You may have heard the terms on-page and off-site SEO before. But you are still not sure what they mean and how they affect the performance of your website. In this article, we will attempt to create a comprehensive guide to help you understand these concepts.
On-page and off-page SEO are practices, actions and tasks that will help search engines (not only Google, but also Bing) display your website in search results on a higher position for searches related to your field of activity, products and services. This is a general definition, but now we will get a bit more in depth.
What are On-Page and Off-Page SEO?
On-page SEO refers to actions you perform within the structure of your website in order to help search engines find it, index it and rank it. On-page SEO is 100% the responsibility of the website owner: the good or less good results are directly connected to what you do to optimise your website.
Off-page SEO refers to the ranking and reputation your website gains from outside sources, such as other websites and the social media. Thus, off-page SEO is only partly under control. For example, you cannot control how many people link back to your site, but you can create quality content that people will what to share and use as reliable source of information.
Are On-Page and Off-Page SEO Equally Important?
One of the most frequently asked questions by small business owners is: which one should I focus on, on-page or off-page SEO? Which one of them is more important?
A simple analogy to this question is asking which is more important for car safety: the airbags or the brakes? The correct answer is both, and this is what we will also say about on-page and off-page SEO.
Both have important contributions to the way Google and other search engines
- crawl and interpret your website,
- evaluate its reputation
- determine the match between the search terms and its content.
How to Perform On-Page and Off-Page SEO
Now let’s move on the nitty-gritty of the topic. From now on, we will show you what you need to do to optimise your website (on-page SEO) and create its reputation through outside sources (off-page SEO).
Here is what you need to do and pay attention to if you want to increase the chances of your website to get found on Google.
When it comes to on-page SEO, there is an ongoing misconception that it is all about using the primary keyword everywhere. It is true, this is one of the main elements of on-page SEO best practices, but not the only one.
In reality, the elements of on-page SEO that matter for Google are, in order:
- 40% – use and repetition of primary keyword
- 30% – user experience (page design, quality, usage metrics)
- 15% depth and value of content
- 7.5% use of related keywords
- 7.5% topic/theme of the page.
Now we will go more in depth with actionable on-page SEO tips.
1. Title Tag
The title tag represents the words that appear on the browser bar just above the URL bar and in bold letters in Google searches. This is one of the first things Google spiders check when looking for search results.
Here are a few simple best practices for title tags:
- They must have a maximum length of 60 characters (including spaces)
- Use the keyword as close to the beginning of the title as possible, but only if the sentence flows naturally
- Don’t use too many keywords in the title tag
- If you don’t exceed the number of characters, add your brand name at the end, separated by | (the pipe bar).
2. Headings (H1, H2, H3)
Headings are important to give the reader an idea of what the content is about and break the text into smaller chunks. They are also used by Google spiders to match page relevance to the search intent.
These are a few best practices for headings:
- Use only one H1 heading per page
- Use a good mix of primary and secondary keywords in H2 and H3 headings
- Use one heading every 100 words.
3. Meta Description
The meta description is a summary of the page content that should not exceed 160 characters. It appears under the page title in Google search results and helps the user determine whether the page is a good match for their search intent.
Each page of the site should have a meta description containing the primary keyword and, if possible, one-two secondary keywords.
4. URL Structure
The URL is also important for on-page SEO, both for readers and for search engine spiders. The rule of the thumb is to create a SEO-friendly URL structure from the start and not change it. If you do, make sure that you check and update all backlinks and internal linking.
5. Image Format and ALT Text
Images are essential for any website. And, since you probably use a lot of them, it is important to make sure you pick the right image format and size. JPG is the most popular image format and it is compatible with all formats. As for size, you should use image compressing software to reduce it (without losing quality). The reason for this is simple: large image files slow down page loading speed.
Now let us focus on the ALT text. It is an image attribute in the form of a text box that all CMS offer. The ALT text should be descriptive and include the keyword. It is not only used by Google during searches, but also by visually impaired persons to understand the full content of your page.
6. Internal Linking
Internal linking occurs when you add a link to another page of your website on anchor text. For example, when you write a blog post that related to one of your products, you add an internal link on the product name to the product page, where readers can purchase it.
Off-page SEO, as we explained, is not fully under your control. Here is what it consists of:
We discussed backlinks in a previous article, offering in depth advice on how to earn them. They are very valuable off-page SEO elements for Google in determining the page rank.
2. Domain Authority
The domain authority is a number between 0 and 100 given by Google to your domain name, just like a credit score, for example. The factors that count for determining the domain authority are:
- How long you’ve had the domain for
- Whether your domain name was blacklisted for various problems (spam, phishing, viruses)
- How many backlinks point to your domain name
- How many 404-Page Not Found pages you have (dead links).
3. Social Promotion
Social promotion refers to social media sharing of your content. The rule of the thumb is to add social media buttons to each page of your website. Thus, when readers find something interesting, they can share it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn with one click or tap. Also, add a Pin This button to relevant images on your website.
4. Guest Posting and Press Releases
One way in which you can control off-page SEO is creating content to be shared exclusively on other websites. This is why you should be actively seeking opportunities to publish guest posts on other websites, and post press releases on specialised websites. In all cases, you will be allowed to include at least one backlink to your website.