Posted on 20/10/2022 by Melanie Comerford

The Complete Guide to On-Page and Off-Page SEO

SEO can be a complicated business, especially if you’re new to it and still trying to pick apart the complicated jargon and seemingly endless strategies. Nowadays it can helpfully be split into two separate parts to make things easier to understand; on and off-page SEO. 

Whilst both are crucial for different reasons, it’s important to have an understanding of each and be confident in using modern SEO best practices to drive your website to success. In this guide, we’re talking all things on-page and on-page SEO, giving a clear definition of what they are and how they should be utilised fully to boost your rankings in the SERPs.  

What is On-Page SEO?

Whilst on and off-page SEO are both used to improve your visibility online, there are some fundamental differences. On-page SEO is a term used to describe any on-site actions and changes made for the purpose of boosting rankings in the SERP. Most on-page SEO strategies are a mixture of content and some technical SEO elements that are used to optimise your webpage. Making it more attractive for SERPs which ultimately leads to higher rankings, more traffic and greater success.

On-page SEO can be varied and can include title tags, headings, Alt text on images, internal links and meta-descriptions to name a few. Site speed is now also taken into account, which includes a range of performance metrics.  

Technical Aspects of On-Page SEO

1. Title tags

A title tag is an HTML element that is used to display the title of your page on a search engine results page. This is what users will read when they choose to visit your site, so it’s important to make it as clickable as possible. Each tag should be unique and descriptive, contain a maximum of 60 characters in length and be written to include your chosen keywords from your keyword research. 

More prominent today, Google’s algorithm will try to generate its own title tags if it ‘thinks’ it can be more descriptive.    

2. Meta Descriptions

A meta-description is a description given to your page that lets a user know what the page is about. It should sell your webpage and communicate why someone should choose your site over any of the other competitors. It is found on a SERP underneath the title tag and should be optimised to be below 160 characters to avoid truncation. 

Again, sometimes Google’s algorithm will interfere and choose its own meta description using the content within the page. 

3. Alt-Text

Search engines, unlike humans, are not blessed with a sense of vision. It’s a good practice to add image ALT text to describe the images you include in your content, SEs will use this text as a relevancy signal. Including this information will also help improve the online experience and accessibility for those who are visually impaired.

Alt text should be fully descriptive and should be optimised with keywords where possible. You should also try to keep them below 125 characters. 

4. Page Speed

No one likes a slow webpage, and it turns out search engines don’t either. Not only will a slower page seriously deter people from going any further on your site and increase your bounce rate, but search engines will penalise your page and rank you lower. There are many ways to speed up your site, including minifying your code, getting rid of unnecessary plugins, compressing your images, enabling browser caching and lots more.

For more information about how our website developers can support you, explore our web design services

5. Internal Links

Internal links play a dual role in how your site works. On the one hand, they allow users to navigate your website with ease, but on another they allow search engines to better understand what your website is about. When your site is crawled for indexing, bots will use internal linking to find out how your content is related, so always link to a relevant part of your site. This could be a category, a product that you’re trying to push or a contact page.

6. Keyword Research and Seamless Implementation

We’ve all heard of keywords in SEO, and sure enough, they play an important role in on-page SEO. Carrying out extensive keyword planning and research and incorporating it into your on-page content will help users find your content and aid search engines in understanding your site. This is a whole area of SEO on its own and if you’re interested in expanding your knowledge make sure to read our ‘Creating Your Keyword Strategy for SEO’ blog post. 

7. Mobile Friendly Websites

Did you know that 50.58% of web traffic comes from mobile, whilst 46.51% comes from desktop? Design for mobile. The online mobile experience is undoubtedly different from desktop, cater for this. Consider how your website elements will appear on mobile, items such as pop-ups or forms can be a nightmare to navigate through if they haven’t been designed with a mobile display in mind.

Web developer with mobile phone planning website

The mobile user experience is a big deal and it’s only going to get bigger. Making sure your web pages are fully optimised for mobile phones is now absolutely crucial to successful on-page SEO. 

8. Optimised Headings

H1s, H2s H3s – the list goes on. Your headings should be fully optimised and provide users with a short, specific description of your content. Every page should have a H1 as a description of what the page is about, then H2s to H6s to further break down the content into readable, easy-to-understand segments. You should also include keywords in your headings, just don’t stuff them! 

seo guide banner curve

On-Page SEO and Content Marketing

Technical SEO is great, but it has to work in synchronisation with a high-quality content marketing strategy to be truly effective. Content is the reason users visit your website as they look to find solutions to the problems they face. Not only can it help to drive traffic and turn readers into leads, but it can be linked back from external sources if it is shareable and authoritative. 

The only problem is that these days there are a wealth of online sources providing content, so yours has to be extra valuable to stand out from the crowd. Your content has to be relevant, engaging and informative to fully stand a chance at performing highly. 

Content comes in all kinds of different formats depending on what the intent of the user is and at what stage they are in their buyer’s journey. For example, a user in the awareness stage will most likely be looking for content in the form of blogs, articles, videos or infographics. Someone in the consideration stage will be looking to specify their search and could seek further information in the form of white papers or webinars. Then, case studies, product demos and on-page content might be used for someone in the decision stage of their journey.

What is Off-Page SEO?

The other side of the coin is off-page SEO and you guessed it, it refers to any SEO practices that take place off your website that have the intention of impacting your rankings in SERPs. Overall, the purpose of off-page SEO is to improve how your content is viewed by users and search engines, be it through the authoritativeness, trustworthiness or relevance of your site. This is done through external links, with the idea being that the quality of your content can be assured based on the users and websites that link to your content.   

How to Optimise For Off-Page

1. Link Building

The ultimate off-page SEO technique, link building remains one of the most important ways to improve your website’s SEO. Link building has developed a lot over the years, with the days of using spammy backlinks to increase your rankings being long gone. This will now most likely get you penalised, so think again before trying anything spammy.

Now, links must be from quality sources with high authorities to be truly beneficial, and must also have strong relevance to the content they are linking to. One single relevant backlink from an authoritative source in your sector is worth more than 100 low-quality links.     

2. Guest Posting 

Guest blogging is a helpful way of acquiring backlinks and building your reputation as an expert in your industry. The process involves writing a blog on another company’s website that is within your industry. This will attract traffic to your website, increase your domain authority, increase your brand awareness and more. 

3. Influencer Marketing

An influencer is a term used to describe a person online who is deemed as being authoritative in their own field. They can advertise your products or endorse services to their followers, be it through blogging, vlogging or social media platforms such as Twitter or Instagram. 

Posts from influencers are often highly popular and have a large reach, making them a great way of growing your brand awareness and driving traffic to your site. 

4. Social Media Marketing

Social media is a hugely powerful tool and harnessing its potential can be massively beneficial for your website. It can encourage more clicks to your website and greatly increase your reach online. Whether social media marketing is true off-page SEO is a grey area – Google hasn’t stated that a link from social media will help your SEO, although the platforms are crawled for data similarly to other web pages. 

With that said, we know that social media marketing can help expand your content’s reach and enable new users to discover your brand. 

woman uses mobile phone at home in the kitchen

5. Increase Your Online Profile

Fundamentally, off-page SEO is about increasing your online profile to other websites. Make sure to join forums, answer queries on the web, leave comments and interact with your audience as much as you can. This work will help to build trust in your website, which is one of the central pillars of off-page SEO. Your audience will begin to get to know you and your brand and your authority will naturally grow, leading to those all-important backlinks.

On-Page vs Off-Page SEO

Although not the answer you might be looking for, the truth is no one knows with certainty whether on or off-page SEO is seen as more important to Google. Whilst many SEOs believe that off-page SEO work is more important as it helps to reach new audiences, boosts your authority and quickly builds your relationships with other sites, it’s just not definitive. The time spent on each is completely up to you and there is no one-rule-fits-all approach – experiment, and see what works best for you. 

It’s important to note that you shouldn’t focus on one more than the other. On and off-page SEO should work in unison and are both most effective when combined with the other. Both of your strategies should be fully aligned and with comprehensive plans in place, will help to increase your search rankings and drive your traffic. 

Choose Loop Digital for Your SEO

At Loop Digital, we specialise in both on-page and off-page SEO, with experience in growing the online presence of a website in natural and organic ways. We understand that web visibility is absolutely key to success, no matter if you’re a multi-national brand or start-up. We’ll combine on and off-page work with technical SEO to create a fully bespoke plan that is tailored to your business’s needs.

To find out more, contact a member of our talented team today and claim your free SEO audit now. Alternatively, if you want to dig a little deeper on your own, check out our fully comprehensive, downloadable ‘Essential Guide to SEO’.

Mel is our Partner Strategy & Delivery Manager and also a CIM Chartered Marketer, a testament to her commitment to excellence in the field. But Mel’s contributions don’t stop at the office door. Beyond her professional endeavours, she leads an active life as a qualified run leader and dedicated volunteer. Her experience in these roles has streamlined her leadership and teamwork skills, making her an invaluable asset when it comes to collaborating on projects and ensuring their success. Her sharp insights, strategic thinking, and knowledge have made her a backbone in our team’s ability to drive results for clients in this industry. Mel will make sure that we can approach marketing challenges from all angles and deliver outstanding results for our clients.

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