When was the last time that you came upon a successful business that didn’t have a business website?
It is almost impossible.
And that is not a surprise. The internet changed the way we find products and services, so the businesses had to evolve.
Here are some numbers to illustrate what we’re talking about. 93% of online buying experiences begin with search engine queries. If your business is missing out on a first page rank on a SERP, it’s missing out on 90% of all search engine traffic.
So we established that it is important that your potential customers and clients can find you online. How do you ensure that? Well, the tried and tested way is through search engine optimization.
There are a lot of different techniques you can use to increase the rankings of your website and they are usually divided into 2 distinct groups – on-page and off-page SEO.
Let’s dive deeper into these techniques and discuss what they entail and how to use them.
SEO Strategy: On Page vs. Off Page
SEO is a tricky subject to master. It is continually evolving and what works best for your business might not work for another.
From keywords and ever-evolving algorithms to meta-descriptions and minefields – even industry veterans are left scratching their heads when Google decides to update algorithms.
It is an established fact that needs no reiterating: Google is a monopoly for search engine queries. It controls 80.5% of the search engine market share so when people talk about SEO, they usually mean “how to prove to Google that my site has awesome content and that it deserves to be in the top search results”.
So what is the difference between on-page and off-page SEO?
On-page SEO is also known as on-site SEO, due to the simple reason that it involves optimizing various factors on the website. These factors are related to manipulating the present content to improve its quality and structure – both for the user and search engine crawlers (so that both search engines and humans can understand what your website pages are about).
Off-page SEO refers to the actions taken off-site to further enhance the websites ranking on the SERPs. Off-page factors work to increase the website’s credibility, trustworthiness, and authority for the users and the search engines.
While the factors involved when implementing on-page and off-page SEO strategies differ, both work towards a common goal: higher rankings on SERPs. Which is why it is important for you to utilize both to achieve the highest possible rankings.
What Constitutes On-Page SEO
In the yesteryears, the whole phenomenon of SEO hinged on on-page SEO factors. The focus was on improving the website for search engine crawlers alone.
However, much has changed since then, with Google constantly reiterating that user-optimized content is the only way to rank better on SERPs. This has led to several changes in on-page SEO factors as the intent of SEO has shifted toward providing consumers with better content and structure.
When ascertaining your website ranking, Google takes a number of on-page factors into account. These factors consider the overall user experience and also how effectively your webpage answers the customer query. Such on-page factors include (but are not limited to):
- Time spent on the page
- Keyword optimization
In order to improve user experience and on-page optimization, you may need to alter several elements that constitute a website. This article will discuss some of the best practices to optimize your website; which, in turn, naturally enhances user experience.
Simply put, the URL is the unique address of a webpage located on the internet. Wouldn’t you want the address to your webpage to be specific and unique?
Same is the case with Google, and it has stated that the first three to five words are given more weight when it comes to URLs.
What does that mean? In layman terms, Google has indicated that if the URL includes a keyword, it might have an edge in SERP rankings.
Additionally, shorter URLs edge out long URLs in SERP rankings. Studies have been conducted where Google has shown to prefer shorter, keyword-oriented URLs above longer, haphazard URLs.
The title tags denote the title of your web page that will be displayed on SERPs – making it a crucial factor of your on-page SEO strategy.
Typically, the closer the keyword is to the beginning of the title tag, the more weight, and relevance it carries for search engines.
Most content management systems (CMS), like WordPress, specifically require you to type down a title tag. Basically, if there is a particular target keyword that you are trying to rank for, it is better to place that at the beginning of your title tag.
Title tags can be further modified by adding modifiers that help rank for longer variations of your primary keywords. Using modifiers such as ‘2018’, ‘Review’ or ‘Best’ can add weight to your title tag – for both the consumer and the search engine.
As a side note, if you are using WordPress, you might want to look for plug-ins like Yoast which can help you with on-page optimization by showing you best practices and tips for improvement.
Headings, also referred to as H1s in most common CMS’, is the headline tags of your piece.
As the largest piece of text, they are given special attention by search engine crawlers. The heading should also include keywords that you are gunning for, simply because Google algorithms put special preference on H1 tags.
However, if you want to optimize one page for multiple keywords, you can do that by adding those keywords to H2 and H3 headings too.
Like a plot synopsis, the meta description is the article preview that you see on SERPs or social media thumbnails.
The key to writing meta descriptions that are effective is to limit the text under 300 characters. Be wary of the fact that characters include spaces and letters.
It should contain a snippet of the article with relevant keywords to please both the viewers and search engines.
For most people, keywords are what their whole complete SEO strategy is based off. Despite Google giving weight to user experience and other variables when ranking websites, keywords still play a vital role in SEO.
It is imperative for you to be well-versed with industry-specific keywords that should then be naturally weaved in informational content that helps you answer visitors’ questions, while also signaling search engines as to what the article is about.
There are multiple tools that help obtain popular and most searched target keywords for a general phrase. Keywords that naturally fit in the content, coupled with generally informational content that answer consumer query increases consumer trust and search engine reputability.
Here are some practical tips for keyword usage when conducting on-page SEO:
- Include the primary keyword in the first 100 words. Not only does dropping the keyword in the start provide value to the consumer, it also helps Google understand what the page is about.
- The industry accepted keyword density ranges from 1% to about 3% of your web page word count. But this is not something that should worry you a lot. If you discuss a topic in a normal way, you should naturally have to use your keyword several times throughout the text.
- Primary keywords should be complemented with semantic keywords or LSIs.
For a top spot in SERP rankings, you need to maintain an active blog and provide informational content to visitors. This translates into a pool of individual content (blogs/articles/infographic) that complement each other.
More often than not, content present elsewhere on your site can complement the current content or expand on something you have briefly mentioned on the current webpage. This provides a good opportunity to create interlinks complementing the content and keeps users engaged.
Engaged users who spend a lot of time on your website prove to search engines that the particular webpage is an authoritative and informational one.
Additionally, you should not be afraid to link to other reputable sites in your industry. If you want to see when and how to link to other sites and resources, just use this post as an example.
User Experience Design (UX)
The recent updates and RankBrain integration denotes a shift in the way Google ranks websites. From a keyword-centered approach, Google has shifted towards a user-experience oriented approach.
In view of recent trends, bounce rates and unresponsive design are the biggest threats to your website’s rank in the first page of a SERP.
A recent study found that customers are willing to wait less than five seconds for a website to load before abandoning it. If consumers keep bouncing off your website to competitor domains, Google will deem your content to be of poor quality – harming your SEO efforts irreversibly.
Additionally, the surge in the number of mobile users has prompted Google to reprimand unresponsive sites, ones that aren’t optimized to function as well on smartphones. In fact, Google now indexes websites primarily on mobile versions of their website.
Google announced in March 2018, that its indexation algorithm will increasingly shift towards crawling the mobile version of the webpage to index it in SERP results, as opposed to the desktop version used earlier.
This step ensures Google caters to its primary customers i.e. mobile users, and signals to website owners that they should too.
Off Page SEO: What Effects Your Website Quality
Off-page SEO denotes every action taken outside of your website that helps propel your website towards better rankings in SERPs.
Optimizing for off-page SEO factors includes multiple variables which link or promote your website to other reputable and accomplished pages on the internet. Such practices effectively vouch for your content quality in front of the search engine.
While social media and influencer marketing are technically off-page activities, we will predominantly focus on different link building techniques as link building is most often the primary way to increase your website rankings in search results.
Search engines, particularly Google, deem backlinks as an indication of the quality of the content and relevance across the Internet – which effectively leads to improved rankings.
Google had an interesting idea. People will look to link to valuable resources. The resource with the most links has to be the highest-quality one. And that is how it started.
However, today, the number of links is just one of the factors. The authority and relevancy of the site that links to you play a much larger role in determining how much will their link help you increase your rankings.
There are three broad types of links:
- Natural Links: These links are added in the webpage content without any action on the part of the linked website’s owner. For example, a video blogger adding a link to their preferred drone company will be termed as a natural link.
- Manually built links: As the name implies, manually built links are created through link building activities which include various strategies such as influencer content.
- Self-created links: When website owners are directly involved in adding backlinks to an online forum, blog, or directory, etc. These links are optimized with anchor text and link back to the website. However, these tactics are also referred to as black hat SEO strategies and can be penalized by Google.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common off-page optimization techniques.
Broken Link Building
While not as popular as other off-page SEO tactics, broken link building is a great way of adding quality backlinks to your website.
Broken link building can prove to be a great avenue for backlinks because dead links or broken links are added to the internet every day. The websites are based on hosting and as hosting expires gradually, sites are broken during file transfer and migration.
Authority blogs which contain multiple links also include broken links because new broken links are added every day.
A broken link building process consists of three major steps:
- Finding a relevant website. The backlinks you want to acquire must pertain to a website of the keyword specific industry you are linking for.
- Finding broken links. Broken links can be found on any relevant site of the specific industry, either manually or via a backlink analyzer.
- Contact the website owner. Talk to the owner about the presence of a broken link and how you can replace it with a high-value backlink to your website.
Blogger Outreach (a.k.a. Guest Blogging)
Blogger outreach is probably the most common link building method because it is a great way to earn high-quality backlinks.
The process is simple, although often time-consuming which is the main reason why businesses usually look to outsource link-building to specialized agencies.
The process involves:
- Coming up with interesting topics
- Finding relevant sites that accept outside contributors
- Sending personalized pitches
- Actually writing helpful content
In essence, blogger outreach is a transaction where you exchange your knowledge for links. The reason it works so well is that publishing content on relevant sites in your industry not only improves your SEO but also increases your brand trust and authority and has the potential to get you some valuable referral traffic.
Resource Link Building
Resource link building makes use of resource pages found on high-quality websites which links out to other resource pages for a particular subject.
Unlike other link-building methods, resource link-building pages are easier to find and website owners are more responsive towards adding links to your website.
Not only resource pages add quality backlinks to your profile, but they also provide a credibility and trust factor. Resource pages are more about information than selling something – and by providing quality information to the masses, they garner credibility and relevance.
That being said, there is another approach to resource link building. For example, you can create an in-depth resource on a particular topic and reach out to people that usually write about similar topics. You can let them know about the existence of your awesome resource in case they want to refer to it in some of their existing or future posts.
Whatever link building methods you decide to use, make sure you are following the best link building practices.
On Page vs. Off Page SEO – What’s More Important For A Website?
On-page SEO is centered on efforts to get your content ‘seen’ or rank for the specific keywords that pertain to your industry.
It basically helps Google match your webpage content to the consumer query and further enable the user to have a pleasant and informative experience.
Contrastingly, off-page SEO is a reflection of your website’s relevance, reliability, and trust. It goes deeper than backlinks and has a significant influence on the ranking, and indirectly on the traffic you generate through search engine optimization.
Both on-page and off-page SEO, are important factors for maintaining an effective SEO strategy. Moz states that an effective SEO strategy as a whole consists of 50% on-page and 50% off-page factors.
Choosing one of the two SEO strategies would equate choosing a roof or a foundation of a building – both are equally important to sustain the structure of digital marketing which has grown to be a staple part of a successful business strategy.
Antonija Bozickovic is an internet marketing specialist at Point Visible, a marketing agency providing link building and digital marketing services at Point Visible. She has a great interest in digital marketing and a soft spot for graphic design. She’s never tired of searching for new inspirations, listening to her favorite music and creating digital illustrations.