On-Page vs. Off-Page SEO: What’s the Difference?

On or off?

When you’re talking about light switches, the difference is pretty obvious. But when you’re talking about SEO…well, that’s where things can get a little fuzzy.

So, what’s the difference between on-page and off-page SEO?

The primary difference is where SEO work is performed. At a high level, on-page SEO (also known as on-site SEO) includes measures you take directly on your website to improve search engine results page (SERP) ranking. Off-page SEO (sometimes referred to as off-site SEO) consists of actions taken outside your website to improve SERP.

Stated differently, on-page SEO looks at what the content on your site is about (i.e., what you rank for); off-page SEO looks at how authoritative and popular your site is (i.e., how high you rank in search results).

Below is a quick primer reviewing both on- and off-page SEO fundamentals. By paying attention to both sides of the SEO coin, you can build a stronger strategy to generate qualified traffic to your website.

On-Page SEO Basics

On-page SEO helps search engines understand what the purpose of each of your website pages is. There are several key elements you must pay attention to, including:

  • Content: If your site’s content isn’t relevant, useful and well-written, none of the SEO work you do will even matter!
  • Title Tags: The title of your web page is critical; it helps search engines understand what the page is about. Limit it to 65 characters or less.
  • Meta Description: This is a brief summary of your page that shows up in search engine results. Create a concise description that includes a keyword or two and compels a reader to click.
  • Keywords: While keywords are less important than they were a few years ago, it’s still important to choose long-tail keywords carefully. If you need help determining which keywords you should rank for, this post will help.
  • Alt Text: A word or phrase that provides a text description of images (for both search engines and people who use assistive tech like screen readers). Provide a description that’s specific, relevant and unique for each image. Read this post for more tips on using images to improve on-page SEO.
  • Website Security: Your website should be secured with SSL (i.e., the URL should start with “https”), because search engines are placing more emphasis on-site security when determining page rankings. Learn more about SSL here.
  • Mobile Friendliness. Google now uses the mobile version of web pages for SEO. To rank well in search, your site must be built responsively, so that content automatically adjusts to the device on which it’s viewed.

Off-Page SEO Basics

Off-page SEO is all about increasing the authority of your domain by getting links from other websites back to your site. Both the number and the quality of backlinks matter; here are a few tips for building those links:

  • Create amazing content. Did you notice that “content” is listed at the top of both on-page and off-page SEO tips? There’s a reason why: Content is king! You need to continually create high-value content that human readers find irresistible.
  • Get everyone on your team to share your content on social media (and have them encourage their followers to share it, too). The ultimate goal is to generate more links back to your content.
  • Work with social media influencers. Build relationships with key influencers (i.e., people with large social followings – including your target audience) with the goal of having them share links back to your site. Read this post to learn how to build an influencer marketing strategy.
  • Guest blog on sites related to yours. Include links back to your site within those posts.
  • Get listed on local online business directories such as the Better Business Bureau, Google My Business, Yelp and TripAdvisor.

What’s the right SEO strategy for your business?

Let BARQAR’s marketing experts help you decide. We’ll audit your site, review what you’re doing right and provide practical suggestions to rank higher in search and generate more traffic to your website.

Get your free SEO audit from BARQAR.

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