Getting your website ranked on the first page of Google is a fine art. Google and other search engine providers are always changing their algorithms to ensure that when people type into that little white box, the results they get back are the most relevant and come from the most trusted sites on the internet whether they are searching on a mobile, laptop, tablet or PC.
In part, they change their algorithms in response to the way people are using search engines. People now tend to ask questions or search for ‘restaurants near me’ instead of ‘Chinese restaurant Camden.’ Understanding how to optimize your website using on-page SEO tactics will go some way to getting you ranked highly on search engine results page (SERP). However, without including off-page SEO tactics into your mix you’re going to fall short, and your effort could go to waste.
What is On-Page and Off-Page SEO?
In order to create a good mix of on-page and off-page SEO tactics, it’s important to understand the differences between the two. The names are rather self-explanatory, but on-page SEO tactics are activities you can do physically on your website on every single page. They tend to be the tactics people go to first when setting up a new website or when they are just starting out learning about SEO.
If you have a good CMS to access your website, then you will be able to do some on-site SEO yourself. If you’re using a platform like WordPress, then the Yoast SEO plug-in is great for beginners. It has a simple traffic light system to tell you how well SEO optimized your page is and where improvements can be made. Some examples of on-page SEO tactics include:
- Including carefully chosen keywords in the content on your web pages.
- Writing compelling meta titles and descriptions.
- Optimizing images, so pages load quickly.
- Building a good network of internal links on your website between pages and posts.
The tactics that people aren’t so sure on and haven’t heard as much about are the off-site SEO tactics. There aren’t as many off-site as there are on-site tactics, but they are implementing them is crucial to getting your website ranked.
The reason that off-page SEO is so important is because one of the key factors search engines take into consideration when ranking a website is trust and authority. How do you gain trust and authority? That’s where off-page SEO comes into play.
For most SEO beginners, it can be easy to underestimate the power of links. A lot of people think that once they have their website set up and SEO optimized that’s it, just wait and see where your site ranks and wherever it ranks, it ranks. In reality, it takes a lot more work than that if you want your SEO efforts to pay off. Off-page SEO activities that should be implemented as best practice are:
- Reaching out to get backlinks to your website
- Guest blogging
- Social media marketing
- Influencer marketing
Being Smart About Off-Page SEO
One of the most common ways of implementing off-page SEO is through link building but beware, not all links are created equally. You must, therefore, be smart about which websites are linking to you, the pages they are linking to and the words they choose to link.
Best practice dictates that you should only be looking for links from websites that are relevant to your own site and that carry a high authority themselves. Directories or sites that link to thousands of other websites that aren’t relevant should be avoided where possible as a bad link can actually have a negative impact on your rankings. You should also try and get a mixture of links to different pages on your site, not just your home page and using different words as the hyperlink. This could include your domain name, your brand name, or the keyword your page is trying to rank for.
On-going link building is crucial for building trust and authority. The reason that sites like BBC news or Buzzfeed dominate in the rankings is because they have so many backlinks to their website. They are continually putting out new content every hour which people are sharing and linking to. This signals to Google that these websites must be producing great, useful, and relevant content and therefore, should be positioned higher in the SERP.
In addition, implementing a smart social media strategy is another great way to build site authority and boost your SERP rankings. If you’re struggling to get links on other people’s websites but are producing great content, aim to share it on social media. Getting it shared by hundreds or thousands of people on social media again signals to Google that your website is an authority on a certain subject or topic, so when people search for a phrase you’ve included in your on-site SEO, you should be right up there.