On-Site And Off-Site SEO: A Primer was originally published on Forbes.com.
You have more than likely heard of SEO, but this optimization tactic is twofold and should be split into both categories: on-site and off-site SEO (also known as on-page and off-page SEO). Both tactics play important roles in how your website and its content are found on search engine results pages by users. And as Google and other search engines continuously make updates and modifications to their algorithms, one thing remains true: Your SEO strategy must address both.
While on-site and off-site SEO are both vital to the success of any SEO strategy, they are two completely different things. On-site SEO focuses on things in your control, such as the parts of your website that you can edit and adjust. Off-site SEO, however, is centered on gaining the authority of your website through creating content as well as increasing backlinks from other domains.
To understand the difference a little better, let’s break them down even further. First, it’s important to know what search engines look for when evaluating your website compared to other domains. On-site SEO examines what your page is about, while off-site SEO determines the authority and popularity of your site. On-site factors mainly determine what you rank for, while off-site factors largely determine how high you rank in search results.
On-site SEO centers around optimizing things you can change on your website. These ranking factors include site accessibility, page speed, optimized content, keywords, title tags, meta description, mobile friendliness, alt text for images, headings and more.
Off-site SEO focuses on increasing the authority of your website by having other websites link to your pages. A good analogy for search engines’ authority rankings is as such: If there’s a pool (website rankings) with floaties (your pages) in it and you fill up the pool with water (backlinks), the floaties are going to rise to the top of the pool.
This is how a mega-source like Wikipedia is nearly always the first page that pops up upon searching about a topic. Their content is referenced and backlinked so much that they’ve established more authority than nearly every other page.
Other tactics that can better off-site SEO include successful social media marketing, guest blogs and posts, brand mentions, and influencer marketing.
Well, which is more important?
At Clearbridge Branding, we believe that both tactics are equally important. It’s like choosing between putting a steering wheel or tires on a car. However, it’s best to get your on-site SEO maximized to improve rankings before focusing on off-site SEO.
It wouldn’t make too much sense to attempt to get inbound links from other sites and gain page authority without having a topic to gain authority for.
The two go hand in hand. On-site and off-site SEO work in conjunction to improve search engine rankings. By first producing high-quality content to gain high-quality on-site SEO, you’ll earn domain authority and increase those backlinks, improving off-site SEO.
A good SEO strategy isn’t about choosing between the two. Rather, using these tactics in a complementary fashion can improve your search engine rankings. The optimization of your on-page elements will better off-page SEO and open the door to site growth.