There are two different primary Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategies: on-page and off-page. They are very different but work together to increase the ranking of the page and website. In general, on-page SEO refers to optimizing a page so that Search Engines can match it up with the best searches and off-page SEO refers to optimizing a page to rank better than other pages within those searches.
Search Engines work by matching up search results with searches. This may seem obvious but when you start looking at the millions of possibilities it becomes far less trivial to figure out which web pages should be shown first for a given search. This is where SEO comes in. By optimizing a page or website for Search Engines you effectively help them to do their job of providing accurate results to the searches that they receive. Let's dive into the two main strategies.
On-page SEO refers to optimizations made on the web page itself to assist search engines in accurately crawling and categorizing the page. By including accurate keywords and quality content on a page it makes it easier for Search Engines to understand what your page is about and therefore do a better job of matching it up with searches. In recent years it has become crucial to include things like structured data that gives search engine specific details about a page without them having to categorize it themselves. On-page SEO also includes things like page load speed, security and mobile optimization. One of the most recent developments in on-page SEO is voice search. All of these things help search engines understand what a certain page is about and that it is worth showing in results.
To summarize, on-page SEO focuses on the following:
Off-page SEO refers to optimizations made on other pages and usually on other websites. It is used to be almost synonymous with link-building and link-building is still a very important part of off-page SEO. A primary ranking signal to search engines is the number and, more importantly, quality of links to a certain page. By getting other quality links to a page (called a backlink) a search engine will regard the page being linked to as being of high quality as well. These link building strategies have an additional benefit of providing traffic from the off-page websites as well as the additional traffic from search engines. In recent years the quality of backlinks has become much more important than the quantity. In fact, poor quality backlinks can even lower a page's rank. The quality of a backlink is related to the website's rank, relevance and the prominence of the link. For example, a backlink from a page that has a list of 100 other backlinks to other websites isn't as prominent as a backlink from a page that only has two or three backlinks. A backlink from a page on a website that is relevant to the industry and content of the linked page is worth more than a backlink from a page that is not relevant. Another part of relevancy that is increasingly important is local listings and local search. Geography can be very important to search engines and by letting them know where a website is most relevant they can do a better job of matching it with local searches.
While off-page SEO used to be almost synonymous with link-building there is now a lot more to off-page SEO. It now includes managing and properly linking social media platforms and review sites. It is important to maintain and interact with all of these platforms now as websites with poorly maintained or low ratings on social media and review sites are viewed as lower quality websites by search engines. Having social media accounts with several outstanding reviews can help SEO as well as conversion rates once users land on a webpage.
To summarize, off-page SEO focuses on the following:
- High Quality backlinks
- Social media
- Local listings
In order to improve the ranking and thereby traffic of a webpage it is important to implement both on-page and off-page strategies. The on-page strategies help search engines accurately identify and categorize a webpage while off-page strategies help search engines understand the importance and quality of the webpage. It's hard to say which one is more important but it is easier to say that on-page SEO should generally be implemented first. Both strategies can take a little while to pay off but in the long run the rewards can be much better than pay-per-click advertising.