SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is the technical process of structuring and tweaking your online presence in a way that prioritizes visibility, drives traffic, and ultimately facilitates conversions. But when it comes to understanding SEO and wrapping your brain around the different elements involved, there’s one key concept that you must grasp: the difference between on-page SEO and off-page SEO.
What is On-Page SEO?
On-page SEO, which is also commonly referred to as “on-site” SEO, is the process of optimizing various parts of your website in an effort to positively influence search engine rankings.
On-page SEO is all about things you can control. It’s also much more technical than off-page SEO (which we’ll get to momentarily). You’re basically following the rules laid out by Google and making sure your website comes into alignment with their best practices. It’s about “speaking the language.”
Here’s a look at just a few on-page SEO elements that are important:
- URL structure. You want your URLs to follow an orderly fashion. Simple and concise is best. Consider using a related keyword if possible.
- Title tags. The title tag is critically important. And while there are too many best practices to touch on here, this Long Island SEO company recommends including targeted keywords (if natural) and limiting title tags to a maximum of 55-60 characters (including spaces).
- Page loading speed. Nothing kills user experience quite like slow loading pages. If you want your site to rank well, you must prioritize speed. Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool will give you an idea of where things currently stand for your website.
- Keywords. The days of keyword stuffing are gone. Today, best practices involve naturally targeting long-tail keywords in a semantically pleasing fashion that sounds natural within the larger framework of the surrounding content.
As you can see, on-page SEO centers on structuring your website in such a way that it’s easily searchable and highly conducive to frictionless engagement that maximizes user experience. (Remember that Google is ultimately in the business of keeping searchers happy. They do this by referring their users to websites that are relevant and easy to use.)
What is Off-Page SEO?
If on-page SEO is all about tweaking your website, off-page SEO is about optimizing for ranking factors that occur off your website. These are elements that you have some influence over, but that you can’t completely control.
Here are a few off-page SEO elements that are significant:
- Backlinks. Links are at the heart of off-page SEO. If you want to rank well, you need a high quantity of high-quality links pointing from other authoritative websites to your own. Some of these links will be earned naturally, while there are also methods of manually acquiring links through options like guest posting.
- Domain authority. Every website has a domain ranking score – also known as “domain authority.” This is a score on a scale of 0-100, with higher scores meaning better rankings. Some of the factors involved in domain authority include link profile, overall website traffic numbers, the user experience of visitors, and your relevancy to the search query.
- Social sharing. While social media websites don’t typically provide the direct backlink “juice” that other websites offer, social shares do matter. Search engines understand the correlation between social sharing and content quality, and will frequently prioritize pages that perform well on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Most of your SEO effort will be spent on off-page elements. This is the most challenging aspect of the process and the rules are constantly changing.
Melding On-Page and Off-Page SEO for Optimum Results
You can think of on-page and off-page SEO as two sides of the same coin. While they certainly aren’t the same, one cannot exist without the other. They must work in cohesion to generate the type of results you need to achieve traffic and conversion goals for your website.
Hopefully this article has given you some clarity on both the differences and overlap between these two categories of SEO. Both are crucial to the success of your business moving forward. Begin by ironing out any issues with on-page SEO and then give your undivided attention and focus to off-page SEO, which is where the real magic happens.
A careful balance of these two categories will render powerful results. It’ll also provide you with a repeatable model that can be used to build future businesses and revenue-producing websites.