Off-site vs On-site SEO: What’s the difference?

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SEO can be divided into two main groups: on-site SEO and off-site SEO.

On-site and Off-site SEO

On-site SEO

On-site SEO deals with the optimisation of elements on a website to improve its relevance and visibility to search engines. This can include optimising keywords, user experience, code optimisation and the format of URLs.

On-site Factors

These are search engine ranking signals directly which are controllable by site owners.

Content signals

  • Relevance: Topic that is relevant to page content versus search term
  • Freshness: Frequency of content updates
  • Overall quality: Spelling, grammar and sentence structure
  • Keywords: Naturally occurring keywords in the page content


Keywords are:

  • Words that users type into search engines to show what they are looking for
  • Words used on web pages to show search engines what the page is about

Keyword research is a critical component of search engine optimisation. Keywords are usually broken up and grouped based on the number of words within query phrases.

Keyword research is a core component of SEO

It involves figuring out which words to rank for based on the most popular words and phrases that are searched on search engines. Researching keywords gives digital marketers a better understanding of how high the demand is for certain keywords. It also shows how difficult it would be to compete for those terms in organic search results, offering some direction for optimisation efforts.

Keyword research isn’t just about identifying the popularity of a search term

It’s also about exploring the many ways that people use language to research an idea or topic. As such, researching keywords isn’t just important for SEO. It’s also a major element of content marketing as a whole.


Keyword research can help you:

  • Find ideas for your next blog post,
  • Learn more about the needs of your audience, and
  • Keep up to date with the lingo of the ever-changing search landscape.

By researching the words people type into search engines – in addition to making use of this research to create targeted content it is possible to drive the right traffic to your site. This traffic is more likely to convert.

HTML signals
  • Titles: Concise, descriptive HTML titles, containing the page’s target keywords
  • Descriptions: These are unique HTML descriptions which are tailored to each page
  • Headings: Concise, descriptive headings and subheadings
  • Alt attributes: Descriptive alt text for images
  • Lists: HTML lists for scannable content
  • Architecture signals
  • Accessibility: Website crawlability and accessibility
  • Page speed: Web page loading time
  • URL structure: Descriptive, clean URLs
  • Internal links: These are the sources, destinations, and anchor text that relate to internal links
  • Outgoing links: Outbound links to trusted websites
  • Sitemaps: Presence of HTML and/or XML sitemaps
Domain signals
  • Registration privacy: Public vs. Private domain name registration
  • Domain registrant: Record of domain name registrant
  • Exact match domains: Especially quality of EMD sites
  • Registration length: One year only vs several years in advance
  • Domain extension: This is to do with generic and country-specific domain extensions

Off-site SEO

Search engines look for websites that link back to your site as an indication of good content. For example, the more pages that link back to your website, the more valuable Google will judge your content to be. The assumption is that if a lot of sites want to link to your site, then you must have good content. However, this has been the source of many Black Hat SEO tactics in the past.

Off-site optimisation is to do with the promotion of your website across the web to build brand awareness, improve rankings in search engines and attract visitors from third party websites.

Social media is one of the best ways to gain high quality back links from authority websites. This includes social bookmarking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and many more. As offsite SEO works best when someone else is recommending your content. You must encourage visitors to use the social bookmarks throughout your site. This will help you build deep inbound links for your keyword rich page content.

Effective off-site SEO requires a balanced link portfolio

This is because sources of information and references are important to search engines. For example, a link that contains your main keyword from a site with similar content and a keyword used out of context from an unrelated site will have different degrees of relevance.

Off-site Factors

This is influenced by visitor engagement, social media, and other off-site variables.

Backlink signals

  • Strength is about the authority and trust to do with websites and web pages that link to your site
  • Anchor text: Descriptive, natural, diverse anchor text
  • Relevance: This is to do with the relevance of the topic of linking web page’s content
  • Domain diversity: Backlinks from various domains

Reputation signals

  • Authority: Domain and page authority signals
  • Trust: Domain trust signals
  • History: This is to do with the history of the acquisition of the backlink, violations of guidelines and penalties
  • Reviews: This is to do with reviews on Yelp, Google Places, Yahoo Local, etc.
  • User-interaction: Bounce rates and click-through rates

Social signals

  • Social shares: This is about “Likes”, “shares”, and other endorsements of web content through social signals
  • Reputation: Shares from reputable

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