SEO…it’s probably not the most compelling topic out there.
But a solid Search Engine Optimization strategy is a must-have for any online business. After all, SEO is a critical part of online marketing. And whether you are aware of it or not, it remains relevant in 2019.
To properly explore website SEO, get to know the two major factors that affect your website’s search rankings: On-Page and Off-Page Optimization.
On-Page and Off-Page SEO: What’s the Difference?
|On-Page SEO||Off-Page SEO|
|Website optimisation: Title tag, meta tags, meta description, keywords, Robots.txt, and website structure||Link building: From social media, other websites, online business directories|
|Content optimisation: Keyword in content, keyword in H1, H2, and H3 tags, hyperlinks, image alt text, title tags||Reviews: Review sites such as Google Reviews, Trustpilot, Facebook, and Trip Advisor|
|Other: Internal links, outbound links, Sitemap, W3 Code validation||Other: Email marketing, press releases, participation in blogs, forums, and online community boards|
As the name implies, on-page SEO involves optimizing website and content on your own site’s pages. It may include planning the website structure, revising the code, and optimizing content. On-page SEO practices require you to access the website’s backend.
Off-page SEO, on the other hand, focuses on earning domain authority through links from other websites. The higher your domain authority, the more authoritative your website is compared to your competitors.
Generally, on and off-page SEO techniques are needed to boost your website’s search engine ranking. Think of it as the foundation and roof of your house. You build a solid foundation (on-page SEO) before securing your home with a roof (off-page SEO).
Good SEO finds a balance between two — expanding your online visibility and improving your position on major search engines.
On-page SEO: What Makes a Well-Optimized Page?
On-page optimisation starts with a high-volume keyword.
Instead of coming up with random keywords, you need to create a more structured strategy. Don’t worry, this isn’t as technical as it sounds. Keyword research is supplementary marketing for your business since it gives you a close look into what your targets are typing on search engines (think Google, Yahoo, etc.).
Interesting, right? Now let’s see how you can apply this.
- Make a list of important, relevant topics. You can also put yourself in the shoes of buyer personas — or semi-fictional representations of your ideal customer — and determine what related keywords they could be searching for.
- Look for niche topics. From your list of topics, generate the phrases that are closely related to your main keyword. Start by searching for your topic on Google and study the list of search results. For example, “hiking”. Some niche topics to take note of are “types of hiking”, “difference of hiking and trekking”, or “hiking for beginners”.
- Prioritize long tail keywords. Long tail keywords are more specific to the searches of your target market. They’re more likely to bring in buyers instead of just website visitors.
Re-evaluate your keywords every quarter as keyword trends don’t always remain the same. Of course, you can always enlist the help of professional SEO services to ensure that you get the best results.
Most websites make the mistake of writing for search engines — resulting in robotic, irrelevant, and unappealing content.
First of all, your website content should provide value to your audience. Create informative and digestible content that is written for your readers. Combine SEO principles (keyword research, content promotion, etc.) together with great content to attract more search engine traffic.
Your meta title and meta description provide a summarised information about your page. These have to be well written so you can persuade online users to click on your link.
Here’s a sample HTML code for your meta title:
<title>Your title here</title>
Take note that for the meta title, you’ll need to fit your ideas within 60–64 characters.
Check out a sample HTML code for your meta description:
<meta name=”description” content=”Add your meta description here.”>
Meta descriptions is longer—between 50 and 300 characters.
Be mindful because your title and description will be cut off when you exceed the character limits for each. You can measure the effectiveness of your metadata optimisation by monitoring click-through rates in Google Search Console.
Now that you’ve conducted keyword research and produced a number of excellent content, its time to measure the results of your SEO efforts.
Running an SEO campaign without analytics and reporting tools is like going in a battle blind. And since Google is the largest search engine around, it’s a smart move to refer to the data produced by Google Search Console.
By integrating this tool, you can do the following for your website:
- Measure search traffic and performance
- Come up with solutions to issues
- Stand out in Google search results
Google Analytics, on the other hand, enables you to track each website visit and learn about your customers through the data gathered from your site.
Sitemaps are a necessity for on-page SEO. It’s a simple directory that holds information on the different pages of a website. Having a sitemap gives Google a heads up on which content and pages to crawl first, especially when duplicate pages are involved.
A sitemap is highly encouraged for every website, especially when:
- You have a large website. Crawlers tend to overlook pages that are new or updated.
- You have a newly-launched website. Web crawlers may not discover pages that have no other sites linked to them.
- Your site is not well-linked. Content that does not naturally link to one another is ending up getting overlooked by crawlers.
Off-page optimization requires more online community interaction. Off-page SEO techniques are actions done outside your website that build strong backlinks. You not only have to pass the standards of Google’s algorithm but that of your target market as well.
Using off-site online marketing techniques, you show that your business is relevant, authoritative, and trustworthy. This can lead online users — particularly your target market — to increase traffic on your website and improve your search ranking.
Few of these techniques are online listing, guest blogging, and social media marketing.
A business’s online listing usually appears in search engine results and maps when users search for keywords that are related to the business or service. The listing site that will help you most with your Google ranking is Google My Business—for obvious reasons.
With online listings such as Google My Business, you have the ideal platform to place your business information and easily update them whenever you have changes in your business such as the address or contact number. Their review section is a great area to build customer loyalty as businesses can directly find issues from their customers and provide quick solutions. The insights these listing sites provide are also excellent and useful data for your market research.
Other listing sites include:
- Bing Places for Business. Bing is the default search engine for Windows 8, and it also ranks second place, next to Google.
- Yahoo! Small Business. Although not as large as it used to be, Yahoo still ranks as the third most used search engine.
- TripAdvisor. Largest network for hotels, restaurants, and vacation getaways.
- Yelp. One of the biggest and best customer review sites. Its also become the go-to place for consumers looking for information about local businesses.
Guest blogging is one of the oldest online marketing strategies out there. It remains, however, effective in increasing traffic for your website.
Guest blogs benefit your business since it provides instant exposure to your target audience. You also get to prove your credibility with authoritative blogs, making your audience recognise you as a trustworthy brand.
The question of whether social media affects SEO or not has been heavily debated. But way back in 2010, both Google and Bing did admit that signals from social media sites are a factor in Search Engine Results Page (SERP).
Fast forward 9 years later, Hootsuite decided to test out the connection between social media marketing and SEO. The result? There appeared to be a strong correlation between the two. Overall, the data associated with social engagements improved compared to the ones that weren’t.
So there you have it— social media does help with SEO. But the last thing you want to do now is to start spamming your followers on Facebook. Remember that when it comes to content: choose quality over quantity.
Focus on high-quality posts to earn engagements. If you impress more people on social media, you’ll earn a rightful boost in search rank and visibility.
Improving organic search engine rankings is the ultimate goal of SEO. You can maximise your strategy by applying the right principles both on-page and off-page. Stay updated — SEO principles are known to change from time to time. And be present — your SEO techniques should create a reader-focused online presence and centre on the searcher’s intent.
Last but not least, always practice SEO techniques with caution. The last thing you want is to be penalized by Google or blacklisted by visitors.
Build your website’s reputation and visibility today!