Trying to get a grip on your SEO strategy?

It’s okay if you’re struggling a bit. Understanding SEO is a tough process, especially when it’s changing all the time.

What you know about SEO last year may not be relevant today. What works today may not be important next year.

Still, understanding the basics should set up a nice foundation for when you start creating, studying, and then re-creating your strategy. Some of the basic lessons in SEO involve on-site and off-site optimizations.

Wait, what does on-site mean? How about the off-site meaning?

If you’re new to these terms, you still have a long way to go. Read below for the differences of on-site vs. off-site SEO and how they’re important.

On-Site vs. Off-Site SEO: What’s the Difference?

What does Onsite mean? How is it different from off-site strategies?

On-site SEO refers to the optimization of the SEO elements within a website. It makes sure the search engines take a liking to the site.

For that to happen, Google must understand the content and structure of the website. When it has a better understanding, it’s more likely to approve of your website as a reliable resource.

On the other hand, off-site SEO involves factors outside the website. These factors affect your SEO, but they don’t live on your website. The goal is the same, though: to provide more reasons for the search engines to like your site.

To gain a better understanding of the differences between the two, let’s take a look at the methods they use.

How On-Site SEO Helps Boost Your Website

Your website isn’t only about the design. It must contain the right elements for the search engines to take notice. Here are some areas that on-site SEO tackles:


When it comes to on-site SEO, the keyword is king. It applies to almost every aspect of it, from the URL tag to the content itself. After all, it’s how searchers can find your website.

This is why keyword research is an important part of your strategy. It involves finding the right keywords to rank for. This means you have to take into account how competitive the keyword is, how popular it is, and such.

When you have your target keywords, you can then use them for the following on-site elements.


The content is the most important part of your SEO strategy aside from the keywords. It’s the end goal for many searchers. As such, it’s the lifeblood of the internet.

The content of your website should provide relevant information delivered in a way that makes the readers understand it better. It should be of high-quality, with little to no grammatical mistakes. It should provide the needs of the searcher, but it must also meet the criteria of search engines.

In general, Google likes long articles because they tend to be more informative. Other than that, content that does well with the readers is also okay on Google’s books.

You must know how to draw visitors to your content, however. The key to that is the strategic placement of keywords. For it to rank higher, you must also pay attention to the supporting elements, which are as follows.

Title, Description, Etc.

These elements support the content and your on-site SEO efforts. Not only do they provide clues for the readers, but also for the search engine.

Google “crawls” the content and find out if it’s relevant through certain factors. Some of which are the title and description.

These appear on the search engine, which means they’re the first things that searchers see. That’s why you should place your keyword in these areas as well.

Headers also help crawlers get a more accurate picture of what the content is about. They break up the content into sections, allowing both Google and readers to digest it better.

Internal and External Links

Your content must also have internal and external links. Internal links are the ones linking to another page on the website. The latter refers to the links leading to a web page outside your domain.

These work because in SEO, links are the streets linking each page to another. Google’s crawlers use these streets to be able to index web pages.

Internal links are also helpful in a way that you can direct your visitors to more helpful information on your website. This makes them spend more time in your site, which may help reduce the bounce rates.

They also help establish information hierarchy and spread link juice among different pages. When one of your pages perform well, the link coming from it becomes high-quality. This then helps boost the content on the other end of the link.

What do external links do then? Well, they help boost your trust rating in the eyes of the visitors and Google. If you link to high-quality sites, they will also likely see you as one, too, by association.

Mobile Responsiveness

Mobile search accounted for over 50% of organic search engine visits in 2017. For this reason, Google and the other search engines are prioritizing websites who are mobile-responsive.

Most websites today have an automatic process that lets it adjust to the size of the screen of the device. This is why they still look good when viewed on smartphones or iPads.

You shouldn’t focus on this aspect for the sole purpose of ranking higher, though. Consumers also prefer visiting a website that looks good on their phones. This makes sense, considering that smartphone ownership in the United States is close to 80%.

What does catering to the consumers’ preferences have to do with SEO? We’ll discuss this more in detail below.

Website Design

The aesthetic design of your website doesn’t have a direct impact on your SEO. However, it does affect your SEO efforts.

A poor design can turn people off, making the chances of them leaving higher. When they spend a little time on your website, this sends a signal that your website isn’t relevant.

When a user navigates away from your web page right after seeing it, we call this “bouncing.” If you have a high bounce rate, this indicates that your website doesn’t satisfy the needs of the searchers.

If so, Google may lower your score even if you did have the information the visitor was looking for. The thing is, your poor website design prevented them from getting access. That’s why it’s important to pay attention to the design, not only for the visitors but for the search engine, too.

How Off-Site SEO Contributes to Your Page Ranking

These on-site elements seem to help a lot on your SEO efforts, so does off-site SEO still matter? If off-site SEO is all about gathering links from different sites, how will it boost your website? Let’s take a look at how backlinking works.

What are Backlinks and Why Do They Matter?

Backlinks are links coming from other websites leading to yours. They’re an important part of any SEO strategy as well, so websites do their hardest to gain these.

When you have several backlinks, Google’s crawlers have a higher chance of finding you and then indexing you. After all, links are like streets. The more your website has, the more chances of visitors and Google finding their way to you.

As we’ve mentioned above, the quality of the links matter, too. This means the authority of the website linking to you is a huge factor. When high-authority websites link to you, your reputation for Google increases.

Is One More Important Than the Other?

Now we have a better understanding of each process, but the question remains, is it good to focus on one rather than the other? The short answer is no – your strategy must consist of both.

Off-site SEO may be more demanding as it requires continuous effort as opposed to on-site SEO. It’s a huge factor in your website’s credibility and authority, though. On-site SEO, on the other hand, may have a more direct impact on your website’ SEO.

However, these differences don’t mean that one is better than the other. Your SEO strategy should consist of both – on-site and off-site SEO are 2 faces of the same coin. They have equal importance, but you do have to find the right mix.

This would involve a lot of trial and error to figure out what works for your website. You may find that publishing more content on your website instead of guest blogging works better. You may also find that asking for backlinks helped a lot.

While it’s unfortunate that you have to find this out yourself, the good news is that there are a lot of tools now to help you with your strategy. You may also get the help of an expert for some advice.

The Next Step in Creating an Effective SEO Strategy

Knowing the differences of on-site vs. off-site SEO is one of the most important things you have to learn before creating a blog. Both will help you in your SEO endeavors, but you there are a lot to still learn, like local search marketing.

But SEO goes beyond these tips. There’s more to discover!

If you want to learn more about creating a blog, check out our guide here.

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