The Difference Between On-Site SEO and Off-Site SEO

on-site seo and off-site seo

The Difference Between On-Site SEO and Off-Site SEO

When it comes to Search Engine Optimization, it’s important to understand the differences between On-Site SEO and Off-Site SEO. A successful campaign will leverage both in order to drive the maximum exposure to your website via the organic search results. 

On-Site SEO

Otherwise known as On-Page SEO, it’s the science behind ensuring the search engines are able to read your content and index you properly in the search results. On-Site SEO deals with everything living on your website. This involves making sure your website pages, titles, tags, content, Schema markup, and overall structure are optimized for your target keywords. A lot needs to happen behind the scenes to ensure your website will be indexed properly for the search engines.

After determining your target keywords, you want to begin by applying those keywords to your on-site optimization plan. However, it’s critical that that your website is using the keywords appropriately, and according to Google Webmaster Guidelines. Failing to do so can easily result in a penalty from Google – suppressing you in the search results, or banning you from the engine altogether. 

Here’s how this works. Let’s say you want to target the Keyword “Blue Widgets”. Assuming you’ve checked all the most important boxes when it comes to your On-Site SEO plan, your site should be indexed in the search results, so that when someone searches the phrase, your site should come up. 

But this is only the beginning. Just because you’re indexed properly doesn’t mean you’ll rank in the top position. Considering that nearly a third of all clicks go to the #1 ranking website, and 90% of users stay on the first page, it’s critical to move the needle towards that mark. It does little good to spend resources simply on ensuring your website is indexed properly, only to rank on page 3, where no one will find you. 

Off-Site SEO

This is where Off-Site SEO comes in. Once the foundation is laid with your On-Site efforts, what determines your rank position boils down to your online presence. According to moz.com, “Optimizing for off-site ranking factors involves improving search engine and user perception of a site’s popularity, relevance, trustworthiness, and authority. “ 

How long has your domain been registered? How many other authoritative websites on the internet are referencing yours? Are your directory listings all up to date & accurate? There are many things to consider, regardless if you’re a local business, or are seeking a national audience.

You’ve no doubt heard people complain about how “Google’s algorithm is constantly changing”. Whereas there is some truth to this, the reality is that relevance, trustworthiness and authority have always, and will always, play a major role in your website’s ability to rank well in the search results. 

We begin crossing the first hurdle, “relevance” with proper On-Site SEO. However, with Off-site SEO, we’re focused on developing the trustworthiness & authority of your site in order to influence your rank position. 

Let’s say you’re a local small business that has moved locations a couple times over the past several years. Each time you move, your address changes, but there are hundreds of directory sites across the internet pulling data from each other. They don’t automatically sync up, so if half have the old address & phone number, whereas the other half shows something different, how trustworthy do you think Google will consider you? This is a relatively easy fix, but it illustrates the point well. Google’s goal is to provide the most trustworthy and authoritative websites to their users. If users are constantly being met with out of date information, they’ll abandon the platform and seek alternate ways of finding the information they’re looking for. 


There’s a lot more that could be said regarding a website’s trustworthiness. However, in this article, our goal is simply touch on the basics as it relates to the difference between on-site & off-site SEO. 

Next on the list, we have authority. Each website on the internet has a Domain Authority score that ranges from 0-100. The higher your score, the easier it will be for you to rank for your targeted keywords. 

One of the most important ways this score is influenced is by what’s known as backlinks. A backlink is anytime one website links to another. For example, this is a backlink. In this example, we’re linking to moz.com, a notable authority on SEO best practices and news in the industry. When google crawls this blogpost, they’ll find a backlink to the article, which combined with many others, will increase the authority of that page. Essentially, every time someone mentions another website in this manner, they vouch for the credibility of the referenced website. 

Not all Backlinks are Created Equal

It used to be that it was all about the quantity of backlinks a website was able to accumulate. The more the better. As a result, software was created that essentially spammed the comment section of every blog in the internet with backlinks from completely irrelevant websites. Several years ago, Google began cracking down on this practice, and today, employing this sort of tactic will blacklist you from the search engines. 

Today, the name of the game is both quality & quantity. All things being equal, a website with a higher number of authoritative backlinks will outrank a website with a fewer number, or even a larger number of lesser quality. 

There are a number of ways a business can acquire backlinks to their website. 

Self-Created Backlinks. These are links created by adding comments to blogs or forums, online directories, press releases, etc. You have to be very careful with this, as the practice can trigger penalties if done incorrectly. 

Manually-Created Backlinks. This is when a link is created intentionally via a link building campaign. This may involve reaching out to influencers to promote your website, asking customers to share your content, or leveraging PR to be featured in various editorial publications. If done properly, this can provide an incredible value to your website, since it’s met with controlled, consistent and predictable results. 

Natural Backlinks. These happen organically. You develop a great piece of content, the right person stumbles upon it, and it’s being linked to in other related posts, etc. The name of the game here is creating content worth sharing. This is why all of our SEO campaigns incorporate on-site blog posts. Although this isn’t as controllable as a link building campaign, manually built links “prime the pump” by putting your content in front of more people. Once people discover the value of your content, organic sharing comes into play which multiplies the effectiveness of a campaign. 

Regardless how you acquired a backlink, ensuring the site is reputable with a high domain authority is critical. Remember, we’re after the largest number of quality backlinks as possible. The next thing to consider is how relevant the linking site is to your own. It doesn’t make any sense that a pet supplies blog would be linking to a law firm. 

There are other factors that need to be considered as well, such as the anchor text, how many other links are found on a particular page, etc. But these are all things that an experienced SEO expert will keep in mind when running your campaign. 

Summary

As you can see, there’s a lot that goes into a successful SEO campaign. However, laying the foundation with excellent On-Site SEO, and following that up with a holistic Off-Site campaign is an incredibly powerful way to influence exposure and drive highly targeted organic traffic to your website.  Get in touch with one of our SEO experts today, and learn how our team has consistently been achieving measurable results for clients for years.

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Jeff Bickley
jeff@brownboxbranding.com

Over the past decade, Jeff has worked with numerous Fortune 100 and Start-Up companies to establish, reinvent, and re-enforce their brand. A serial entrepreneur at heart, Jeff has a passion for leveraging his vast experience to provide solid and timely advice to business leaders at all levels.

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