There are lots of different factors that go into helping your website rank higher in the SERPs, and it can be a full-time job just to stay on top of the continual changes that search engines make to the algorithms that decide where you’ll appear.
That said, most marketers split up their search engine optimization efforts into two categories: on-page SEO and off-page SEO.
Some people might try to debate which one is more important, but the reality is that both are crucial to the success of your SEO efforts, so any strategy should contain a mix of both.
What is the Difference Between On-Page and Off-Page SEO?
As their names suggest, on-page and off-page SEO refers to where the optimization takes place.
On-page SEO relates to the contents of your site or page while off-page SEO is focused on how popular and authoritative your site is.
Each achieves something different too. On-page SEO will mostly determine what you rank for, while your off-page SEO will influence how high you rank in the SERPS.
While almost everyone is in agreement that you need a combination of on-page and off-page SEO as part of your overall strategy, there is a good case for spending some time doing on-page work first.
This is because it provides the foundations that your off-page optimization will build on.
What Does On-Page SEO Involve?
On-page SEO comprises several major factors and it’s important to get all of them right:
- Content – You need good quality content that is both engaging and relevant to your audience.
- Keywords – Keywords are still an integral part of on-page SEO, though it’s important to focus on just one for each page to avoid confusing search engines and your visitors.
- Title Tag – The title tag defines what will appear as the name of the tab in a web browser and the heading you see in a SERP. It should be no more than 65 characters and help to encourage users to click on you in the search results.
- Meta Description – A short description that appears in the SERPs. It used to be factored into ranking, but now it’s there to tell potential visitors why they should click on your result instead of another.
- SSL – Having SSL turned on ensures that the traffic between your server and your visitors’ browsers is encrypted. Having SSL turned on gives you a URL that starts with HTTPS and Google heavily penalizes sites that don’t support it.
- Page Performance – Users don’t like slow websites, so search engines factor this into their rankings. Use tools like Google’s PageSpeed Insights to help you understand where improvements can be made and follow its suggestions.
- Mobile Friendliness – More than half of all web traffic now comes from smartphones and tablets, so your website needs to be built to cater to smaller screens.
- Internal Linking and Breadcumbs – Your website needs to be easy to navigate, so it’s important to have a well-thought-out structure. You should also consider including breadcrumbs to help with this.
- URL Structure – As part of your internal linking, it’s a good idea to have a logical URL structure that is easy for humans to understand. It helps to include a keyword in your URLs where you can.
In more recent years, schema markup, Core Web Vitals, and Page Experience Signal have all become important on-page factors that marketers need to consider.
What About Off-Page SEO?
Your off-page SEO activities should be all focused on building authority and reputation for your site and its pages. The way that this used to be done was to just spam as many sites with links to yours as possible, but that can actually harm your rankings today.
Instead, you need to focus on several different off-page factors:
- Backlinks – Backlinks are still a key part of off-page SEO, but you should focus on quality and not quantity. Guest blogging, appearing on podcasts, hosting events, and press releases are all great ways to get quality backlinks to your site.
- Local SEO – While the internet is a global tool, local businesses will want local SEO since there’s little point being shown mechanics in New York if you’re in Chicago. Getting listings on reviews on sites like Yelp and Google My Business can really help in this regard. As can NAP (Name, Address, Phone) citations on local directories and other relevant websites.
- Domain Authority (DA) – DA is measured on a scale of 1-100 and is a gauge of how respected and competitive your site is. Factors like domain age, the quality and quantity of backlinks, and whether your site has errors can all influence it.
- Social and PPC – White these factors don’t directly increase your rankings, they can help to boost traffic which could lead to more people linking to you.
SEO giving you a headache? Get in touch with our team today to see how Sympler’s SEO experts can help you improve your on-page and off-page optimization.