Following on-page, off-page, and technical SEO best practices will have you ranking on the top of the search results, get you more organic traffic, and ultimately – more business!
Even though there is a big difference between these SEO methods, on-page SEO, off-page SEO, and technical SEO are all equally important when it comes to improving your SEO efforts, increasing user experience, and working towards improving your visibility and ranking on search engines. However, they have different means of doing so. Flaws in any of them can push down your rankings, which is why it is important to know the difference between these three pillars of SEO.
Nonetheless, it can be a daunting topic to tackle. If you’re not deep into SEO like we are, some of the terminology that savvy SEO veterans throw around might leave you scratching your head in confusion. We’re here to help you navigate the complex world of Search Engine Optimization and explain these SEO terms in a way that is easy to understand to help clear up any confusion.
Ready to tackle the key SEO differences between these methods and take the plunge into muddy SEO waters?
Let’s dive in!
SEO is not an exact science because no search engine gives away all of its ranking factors or secrets on how it ranks pages. However, they do let us in on some basic SEO guidelines on what they look for in a high-rank-worthy website. Thus, all SEO tactics can be categorized into three main and broad groups: on-page, off-page, and technical SEO. But what’s the difference? All of these methods work towards improving your visibility on search engines, but their specific focus is different.
It is often said there are three sides to every coin – the obverse, or heads side; the reverse, or tails side; and the third side, being the edge. The same goes for the three types of SEO, even though many misconceptions lead us to think they are opposite sides of SEO efforts.
While there are certainly some differences, you shouldn’t think of it as technical SEO vs on-page SEO vs off-page SEO, as they are not competing with one another. They are rather different areas of focus that work towards the same goal and require the same amounts of time and investment. A great SEO strategy takes all of the three elements into consideration and treats them as equals.
So, simply put, technical, on-page, and off-page SEO are all just different means of reaching the same goal: improving your Google search ranking and visibility by using different methods and activities.
On-page SEO refers to SEO factors and techniques focused on optimizing aspects of your website that are under your control. It encompasses all the measures you take to make your web page rank higher on SERPs and improve the experience for users/potential customers who visit your website. It can include anything on your web pages, such as blog posts, product copy, web copy, headers, etc.
When you think of the basics of SEO, things like keywords, title tags, meta descriptions, image optimization, internal linking, and URL structure probably come to mind. You’re actually thinking of on-page SEO. On-page SEO is all about how you format your website and its pages to match a search query, making it “delightful” for humans who visit, as well as for search engines to crawl.
When you nail on-page SEO, it’s easy to create relevant and quality content for both the readers and the search engines, giving your website’s ranking a combo boost.
Unlike on-page SEO, off-page SEO refers to anything that happens away from your website and helps improve your search rankings, such as backlinks. Think of it as the “behind the scenes” of your site with the goal of building the trust, authority, and reputation of your website from the outside.
Many people make the mistake of associating off-page SEO with link building and inbound links alone but there’s a lot more to it than that. In reality, there are many off-page SEO methods and tactics you can use to promote your content on third-party sites across the web and reach your target audience, such as content marketing, guest blogging (guest posts), brand building, social media marketing, and more.
Think about the off-page SEO strategy as building your site’s domain authority. Without it, your site might struggle to outrank websites with higher authority, even though your on-page optimization is on point. The more external links and quality links you get, the more valuable your content will seem to a search engine algorithm, thus the higher you’ll rank in search engine results pages and the better your click-through rates will be.
Technical SEO has to do with the way that your website is structured. It refers to activities that directly impact the indexing and crawling of your site by search engines. In other words, technical SEO is anything technical undertaken to improve search rankings and help Google bots successfully crawl, interpret, and index all the pages of your site.
Examples of off-page optimization include page speed optimization, structured data, and more. It involves using things like schema markup, canonicals, hreflang tags, and other elements of code to make sure that your website’s content is clean, organized, and search engine friendly.
Technical SEO is the best place to start with your SEO efforts, as it works to ensure that your website is suitable for search engines to crawl and index, which makes it possible for them to rank your site in the first place. Without working on your site’s technical SEO, other SEO tactics including on-page and off-page optimization won’t show results.
Technical SEO and on-page SEO may not be the same thing but they are still very closely related and both are needed for optimal organic search results. Technical SEO involves making sure that your website’s code is clean and effective, while on-page SEO has to do with the way that your website is formatted. You could say that technical SEO is focused on performance, while on-page SEO is focused on content.
A good SEO strategy focuses on both on-page and technical SEO. A site that is built from the ground up for SEO will ensure that search engines can crawl and index pages with ease, while publishing quality, optimized content will create a good user experience, earn links and in turn, do better in the search results.
Essentially, on-page SEO is about building a website that appeals to users and, therefore, search engines, while off-page SEO is about getting exposure for a website through building trust and authority for your content. In other words, what you rank for is largely determined by on-page factors, while how high you rank in the SERPs is largely determined by off-page factors.
Instead of thinking in terms of technical SEO vs on-page SEO, think of technical SEO as a subset of on-page SEO. They both happen on your website, and on-page SEO can encompass technical SEO as well. The only reason why there is an on-page vs off-page SEO section here is for clarity, as they are indeed SEO partners.
Short answer? Both. The bottom line is that it’s never about choosing between on-page and off-page SEO. That would be like trying to decide between putting tires or an engine in your car – you need both to get wherever you want to go. On-page and off-page SEO work together simultaneously to improve your search engine rankings in a complementary fashion and each method has its own value.
Both on-page SEO and off-page SEO are equally important, and without one or the other, you will not be able to increase your ranking. However, even though you should definitely be implementing both on-page and off-page SEO strategies on your website, you should first get your on-page SEO ducks in a row before focusing on off-page SEO. Why?
Just like when building a house, you want to set the foundation first before building the rest. In this case, your foundation is your on-page SEO. Neither type of SEO outclasses the other in terms of importance. You should simply optimize your on-page elements first, and then further strengthen your content by optimizing it with off-page SEO tactics.
Finding the perfect balance between the two down the road will help make your website easy to understand by both users and the search engine bots. It’s a win-win and the secret to ranking high on SERPs!
In a nutshell, on-page SEO is about optimizing your website for the users and search engines, off-page SEO is about building website authority by getting some link juice and technical SEO is about making sure that your website’s code is clean and effective.
Understanding what goes into nailing technical, on-page, and off-page SEO elements will help you create a comprehensive SEO strategy that levels up your website and its content while increasing its ranking potential. Don’t miss out on any of the potential ranking benefits by focusing too much on one or the other.
Each business model is different, so there is not a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to SEO. You also may not have the expertise or the people to make a serious SEO impact to grow your site’s organic channels. However, with a savvy SEO partner like Play Media on your team, you can make sure you get the best of all three worlds.
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