Did you know that about 75% of the population never scroll past the first page of Google results? With around 68% of all online activity starting on a search engine platform, cracking that first page of results is crucial for the success of your business online.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of businesses are missing out on organic clicks and traffic due to their lack of two very important factors. On-page SEO, and off-page SEO.
If you’re new to the search engine marketing game, you’re probably wondering, “How do I know if I need on-page vs off-page SEO for my site?”. The short answer is – you need both.
Follow along to discover the distinct differences between on-page and off-page SEO, the importance of each of these strategies, and how to use them to accelerate your brand and crack those top-performing spots on the SERPs.
On-Page vs Off-Page SEO
Before we jump into how each of these techniques works to help your business perform better online, we need to have a solid understanding of the basics of SEO.
SEO, short for search engine marketing, is the process of adjusting your online activity to appeal to the search engine’s algorithm. You see, because search engines are just artificial intelligence, they don’t actually have the brains to comb through your pages and get a feel for your business like a consumer would.
Instead, little Google-bots called crawlers or spiders set to work to gather information about your website and run it through the pre-set algorithm to determine what and how you will rank on the results pages.
This literally means you are working around the parameters of a machine to reach the eyes of real people.
Fortunately, Google is continually updating its algorithm to prioritize the users. After all, Google’s main goal is to produce the best answer for a user’s query.
To do this, the algorithm splits its findings into two main categories to get a more ‘human-like understanding of your brand. These categories are on-page SEO and off-page SEO.
In a nutshell, on-page SEO includes all of the things within your website. This tells Google what to rank you for. Off-page SEO then includes any mentions or publicity you receive off of your website. This signals how to rank you.
Let’s dive into each of these a little deeper.
What Is On-Page SEO?
In the eyes of a marketer, on-page SEO encapsulates all of the little technical factors on your website that you have control over. Each of these factors plays a major role in customer experience, which is a priority for both your customers and the algorithm.
These factors all give Google and the crawlers hints and insights on what your site is about. By noting keywords, tags, headings, and more, Google uses these hints to file you in the index. Once you’re in the index under those key terms and phrases, you’ll have a chance of appearing on the results pages for your targetted queries.
You could think of on-page SEO as part one of your full SEO technique to boost your rank and gain those organic visits.
So what are the factors on your website that you can manipulate when it comes to on-page SEO? Your checklist for on-page factors should look something like this:
- Title tags
- URL structure
- ALT text for images
- Page speed
- Page content and keywords
- Internal links
- Social tags
- Page experience
- Core web vitals
- Page security
- Schema markup
As you can see, most of these pieces of the on-page SEO puzzle are technical changes that advance your website’s performance and usability.
Together, these steps make it easier for users to navigate your website and access what they need. However, in making your site more user-friendly, you also make it more bot-friendly.
Things like improving the format of your headings, establishing your URL structure, including internal links, and designing a mobile-friendly platform all make your site easier to use and find while simultaneously making it easier for Google to crawl and index.
On the other hand, factors like your core web vitals, which include your largest contentful paint, first input delay, and cumulative layout shift all play a role in your customer experience.
What Is Off-Page SEO?
If on-page SEO is part one, off-page SEO is the equally important follow-up, or part two, to your technique. Once your website is set up for the best page experience and sending those ‘what’ hints to Google, you’ll now need to work on improving your rank.
You see, once your pages are filed in the index, they are surrounded but hundreds of thousands of other pages that also touch on those target keywords. Google then decides what order to display these results based on authority.
If the goal is to produce the best answer for each query, Google must promote the pages with the best reputation to the top of the list. Your off-page SEO is how you prove your authority and reputation to the bots.
These factors all take place off of your actual website but don’t be fooled by this ‘disconnection’. Each of these techniques plays a vital role in boosting your website by either referring to your site or linking your pages.
This checklist should include:
- Inbound links/backlinks
- Social media marketing
- Content marketing
- Guest blogs and posts
- Unlinked brand mentions
- Google reviews/Google My Business
- Influencer Marketing
- Pay-per-click advertising
As you can see, these factors all work to build your site’s visibility and reputation from outside of your URL. Each of these techniques makes your brand appear to be ‘popular’ and well-liked by the public – so much so that they actually mention you and link to you.
The more your brand is ‘talked about’ online, the better your chances of gaining that authority and being promoted to the top results. Of course, you do want to be careful about where you are featured as mentions from sites with ‘bad reputations’ can ultimately hurt your rep too.
Building Your SEO Approach
Now that you know the difference between on-page vs off-page SEO, you can start to tackle this marketing technique with purpose and understanding. From the areas to focus your efforts to the true impact of each stage, we’re confident you’ll see the results you deserve with this balanced strategy.
Ready to build but not quite sure where to start? Get in touch with us today to discover how we can simplify your SEO approach to help build your strategy and advance your results.