On-Page vs. Off-Page SEO Comparison

SEO mash-up image

SEO mash-up image via Flickr user India7.

In my advertising class, we recently discussed digital strategies, including search engine optimization. Though not necessarily a primary topic in that class (it will be in our upcoming Digital Marketing class), we delved into the differences between on-page and off-page SEO.

On-Page vs. Off-Page SEO Differences

A primary difference between on-page and off-page SEO is your level of control. You have a lot more control, typically, when implementing on-page SEO. You develop the content of your website and set up site and page structures that optimize features such as title tags and Meta descriptions. As an example, the subheading of this section is intended to draw search engine attention to the phrase “on-page vs. off-page SEO differences”, just as reusing the phrase here does. While SEO specialists and other company online marketing experts manage off-page SEO, they rely on cooperation from external sources.

On-Page SEO Features

Anyone who has spent much time investigating search engine optimization has likely heard, “Content is king.” What is different in 2015 compared to SEO 2003, for instance, is that quality content is a starting point. Rather than building content for search engines, develop great content around a topic, and then fine-tune for search engines. Incorporating keywords is a primary factor when building an article that search engines like. For instance, I have included “On-Page vs. Off-Page SEO” in this article’s headline, in subheads and within the body copy. Be careful about “keyword stuffing”, or excessive usage. In addition, I have incorporated variations and long-tail keyword phrases to catch searchers on less competitive phrases, such as “on-page vs. off-page SEO differences”.

Other important on-page SEO factors include:

Meta data – The header section of a web page includes data identifying the page’s title, description and keywords. Whether hard-coding a site or using a content management system like WordPress, you can easily build your header’s Meta data. Experts dispute its relevance, but it has some.

Title tags – Throughout your article, use H1, H2, … H6 title tags to separate topics for visual and search engine purposes. Experts vary on specific title tag approaches, but generally, your article title receives a primary H1 title tag. Then, use H2 tags and subsequent tags through H6, as you break down topics. Often, an article with just a header and subheads uses a single H1 and several H2 tags. This article has that structure, for instance. These tags contribute to a scannable article and identify important subtopics for Google et al.

URL and internal linking – Your URL structure and internal linking are other important on-page SEO factors. Your page links should include your primary keyword phrase, and leave out any unnecessary elements, such as the date. Internal linking is a topic for an entirely new post, but you want to have primary topic categories accessible from your home page. The more streamlined your linking structure the better. You also want to include keywords in your “anchor text” when linking from one internal web page to another.

Images and download speed Your images are searchable as well. Thus, including effective anchor text and image headers is hugely valuable. Also, use an online tool to test the efficiency your website and page downloading. Longer load times aren’t user-friendly, and search engines frown upon that.

Off-Page SEO Features

As you might suspect, off-page SEO factors include search engine rank contributors that occur outside of your website. Arguably the single-greatest off-page SEO factor is link backs. These are links from other sites and pages to your home page or a page on your site. Search engines, or at least the developers of their algorithms, believe when a lot of other quality sites link to yours, your content is relevant and valuable. In theory, external linking evolves naturally as you publish and distribute quality pages and posts. However, SEO experts don’t wait around. They employ tactics like guest blog posts and link exchanges to build external links. Discretion is critical with these strategies, though, as major search engines frown about SEO manipulating through link buying or unnatural link-building tactics.

Other important off-page SEO factors include:

Social sharing – The influence of social media to search performance is significant as of 2015. Social engagement, including Retweets and Facebook shares of article posts can positively impact your SEO performance in a big way.

Page bookmarking – When users bookmark your web page online, it all speaks to its value and relevance. Thus, getting your article posted on such sites as Reddit, StumbleUpon and Delicious is important to off-page SEO as well.

Conclusions about On-Page and Off-Page SEO Factors

For optimized search engine performance, you must blend as many on-page and off-page SEO factors as possible. For people, including me, with limited time to allocate to off-page SEO, begin by developing as much on-page SEO as you efficiently can. I have added keywords and title tags in preparing this article, while also aiming to offer a useful and quality article. I will distribute this article through social media and bookmarking sites. However, with additional time, SEO experts can build links and general click-throughs from them, which escalates search performance.

Realize also, there are a multitude of additional SEO factors not discussed here, particularly on-page SEO factors. Your coding structure and quality page score (PageRank on Google) play roles, for instance. I included a Google +1 sharing button because Google likes its own stuff. You also need to recognize Black Hat SEO tactics that get you penalized. Software programs, such as HubSpot, offer more advanced analysis of your site’s SEO performance. The more familiar you become with major and minor off-page and on-page SEO factors, the better your odds of climbing the charts… literally!

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Neil Kokemuller

Neil Kokemuller has been a Professor of Marketing at Des Moines Area Community College since 2004. Prior to teaching, he worked as a marketing specialist and retail manager. He holds an MBA from Iowa State University

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1 Response

  1. consteek says:

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

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