As Google continues to make constant updates and modifications to its search engine algorithm, one thing remains true. You can’t oversimplify things and just focus on one dimension. Your SEO strategy should address both on-page SEO and off-page SEO.
To help you learn more about the intricacies of each and readjust your strategy to stay current, here is a complete overview of both essential SEO approaches, along with best practices.
What is On-Page SEO?
Think about the most basic search engine optimization tactics:
- Use keywords in the title and page copy
- Meta description optimization to stand out on search engine results pages (SERP)
- Using HTML code and alt tags
HAT’S the foundation for on-page SEO.
These are all steps that are taken directly on your site to improve your position in search rankings, making it easier for search engine robots to interpret the page, as well as giving end users a preview of what they are by clicking on the SERP. It also takes into account the overall quality of the content, the performance of the page, and the structure of the content.
On-page SEO Factors:
It’s important to approach this with a “content is king” mindset. You can do all the optimization around keywords, descriptions, and internal links you want, but if the content on the page is bad, no one will visit your site.
Although keywords are less important than they were a few years ago, keyword optimization is still the foundation of SEO today. That said, the focus has shifted to more long-tail keywords, which are better suited to the search patterns of today’s internet users.
Think about your audience and the keywords they are searching for; then build and optimize your website content around those keywords.
The title tag refers to the title of a web page or the main title that you see in the SERP, and it is one of the most important SEO factors on the page, after its actual content on the page. Keep this title to 65 characters or less (choose your words wisely!)
A meta description is a short description that appears below the URL on a search engine results page and below a title on a social post. It describes the content of that page, but more importantly, it was written to help your web page stand out in the SERP results list. Keep the description to less than 155 characters to ensure your full description shows up in search results.
Alt text refers to the word or phrase that can be assigned to an image file to help ensure that it is indexed and for search engines to understand what it is as they cannot see the images (they only see text).
For example, if you use a graphic on your blog that describes some injection molding tips, you can save the alt text for that image as “automotive-injection-molding-tips,” and that graphic will start ranking for that phrase in the results of the picture.
Page security is more important than ever, and enabling Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) security technology is crucial to improving its security, reliability, and visibility.
By enabling SSL, you increase the likelihood that third parties will not come between your web server and the visitor’s server, ensuring that the information entered on the website is secure.
Likewise, Google really prefers SSL-enabled sites, which makes increasing visibility essential.
In addition to the factors listed above, an organized URL structure is important to marketers today because it allows search engines to crawl page by page on your site with ease and makes navigation more efficient for visitors.
URLs should contain keywords that reflect the pages they are directed to, as easy-to-understand URLs are more likely to get clicked and help search engines crawl your site. The URLs should also be relatively short, use your main keyword for that page, and not use redundant words.
Speaking of links, internal links to related pages on your site are another important on-page SEO factor. Linking to different relevant pages on your site makes it easier for search engines to crawl everything and it also keeps visitors engaged longer.
While other on-page SEO factors deal with content quality and structure, the performance of your website (and your pages) are also on-page ranking factors. Pages that take a long time to load or that don’t render correctly on the mobile phone rank lower in the SERPs as users get frustrated, leave, and increase the bounce rate.
Everyone has smartphones and the search for information seems constant. Yes, mobile devices have changed the world, which is why a mobile-friendly website is a critical part of your online presence.
There are two main reasons to ensure that mobile visitors have a good experience on your site:
- Sites not optimized for mobile devices force visitors to pinch or zoom just to read the content, which is frustrating and can cause them to leave your site.
- Because all Google now uses the mobile version of the site pages for SEO
What is Off-Page SEO?
While on-page SEO refers to factors that you can control on your own site, off-page SEO refers to page ranking factors that occur outside of your site, such as backlinks from another site. It also includes your promotional methods, taking into account the amount of exposure something gets on social media, for example.
Off-page Seo Factors:
The number and quality of backlinks you have to your website are by far the most important factor in off-page SEO. The more sites link to your content, the more domain authority Google will give your site, increasing its ranking. This has led marketers to try questionable tactics for creating paid links, but there are several organic approaches you can take to produce effective results, such as:
- Guest blog
- Featured in industry trade publications
- Looking for industry contacts who would be happy to share your content.
- Invite to a podcast
- Participate in an industry community, such as a forum
- Hosting events (in person or virtual).
- Help a journalist get out of [HARO]
- Press releases
The backlink anchor text is also very important. This is why most companies have no trouble ranking their brand. Most of the anchor text will contain your name. When you want to rank for a specific keyword, you really want the anchor text to contain the keyword.
Measured on a scale of 1 to 100, your domain authority is a number provided by search engines to determine the robustness of your site. Think of it as a note, essentially. Sites with a higher domain authority have a preference in search results, while sites with a lower domain authority are more likely to rank near the bottom.
Domain authority is measured by a few different factors, including how long you’ve had your domain name (the longer the better), the history of the domain name, the number of backlinks, and the number of 404 pages. By ensuring you have a technically sound website that follows SEO best practices, you can maximize your domain authority and improve your ranking.
While page rank is not directly tied to interactions on a social media post, social posts that generate a lot of clicks are sure to help drive traffic to the site and generate a large number of shared links.
Online reviews on sites like Google My Business, Yelp, and other review sites help drive local SEO because they revolve around where you are. For example, searching for IT services in your area shows local listings. There is no point in showing you an IT management company if it doesn’t serve your area. Also consider NAP appointments (name, address, phone).
PPC (Google, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn)
I’m sure you’re thinking, “This must be about SEO!” Well, SEO is part of a good pay-per-click (PPC) campaign and vice versa. When your site is still taking off, you need to attract visitors and PPC can help with that. If you have good content that you are promoting with PPC, it generates more traffic to your website, resulting in more backlinks to your website and other forms of ranking factors.
On-page and off-page SEO work together to improve search engine rankings. By working on what you can control today, producing quality content backed by high-quality on-page SEO, you’ll be on your way to getting backlinks, improving your domain authority, and controlling your off-page SEO.
Ready to learn more about SEO? Check out our comprehensive SEO Survival Guide and download a copy for reference every time you post content on a website or blog.