The 4 Eternal Pillars of SEO

I’m a sucker for a good spy/detective thriller book.

Jack Reacher. The Gray Man. Gabriel Allon. Mitch Rapp. Orphan X (my new fav!).

I love how they’re always prepared for anything that comes their way and can stay calm in the face of chaos.

They rely on their extensive training, experience, and…

… a core set of rules to effectively navigate a world where stress, panic and bedlam reign.

Orphan X has his ‘10 Commandments’ including:

  • One mission at a time
  • Never make it personal
  • How you do anything is how you do everything

Jack Reacher has:

  • Eat when you can because you’ll never know when you’ll get the next chance
  • Try to look unimportant; they may be low on ammo
  • Never hit a woman unless she’s trying to kill you

Having a core set of rules helps when battling bad guys…

… it also helps when you’re battling the updates Google frequently makes to its search engine algorithm.

We always find it amusing to watch the SEO community’s reaction to these announcements.

For many SEOs and website owners, the mere mention of another update has their sphincters clenching so tight you’d think they just rounded the bend on a hiking path and found themselves staring into the cold, dead eyes of a snarling, pissed-off momma grizzly.

But you won’t find The Marketing Advocate’s resident SEO Nerd, Chris Clark, among the sphincter clenchers.


Because with an SEO career dating back to the Yahoo-Overture, Netscape, Ask Jeeves days, Clark has the training, experience… and a core set of rules to focus on.

All that leads to a perspective and calmness when dealing with algorithm updates most people don’t have.

Clark understands that, at its core, SEO hasn’t changed since the early days.

The 4 Eternal Pillars of SEO

There are really just 4 eternal pillars of SEO to focus on. Here they are:

1. Keywords

Do your keyword research. Understand how people are searching for your brand, products and services. Understand the types of searches they’re performing – informational, transactional and direct.

Once you have that understanding…

2. Get the technical aspects of SEO right

Take your keywords and optimize the pages on your site for them on a page-by-page basis.

Add optimized title tags and meta descriptions. Integrate the keywords into the body copy on your web pages. Use H1 and H2 tags. Do some internal linking between pages of your site.

3. Quality Content

Regularly post high-quality, original, authoritative, engaging content to your site. Period.

Read the above again. Then again. Then one more time.

4. Acquire Links

Drive high-quality links to your home page and then to the individual pages of your site.

Quality links help increase your site’s domain authority which, in turn, helps all that quality content you’re creating rank better.

These 4 pillars have been at the core of SEO since the early days… they’re at the core of SEO now… and will be at the core of SEO for as long as there are search engines.

Sure, there are other things that matter – site speed, having a responsive site, hosting quality, etc.

But you wanna succeed at SEO?

Cut out the noise.

Laugh at the doomsayers who cry wolf at every mention of an algorithm update.

Ignore the snake oil salesmen selling the service “guaranteed” to get your site to the top of Google in 2 weeks.

Just focus on the 4 pillars:

  • Keywords
  • On-site technical
  • Quality content
  • Quality links

So don’t clench up the next time you hear Google is releasing an algorithm update. It’s going to happen.

Maybe your site will be impacted. Maybe it won’t.

But if you focus your time and energy on the 4 Pillars of SEO, then, over the long haul (and SEO is a LONG haul)…

… you can rest easy knowing that when you build it right, the traffic will come.

And then some of it will go away. And then, if you’ve focused on the 4 pillars, it will come back again.

That’s just the way the SEO game works.

Anyone who thinks differently has their head up their sphincter.

Featured image credit: Image by Dmitry Abramov from Pixabay

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Adam K
Adam K

Adam has been fascinated with online marketing, particularly PPC, since 2004 and opened his own PPC management company in 2006. Over the years he's written extensively about Google AdWords and online marketing on his own sites as well as partnered with/written for Perry Marshall, Ryan Deiss of and Neil Patel.