Advancements in search engine capabilities, as well as their widespread use among consumers, have shifted marketing priorities of businesses big and small today. It’s no longer about having a website, but about having a web presence, and the fundamentals of that presence are search engine optimization (SEO) and organic traffic. The more SEO you can implement for the various pages of your website, the more organic traffic it will accumulate. A proper SEO strategy employs methods that occur both on and off the website. Read on to learn about the definitions of and differences between on-page and off-page SEO
Related: Local SEO Guide
Search engine optimization refers to the employment of several strategies that make it easier for search engines like Google to index your website and serve it up to people looking for the information it offers. The result of SEO is organic traffic—visitors who come to your website by clicking on it in search results. There are two types of SEO that help to improve your website’s ranking: on-page SEO and off-page SEO
On-page SEO describes the manipulations you make directly to a web page to facilitate higher ranking. It involves optimizing the HTML code, content quality, and content structure. Off-page SEO refers to all of the SEO practices that take place outside of your website such as backlinks, link relevancy, social signals, and others.
With on-page SEO you have full control, but with off-page SEO you do not. This is because backlinks, social signals, reviews and its other factors rely on the behavior of others. On-page and off-page both play their own unique role in improving your website’s ranking. A website with poor on-page SEO but perfect off-page SEO won’t rank as well as a website that is fully optimized for both.
Therefore, it is crucial to understand the key differences between the two SEO types that will help you improve your website ranking.
There are many characteristics of a web page that search engines consider when ranking. These characteristics directly impact the search engine’s experience of crawling your page and the visitor’s experience of viewing it.
Now that search engine ranking accounts for user behavior associated with a page, the quality of your content is crucial to your page ranking.
Keywords are the search terms people type into search engines to find information and websites like yours. Years ago, websites could win traffic by “keyword stuffing” or repeating important keywords multiple times on a web page. Search engines now penalize for keyword stuffing, and can be easily detected when users quickly exit a page because it didn’t meet their needs.
Make sure you produce quality content that contains the keywords you are trying to rank for and is relevant to people searching those keywords. This will have more people clicking on your page and staying on your page, which are additional on-page ranking factors.
Your content (all the pictures, images, and videos on your site) should be kept fresh and relevant not only to the keywords you are targeting, but to the current time as well. If it’s March and your web page still features Christmas sale information, you’re not helping your ranking. Try updating your web pages at least quarterly, if not monthly.
HTML tags are the most commonly skipped on-page SEO practices since they aren’t directly visible on the web page. They are detected, however, by search engines. The easier it is for them to crawl your website and obtain information about it, the more they can favor you in their ranking. For each of the below items, be sure to include keywords and other information that indicate to search engines what the page is about:
• Alt Text: the text alternative of an image, so the search engine can understand what it is an image of. Proper use of alt text in your images can also help you to rank on Google images.
• Title Tag: This is your page title, or <h1> tag, which should include keywords and reflect what the page is about.
• Meta Description: this is the description that appears below the URL on a search engine results page.
• Header Tags: you should organize your content into sections and subsections, and label these sections using <h2> for subsections, <h3> for smaller subsections, and <h4> for even smaller sections.
Most content platforms automatically set up this HTML structure for you, when you highlight paragraph titles and choose a label for them such as “large heading” or “subheading”.
Keep in mind that your title tag and meta description are visible to users, as the title is the name of the page that appears on search engine results pages, and the meta description is the snippet that shows up underneath it. A clear and concise description of the page makes users more likely to click on it, and more traffic means better SEO.
An organized URL structure makes it easier for search engines to crawl from one page to another in your website without hitting road blocks or crossing paths. It also makes for more efficient navigation for the user. Make sure your URLs contain keywords and reflect the pages they point to, and also are organized with navigation in mind. Not only does this help search engines to help you, but clean and clear URLs are also more likely to be clicked by users.
Internally linking related pages on your website is another factor for on-page SEO, as this too makes it easier for search engines to crawl your site, and keeps users engaged longer.
In addition to the quality of your content, the performance of your web page is also an on-page ranking factor. If your page takes a long time to load or doesn’t render properly on mobile devices, users will get frustrated and exit quickly without engaging. Search engines can detect this behavior and therefore use it as a page ranking factor. To maximize your page load speed, be sure to:
• Optimize your images (for appropriate file size)
There are additional on-page SEO practices such as outbound links and related keywords, but the above practices are the essentials for getting started.
As previously mentioned, unlike off-page SEO, the above factors are in your control.
Search engines don’t rank websites entirely on the basis of their on-page optimization. In fact, there are several more off-page factors that affect how search engines rank you when a user performs a search.
The most important off-page ranking factor with the biggest impact is backlinks pointing to your website. Backlinks occur when other websites link back to yours. Backlinks from trusted sites are to search engines a kind of endorsement for your content. Some of your content might get backlinked on its own. In many cases, however, you’ll need to put in some effort. You can obtain backlinks by:
• Connecting your Facebook page to your website
• Submitting guest blogs to industry websites
• Reaching out to influencers and bloggers
Your domain authority is another off-page SEO factor that is less in your control. Domain authority helps search engines determine how much they can trust you. It is affected by:
• How long you’ve had your domain name (the longer the better)
• The history of the domain name (if it had a previous owner who did not comply with best practices, search engines will see that history and take that into account).
• The number of referring domains
Search engines and organic traffic play a major role in your business growth, is because the majority of your target audience uses a search engine to find you. Implementing both on-page and off-page SEO will help you to get found by more potential customers.