The Three Pillars of SEO: Prop Up Your Content Strategy

three pillars of seo against a hazy pink orange sky


June 16, 2022 (Updated: March 8, 2023)

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a way to get better results from your content marketing without having to expand your marketing or sales teams. But, just because you don’t have to add personnel to get the job done, that doesn’t make the task easy. SEO changes fast as search engine algorithms and user preferences evolve. Understanding the foundation of the practice, the three pillars of SEO, makes your team feel more prepared for changes that come up. It also makes you more confident that your content can rise to the top of the results pages. Today, we’re exploring topics like:

What Are the Three Pillars of SEO?

three pillars of seo against a hazy pink orange sky

Image via Unsplash by @robertstemler

The three pillars of SEO include:


A lot of content marketing efforts take place at the top of the marketing funnel. This strategy is all about brand awareness or people discovering your brands, products, and services online. This is why all businesses want to have good SEO and reach the top of those search engine results pages (SERPs). The people at the top get more eyes on their pieces. Along with that, they get the brand recognition of their target audience.

Agencies and companies that focus on discovery do a lot of preparation and research to find what’s currently popular at the top of SERPs and what keywords people use to find that content. If you’re not actively researching what your competitors are doing and what your audience wants to see, you’re not doing the right work to capitalize on the discovery pillar of SEO.

If you want to find gaps in your content to get discovered on search engines, request your free content marketing analysis report from CopyPress. This document compares your content to that of your top three competitors. It shows you keywords and subjects they’ve covered and you haven’t. This helps you put your brand in the right conversations and position yourself as an authority on the topic. Using your thought leadership status helps you get discovered more easily by your target audience.

“CopyPress gives us the ability to work with more dealership groups. We are able to provide unique and fresh content for an ever growing customer base. We know that when we need an influx of content to keep our clients ahead of the game in the automotive landscape, CopyPress can handle these requests with ease.”

Kevin Doory

Director of SEO at Auto Revo


Relevance follows directly on the heels of discovery. You have a better chance of getting discovered in SERPs when your content is relevant to your industry and the information your audience wants to know. You do the same kind of research for targeting relevant SEO as you do to target the discovery phase.

But relevance isn’t just about picking the right topics to get you to the top of SERPs. It’s also about creating a curated user experience once people find your content, click your organic search links and land on your website. Sharing information that addresses your audience’s pain points brings them to your site. But making the information aesthetically pleasing, clear in focus, and easy to navigate makes it even more important.

When your website makes sense and is user-friendly, that encourages people to come back to it as a source again and again. Couple that with picking the right topics in your industry and providing valuable, actionable information, and you’re building brand loyalty easily. Spending more time on a page, returning to a site for more information, and sharing content are just a few ways your audience signals to Google and other search engines that the content is top-quality. It’s worthy of being in the top position on a SERP.


The signals your audience sends to Google when they read, view, share, or return to your content help boost your site’s authority with search engines. Being an authoritative site means being a valuable resource for your audience. You’re sharing quality content that’s helpful or that people can trust. It meets their needs and it’s worth their time.

Search engines focus on providing the best user experience possible. They’re trying to bring the most authoritative, most helpful content to the top that’s going to give the searcher what they want or need with the least amount of effort. That’s why authority matters. In addition to the time people spend on your web pages or coming back as returning visitors, there are other ways to build authority with search engines.

Gaining backlinks from other authoritative sites is a big one. The relevance of the pages and sites that link to yours directly affects your content’s relevance. The quantity of backlinks doesn’t matter if the quality is low. If you’re writing about content marketing but have 100 backlinks from sites that talk about buying makeup brushes, it doesn’t do you any good. But when other relevant, authoritative sites link to or share your content, this tells Google you’re all in the same league. You’re providing information they think is worthy enough for their audiences to see.

Related: All You Need To Know About Domain Authority for SEO

Search Intent: The Hidden Fourth Pillar of SEO

The three pillars of SEO are cyclical and intertwined. Knowing what they are and how they work can help you work your way to the top of SERPs. But there’s another factor, a hidden pillar of SEO that you can add to make your job that much easier: targeting search intent.

Search intent is the reason why someone conducts a query online. Sure, they might try to discover new information about a trending topic. Only a quarter of searchers go past the first page to get that information because the most relevant, authoritative pieces climb to the top. But knowing those things doesn’t answer why they conducted the search in the first place. Search intent does.

If you can determine whether someone is trying to find more information about a product or service, or if they need a step-by-step guide to solve a problem, you have a better chance of creating content that’s relative and authoritative. That makes it easier for search engines and users to discover your content. An SEO strategy that ignores search intent is no SEO strategy at all. Adding this silent fourth pillar to your focus helps put you ahead of the competition, right where your target audience can find you.

Related: Search Intent: An Introduction for B2B Marketers

Are the Three Pillars of SEO Related to Pillar Content?

We’ve talked about the three pillars of SEO, but you’ve also likely heard the term “pillar content.” And that may have you wondering, are these two things related? Are they the same thing? Pillars of SEO and pillar content aren’t the same thing, but they are related if you’re doing your strategy right. Pillar content includes pieces written or developed about the topics people want to see first and most often in your industry. They’re the primary topics that cover what your business does and how it helps the audience. These pieces set your brand up as a thought leader.

The three pillars of SEO lay the foundation for your online search strategy. Pillar content lays the groundwork for your content marketing strategy. And they work together to get your pillar posts to the top of SERPs. When you have the right pillar content on the right topics, it’s easier to target discovery, relevance, authority, and search intent because the content is top-notch, the kind searchers and search engines want to see.

CopyPress focuses on SEO in every piece of content we create. It’s a key part of every strategy we implement with clients. We work with you to understand your SEO goals and come up with the best way to implement them. With our proprietary software, Thematical, we plan every SEO strategy around data so that you see real results with each piece you put online. Ready to send your content right to the top of SERPs? Schedule your free strategy call with our team today.

Author Image - Christy Walters
Christy Walters

CopyPress writer

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