The Components of Success in a Holistic SEO Plan

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If there’s one piece of advice that business owners should follow to win at search engine optimization, it’s this: Stop putting it in a box. More often than not, people assume that ranking in searches only involves simply researching keywords and building links. And yes, they matter, but are just parts of a larger equation, and certainly shouldn’t be your only focus. Ranking higher in Google and attracting qualified and enduring traffic require a mindset shift. This is where holistic SEO comes in.

What is holistic SEO?

The term, broadly, refers to improving every aspect of a website rather than focusing on one, or just a few. Getting all the key elements of SEO correctly not only boosts your brand’s organic search visibility, it also keeps visitors happy and makes them want to do business with you. In order to understand holistic SEO, a business owner should remember Google’s approach with searches, which is to help people access the best information and present it in the most useful way. Therefore, a holistic plan include three tasks: content design, user experience (UX) and semantic structure.

1. Content design

It’s no secret that visual content increases the value of a website for users, but when left unoptimized, it can slow down its performance. Here are a few factors to consider:

  • Mobile-friendliness. If you haven’t done it yet, be sure to check if your site can be viewed and used easily on smartphones and tablets, as more than half of searches done through Google now come from mobile devices. One way to make your site mobile-friendly is to use clean navigation. Speed is another important aspect to improve, especially given Google’s Core Web Vitals.
  • Images. While large and crisp images look great, any browser will need more time to load them, which is why they should be reduced if possible. Using schema markup for products or images also helps improve a website SERP (search engine results pages) presence.
  • Code. Websites that have been built using JavaScript offer more interactivity. However, it creates issues with crawling, rendering and indexing content. Anyone who uses JavaScript frameworks should not panic, but start diagnosing potential issues in Google Search Console. JavaScript SEO is an extremely powerful tactic to that end.

2. User experience

Usually referred to as UX, this is a visitor’s perception of a site. If they’re able to find what they’re looking for and meet goals (like making a purchase), this translates to better rankings. Fortunately, there are metrics you can track to determine the quality of these experiences. They include:

  • Bounce rate. This describes the percentage of people that leave a page without taking any sort of action. A high bounce rate can mean a lot of things, including the possibility that the site loads slowly or that a web page lacks a call-to-action (CTA).
  • Dwell time. This is the amount of time users spend on a page before clicking back to SERPs. One of the keys to increasing this is to make sure that your page has useful and valuable content.
  • Core web vitals. Google introduced a set of metrics for user experience that broadly define this new ranking signal, which include Largest Contentful Paint (loading speed), First Input Delay (responsiveness/interactivity) and Cumulative Layout Shift (visual stability). Click on the web vitals link above for more detail.

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