As a marketer, you’re probably familiar with the term Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).
In a nutshell, SEO is the term for any of a number of strategies you might put in place to get your website found more easily in search engine results. While search engines such as Google don’t release their exact methods and weightings for page rankings, we do know enough about their methods to be able to make a difference.
Two areas that are important for marketers to understand are on-page and off-page optimisation techniques. A thorough SEO strategy looks to methods that happen both on and off your website to improve rankings.
Here’s what you need to know:
On and off-page optimisation definition
First of all, let’s take a look at exactly what on-page and off-page SEO means:
On-page SEO is the description for any techniques you can use directly on your web page to facilitate a higher search ranking. For example, activities such as creating SEO-optimised content or using the right meta and header descriptions fall under on-page SEO.
Off-page SEO refers to all SEO techniques that happen outside of your website. For example, backlinks and social signals are off-page SEO strategies.
Both on-page and off-page techniques are equally as important for optimising your website. Some techniques are easy enough to implement immediately, while others take time to put in place.Both on and off-page SEO strategies are equally as important for your ranking Click To Tweet
Google ranking factors
As we already indicated, search engine companies like Google don’t make a practice of releasing their exact methodologies, although if you pay attention, they do give some very clear answers from time to time. For example, Google recently released a new SEO Starter Guide and occasionally they put out informational videos. (Most recently, there is a series on SEO myth-busting on YouTube).
Besides gleaning what we can straight from the source, there are a number of SEO experts out there who regularly test out their theories to see what will impact rankings. Brian Dean is one who has an excellent reputation. His list of 200 ranking factors is kept regularly updated as Google makes changes.
One thing that is important to realise about SEO is that it does change. What worked to optimise your website five years ago may not be as effective today, especially as Google makes changes to their algorithm. To give an example, a few years ago many websites would game the system by stuffing keywords onto their pages and purchasing low-quality backlinks from “link farms.”
In an effort to improve the quality of their search results, Google overhauled their algorithms so that sites employing those techniques would be penalised, rather than receive any benefit. They aim to weed out any “black hat” SEO practices, instead forcing website owners to ensure that their sites meet standards for quality.
This is one reason why it’s important for marketers to have a good understanding of SEO and the factors that you can influence. There’s still some questionable advice going around that is best avoided. You don’t want to instead put your website in a position where it may be penalised in search rankings.
On-page optimisation examples
Here are a few examples of on-page SEO optimisation:
Improve site speed
How does site speed affect SEO? Largely because it impacts the user experience of your website. Where a visitor lands on your site and it takes longer than expected to load, they’ll often give up in frustration. This sends a signal to Google that your site isn’t a great result for the visitor, especially if they leave very quickly.
There are a number of things that can affect site speed, including who you host your website with, but some things can be remedied on-site. For example, your images should be optimised for the web. File size should be as small as possible so that the image loads quickly.
Other factors can include plug-ins that are poorly coded (software tools that give your website certain functions), pop-ups and overall, cumbersome site coding. These are issues that are all fixable.
Improve page content
Google seeks to send visitors to pages that are useful, therefore your page content needs to be of high-quality. User behaviour sends signals to Google about the quality of your content.
For example, if your site ranks for “organic gardening tips,” then someone who searched for that term and clicked on your site would expect to find useful information. If they get something irrelevant (like inorganic gardening tips instead), or they just don’t get useful information, they’ll click away.
You should always aim for your page content to be relevant and useful. This includes looking at how you format the content for easy consumption so that you encourage visitors to stick around. They should quickly understand what your page is about and should be able to easily read it, avoiding large walls of text.
You need to consider the keywords that you are trying to rank for and build relevant, quality content to match. There’s no sense in trying to rank for keywords just to get traffic – you want the keywords that make sense for what you offer and are likely to be searched by your target market.
HTML tags tend to be out of sight and out of mind, so are often missed. These are the site tags and descriptors that visitors don’t see, but are detected by search engines. HTML tags help search engines to better understand what your site is about, so these are great places for your target keywords.
Here are some areas for HTML tags:
- Alt text on images. This helps the search engine to understand what an image is and to rank your pictures on Google images.
- Title tag. This is the page (or h1) title. This should always include keywords that reflect what the page is about.
- Header tags. These help to organise your pages into sections or subsections. (For example, this subsection uses an h3 tag).
- Meta description. This is the description that you’ll see below the URL on search engine results pages.
Off-page optimisation techniques
While on-page SEO centres largely around content to bring traffic to your website, off-page SEO focuses on techniques to improve your domain authority. Domain authority is a measure developed by Moz that predicts how well a website will rank in search engine results. Each website is scored between one and one hundred, with one hundred being the best.
Here’s what they say:
“Generally speaking, sites with a very large number of high-quality external links (such as Wikipedia or Google.com) are at the top end of the Domain Authority scale, whereas small businesses and websites with fewer inbound links may have a much lower DA score. Brand-new websites will always start with a Domain Authority score of one.”
What you can probably gather from this is that the biggest off-page SEO factor is the number and quality of backlinks to your website. This means that your off-page activities should focus on how to get those backlinks.
A few years ago, those dicey “link farms” we mentioned earlier sprang up, offering a service getting backlinks to websites. The problem was that those backlinks were generally of low quality and often completely irrelevant to the website in question. This strategy will not help you now – Google values quality, relevant backlinks.
This means that a “quality over quantity” approach tends to work the best. In fact, your on-page SEO with the creation of quality content interrelates with backlinks – you’re more likely to earn more good links naturally if you produce engaging content.
Here are some ways to get good backlinks:
- Social media shares of your content that get people linking to it
- Links to your blog from other bloggers (like how we linked to Moz above)
- Guest blogging on websites that are related to yours.
On-page and off-page SEO techniques work together to improve the search engine rankings for your website. However, if you were to start with one strategy, usually it would be to do what you can for on-page SEO first.
With your on-page SEO techniques sorted along with some quality content, your site is more enticing to encourage those backlinks.
We offer both on and off-page SEO as part of our scope of work here at React. Take a look at our marketing packages or book a consultation here with us today.