You probably have a general understanding of search engine optimization or SEO. Basically, you want to rank well in search engines so that your customers or clients, or potential customers, can find you. Someone types in a search term or a question, and the ultimate hope is that they land on your page. 

It’s more complicated than this when it comes to execution, however. 

Ranking well in search engines is incredibly challenging, and it can be technical as well. 

There are two broad classifications of SEO to consider. There’s onsite and offsite SEO. So how do they compare, and what should you know about each?

What Is Onsite SEO?

Onsite SEO means that you ensure certain elements of your actual website are friendly in the “eyes” of a search engine. You might change features on your site so a search engine can crawl it and understand the structure and content. 

The more data search engines can get from your site, the more likely you are to rank well in the index. 

Your goal with everything you do as far as onsite SEO is to ensure that your intent is well-understood by a search engine. 

Everything related to onsite SEO is entirely within your control. The most critical factors of onsite SEO include:

  • Content like your blogs and articles
  • Titles
  • Headlines
  • Alt tag images
  • Site loading speed
  • Keywords

You can experiment with all of these factors to find what works best for your site. 

To go into more detail about these factors, remember the following:

  • There’s perhaps nothing more relevant to onsite SEO, also known as on-page SEO ranking factors, than your content. The quality of your content is what’s going to drive people to your site. You want to create content that’s engaging and helpful but also highly relevant. 
  • Keywords are the phrases you want to rank for, and you have to use them strategically without overdoing them. If you use a keyword too often, it’s known as stuffing, which can negatively affect your rankings. 
  • Your title and title tags on your site and individual pages should have keywords whenever possible. 
  • Headings are those subtitles you use to break up your content and make it more readable by your human audience. They’re also what search engines see as being more relevant than other text that’s within your site. You want to use H1, H2, and H3 tags and include keywords in them. 
  • URL structure is important but tends to be overlooked. URL structure and the words within them affect your SEO. You want your URLs to be structured so that it’s easy for a search engine to crawl your site. 
  • Meta descriptions are small bits of information that show up in search results right below your page title. You can edit your meta descriptions using specific WordPress plugins and tools. 
  • How quickly your page loads is a ranking factor. A page should take no more than three seconds to load. If your site is too slow, it’s going to affect performance, and that’s going to cause frustration for your site visitors. A quick and easy way to make your site faster is to reduce your image sizes. 
  • Alt text refers to the text-based summaries of your images. When you include any type of image or visual on your site you should have alt text with your keywords. 
  • SSL encryption is an onsite ranking factor that shows that your site is secure for your visitors. 

What About Off-Site SEO?

Off-page SEO is not as much in your control as onsite SEO, so it can be a bit more frustrating. 

Ranking factors include:

  • Backlinks: When it comes to your off-site or off-page SEO, there’s no more important factor than your backlinks. Backlinks are those links to your site from others. When you have a backlink from a high-quality, reputable website, it boosts your own website as far as Google is concerned. So how can you get backlinks? You can create great shareable content, or you can submit guest blogs to sites that are related to your industry or niche. 
  • Video: Another way to build your off-site SEO credibility is to use videos. When you have a YouTube channel and you publish engaging videos, then linking back to your site, it helps your SEO. You may be surprised to find out the second biggest search engine in the world is YouTube. You don’t have to create a full-scale movie production to get some SEO traction from YouTube. Keep it simple. For example, do interviews with your employees or give viewers a behind-the-scenes look at your business. 
  • Social media: Social media isn’t as important as backlinks or videos, but it is one part of a successful overall off-site SEO strategy. You want to promote your content on your own social channels with the hope that influencers might also see it and end up sharing it. 

Specific ways to improve your off-site SEO include:

  • Make all of your blogs shareable. Add a button so that it’s easier for your readers and they don’t have to guess how to share. 
  • Advertise or promote your content on social media.
  • Reach out to very authoritative websites related to your industry and see if you can write a guest post.
  • Reach out to social media influencers in your niche to see if they’ll share your content. 
  • Share Infographics on social media, including Pinterest. 
  • If you have a brick-and-mortar location, submit your listing to Google My Business and optimize it. 

So which is more important, onsite or offsite SEO? The answer is that both are important, but onsite is a good starting point since, again, these are the things that are in your control. Often, if you put your efforts toward onsite SEO, it will also improve your offsite SEO inherently because people will want to share your content more often and link back to your site.