Onsite vs. Offsite SEO: Here’s the Difference and Why It Matters

You’re here because you understand the importance of search engine optimization (SEO) in generating inbound brand visibility & sales. In fact, 93 percent of online experiences begin with a search engine, and the top five organic spots account for about 68 percent of that traffic (source).

But what exactly does SEO entail, and how do you reach the top five spots? And more specifically, what is the difference between onsite & offsite SEO and how do you effectively implement both in your SEO campaigns?

Here’s the difference between the two and what you should do about it.

Onsite vs. Offsite SEO 

Any SEO task will fall under one of two overarching umbrellas: onsite SEO and offsite SEO.

Onsite SEO (also called on-page SEO) entails modifying & creating content on your website, while offsite SEO (also called off-page SEO) entails modifying and creating content on external websites. The goal of both onsite & offsite SEO is to enhance the visibility of websites within search engines; they are just two different ways of doing it. 

Examples of onsite SEO tasks would be on-page optimizations, user experience enhancement, site speed, on-page keyword usage and targeting and onsite blogging. 

Examples of offsite SEO tasks include backlink building, citation creation/management, review generation, reputation management, press releases and guest blogging.

It’s essential that you implement both offsite & onsite SEO in any campaign. Here’s how.

Implementing Onsite SEO

Onsite (on-page) SEO entails writing the infrastructure of your website in a way that is favorable to search engines. It also entails creating onsite content to generate traffic and develop topical authority within your niche.

Onsite SEO tasks 

Technical SEO – Technical SEO is making the framework of your website search engine-friendly. It includes things like site speed, SSL certificates, indexability, structured data and clean coding. To manage your technical SEO and diagnose any potential issues, Google’s free tool “Google Search Console” is a very effective and powerful resource.

User Experience (UX) Enhancement – User experience, or UX for short, is the term for how users perceive & interact with your website. Search engines use user signals in their ranking algorithm, so if users like your website, then search engines will also like it (and rank you). To create a good UX on your website, ensure your content matches search intent, loads fast, is visually appealing and sized/spaced properly.

On-page SEO – On-page SEO entails using the right keywords in the right places. To effectively implement on-page SEO, start with a keyword research tool such as Google’s Keyword Planner. Once you’ve determined your target keyword for a page, include that keyword in your title, H1, meta info, alt tags and body copy. 

Onsite Content Marketing (blogging) – Developing a blogging strategy for your website is vital for creating topical relevance within your niche. In addition, creating high-quality content with informational intent helps generate traffic and build trust with search engines. To conduct an effective onsite content marketing strategy, find keywords with informational intent and write high-quality content that offers unique insights, keeping on-page SEO in mind.

Implementing Offsite SEO

Offsite (off-page) SEO entails modifying 3rd party websites to send favorable signals from those websites to your website. It entails creating content & backlinks on other websites and managing your listings & reputation on those websites.

Offsite SEO tasks 

Link Building – A link (or backlink) is when an external website places a hyperlink from their site to your site. The volume and quality of inbound backlinks pointing to a website play a significant role in its performance within search engines. The process of obtaining these links is link building or backlink building. To build these links, you need to create linkable assets within your niche and send strategic, persuasive outreach to encourage other websites to link to you.

Citation Management – A citation is a listing of a business that contains its name, phone number and address (NAP). Citation creation & optimization is a big part of off-page local SEO. Important NAP websites are Google Business Profile, Yelp, Bing Places and social channels like Facebook. There are thousands more, and you should be listed in all of them, but its best to start with the big ones mentioned previously. To optimize, ensure your business information is filled out in detail and consistently across platforms. It’s also a good idea to get lots of good, real reviews, and place backlinks wherever relevant. You can also use a tool such as BrightLocal to help you automate & optimize your citation management.

Reputation Management – This one steps outside of the SEO box a bit but is important nonetheless. When other websites list or feature your website, you want to be shed in a positive light. This will make the most of your rankings by making people more likely to convert. To create a positive digital brand reflection, focus on your reviews in places like the BBB, Trustpilot and social platforms. You can also create press releases and partner with publications to feature your brand.

What’s More Important – Onsite or Offsite SEO?

Both onsite and offsite SEO are essential for SEO and ranking your website. You need onsite SEO to impress search engines and create a positive experience for your users. You need offsite SEO to send trust signals to your website and manage your digital reputation.

However, if you had to pick one, onsite SEO is more critical than offsite, simply because it is your website. Stellar offsite SEO means nothing without an optimized website. In addition, if your website is well-optimized onsite, then you can earn natural offsite SEO benefits like natural backlinks.

The best way to implement SEO is to start with onsite SEO – make sure your site is optimized from its foundation and begin an onsite content strategy.

Once that is in order, begin your offsite SEO to funnel traffic, authority and trust to your website. 

The Bottom Line

Onsite SEO is editing your website and offsite SEO is editing other websites. They work together and are both essential to any effective SEO campaign. 

Start with onsite SEO by building your site to be technically sound and user-friendly and properly use keywords with on-page SEO. Then, begin your offsite SEO strategy to build inbound backlinks and a strong brand reputation.

The two combined effectively will have a compounding effect on each other and set you up for search engine results page (SERP) success.

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