Onsite SEO Vs. Off Site SEO: What’s the Difference?

Article by Meo Antolin Meo Antolin

Last updated

Search engine optimization (SEO) is pivotal to online success. 

SEO lets you generate free, recurring traffic to your business website from search engine results. To achieve this goal, the scope of your SEO efforts should include on-page and off-page optimization strategies — AKA onsite and offsite SEO.

Let’s explore their differences.

What is On-site SEO?

On-site SEO refers to optimization activities you perform on your website. 

In the early days of SEO, it was as easy as spamming keywords all over your page. Today, onsite SEO — also called on-page SEO — has evolved to focus more on bringing a satisfying and meaningful experience to search engine users. 

Onsite SEO Ranking Constituents

Here’s a rundown of on-page SEO strategies: 

1. Website Performance Optimization

Your website’s loading not only has a dramatic effect on the user experience. It’s also an important on-page factor that affects your search engine rankings. 

Not sure how to speed up your site? 

A free tool like PageSpeed Insights is the perfect place to start. Simply enter your website’s URL, let the tool scan your site for performance issues, and check the optimization suggestions at the bottom of the initial report. 

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Strategies to improve your website’s load speed include: 

  • Image compression
  • Browser caching
  • “Lazy loading”
  • Code minification
  • Content Delivery Network (CDN) implementation

As an alternative, you can hire an SEO audit service for a detailed analysis of your website. Apart from website performance, professional SEO specialists also target other aspects of onsite SEO, like crawlability, security, duplicate content, and redirect issues. 

2. Page Title Optimization 

Titles help readers and search engine algorithms understand what your content is all about.  

First, you need to write page titles that captivate your audience. They should make your audience decide to read the whole post in one glance. 

Second, you need to optimize your titles for target keywords. A typical strategy is to insert your keyword near the beginning or end of your title. 

Let’s say your target keyword is “car accident lawyer in FL.” Here’s what your title could look like: 

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It seems easy, but inserting the right keywords into page titles requires a detailed strategy. You need to factor in the content type, takeaways, and target readers for the particular piece. 

3. Meta Description Optimization

A meta description refers to the bit of text that appears below your page title in search engine results.  

Similar to page titles, meta descriptions help readers decide whether or not to read your post. They need to explain what readers will gain from your page, which may include keywords and actionable details like phone numbers or CTAs. 

It’s simple, but there’s a catch — meta descriptions should only be 160 characters tops in length. 

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Longer meta descriptions get truncated or cut from search engine results pages. In other words, it’ll show incomplete information and hurt your chances of getting clicks.

4. Internal Linking 

Internal links are clickable links pointing to other pages in your own website. This helps readers discover more useful content as well as relevant landing pages aligned with their goals. 

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Internal links also enable search engine bots or “crawlers” to index other relevant content from your site. This builds topical authority and increases the overall rankings of your pages.

5. Image Optimization

Compressing images to reduce their size and improve site speed is just one example of image optimization. You also need to pay attention to image filenames, “alt” tags, and file types.

  • Image filename. Your image filenames should be descriptive, keyword-optimized, or both. Avoid using random or meaningless filenames like “IMG_1234” or “photo.”
  • Alternative text tag. Alternative text or “alt text” tags are texts that appear whenever an image fails to load. This is primarily an accessibility feature for users with unstable internet, but it’s also a ranking factor that helps images appear in search results. 
  • File types. To ensure optimal performance and viewability, remember to use SEO-friendly image formats. This includes PNG, JPEG, SVG, and WebP.

Image optimization doesn’t necessarily require technical skills, but it’s immensely time-consuming if you have truckloads of images on your website. That’s why most businesses invest in automated image optimization tools or hire a full-service SEO agency to get the job done.

6. URL Structure

A lot of businesses overlook the significance of page URLs when building their website. 

The impact of page URLs on search engine rankings may be small — but it’s still important given. After all, in the competitive SEO space, you’ll need all the advantages you can get. 

A rule of thumb is to insert your target keyword into the page’s URL. Your URL should also be descriptive, short, and easy to memorize. 

Website platforms like WordPress let you customize your website’s URL structure without needing third-party tools. Some SEO-conscious businesses, however, use on-page optimization tools like Rank Math and Yoast to optimize page URLs, meta descriptions, and more. 

7. Mobile-Friendliness

Google confirmed multiple times that mobile-friendliness is a significant ranking factor, and it’s not hard to see why. 

Today, 55% of online searches come from mobile devices. That means failing to deliver a good mobile experience will affect more than half of your organic search traffic. 

Here are some ways businesses improve their website’s mobile-friendliness:

  • Install a mobile-responsive theme 
  • Increase font sizes — or set them to adjust dynamically based on screen size
  • Space out clickable elements to prevent unintentional clicks
  • Use the “Mobile Usability” report on Google Search Console for more suggestions

8. TLS Encryption

It’s clear that search engines like Google care about user experience — and data privacy is a part of that equation. 

Securing a Transport Layer Security (TLS) encryption certificate is crucial to ensuring data privacy and security on your website. In addition to being a ranking factor, TLS encryption also has a huge impact on the user experience. 

Installing TLS/SSL certificates informs users that any information they submit to your website, be it a phone number or email address, is encrypted and safe from hackers. 

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On the flip side, users will know right away if your website doesn’t have a TLS certificate. This will make potential customers hesitant to enter their information on your website. 

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9. On-Page Keyword Optimization

You can’t have a list of onsite SEO factors without including keyword research and optimization. 

Keywords may no longer be the ultimate deciding factor in modern SEO. But with the right strategies, keywords are still effective in building topical authority and increasing search engine rankings. 

We already covered some on-page elements that require keyword optimization, namely page titles, meta descriptions, URLs, and images. 

Below are a few other on-page keyword optimization techniques you should remember: 

  • Mention your target keyword(s) at least once in your content body
  • Mention your main keyword near the beginning of your content
  • Use keywords in navigation elements
  • Use keywords as anchor texts when building links to your page
  • Create subheadings that contain your target keyword(s)

When used correctly, keywords help users understand and scan your content for the information they need. They also help search engines evaluate your page and its relevance, even if the keyword optimization is done off-page. 

What is Offsite SEO?

While onsite SEO is done inside your website, offsite SEO is done outside of it. 

Offsite SEO includes strategies that focus on increasing your website’s authority, visibility, and relevance — in turn, helping you rank higher. This includes local SEO, social media marketing, review management, and various link building tactics. 

Offsite SEO Ranking Constituents

Here are the essential off-page SEO strategies every business needs: 

1. Guest Blogging

Guest blogging is one of the best strategies for raising your search engine rankings by generating “backlinks.”

As opposed to internal links that come from your own website, a backlink is an inbound link from an entirely different site.

Think of a backlink as a digital vote of confidence. It shows that other websites trust your content enough to share it with their audience. 

The more backlinks your page gets, the more authoritative and valuable it is in the eyes of search engines. 

Guest blogging generates backlinks through three steps: 

  • Step #1: Find relevant and authoritative websites that accept guest posts. 
  • Step #2: Apply to be a contributor and pitch a content idea. 
  • Step #3: Write the guest post and include the backlink yourself. 

You can easily look for websites that accept guest posts using Google. Simply enter a relevant keyword or particular topic and add phrases like “write for us” and “guest post by” to your query. 

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Finding a website that accepts guest posts is the easy part. The real challenge lies in finding multiple authoritative sites and creating unique, high-quality content that they’ll approve. 

If you don’t have the time and resources for this, a more efficient option is to hire a link building service to do the grunt work.  

2. Local Listing Management

Another way to get valuable backlinks and increase your online exposure is through local listing management. 

Submitting your business information to websites like Google Business Profile and HomeAdvisor is a crucial step in local SEO. It helps your business appear in local search queries, like “near me” searches and location-specific keywords (e.g. Dania Beach personal injury lawyer). 

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Although local listing management is an offsite strategy, keep in mind that local SEO also requires on-page strategies. This includes creating dedicated landing pages for local keywords and adding your business address to your header, footer, and “About” page.

3. Social Media Marketing

Social signals may not be a direct ranking factor (according to Google), but social media provides a handful of SEO benefits. 

For one, social media marketing can be a great source of traffic for your business website. This stimulates well-known SEO metrics like clicks and conversion rate — as well as improves brand awareness. 

Promoting content on your social media accounts also increases your brand’s visibility to potential backlink sources. We’re talking about other bloggers, businesses, and journalists who may cite your website to enhance the credibility of their own content. 

To get the ball rolling, make sure you promote the right kind of “link-worthy” content on social media: 

  • Original research. Content publishers love to cite statistics and other forms of credible research data to back up their claims. By promoting case studies, surveys, and other forms of data-rich content, you encourage other content creators to write brand mentions and provide you with juicy backlinks in the process. 
  • Visual content. Graphics like charts and lists attract backlinks from other publishers who don’t have the means to create their own visuals. Promote them on social media and image-sharing platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.  
  • Explanation posts. Rather than explaining technical concepts and terms in detail, a lot of content creators simply link to another “what is” post. In exchange for saving their time and effort, you get rewarded with valuable backlinks that increase your search engine rankings — a win-win. 
  • Press releases. Publishing a press release is another way to create content that magnetizes natural backlinks. This content marketing strategy also helps get the word out on your business, which can lead to more branded searches. 

4. Link Reclamation

Link reclamation is a technical SEO process that takes advantage of lost, broken, or competitor backlinks. It requires an SEO platform with competitor research and backlink analysis capabilities, like Ahrefs, Semrush, and other alternatives.

Don’t know what lost or broken links are?

A backlink is lost whenever the referring website decides to delete or replace the link. A broken link, on the other hand, usually occurs if you delete a page or change its URL. Either way, you lose the link and the SEO benefits that came with it. 

Luckily, SEO tools help you spot broken and lost links with ease. This lets you reach out to the referring domain (website that provided the backlink) directly and request for the links to be reinstated. 

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SEO tools also allow you to scan your competitor’s backlink profile to find link reclamation opportunities — even if the links are still active. 

If your website’s content is marginally better than your competitor’s, you can encourage the referring domain to link to your page instead. 

On site SEO Vs Offsite SEO: What’s The Difference?

TL;DR: onsite SEO and offsite SEO use different methods for increasing your search engine rankings. But there’s another key difference you should know about. 

With onsite SEO, you’re perfectly capable of implementing the necessary changes yourself. But with offsite SEO, you need to go out of your way to build relationships with other websites and social media users. 

Offsite activities, like link building and digital marketing, also need on-page optimized content to work. This makes offsite SEO more challenging for businesses with limited resources. 

Regardless, it’s clear that onsite and offsite SEO depends on each other to successfully reach Google’s first page. 

Offsite SEO boosts your website’s authority and visibility, which brings the attention of users and search engines. Meanwhile, onsite SEO ensures your website delivers a great user experience and satisfies Google’s guidelines

You need both to outperform competitors and overtake them in search engine results. 

Hire an SEO Agency Today That Creates Holistic SEO Strategies

Combining effective onsite with offsite SEO strategies needs a ton of planning. Not to mention you’ll need the right tools, manpower, and industry know-how to keep your SEO efforts going. 

Don’t worry — we can take it from here. 

Reach out to us and let’s build a holistic SEO strategy tailored to your business.

Article by Meo Antolin

Freelance writer since 2014. I produce digital marketing content of all lengths and depths. I run A Million Words Later, which I built to help aspiring freelance writers get the knowledge, inspiration, and resources they need to succeed.