What’s the Difference: On-page SEO vs. Off-page SEO

There are two main categories of search engine optimisation (SEO): On-page SEO and Off-page SEO. What’s the difference between these categories? Honestly, at first, it may look and sounds confusing, but once you get to know the use and purpose of each and how to do it, you’ll get the hang of it.

The two SEO categories have their own unique functions and intentions and differ in terms of activities and practices.

What is On-page SEO?

On-page SEO is how a search engine will read (generally through crawlers or bots for indexing) pages on your website.  It deals with your created content and the backend structure of each page you published. Implementing on-page SEO makes your page Search Engine friendly. The page gets indexed fast and easily. You should not overdo it though, just focusing on feeding the machine, you should also remember your page content is for people who want to look for information. Therefore, your page content must be highly relevant and valuable to your audience.

The basic content structure:

Title tags or URL structure

Structuring your URL is one of the keys to making your page easier to be found in a search engine. Additionally, you are making it possible for your audience to look for the topics they want to look at and doing this would greatly increase your page findability.

Your “title tag” is also important, so make sure to include the important keywords that relate to the central content and is interesting for your target audience. Generally, short title tags are better than long ones, most of all you have to make your title tag make sense and relevant to the subject content of your page.

Heading Tags (H1, H2, H3...)

It is a common practice to make your headings and sub-headings stand out by using a larger font.  The words must be tagged with heading tags since a search engine like Google gives weight to the words with heading tags.  Make sure you only use H1 tags for your main Heading once for every page,  the rest of the Headers can be H2, H3, and so on.

Keywords or phrases

Inserting keywords or phrases on your copy actually helps the search engine to easily index related or relevant topics. In the past, some marketers abused this practice, filling articles with keywords. This was called “keyword stuffing”. It made the content poor quality. Consider writing quality content but also consider if there are a few related phrases that you might include, for example, you might include bridal flowers in a wedding flowers article.

According to Alexa.com

“Most SEO experts believe that an ideal keyword density is around 1-2%. This means the target keyword appears about one to two times per 100 words. At this rate, the keyword appears enough times to show search engines what the page is about without engaging in keyword stuffing.” ((https://blog.alexa.com/keyword-density))

For a 500 words page, you could at least spread out 5-6 keywords on your copy and don’t repeat same keywords again and again. It would be best if you remembered as a rule you are creating content for your audience and not for the robots or crawlers.

Meta Description

A meta description is a short or summarized description that appears usually below your URL and headline on a search engine results page. It is a 160-300 characters snippet used to describe a web page's content. Search engines sometimes use these snippets in search results to let visitors know what a page is about before they click on it.

It is important to include important keywords in the meta description.

Alt Text Images

Google is making significant efforts in the direction of image recognition technology. However, at present, the images are likely unreadable for search engines so it is vital to create an alt text with keywords that describes the images on all of your pages. This is good for several reasons. Firstly, it provides important information for those using a screen reader or for those that have turned off images due to a visual disability. Additionally, whenever there is a problem with your image display, at least those images can be identified by its alternate text. And finally, Google uses the alternative text as part of your website content and for image search. Read more here How to add alternative text and best practices for images

More advance activities for page experience:

SSL/HTTPS

In the recent SEO updates SSL (Secured Socket Layer) certificates are becoming more important than ever because it gives your audience a sense of security engaging on your website. This is a must for websites that deals with much transactions such as ecommerce and any other websites that gets sensitive information from its customers, including something as simple as a contact form.

Internal Linking

An anchor text (short descriptive keywords) is imperative for setting your link structure on your page copy. Internal links gives your pages an instant boost by linking your pages and post from each other with relevant topics within your website. This also promotes rich experience to your audience as they get more engagement. The linking element helps to establish your site architecture and spread link juice.

Mobile Responsiveness

If your website is not mobile optimized, you are missing big time. Survey shows that almost 3.5 billion people or about 68.3% are using mobile or smartphones browsing and doing a lot of stuff online. ((https://www.statista.com/statistics/330695/number-of-smartphone-users-worldwide/))

Page Speed and Optimization

Sometimes called “Page Load time”, page speed is the time it takes to show or display a specific website or page once clicked. If you are not paying attention or checking out your web page loading speed then don’t be surprised if you are getting low traffic and ranking. Search Engine takes page-speed seriously and so too does your audience. No one wants to wait 8 seconds for a page to load.

Page Speed is affected by the size file of your page (Images and Text or Widgets you use inside that page). Make sure you optimize them by compressing the file size for images, reduce redirects, and update all plug-ins. Although most CMS websites are capable of optimizing the pages, it is important to consider how many plugins you have, the quality of code and if they are necessary.  Too many plugins can make your page load time slow and this can jeopardize your SEO ranking score.

What is Off-page SEO?

illustration showing off-page SEO with hands pointing to a link

Off-page SEO affects your Domain Authority and your rankings in Google search. Basically, off-page SEO includes factors not on your website and include the following:

Backlinking

There are many ways to do backlinking and they are as follow:

  • Manual link building- you can do this by asking and reaching to your customers or audience to link back to your websites
  • Self-created linking- this is done by commenting on a blog post and submitting your articles to website directories, guest posting and also participating in forums and using your URL signature
  • Creating valuable content that others link to without being asked

Social Sharing

Although Social sharing (creating your content sharable adding you social media links ) may not directly impact on your ranking. It can create a new audience for your website. This happens when your content is being shared. It might go viral and this will lead to viral loop and you’ll have a great chance and tendency for people to link back and mention your brand.

Brand Mentions

If your content is good enough, people will start to notice its value and they naturally tend to mention your brand or website and might link back to your website as source reference.

Tools to help with SEO

There are some tools you can use to monitor brand mentions like semrush, hootsuite, buzzsumo, and a bunch more. These have a social listening tool.

Conclusion:

To summarize the difference between the two, On-page SEO is something that you have control on your website on the backend while off-page SEO refers to the page ranking factors that occur off your website, like backlinks from another site or brand mentions, promotion methods, taking into account the amount of exposure something gets on social media, for example.

On-page and off-page SEO are both important.  The place to start is on-page SEO before focusing your attention on off-page SEO.

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