve your website’s domain authority. Technical SEO requires ensuring your website is fit enough to be crawled and indexed by search bots. And finally, local SEO involves improving your website’s visibility in location-specific searches.

To dive deeper into each of these types of SEO and get expert support and guidance in your SEO journey, consider enrolling in my upcoming course, the SEO Essentials Kit. In this beginner-friendly course, I’m breaking down a simple, proven SEO strategy that will help you grow your website traffic steadily over time.

If you no longer want to rely on word-of-mouth or social media to make sales, SEO can be a total gamechanger for your business. Click here to learn more about the course and join the waitlist.

The 4 types of SEO you need to know

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Steph Corrigan Design Blogger

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