When you think of search engine optimisation (SEO) you probably think of things like keywords, title tags, meta descriptions and alt text.
Quite technical things that change your website and make it easy for Google to find and rank your website and content.
And that’s half right.
But more and more, SEO now incorporates a lot of other technical and content work that sits off your website.
It’s only by getting this on-page SEO and off-page SEO working together that you’ll really see the benefits for your website.
So how do you do it?
Keep reading to find out…
On-page SEO is anything to do with changes you make directly on your own website that will improve your chances of ranking. These are typically more technical aspects of your site, but now also include a lot of content marketing and copywriting work.
With on-page SEO you tend to have more control over the work completed and the timelines it gets completed in because it’s all being done on your own website.
Off-page SEO is becoming more important and refers to the work you do to improve your search performance that isn’t on your website. This kind of work, like link building, is becoming one of the most important aspects of search performance.
You do have slightly less control over your off-page SEO because you’re reliant on other people – like third party websites publishing your content with a link back to your site, for example.
However, if you really want to start seeing better results, and seeing them quicker, you need to put effort and investment into both in equal measure.
So, what kind of things can and should you be doing both on-page and off-page to get your overall SEO firing on all cylinders?
On-page SEO tactics to focus on
A title tag is a bit of HTML that tells a search engine what your page is about so it can be matched to relevant searches.
It’s also what appears on the search engine results page (SERP) as the main headline of the page or blog, so you need to create a tag that will make people want to click.
You should definitely include your main keyword, or a variation of it, in the title tag. But you shouldn’t cream the headline with keywords.
Not only will it not make any sense to your readers, but it will be viewed as spam by search engines and won’t rank.
Your headings and sub-headings serve two purposes.
First they help break up your copy so it’s easier to read and follow, giving the reader the chance to skim through the article to find the bit that’s most relevant to them.
Second, it provides an opportunity to add your keyword into the article in other places except the main headline. Ideally you should try and include keyword variations rather than just repeating your main keyword. This is because you’ll have a better chance of ranking for a wider variety of keywords.
It also makes it easier to include more keywords in your page or article without spamming the body text and making it unreadable.
Your headings will typically follow a structured format with H1s being the main heading, H2s the sub-headings and working down through H3 and H4 tags. You can add up to 6 hierarchical headings into your copy.
Your URL structure is another critical part of your on-page SEO.
It once again provides a place to naturally include your main keyword or a variation to give search engines a better idea what your page is about.
But you need to be careful with URLs. You should keep them simple and easy to understand so search engines don’t have to work hard understanding the page content. You should also use hyphens between each word in the URL to avoid a % symbol appearing.
This not only makes your URL look messy, but has the potential to harm your search performance.
If you later delete a URL on your website, be sure to add a redirect to another relevant page.
Without a redirect you’ll create 404 errors on your website which, in high numbers, can seriously hurt your website’s SEO performance.
If you hover over or click on an image on a webpage and a description of that image appears, what you’re looking at is the alt tag – it’s sometimes also called alt text or alternative text.
This has a few purposes.
One, it’s an accessibility feature of your website and can help people understand what images are. Second, it’s used by Google to understand the image and helps to further explain the content on your website.
That’s because Google can’t scan images, it only scans your site’s HTML sitemap, which includes text associated with any images.
So, your alt tags are essential so Google can recognise images and tag them as relevant for that particular webpage.
It can be tedious making sure your images have alt tags, because it also means you can’t really use the same image across multiple pages.
Alt tags are also one of the most common missing items we find on people’s websites when we do an audit.
But while it may seem small, it can have a significant impact on your rankings against similar websites that have everything you have, but include alt tags.
Page load speed
Your customers are busy people.
They don’t have time to sit around waiting for your slow website to load so they can buy something.
And they don’t need to. There are millions of websites available, and customers will go somewhere else if your website is too slow.
Webpages that take longer than 3 seconds to load, lose nearly half their visitors.
But page load speed is also a critical SEO factor, that is only becoming more important with Google new page experience update currently being rolled out.
The experience update looks at vital parts of the usability of a website, like mobile usability, ease use and browsing and load speed and is now ranking websites based on these criteria.
This means that if you have two website with similar valuable content, whichever one loads quickest will win.
Do you really want to lose out on customers just because your website was a bit slow to loads?
There are lots of thing you can do to speed up page load speed like compressing images and videos to caching pages.
Producing engaging, relevant and optimised content has always been a key part of on-page SEO.
But there is now a changing emphasis that focuses more on overall relevancy and quality of content, rather than matching searches with specific keywords.
That’s because the way people use search has changed – especially with things like voice search.
Customers are now more likely to search for things using questions. It’s why ‘how to’ searches are the most common kind of searches made by customer in B2C and B2B.
And your content needs to match those new expectations.
That means really focusing in on what your customers want to know, and figuring out what information they need to make informed decisions and producing the content to help them.
There’s no hard and fast rule about how often you should post new content to your website but you should aim to publish fresh content as often as you’re able to.
Even once or twice or month can have a big impact on your SEO.
When we talk about ‘link building’ in SEO, usually it’s in the context of getting links from third party websites to your site.
But one of the best things you can do for your on-page SEO is to focus more on creating internal links between your own pages.
This is vastly improve the user experience of your website, helping users navigate between relevant pages and find the information they want.
But it serves another purpose for your SEO, particularly if you focus on a pillar page and cluster content strategy.
This basically involves creating a single long form piece of content like a guide, and surrounding it by other relevant blogs which expand on certain sections of the pillar page.
By creating this content and linking it all together with internal links, you tell Google that the pages are highly relevant, making them more likely to appear higher in search.
Plus, as your main page starts to gain authority and page ranking, it will pull up all the other pages which are attached to it.
You should be careful to only link relevant pages to each other and try to alter the anchor text in each article so you don’t have 15 links with the same text. There is a risk that this could be viewed as spammy by Google and could hurt your rankings.
Off-Page SEO tactics and considerations
Earning backlinks from other websites (mostly called link building) is one of the best things you can do for your website’s domain authority and SEO.
Now link building does have a bad reputation because there was a time when it was nothing more than SEO agencies buying thousands of spam links for their clients to rig the search rankings.
If you did this today, you wouldn’t see your rankings increase, in fact you’d be more likely to see your ranking decrease after getting penalised by Google.
Today, the name of game is building high quality, relevant backlinks from other websites to yours.
And relevant is the big thing. You should be looking to earn links from sites either directly within your industry, or on websites that your visitors will read.
The best ones are news websites as these have the highest domain authority and are judged to be trustworthy sources.
If a news website is pointing to your website with a link – then your website must be worth paying attention to.
The reason backlinks are so important
The most important component of off-page ranking factor with the biggest SEO impact is backlinks coming into your website. Websites highly trusted by Google giving reference to your website, in turn, makes yours more trusted- makes sense really. Dealing with a local SEO agency like Paramount Digital is likely to be needed to increase these backlinks and your domain authority.
off-page seo or on-page seo?
As you probably guessed, in order to really succeed both onpage- and off-page SEO need to be considered to really flourish in search engine rankings. However, ensuring that your on-page SEO is in order is likely to have a positive effect on your off-page so we would suggest beginning with that. If you think your websites local SEO may be suffering as a result of poor on-page and off-page SEO then book a free consultation and call us on 01744 88 1876 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.