On-Page vs. Off-Page SEO

News / 23 April

Your search engine optimisation strategy can be broken down into two main areas: on-page SEO and off-page SEO. Both are critical to the success of an SEO campaign, but they’re on entirely different sides of the fence when it comes to improving your search engine rankings.

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To understand the difference between the two, you have to understand, at a basic level, how search engine algorithms work.

Let’s break it down.

There are two main areas that search engines look at when evaluating your site compared to other sites on the web.

  1. On-page SEO looks at what your site (or your page) is about.
  2. Off-page SEO looks at how authoritative, and accessible your site is.

So basically, what you rank for is largely determined by on-page factors, while how high you rank in the search results is mostly determined by off-page factors.

What is On-Page SEO?

On-page SEO (also known as “on-site” SEO) is the act of optimising different parts of your website that affect your search engine rankings. It’s stuff that you have control over and can change on your website. Here are the most significant factors included.

Title Tags

Put your targeted keywords in the title tag of each page on your site. Many best practices go into writing a useful title tag.

Headings (H1)

Headings are usually the largest (biggest font) words on the page, and for that reason, search engines give them a little more weight than your other page copy.  It is a good idea to work your target keywords into the headings of each web page but make sure you accurately reflect your page content.

URL structure

Put keywords into your URLs if possible. However, do not go changing all of your current URLs so that they have keywords in them. You shouldn’t change old URLs unless you plan on redirecting your old ones to your new ones. Consult a professional before doing this.

Alt text for images

Any content management system should allow you to add something called “alt text” to all images on your website.  This text isn’t visible to the average visitor – alt text is used by screen reader software to help blind internet users understand the content of your images. Search engines similarly crawl images, so inserting some relevant keywords while accurately describing the image can help search engines understand your page’s content.

Fast-loading pages, or page load speed

Google wants to help its users find what they’re looking for as quickly as possible to provide the best user experience. Therefore, optimising your pages to load faster helps your site rank higher in the search results.

Page content

The content on your pages needs to be useful to people. If they search for something too specific to find your page, they need to be able to find what they’re looking for.  It needs to be easy to read and provide value to the end user. Google has various ways to measure if your content is useful.

Internal Linking

Linking internally to other pages on your website is useful to visitors, and it is also useful to search engines. Here’s an internal link to another blog post on our site that talks more about internal linking.

On-page SEO ensures that both potential customers can read your site and search engine robots. With good on-page SEO, search engines can easily index your web pages, understand what your site is about, and easily navigate the structure and content of your website, thus ranking your site accordingly.

What is Off-Page SEO?

“Off-page SEO” (also called “off-site SEO”) refers to actions taken outside of your own website to impact your rankings within search engine results pages (SERPs).

Point Blank, Dublin, Ireland | On-Page vs. Off-Page SEO

 

Optimising for off-site ranking factors involves improving search engine and user perception of a site’s popularity, relevance, trustworthiness, and authority. This is accomplished by other reputable places on the Internet (pages, sites, people, etc.) linking to or promoting your website, and effectively “vouching” for the quality of your content.

Off-page SEO focuses on increasing the authority of your domain through the act of getting links from other websites. There’s a score called “Domain Authority” (link to PB) that calculates how authoritative your website is compared to other sites.

The biggest off-page SEO factor is the number and quality of backlinks to your website. Some examples of ways you can build links to your website are:

  • Creating awesome content that people want to link to because it is valuable.
  • Social media shares of your content that ultimately generate links.
  • Outreach e-mails to influencers in your industry that ultimately link to you.
  • Guest blogging on sites related to yours. These guest posts will have links back to your site.

While link quantity is still important, content creators and SEO professionals are realising that link quality is now more important than link quantity, and as such, creating shareable content is the first step to earning valuable links and improving your off-page SEO. How many links do you need for good off-page SEO?  That is a tough question and it’s going to be based on the domain authority of your competitors, as you want to make sure you’re playing in the same sandbox. SEOs also used to believe that buying links was a valid way of link building; however, Google will now penalise you for buying links in an attempt to manipulate page rank. You can also be penalised for submitting your links to link directories whose sole purpose is to increase your domain authority. Again, quality wins out over quantity when it comes to link building.

On-Page vs. Off-Page SEO, Which One is More Important?

It’s not about choosing between on and off-page SEO that would be like having to choose between a foundation or a roof for your house. On-page and off-page SEO work together to improve your search engine rankings in complementary fashion; however, SEOs generally advise getting your on-page SEO ducks in a row before focusing too much on off-page SEO.

Just like building a house, you want to set the foundation first before building the rest of the house.  Like a foundation, you may need to come back and do some maintenance to your on-page SEO from time to time. Balancing the two will help make your website “bilingual” so that your users can understand it as well as the search engine robots- and that’s how your rankings start to improve.

Contact us to find out how we can help you improve you’re on and off page SEO, or download our ultimate SEO checklist below.