The two main components of Search Engine Optimisation are on-site, and off-site optimisation sometimes referred to as on page and off page optimisation. If you’re interested in employing an SEO strategy, then it’s essential for you to understand what they both entail and be able to consider both of these components for your efforts to be successful. However, this does also pose the question as to whether one holds more importance than the other, and whether you should split your time equally between or spend more of your time on one aspect.
In this article we’ve taken a close look at both on-site and off-site SEO in order for you to get a better understanding of how and why they’re both important.
What is On-Site SEO?
The definition of onsite SEO refers to all the efforts you take to ensure that your website is thoroughly search engine friendly. Therefore, onsite SEO involves all the efforts you employ to ensure that your site can be easily crawled and indexed by search engine crawlers. The more information crawlers and bots can extract from your website, the better your chances are at achieving higher positions in the SERPs.
Onsite SEO involves tweaking certain aspects of your existing site to help search engines to get a better understanding of your content, what it concerns and the intent behind the content. By ensuring that you carry out a successful onsite SEO strategy, you’ll drastically improve the performance of your website. On-site is the first thing you should attempt to optimise before moving onto offsite SEO.
What is Off-Site SEO?
The definition of offsite SEO refers to the efforts you make to ensure that your website and your content is promoted successfully across the internet, without the need for any paid advertising. Therefore, offsite SEO involves all the efforts you enforce which aren’t on your website to ensure that your sites and the content reach it’s intended audience.
Off-site SEO involves things such as social media marketing, outreach and link building/earning, but we’ll go more into detail about this later.
What is More Important, On Site or Off-Site SEO?
Now that we’ve spoken about what both onsite and offsite SEO is, what the difference is and why they’re important, the next thing that you might want to know is what is more important for SEO? Should you be spending more time on one aspect of SEO in favour over the other?
The truth of the matter is no, both on site and off site are fundamentally crucial for SEO and although you should execute your onsite strategy before your offsite strategy, you should spend the same amount of time and effort on both to get the most benefits out of your SEO.
What aspects of each are most important?
In order for you to get a better understanding of on page and off page SEO, we’ve comprised a checklist for both with the most important aspects so you’ll understand what the essential factors of onsite and offsite SEO and why it’s necessary for you to ensure that each element is optimised.
On-Site SEO Checklist
Meta titles and descriptions
Meta titles and descriptions are what will appear in the SERP which will entice users to click through to your page over other search results. Depending on how well or poorly optimised these titles and descriptions are, they have the power to influence your position in the search engine results pages. As although meta titles and descriptions aren’t directly a search engine ranking factor for Google, they are an indirect ranking factor for Google. This is because your meta title and descriptions can influence your click-through rate (CTR) which is a ranking factor for Google. Therefore, if your meta title and description influence readers to click on your result from the search engine results, then it will boost your CTR which tells Google that your result is more relevant to the search term, and will, therefore, put you higher in the SERP.
Ensure that your meta titles and descriptions are:
- Compelling, enticing the user to click on your result
- Related to and descriptive of the content on the page
- Within 50-60 characters (meta title) & 120-158 characters (meta description)
Heading tags are essential for telling both search engines and users how your content is structured and what type of things you’ll be talking about.
Ensure that your heading tags:
- Only contain one H1
- Include your target keywords
- Clearly define the content and structure on the page
Unfortunately, as search engine crawlers are just programmes, they don’t have the capacity to be able to look at images and know what is in that image, that’s where alt text comes in. Alt text or alt tags as they also commonly referred to as are one way of telling search engine crawlers what the images contain and can also provide the visually impaired with an accurate description of your image for a better experience of your page.
Ensure that your alt text is:
- Descriptive of the image
- No more than 125 characters
- Includes your target keywords
The majority of web searches now take place on mobile phones and tablets as opposed to desktops; therefore, it is absolutely essential that you ensure your website, its webpages and any resources that you have on your pages are mobile friendly so that mobile and tablet users can easily access your site. Without this, you may find that users who can’t use your website freely on mobile devices will increase your bounce rate and will, therefore, affect your rankings.
Ensure that your website allows for mobile users to:
- Click on any buttons or links
- View images or videos
- Read all of the content
The URL structure of your pages is important for onsite SEO as it helps to clearly define to users and search engines what the intent of the page is. As well as this it can help search engines to understand the site hierarchy of your pages, understanding which pages you wish to rank better than others and what page is the most important.
Ensure that your URL does the following:
- Defines the page and site structure well
- Doesn’t contain any stop words such as ‘and’, ‘for’ ‘a’, etc.
- Is all lower case and doesn’t contain any special characters except ‘-‘
Linking is an essential part of your on-page SEO strategy; whether it’s internal or external links on your website, all are just as important to include on your site. However, if one of the links on your page is broken, it could harm your site instead of helping to improve it. Broken links can cause 404 errors and are bad for both user experience and any search engine crawling programmes that are crawling and indexing your site.
Ensure you do the following to ensure you have no broken links:
- Check all links on your site regularly
- Remember to change any links if you remove pages on your site
- Ensure that you type all URLs correctly
Content is still very much king when it comes to SEO, and onsite SEO is no different. Without high-quality, authoritative content, your website is unlikely to appear in a high position in the search engine results pages at all.
Ensure that all of your content is the following:
- Easy to read
- Of high quality
- Is written by someone who knows the subject that they’re talking about
Today, everything is all about speed. Users on search engines want to be able to get their results and precisely what they’re looking for as soon as possible. Unfortunately, if you can’t compete with your competitors in respect of speed, then your performance in the SERP is likely to suffer because of it.
Ensure the following:
- Check your page speed regularly or after every significant change are made to your site
- Limit the number of plugins you use on your website
- Limit the number of high-quality images and videos that are on your site
Off-Site SEO Checklist
Links to your content show that you’ve created a helpful and useful resource that people want to link to. Although many SEOers believe that link authority is dwindling, it still appears that links hold a lot of influence when it comes to deciding how well a page will rank in the SERP.
Ensure you carry out the following:
- Check your backlinks regularly and identify any potential bad links
- Stay away from PBNs (Private Blog Networks)
- Create authoritative, well-written content to ensure that people link to your page
Social media marketing
Social media is an excellent way for you to both promote your website as well as communicating with the users and potential customers who are visiting your site. Social media is not just essential for the promotion of your website but is also extremely important for understanding what your customers expect from your brand, business or site.
Ensure the following with your social media:
- You keep a regular and active presence on social media
- Interact with your followers and customers
- Seek to resolve any disputes that may occur
Understanding that all areas of search engine optimisation are equally as important and require the same time, effort and patience will stand you in good stead for success in the future. So, to answer this question: What’s more critical Off-site or On-site SEO? We’d have to say that they’re as equally as important as each other!