Written by Willemien Hallebeek –
At Yoast, we try to combat the notion that SEO is just a trick. While tricks might get you ranked quickly, they usually don’t work in the long run, and they might even backfire. Permanently ranking well in Google demands an extensive SEO strategy focused on every aspect of your website; the technical stuff, the user experience, the content on your website, and the security of your website all need to be in order. So, to keep ranking well in Google, you should develop a holistic approach to SEO. Let us explain what that is, here.
What is holistic SEO?
Holistic SEO (search engine optimization) refers to improving all important aspects of a website to make it rank higher in search engines. The ultimate goal is to make a website that fulfills its users’ needs on all levels. Not only by providing the right information at the right time but also by being easy and safe to use. To reach this goal, website owners should, at least, work on the following aspects of their site:
We’ll also include resources to help you learn SEO and optimize various parts of your website at the end of this post. Do check them out!
Why a holistic SEO approach?
Google’s mission is to build the perfect search engine that helps people find what they are looking for, whether that’s the answer to “Where is Wijchen?”, a recipe for apple pie, or the best toaster. That’s why making your website and your marketing strategy fit this goal is the way to go.
Let’s use an analogy to explain the holistic approach to SEO. Think of working on your site’s SEO as similar to taking a ship to a ship-building competition, where the judges are Google and other search engines. Similar to a website, a ship is big and has lots of moving parts that need to be managed. Your design is the ship’s exterior, your content is the interior and services, and your technical setup is the engine. The goal here is to appeal to the judges so they rate you highly and recommend you to people.
This competition is packed, so to get a good ranking, you not only need a great-looking ship and a fast and reliable engine but also a good interior and high-quality onboard services. If you have a great-looking ship on the outside (an eye-catching design) but the interior (content) is lacking, people are less likely to want to be on that ship. On the other hand, if you have an amazing interior and onboard services, but your ship is slow and your engine is prone to issues (technical setup), people will look for other alternatives.
As you can imagine, the judges (search engines) would give high ranking and recommend ships (websites) that meet and exceed the standards mentioned above. Their mission and reputation depend on giving good recommendations, so they take this very seriously. That’s why using “tricks” to make it seem like you’ve improved your ship won’t work, because you haven’t actually improved it.
By working on improving every part of the ship, over time, your ship will become better across the board. At the same time, you’re not the only ship trying to be better, others are doing the same. In a competition so fierce and packed, every small gain and improvement will add up to be significant. With that, you may get a higher ranking in the competition and become a recommendation.
SEO tricks are of the past, holistic SEO is the way forward
Back in the early days of SEO, people could get away with doing tricks. They used to stuff keywords and internal links on pages, wrote thin and irrelevant content, or scraped content from other sites and ranked with that content. These are things of the past. Since then, Google and other search engines have been improving their algorithms by the day. No longer do they fall for such tricks (for the most part).
While Google has changed its algorithm numerous times, most of our advice has remained the same ever since we started. This advice is simple (which doesn’t mean it’s easy though!): you have to ensure your site is exceptionally good. Having a website with high-quality content, offering a great user experience and up-to-date security will not instantly improve your ranking. In the long run, though, it will definitely have a positive effect on your SEO!
In addition, great websites tend to get more backlinks from other websites and will also receive more social media attention. Remember the analogy about the ship earlier? This is similar to getting recommendations from other ships (websites) in and outside of that competition, which is a strong signal to search engines that your website is amazing.
On top of that, people behave differently on a website that they like, compared to a website they don’t understand. Google uses these kinds of user signals to find out how people experience your site. Awesome websites will also result in higher conversions. If your audience likes and understands your website, the chance of them buying your products or returning to your website is, of course, much higher.
SEO takes time
Understanding that SEO takes time to bear fruit is a key point in the holistic SEO approach. You only have so much time and resources to work on improving your site. So, you need to identify what you want to improve, come up with a plan of attack, execute your planning, and see the results of those changes after some time. Sometimes you make big changes, other times you make smaller ones that don’t feel so important. But over time, they will add up, which gradually turns your site into a better one.
In addition, whenever you implement a change or improvement, it takes some time for Google to notice that change as it comes around and crawls your pages. Then, Google needs to take these changes into account in its complex ranking algorithm. So don’t worry too much if you don’t see the results that you expect after a few weeks or even months. Just remember that it takes time, and keep on working on improving every aspect of your website to the best of your capability!
Learn SEO, the holistic way
Sure, you say, but where to start? We understand you might feel overwhelmed by this advice. Fortunately, there are many ways to improve your knowledge about the above-mentioned topics.
For starters, we offer a free SEO for beginners course, a great starting point to learn how SEO works. If you really want to put this knowledge into practice, consider trying our All-around SEO training, you’ll get lots of hands-on tips to start improving many aspects of your own site.
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Just want to read? These beginner guides are great starting points! If you’re a bit more knowledgeable and are looking for resources to optimize various aspects of your website, we recommend checking these articles out: