There are two categories of search engine optimization strategies: on-page SEO and off-page SEO. What are the differences in on-page SEO vs off-page SEO? Both of these strategies are necessary for any effective SEO campaign, but they are actually very different. In this article, we will break down the differences between on-page SEO and off-page SEO. We’ll also go into detail on the steps for how to optimize your website with on-page SEO and off-page SEO. For help optimizing your site, contact SEO Design Chicago today!
On-Page SEO vs Off-Page SEO
SEO, or search engine optimization, is the practice of optimizing your website to drive search engine results traffic to your site.
On-page SEO is all about optimizing the web pages of your website. In on-page SEO, your strategy is very much under your control. Off-page SEO, on the other hand, is all about improving your SEO through other means, like creating content and earning backlinks from other websites. These tactics lend your website credibility. If you want to utilize SEO best practices, on-page and off-page SEO are great places to start.
How Do On-Page SEO and Off-Page SEO Work?
In order to fully grasp the similarities and differences of on-page and off-page SEO, you need to learn how it is that search engines operate. When a search engine crawls and reads your website, it is looking at two things: what your site is about (on-page SEO) and how credible and authoritative your website is (off-page SEO.) Your on-page SEO will determine what subjects you rank for on search engines, while your off-page SEO will determine how high you rank on search engine results pages.
On-page SEO is the practice of optimizing all the pages of your website to positively affect your search engine rankings. There are several factors that affect how high your website ranks on search engine results pages, including your site’s accessibility, loading speed, how well your content is optimized, keywords, title tags, and more. These are all factors that you have control over because they are on your own website.
On-Page SEO Factors
Next, let’s go over each factor that is part of your on-page SEO strategy.
We have all heard the term “content is king.” This is especially true when it comes to SEO. Ultimately, your content needs to be useful to readers. If it does not answer the questions that searchers are looking for when they went to a search engine and found your site, nothing else will matter. Make sure your content is easy to read and understand and that it actually helps your readers. Google measures your content for usefulness in a few ways. First, they make sure you have at least 500 words in your article. Each web page on your site also needs to have unique content. Try to add your keyword to the content, but be aware of keyword stuffing.
Including internal links to other pages of your website is helpful both for visitors to your site and for search engines. The most important part of internal linking is to use relevant anchor text. Anchor text is the blue hyperlinked and underlined text you use to link to another web page. Make sure your anchor text is relevant to the web page you are linking to. As a general rule, try to include between one and three internal links per web page. This helps search engines navigate your website and learn more about your content.
First, make sure to include your target keywords in the title tag of each web page on your website. Here is how to write a title tag: first, limit your title tag to a maximum of 60 characters, including spaces. Make sure to have your keyword as close as possible to the beginning of the title, if you can accomplish this naturally. Don’t overstuff your keywords, however. Then, include your brand or company name at the end of the title tag. Separate it with a pipe bar.
Next, make sure to include headings on each of your web pages. Heading tags are an important step for on-page SEO. Your headings (the largest words on the page) should include your target keywords. It is also important to make sure that your headings tell your readers and search engines what they can expect to read about on that page. Only include one Heading 1 (H1) on each web page. All of your other headers should be Heading 2 (H2), Heading 3 (H3), and so on.
When you can, make sure to include your keywords into your URLs. But this is important: do not go back and change your old URLs to add keywords. You can only do so if you also redirect your old URLs to the new ones. If this is not handled correctly, you risk losing a lot of web traffic, which defeats the whole purpose. Website redirects are a complicated step and will probably require the assistance of a web developer.
Optimize Your Images
Don’t just optimize your text – it’s important to optimize your images, too. You can do so by adding alt text to all the images on your website. Visitors to your website can’t see the alt text. Instead, it is read by software that helps blind internet users understand your images. Search engines also read alt text, so adding keywords that describe your content and the images will help your search ranking. An added benefit of adding alt text for your images is that it helps keep your website ADA compliant. Here’s how to write excellent alt text: use words that describe your image. Keep it to a maximum of ten words. Make sure to include your keywords when it is natural. You can also add a geo-locator, if relevant.
Search engines want to help their users find what it is they’re searching for as quickly as possible. That’s why they check to see how fast your pages load. If they load slowly, Google and other search engines won’t give you a high search ranking. This is why it’s necessary to optimize your pages to make sure they load quickly.
If you aren’t sure if your pages load quickly enough, try using Google’s PageSpeed Insights. The PageSpeed Insights tool checks your website speed (on both mobile and desktop) and will then tell you how you can improve.
Here are some factors to consider that could affect your site’s loading time:
- Minimize HTTP requests
- Keep your server response time under 200ms
- Set browser caching to a week at minimum
- Enable Gzip compression
- Keep all your images under 100kb
- Keep all CSS in an external style sheet
- Minify all JS, CSS and HTML
- Prioritize above the fold content loading
In addition to page speed, search engines also care if your website is mobile-friendly. This is because so many people are browsing the web on their smartphones these days. Good news – Google also has a mobile-friendliness test. Type your website’s URL into their Mobile-Friendly test. You also might want to make sure your website design is also easily accessible and usable on mobile phones.
Schema markup is code that you put on your website to help search engines better understand your content. Google uses schema markup to display “rich results” in its search engine results pages. For example, it might show photos and ratings of various recipes if you search for a pumpkin pie recipe for Thanksgiving. If you do not know how to write code, it is best to hire a professional web designer to handle your schema markup.
When your content is shared on social media, it tells search engines that people find your content to be useful, trustworthy, and valuable. If you are hoping certain pages of your site will be shared on social, you can optimize them by taking a few simple steps. First, have Open Graph tags and Twitter Cards installed. Then, make it easy for people to share with “tweet this” links and add social share buttons on every post.
Core Web Vitals
Core Web Vitals are an official Google ranking factor. Google can compile a Core Web Vitals report for your website to help you fix poor user experiences. Your URL will either be graded poor, needs improvement, or good. Learn about the most common issues leading to a poor CWV performance and instructions on how to fix them.
According to reports, Google is working on another ranking factor that is likely to debut next year. This signal will give a higher search ranking to websites with positive user experiences.
Now, let’s discuss off-page SEO. Off-page SEO is how you increase your search ranking by doing activities off or your own website. This mainly occurs by getting links from other websites. There is a reason why Wikipedia is one of the first results you see on any search engine results page, no matter what you are searching for. It’s because they have so many external links.
How Do You Get Backlinks?
So, now you know why backlinks are important. But how do you acquire links to your website? Here are some ways:
- The best way to get backlinks is by creating important, valuable content that people will want to link to.
- Try to get shares on social media that will lead to backlinks.
- Send outreach emails to thought leaders in your industry who might end up linking to you.
- Try guest blogging on websites that are similar to yours. Guest posts will ultimately link back to your site.
Keep in mind that when it comes to backlinks, quality is more important than quantity. You want to acquire several backlinks, of course. But the first step to improving your off-page SEO is creating shareable content that other websites will want to link to. This will ensure your website as an authority on a variety of subjects.
Differences Between On-Page SEO vs Off-Page SEO
Sometimes SEO experts are asked, “which is more important: on-page SEO or off-page SEO?” However, you don’t need to – and you shouldn’t – choose between the two strategies. Instead, ideally you should use these two strategies together to improve your search engine ranking. As a general rule, however, it’s best to work on your on-page SEO before getting into your off-page SEO. It is important to get your own site as great as possible before asking others to link to it.
If you need help with on-page or off-page SEO for your website, contact us at SEO Design Chicago today! We offer a variety of SEO packages.