Differences Between On Page and Off Page SEO

by | Jul 18, 2018

Any search engine optimization strategy can be broken down into two different task groups: on-page SEO and off-page SEO. Both task groups are critical to the ultimate success of any SEO Campaign and work best in harmony. And as the names suggest, they are entirely different in how they offer search engines to evaluate when comparing your site with others on the web. But to really gain an understanding of each, you will at a minimum need a basic level of how search engine algorithms work.   Put simply:
  • On-page SEO – what is on your website/page and what it is about. This will determine what topics/keywords you will rank for
  • Off-page SEO – how authoritative and popular your site is. This will determine how high you rank in the search engine results for those topics/keywords.

On-Page SEO

On-page SEO (also known as”on-site” SEO) are the tasks you can do to optimize different parts of your webpage(s) to influence your search engine rankings. It is the buttons and dials you can use to control your own site directly. Here are some essential aspects/tasks that go into on-page strategies.  

Title Tags

Targeted keywords placed in this section of each page of your site. There are several best practice guidelines for writing effective title tags.  

Headings (H1)

Headline 1s are usually the largest, most bold words on the page; the title of the page, the main topic, the headline, or similarly the name of the book (the book being your webpage). The H1 tag can only be used once on a page. Because this is a great descriptive attribute to the page, it is given a little more weight than your other copy on your page. It is recommended to use the target keyword for the page in this headline.  

URL Structure

Like any database or filing cabinet, organization and consistency will significantly benefit you now and down the road. Placing keywords in your URLs is excellent and adds to reinforcing the relevancy of your page. However, changing this component, even once, can have very adverse effects. If you do, you will lose all of the gained authority and SEO mojo that had been accumulated on that URL. It’s kind of like throwing away your perfectly good used car after getting your new car rather than selling it or trading it in. Don’t do it. Consult a professional before touching this aspect of your website.  

Alt text for images

All content on a website has what we call metadata attached to it. One piece of metadata is the Alt (Alternative) text. This is primarily used for images but can be applied to any media file on your site. Because the search engines cannot read or analyze your images (the scary thing is that they are starting to with artificial technology…) so this text alternative gives them some insight into what the image is. The text isn’t visible to the average user, but it is used for screen reading software to help blind internet users to understand your content.  

Page Load Speed

AKA, how fast your page comes up for the visitor to see. Google wants us to help it’s users find what they are looking for as quickly as possible so collectively we can provide the best possible user experience. So in a roundabout way, this will help your site rank higher in the search results.  

Page Content

Obviously, the meat on the bones is the content on your pages that are useful to others. At the end of the day, it all comes down to common sense. Your site has a purpose, to inform your ideal visitors about whatever it is you are promoting. All the content on the site should relevant and related to that main topic, product, or service. Same as with page speed, Google wants users always to use Google, how they achieve that is to have the best information available readily available to serve up in 2 seconds or less. Because this is a vital aspect of why Google is the leader in search engines, they want to protect that as much as possible and have developed numerous methods to measure if, how, and when your content is useful.  

Internal Linking

Similar to the URL structure discussed before, this system should be thought out and planned for in advance and not changed if at all possible. There are ways around the hurdles to change if needed, but it has to be done correctly. Additionally, internally linking your pages together, like a “web” site, it makes it easier for visitors to navigate and helps provide understanding to search engines.   The underlining goal of on-page SEO is to make sure both visitors and search engine robots can read your site effectively. By allowing the search engine robots to search your website will enable them to better rank your content to the most appropriate potential visitors. Having an organized, consistent page structure allows them to understand it more quickly.  

Off-Page SEO

Focused on increasing the authority or credibility of your site/domain through the act of showing that others like you and your information are the primary goal of off-page SEO. Obtaining links from other authoritative or highly credible websites is how you prove this admiration. There is a score called “domain authority” (DA) that measures how credible your website is compared to others. You can view your Domain Authority score here.   The most notable off-page SEO factor is the quantity and authoritative quality of links on other websites linking to your site or domain name, also known as backlinks. Some methods of obtaining backlinks are:  
  • Useful, knowledgeable, or fun content that others want to link to because it is valuable to them.
  • Shares of your content on social media platforms that ultimately generate a link to your website.
  • Reaching out to industry influencers to link/mention your site to their large followings.
  • Writing blogs/content on other sites related to yours. Offering or getting requests to guest blog on a website will ultimately link back to your site.
  As the industry started just a few years ago, it was acceptable / worked to overload on quantity rather than quality. You may have heard of these profound Google updates like Penguin and Hummingbird that broke less, than pristine companies using such short-term tactics. In a more mature search engine environment as today, it is abundantly clear, quality and common sense without cheat codes are what will produce the best, long-term results for any company competing in the search engine atmosphere.   Both aspects of SEO go hand in hand. On one side, you create the content to be useful to others, and then you go out with off-site to get credibility from your peers. There is no easy button or magic formula to obtain any certain result. But on the good side of things is that it really depends on what you do in comparison to your competitors. You don’t have to beat everyone on the web. You only have to outdo your competitors. In a local environment, that often is easier than one might think. How does your Domain Authority compare to that of your competitors? Are you in the same ballpark?   One thing is for sure, stay away from SEO consultants or companies that recommend buying links or Domain Authority. It sounds like a great shortcut at first glance, but again, common sense and Google’s most significant competitive advantage is at stake, and you can best bet they don’t want you manipulating their search engine algorithms and eroding their widespread dominance in the eyes of the common user/internet browser. Google will penalize you for buying links to manipulate page rankings or submitting your links to black-hat directories whose sole purpose is to cheat your domain authority. Again, common sense and quality product is the only way to win in search engine optimization.  


Utilizing both on-page and off-page SEO is generally an accepted given for 99.9% of websites on the web to improve their domain authority and overall search engine rankings ethically. They can work separately but are best done jointly, in unison. That said, it is generally accepted as well to get your on-page ducks in a row before spending much time on your off-page efforts. Build your foundation first, get some walls up, then put on the all-important roof. Like a home in that analogy, you will have to keep the SEO foundation and structure with upkeep maintenance. It can also be compared to exercising, you can make a push and see some results in a couple of months, but if you go back to your lazy, unhealthy routine, everything that you have done will evaporate away, and you will be left to start from scratch again. For more on user acceptance testing.