A modern, refined and beautiful website can help you generate quality leads and grow your small business. Though, having a well-designed website isn’t sufficient – it still needs to attract qualified buyers and leads for your business. That’s where SEO (search engine optimisation) comes in, and in this article, we’re going to discuss on-page SEO versus off-page SEO.
On-Page SEO Versus Off-Page SEO
> SEO In Brief
> On-Page SEO Explained
>> Produce Great Content
>> Consider Your Keywords
>> Insert Page Title Tags
>> Use Headings Wisely
>> Have a Logical URL Structure
>> Insert Meta Descriptions
>> Insert Image Alt Text
>> Improve Page Load Speeds
>> Provide Useful Internal Linking
>> Be Accessible to Google
> Nailing On-Pag SEO in WordPress
> Off-Page SEO Explained
>> Domain Authority
>> Social Promotion
> Which One Is More Important: On-Page or Off-Page SEO
SEO In Brief
With an effective SEO strategy, your website can rank higher in search engine results. As a result, you’ll boost your online presence and more buyers and leads will reach your site.
Broadly speaking, your SEO strategy can be divided into two key types: on-page SEO and off-page SEO.
If you’re new to SEO and don’t know the difference between the two, then you’ve come to the right place! Briefly, you can think of these as different sides to the same coin.
For your overall strategy to be effective, it’s important to consider and plan for both.
In a nutshell, there are two main factors that search engines consider when evaluating your website compared to other websites on the internet.
On-page SEO: focuses on what your website is all about. It considers your website content and what information is presented.
Off-page SEO: considers how popular and authoritative your website is. It considers how “valuable” your website is relevant to users.
On-Page SEO Explained
On-page SEO, also sometimes referred to as “on-site” SEO is the practice of optimising different areas of your site affecting your search engine rankings.
It specifically refers to things you have direct control over as a website owner, and it concerns your website specifically. It takes into consideration what you can actively do or change, on your website directly, to optimise and improve your chances of being seen in Google.
It’s well known that Google is a complex beast, and there are many different factors that impact your performance in search results. Following are the biggest on-page factors that you have control over as a website owner, and we recommend focusing your attention in these areas to start with.
Produce Great Content
Nothing plays the most significant role in your SEO efforts than the quality of the content you put on your website. After all, that’s one of the biggest reasons why people come to your website in the first place.
Provide engaging, helpful, relevant and high-quality content to be found in the search engine results. There’s a reason why “content is king” is a common saying among marketers.
This means that you should aim to:
- Deliver a great user experience on a well-designed website with well-written content.
- Do your best to ensure your content is easy to read and free from spelling and grammatical errors.
- If you’re delivering a large amount of text, make sure you break it up with headings, lists, images (if relevant) and whitespace.
- Produce content that’s helpful to your target audience (ie, this is why many business websites produce blog content on an ongoing basis).
Consider Your Keywords
Careful use of keywords throughout your pages helps search engines intelligently learn what your website and individual pages are all about.
However, be careful of attempting to artificially improve your results by overdoing it. Unnaturally over-using keywords, also known as “keyword stuffing” isn’t recommended at all and actually can hurt your website’s visibility and rankings.
Best practices: focus on people, not on Google. Google is clever enough to understand when you try to game their system. For example, if you stuff your pages full of keywords in the hope of having them rank higher, they will recognise this and penalise your rankings. Therefore, deliver content and optimise your site to be useful for people, and the rest (improved site rankings) will fall into place naturally.
Insert Page Title Tags
The title of your website and individual pages also has an impact on your search rankings. Place your targeted keywords in the title tag of all pages on your website.
The title appears in the browser tab for that page, and it’s also what will be displayed when your page is presented in search results or shared across social media.
Use Headings Wisely
Search engines also look at the headings throughout your page. Therefore, make sure that you are using suitable heading tags and incorporate keywords as well.
This means using your H1, H2, etc, tags appropriately. For example, the main page title should have an H1 tag. Secondary titles should have an H2 tag. Any sub-sections under an H2 should have an H3 tag, and so on.
Have a Logical URL Structure
One of the most often overlooked and underutilised factors of online SEO is the structuring of the URL. In other words, how URLs are structured and the words contained in them can remarkably affect your SEO results.
Structure your URLs (ie, your site navigation) in a way that makes it easy for search engines to understand your page hierarchy and overall website flow.
Note that this can also be referred to as the page “slug”.
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Insert Meta Descriptions
A meta description is a small piece of information appearing directly below the title of your page in the search engine results. This information is also displayed when your page is shared on social media.
Make sure that this snippet of text contains the relevant keywords and explains what the page is about. It’s worth putting some time into crafting a good-quality description because often this text will be what helps convince users to click through to your website.
Insert Image Alt Text
Alt text is the descriptive text that is assigned to images that appear throughout your site. Search engines look at alt text to understand what an image is about and what context it has in your page.
Incorporating keyword-rich & relevant alt text – a text description of an image – for every image on your website is highly recommended.
Note that this isn’t really something that most people will actively see or look at, but it’s very useful for helping Google and other search engines understand what the image (and therefore the page) is about.
Improve Page Load Speeds
How fast your page load is also a ranking factor. You want your pages to load as quickly as possible. Users will typically navigate away rather than wait patiently for your content to appear.
In a real-world scenario, your pages should take less than 3 – 4 seconds to load – faster is always better. If you’re using WordPress then we recommend reading through How to Speed up Your WordPress Website.
We also offer several high-performance web hosting options which can greatly improve the performance of your website. If speed is a high priority for your website then we recommend our Turbo or Power web hosting package. Alternatively, if you’re running WordPress then our WordPress optimised hosting plans are an excellent choice.
Provide Useful Internal Linking
When someone lands on your page, it’s quite probable that they would like to learn more about the information mentioned on your website.
Internal linking (linking to other pages within your website) helps to guide users to another appropriate page, and search engines also consider this when calculating rankings.
Be Accessible to Google
Make sure that your website robots.txt and sitemap.xml files are up to date and accessible.
These two files are used by Google and other search engines, helping them to understand how your website is structured.
Usually, your website platform will automatically take care of these for you, though it always pays to check and confirm this is the case. If you’re running WordPress then a free plugin like Yoast SEO (linked to below) is a great choice for ensuring this is done.
Nailing On-Pag SEO in WordPress
If you’re running a WordPress website then you’re in luck, because it’s super easy to get your on-page SEO sorted with the use of a free plugin.
We recommend installing Yoast SEO which is great at guiding you through optimising each of your web pages for your desired keywords. This free plugin will look at each of your pages (and posts) and give you a list of what you’ve done well and a list of what you can do to improve your on-page SEO.
There’s also a paid version available, but in our experience, the free offering is still very robust and very helpful for most cases.
We’ve also previously published an article that outlines some of the key aspects of on-page SEO in more detail. Check out SEO Tips for Beginners for more information about this.
Off-Page SEO Explained
Off-page SEO, also known as “off-site” SEO focuses on increasing the authority and legitimacy of your website.
Google will always prefer to deliver provide search results from websites perceived to be legitimate, high-quality and authoritative on their subject matter.
There are many different ways they assess this. Following are the biggest off-site factors:
A backlink is simply when another website links back to your website. The quality and number of backlinks you have to your website is one of the biggest influences of off-page SEO.
The more websites linking to your website or content, the more domain authority Google grants your website, enhancing your ranking.
In the past, this has led many website owners to purchase backlinks in bulk from questionable organisations in an attempt to artificially improve their ranking. Don’t do this! Google is well aware of this and they now know how to detect these strategies, and your website will be heavily penalised by Google (ie, they’ll stop your site from showing in search results).
Focus instead of building backlinks organically and naturally by providing great quality content on your website and fostering legitimate relationships with other online communities.
Evaluated on a scale from 1 to 100, the domain authority is a number provided to you by Google or other search engines to figure out the strength of your domain.
Sites with a higher domain authority get high preference in the search engine results, while sites with a lower domain authority are more probably to rank low.
One example that influences domain authority simply comes down to how old your domain is (ie, what year it was registered in). Older domains are viewed as being more established and legitimate compared to a domain that’s just been registered.
As with most things in off-page SEO, there isn’t much you can do to directly impact this yourself. Instead, it’s a fluid metric that will change organically over time.
The official stance from Google is that having a strong presence on social media doesn’t directly impact your search ranking.
However, there is a strong correlation between websites that foster an active social media presence and ranking higher on search results.
Put another way, having a strong social presence will lead to a trickle-down effect of building an organic and natural increase in ranking over time, but it doesn’t have any direct impact (or measurement) on your ranking.
Anyway, a strong social media presence has the added bonus generating many clicks to your website and enhancing traffic to your website.
Which One Is More Important: On-Page or Off-Page SEO
There isn’t really a “best” – both aspects work together to boost your search engine rankings.
Instead, think of these 2 aspects of SEO as being different sides of the same coin.
The best approach, especially for new websites, is to focus on what you can control (on-page SEO) before looking at ways to increase your off-page factors (such as building backlinks).
It’s just like building a home – you need to first build a strong foundation before building the remaining parts of the home. You may have to come back to do some maintenance on the on-page SEO factors from time to time.
Final thoughts: on-page SEO and off-page SEO are both important in the long term goal of improving your search results. We recommend focusing on on-page SEO and optimising your website content to the best of your ability. Once done, then the off-page SEO will fall into place over time.