What is On-Site Optimization?
On-site SEO (also known as on-page SEO) is the practice of optimizing elements of a website (as opposed to links and other external signals elsewhere on the Internet, collectively referred to as “off-site SEO” or external links) in order to achieve higher rankings and more relevant traffic from search engines. On-site SEO refers to the optimization of the content and HTML source code of a page.
Both onsite SEO and offsite SEO constitute the two basic elements of search engine optimization when trying to rank your website.
In addition to helping search engines interpret page content, proper onsite SEO can help users quickly and clearly understand what a page is about and whether it addresses their search query. Essentially, good in-site SEO helps search engines understand what humans would see (and what value they would get) if they visited a page, so that search engines can reliably deliver content that human visitors consider to be of high quality for a particular search query (keyword).
The ultimate goal of onsite search engine optimization can be thought of as trying to make it as easy as possible for both search engines and users.
Understand the content of a web page.
Identify that the page is relevant to one or more search queries (i.e., a specific keyword or set of keywords).
Consider that the page is useful and deserves to rank well on search engine results pages.
Keywords, Content and On-site SEO
In the past, onsite SEO was synonymous with keyword usage – specifically, including a high-value keyword in several key positions on a website.
To understand why keywords are no longer central to onsite SEO, it’s important to remember what these terms actually are: content topics. Historically, a page’s ability to rank for a particular term has depended on using the right keywords in certain expected positions on the site in order for search engines to find and understand what the page is about. User experience was secondary; simply making sure that search engines found the keywords and ranked the site as relevant for those terms was at the core of onsite SEO practices.
Today, however, search engines have become more sophisticated. They can extract the meaning of a page from the use of synonyms, the context in which the content appears, or even just by paying attention to how often a particular combination of words is mentioned. While the use of keywords is still important, prescriptive approaches, such as the necessary number of times exact match keywords are used in a given location, are no longer a prerequisite for on-page search engine optimization. What matters is relevance. For each of your pages, ask yourself how relevant the content is to the user intent behind the search query (based on your use of keywords on the page and in the HTML).
In this way, onsite SEO is not about keyword repetition or placement, but about understanding who your users are, what they are looking for, and about what topics (keywords) you can create content that best meets that need. Pages that meet these criteria have content that is. There is depth. Today, it is more or less assumed that content must be thorough enough to have a chance of ranking.
User-friendly. Is the content readable? Is it organized on your site in a way that makes it easy to navigate? Is it generally clean, or is it littered with ads and affiliate links?
Unique. Content copied from elsewhere on your site (or elsewhere on the Internet) may affect a site’s ability to rank in the SERPs if not handled properly.
Authority and credibility. Does your content stand on its own as a reliable resource of information on a specific topic?
Alignment with the user’s search intent. Part of creating and optimizing quality content is also about fulfilling searchers’ expectations. The subject matter of the content should align with the search queries they rank for.
In addition to the keywords (topics) used in web content and the way they are discussed, there are a number of “non-keyword related” elements that can influence the onsite optimization of a web page.
These include the following.
1. Link usage on the page. How many links are there? Are they internal or external? Where do they all lead?
2. page loading speed.
3. the use of structured data or other markup.
4. the URL structure of the page.
5. mobile friendliness.
6. web page metadata.
All these elements are related to the same basic idea: creating a good user experience. The more usable a page is (from a technical and non-technical point of view), the better the in-site optimization of that page will be.
These are the things that are worth noting and going for in-site optimization.
What is off-site SEO?
Off-site SEO involves all the actions you take outside of your website that affect your search engine rankings. This can include building backlinks, being active on social media, etc.
Search engines weigh many factors when determining a page’s ranking. While some of these factors are based on site content and performance, Google also gathers knowledge about your site through sources outside of your domain. This is why off-site search engine optimization is so valuable.
For example, link building – an effective off-page SEO tactic – is one of the most important ranking factors.
An off-page SEO strategy supports your website efforts (i.e., on-page SEO) and works to add credibility, relevance, trustworthiness and authority to your domain.
1. Link Building
Links from other sites on the web server are votes of confidence in your domain.
The more votes you get, the more likely you are to rank on search engines. Conversely, the fewer votes you have, the harder it is to convince Google that you are a trustworthy authority site.
You need other pages to vouch for you – that’s what backlinks are for. Building external links is an off-page strategy and should be the first item on your list.
There are several types of links you can get.
Natural or earned links, in which editorial publishers or consumers organically mention your brand.
Link building, which requires some effort on your part, such as contacting publishers to get link properties or mentions.
It’s important to use white hat tactics to get backlinks because methods like flooding forums and comment sections with links to your pages can get you penalized by Google.
2. Social Media
You may think of social media as a brand awareness tool and not part of SEO.
However, social media is a great way to gain domain authority and improve search engine rankings.
When you share content on social media and drive traffic to your website, it shows Google that you are getting traffic from different sources and must have interesting and quality content.
This is why it’s important to consistently engage with your community on social media and use it to post content. More engagement will likely lead to more shares, backlinks and clicks, which helps build domain authority.
3. Local search engine optimization
Local search engine optimization is a strategy that involves optimizing a website for local search results. This is typically used for brick-and-mortar businesses or those that serve consumers in a specific geographic area.
To do this, you must send signals to the search engines that serve local consumers. How do you do this? Here are a few key ways.
Add your company to local and national business directories.
Claim your listings on review sites and respond to reviews.
Encourage your customers to leave positive reviews online.
Have consistent contact information on all platforms.
4. Content Marketing
Content marketing helps you reach your target audience and engage them with messages that address their needs and pain points.
In addition to your on-page content marketing efforts, such as blog posts, you can also utilize methods such as guest blogging, downloadable offers, surveys and reports.
These practices are great ways to drive traffic to your site, generate new leads, and improve your search engine rankings.
Take guest blogging for example, it offers a variety of benefits. First is the ability to reach a new audience that belongs to your target market.
Second is the value of the backlinks you gain by posting on another high powered domain.