On-Page SEO and Off-Page SEO: The Differences Explained
February 8th 2021 | By Emma Grant
All good SEO campaigns will include both on-page and off-page strategies. That’s a given. But what exactly does off-page SEO mean? And what does on-page SEO entail? The answers to these questions are precisely what we’re going to explore in this post.
Search engine optimisation involves an array of strategies. The thing is, none of them will deliver results alone. They all need to work harmoniously alongside each other, otherwise goals won’t be met, search engine visibility won’t improve and leads and sales won’t increase.
As SEO strategies go, there are two main camps. On-page SEO relates to anything that’s done ON your website to help boost its search engine rankings. Some of this is fairly straightforward, such as content creation, whilst other elements can call for a fair bit of technical savvy.
Off-page SEO on the other hand is what goes on outside of your website. Whilst off-page SEO is less within your control, there are steps that can be taken to make it work for you, providing you have a certain degree of insider knowledge.
So, let’s break it down then and discover precisely what is on page SEO, what is off page SEO, and how to use them both to crack those coveted top search engine positions.
What is on page SEO?
Your aim is of course to get to the top of the search results, but you also want to show visitors a website that they will enjoy using.
On-page SEO is anything that’s done on your actual website with the goal of optimising it for search engine success and, crucially, for user experience too. It could be something you can see, such as adding search engine optimised content like blogs and landing pages, or it could be something that’s done behind the scenes, such as optimising meta tags or structuring your URLs.
On page SEO is important because it provides search engines with signals to help them understand what your content is all about. It is also, as mentioned, a major driver of user experience, which is something that cannot be ignored.
What are some examples of on-page SEO known to boost Google rankings?
Let’s take a look at a few examples of on page SEO…
URL structuring – the address structure of your web pages has a significant impact on SEO. Google and other search engines use URLs to understand the hierarchy of the page, but users will also base their decision to click on your link on what they see in a URL. Incorporating into the URL your primary keyword for the page is crucial, and making the link appear descriptive through categories and sub-categories will really help both search engines and visitors too.
Meta title and description optimisation – the title of your page and its meta description are the first things users see when they come across your listings in the search results. Both are your best shot at reeling them in and making your search results more enticing. Search-optimised phrases including your primary keyword plus related terms are must-includes. Fail to optimise meta descriptions, and Google will automatically generate its own, which may not be as compelling.
Image Alt-Text – this is your chance to describe the content of any images on your website, useful for those using screen readers, or for when the image doesn’t load. But more than this, it’s a vital on-page SEO tactic. Add your primary keyword to the text, but keep it relevant, because users are just as important as the search engines. Here’s some advice on setting Alt-Text and generally doing ‘image SEO’.
Content structuring – ask, ‘what is on-page SEO?’ and content usually comes in as the first answer. But here we are talking not about producing blogs and articles, but more about how the content is actually structured. We’re talking H-tags, otherwise known as heading tags. Why are these important? Because they show the search engines how your content is divided into paragraphs, and how important each of those paragraphs is. An important part of on-page SEO involves making certain that all the content on the website is structured using H-tags, and that target keywords are incorporated into them in the right way.
Quality content production – websites without quality content won’t succeed, regardless of any SEO campaign. Quality content means content that’s original, focused on user intent, relevant, well-written and thoroughly researched. Here’s how to write great SEO content that satisfies both users and search engines. A key part of content production is putting together a content strategy.
Internal linking – linking to other pages within your website is crucial for SEO because it helps search engine crawlers to find their way around your site and discover more of your pages. It also helps to increase visitor dwell time on your site, which is another important ranking factor for Google.
External linking – linking out to relevant, trusted, authority content helps Google to work out what your own content and website is about, plus it signifies that your page is a great quality resource. Whilst external linking isn’t a ranking factor, it can help indirectly by helping you win some backlinks. Back-linking is an important off-page SEO tactic that we’ll talk about later.
Page loading speed – this is one of the most crucial ranking factors for Google, directly affecting SEO and rankings. Google wants to present its users with the fastest possible websites, which means the ones that load quickest will win the top spots in the search results. Page loading speed is one of the main elements of the new Page Experience ranking signal being introduced later this year.
What is off page SEO?
Off-page SEO is all about improving the position of a website in the search engine results pages (SERPs) using external promotion methods. Anything off-page is done outside of the realms of your actual site.
Off-page SEO is important because it signals to the search engines the level of quality of your website, and how useful it is to users. A site that is high quality and useful is more likely to have backlinks from other sites, brand mentions and a social media presence. The more off-site presence, the more the search engines will consider a website important and the higher the ranking positions it will reward it with.
What are some examples of off-page SEO that can drive better search positions?
Let’s take a look at a few examples of off page SEO…
Link building – this is the most popular and effective off-page SEO tactic. The more links you have coming into your site, the more likely you are to rank above your competitors in the search results. There is a condition though, that being that the links have to be good ones. Avoiding artificially generated links for the sole purpose of tricking the search engines is vital. This is bad practice SEO. Good links however, are worth their weight in gold, and there are specific strategies.
Social media – whilst Google’s official line on social media likes, comments and shares is that none of them directly impact rankings because they can be easily bought or manipulated, the fact is that if a post gets a good level of attention, then it will indirectly affect rankings. Publishing your web pages and posts on social media will allow them to reach a wider audience, which means more people will see them and the chance of getting links back will heighten.
Brand mentions – Google has a preference for listing branded websites at the top of the search results. This is because it considers them an expert authority, trusted by users. Brand mentions do not necessarily involve links to your website, but rather mentions of your brand name across online platforms such as social networks, forums, articles or reviews. A good off-page SEO strategy will pursue positive mentions of anything to do with your brand, as well as reacting to anything that’s negative or misleading.
Reviews – not only do online reviews across the likes of Google, Trustpilot, Facebook and Feefo inspire trust amongst website visitors, they also play a vital role in local SEO. Google trusts these reviews and uses them as a ranking signal. Claiming business profiles on all the top review sites and requesting reviews is therefore an important off-page SEO strategy. Feeding the reviews into your website will also help promote trust, a vital part of establishing E-A-T (expertise-authority-trust).
On page or off page SEO? Both are important, but what’s more important is the expertise.
What we’ve covered really are just a few examples of on-page SEO and off-page SEO, merely scratching the surface. A great deal goes into an effective SEO campaign, especially behind the scenes.
If you are serious about search engine success, and have a clear goal to grow your sales, Figment can help. To discuss your vision for business growth, and to discover how our expertise can make it happen, get in touch.