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In the digital content world, SEO (search engine optimization) is more than just King or Queen. 68% of online experiences, according to Brightedge Research, start with a search engine query. Understanding the vast array of types of SEO can be daunting, though, especially as you are getting started.

In this article, I’ll explain the various categories of SEO and how they are typically used. I'll also provide examples of the types of SEO you might run across and how to use them in your content strategy. 

How Many Categories Of SEO Are There?

You could consider each category as its own type of SEO, but it makes more sense to consider these as five broader categories of search engine optimization strategies. When you realize that each of these categories can encompass all the types of SEO you’ll be tackling, you can focus on one category at a time.

As you are getting started, you will need to build all five categories. Once you have a foundation established, try focusing on one SEO category, implementing the types of SEO and their strategies as you build up your SEO marketing strategy. 

On-page SEO

Out of the different types of SEO, on-page SEO is the most well-known and recognized. The results page after a search is called the SERP (search engine result page). Search engines will often pull lines directly from the content of the page to show on the SERP.

On-page optimization centers around avoiding keyword stuffing (cramming too many keywords into the article that makes it feel bloated and difficult to read), using best SEO practices for search query factors, and building content with search engine algorithms in mind.

Focus your on-page SEO strategies around:

  • keyword research
  • internal links
  • headings structure
  • high-quality content
  • structured data
  • meta description optimization
  • URL structure

Off-page SEO

Off-page SEO encompasses all the details that take place off the page you are working on. This is when backlinks become a huge SEO factor. Backlinks have a positive impact on your organic search results because people will see your page you are ranking as an authoritative site, as will the search engines when it is referenced more often.

Ranking factors for off-page SEO are varied and include:

  • the overall quality of your content
  • the originality of your page content
  • your link-building efforts and content aggregation
  • the overall user experience of your page you are trying to rank
  • and the “virality” of the content, how likely it is to be shared across social media

The key to off-page SEO is to take high-quality, effective, and authoritative content and ensure it is shared as widely as possible. It feels more like marketing than SEO but involves all the other types of SEO we will discuss throughout this article.

Technical SEO

Technical SEO is where web developers play a major role in an SEO strategy. From alt tags to page titles to managing robot.txt files and duplicate content, technical SEO covers all the behind-the-scenes types of work that many people reading your page never get to interact with.

Here are the areas where you will need to focus on boosting your technical SEO strategy:

  • managing page speed and load times
  • meta tags
  • headers and headings
  • managing your sitemap
  • updating and managing alt text and alt tags
  • ensuring accessibility features are updated
  • removing duplicate content
  • updating robots.txt files so search engines know which pages to crawl and index

Location-based SEO

Even if your page isn’t centered around a single location, local SEO will still be a consideration as you build your SEO strategy. Focusing on an online presence doesn’t negate the need for location-based SEO. If you are a local business, thinking through local SEO is even more important.

In general, any kind of location-based SEO factors are going to include attention to these details:

  • maintaining an accurate Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business)
  • having your name, address, and phone number on every indexable web page
  • creating a local presence on all available local directories where you want your page and content to be found
  • constantly looking at local search terms and making sure you are showing up for all related and relevant search terms

Not all web pages will need to focus too much on local SEO, but every website should be prepared to invest in at least a minimal amount of location-based SEO for their “home base” area.

Content SEO

When people think of different types of SEO, they likely think of content SEO near the top of the list. Content SEO encompasses everything that searchers will interact with. This is when content marketing, social media marketing, and other types of digital marketing endeavors come into play.

When in doubt, make sure you use the best content optimization tools possible and use the below list for guidance on where to focus next. This type of SEO encompasses:

  • keyword research and strategy
  • copywriting and content marketing
  • thinking through user experience on mobile devices, home PC, laptops, tablets, etc.
  • mapping out the customer journey from Google search to the specific web page you are ranking
  • having an active presence on social media where your target audience primarily hangs out
  • creating a recognizable brand awareness
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10 Types Of SEO Strategies Explained

types of seo categories

All the types of SEO strategies listed below can fall into some or all of the above five categories. 

Once you build a solid foundation in all five categories, you can focus on some types of SEO to increase your organic traffic and search engine ranking even more.

As you work through this list and others, make sure you have some of the best SEO tools around to make the process easier and more efficient. 

1. Black hat SEO

File under: Content SEO

Black hat SEO is one type of SEO you should avoid at all costs. Black hat SEO is an SEO technique focused on keyword stuffing, spammy tactics, and finding ways to use and abuse Google’s algorithms. It’s an SEO tactic that works for short-term gains but leads to search engines forcing your page to be flagged as non-indexed (non-searchable).

2. White hat SEO

File under: Technical SEO

White hat SEO is the opposite of black hat SEO, using appropriate and best practices in alignment with Google and other search engines. A few examples are using clear meta descriptions, appropriate title tags, and ensuring mobile-friendliness on all your pages and their content.

3. Gray hat SEO

File under: Technical SEO

Gray hat SEO exists between black hat and white hat SEO, not strictly sticking with white hat SEO tactics but also toeing the line of black hat tactics. An example of gray hat SEO is building an SEO-friendly page with great content that meets E-E-A-T guidelines but then also buying backlinks to the site.

This would mean the content on the web page would be passable on its own, but you have still engaged in less-than-ethical SEO practices by purchasing backlinks to boost your organic search ratings.

4. Local SEO 

File under: Location-based SEO

Local SEO is the practice of targeting location-specific keywords, setting up and utilizing Google Business Profile data, and flagging location data as much as possible on the content and pages you are trying to grow traffic for. Some SEO agencies specifically work with those looking to boost local SEO traffic, such as small, service-based businesses.

5. International SEO

File under: Location-based SEO

International SEO is a form of location-based SEO strategy. If a company has international clients, then it may want to practice local SEO practices to build even more traction with those international clients. This can look like localizing languages, re-creating content with cultural context in mind, and hiring SEO services for that specific locale.

6. Ecommerce SEO 

File under: Off-page SEO

Paid search comes into play with ecommerce SEO. The same rules apply for ecommerce SEO as with any other SEO efforts, but taking advantage of the tools and software available to those in ecommerce and advertising-based businesses can feel different than typical SEO projects.

7. Mobile SEO 

File under: Content SEO

As mentioned earlier, mobile-friendliness is important for content to be searchable and effective for search engines. Mobile SEO is ensuring your page and content work on desktops and just as well (if not better) on mobile devices.

8. Negative SEO 

File under: Off-page SEO

Negative SEO is a type of black hat SEO that can get your content, your business, or your profiles banned on search engines. Typically, negative SEO looks like review-bombing (creating fake accounts to post fake negative reviews), feeding low-quality links to a competitor’s website, or hacking into their site to throttle their organic traffic and reach.

9. Image SEO 

File under: On-page SEO

This type of SEO is becoming more popular as accessibility becomes more important. Image SEO includes creating alt tags, alt text on images, and using features that make your images “readable” on devices and for different users.

10. Video SEO

File under: On-page SEO

Video SEO is similar to image SEO because it focuses on updating accessibility features to improve user experiences on your page or with your content. Video SEO also includes features like closed captions, transcriptions, and optimizing titles, tags, and descriptions for searchers to display relevant information directly on the SERP.

Pro tip: Whatever type of SEO strategy you settle on, be sure to pick a SEO reporting tool to measure your efforts and make sure they are paying off!

Continue Learning About Types Of SEO And How To Use Them Effectively

Understanding the categories each SEO strategy can fall into can give you an idea of where to focus your efforts. You don’t want to spend all your energy investing in just one type of SEO, only for search engines to change their algorithm and leave you frustrated.

When in doubt, check out our list of the best SEO audit tools and see where you are at and where you can start improving. Then, keep learning and growing on how to use SEO strategies, tactics, and best practices for yourself and your business by subscribing to the Indie Media Club newsletter.

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Francois Marchand
By Francois Marchand

Francois Marchand is Indie Media Club's content strategist and editor. He is passionate about helping and educating business leaders, media producers, and digital marketers grow their skill sets to stay ahead of the competition. Francois holds a BA Specialization in Communication Studies & Journalism from Concordia University (Montreal, QC) and 20+ years of experience in marketing, ecommerce, traditional and digital media, and public relations, including The Vancouver Sun, The Province, National Post, CBC/Radio-Canada, Unbounce, and Vancouver Film School.