Among the many possible SEO measures, it is important to use the ones that really bring something, and with reasonable effort.
The most important in a nutshell:
- SEO measures should be prioritized based on their contribution to ranking, added value to site visitors and effort.
- SEO measures can be divided into different levels that build on each other. The measures at the lowest level are most important.
- This leads to a pyramid for SEO needs.
SEO or search engine optimization is a very broad field. If you haven’t been involved in the subject for that long, you are often faced with a huge mountain of possibilities and starting points without knowing where to start.
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To be able to take the right SEO measures, you need to know which approaches lead to success, how much effort is involved, and how long it takes for the SEO measures to take effect.
Note: This article does not describe SEO measures in detail. This is reserved for the relevant specialist articles. It’s simply a matter of comparing the available tools from the SEO toolbox and showing which priority they should have.
In order to be able to evaluate the importance of SEO measures, three criteria in particular must be observed:
- How does an action affect Google ranking factors and how important are these ranking factors?
- How does the measure affect user satisfaction?
- How much effort is involved in the measure?
Recently, points 1 and 2 have been seen growing together because Google is getting better and better at recognizing user interests. This is particularly due to the improved text analysis options that Google can use as technology advances.
Categories of SEO measures
Basically, all SEO measures can be classified into one of the following categories:
- Measures to allow a website to be crawled and indexed
- Content Optimization Measures
- Build relevant and high quality backlinks
- Optimization of internal links
- Optimizing performance and user experience
But how do these categories relate to each other? This is best explained using a widely cited and fairly simple model: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. This describes human needs in a hierarchy. The needs of the previous level must always be satisfied before the needs of the next higher level can emerge. The different levels of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs are:
- Physiological needs: These include, for example, eating, drinking and sleeping.
- Security needs: Protection from attacks and maintaining physical integrity, but also financial security
- Social needs: Family, friends, wider social connections
- Individual needs: eg desire for professional success and reputation
- Self-actualization: creativity, personality development
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
Despite all the criticism, Maslow’s model has survived to this day and can at least serve as a simplifying basis for explaining many phenomena.
This hierarchical structure can also be applied to the importance of SEO measures. Following Maslow, the pyramid of SEO needs would look like this:
crawlability and indexing
At the lowest level are the crawling and indexing capabilities of a website. Only if these are provided can the website appear in the search results of Google and other search engines. If there are problems here, such as a misconfigured robots.txt blocking crawling, appropriate countermeasures should be taken. Other examples of problems that can prevent crawling and/or indexing are incorrect meta crawler tags (“noindex”) for pages that should be indexed, or sending server errors when trying to retrieve individual pages from a website . Only when a website can be crawled and indexed does it make sense to look at the next higher levels of the pyramid of SEO needs.
content / content
The next level is the website content. They are the most important ranking factor for Google. Ranking well for competitive keywords can only be achieved if relevant, value-added content for users is available on a website. Recently, Google has increased its requirements for website content. This is ensured not least by the various major updates , the useful content update and the product review updates. All of these are designed to ensure that original content based on experience, specialist knowledge and your own insights appear higher in search results. It’s always about relevance and added value. Copied and auto-generated content, on the other hand, should be devalued.
Especially with large websites, the question arises as to how the content should be optimized. The motto here is “quality over quantity”. It is better to have a little quality content than a lot of low quality content. Therefore, website pages and content should be prioritized: the most important content is optimized first, all other content follows later. When creating new content, quality should prevail over quantity.
Backlinks are still very important when it comes to ranking in Google. For Google, backlinks are a signal of a website’s popularity and authority. However, it would be a mistake to rely solely on link building because of the supposed importance of backlinks. Backlinks are only useful if they are used in combination with the basic measures of the pyramid of SEO needs. A website that cannot be crawled or indexed will not achieve serious rankings, even with the best backlinks. This also applies if relevant content is missing.
Internal linking is still a ranking factor that is often underestimated. Google uses internal links to evaluate the importance and thematic relevance of a website’s pages. By setting internal links in a targeted way, a page can get a significant boost in rankings. It is important to ensure that links come from relevant sites. Anchor texts should also be chosen appropriately. The placement of the links also plays a role. Editorial links from the continuous text are especially valuable.
There are different ways to check the internal links on the pages of a website. One is tools like Screaming Frog, which can provide at least a rough overview of the internal popularity of individual pages through link analysis. If you want to know more about this, you can calculate the internal PageRank of the pages. The calculation works like PageRank on the web, which Google also uses, except that the calculation is limited to website pages.
performance and user experience
Much has been written about performance metrics such as website load times. The user experience also includes things like mobile-friendliness, secure transmission over HTTPS, and no annoying pop-ups or so-called interstitial ads. Google has grouped these things under the term Page Experience , which is a ranking factor. An essential part of the page experience are basic web metrics , which in addition to load time also include page response speed and page visual stability when loading.
It has a wide range of optimization options, especially for improving performance. Some of them are easy to implement while others are very complicated. This is where many make the mistake of putting too much work into small incremental improvements that end up yielding little. It should be emphasized in particular that the performance of the website has only a relatively small weight among the ranking factors. Google refers to ranking factors of low importance as decisive : These are ranking factors that make the difference when there is a deadlock with other ranking factors. The main network metrics that describe the performance of websites are more important than poor results , but have much less impact than, for example, content relevance.
Prioritizing SEO measures should be based on their effectiveness. Measures that have a big impact and require relatively little effort are important. First, it must be ensured that search engines can crawl and index the content at all. The content itself is the next level, followed by backlinks and internal links. Performance and user experience are top notch. However, this does not mean that they are unimportant. A website must of course be usable in principle to function. This is mainly about technical optimizations that raise the website from sufficient to very good technical performance and user experience.
If you want to learn more about the importance of SEO measures, you should check out Google Search Essentials . This is a very good description of the basic requirements that need to be met in order for a website to show up in search and what needs to be done to consistently achieve good rankings.