Google’s algorithm is constantly changing. As a marketer or entrepreneur optimizing your site, it’s important to know where to focus your energy to get the best returns. Each of these techniques plays an important role in your SEO strategy, and they work with synergy to give you the best chance of hitting the first page of Google. Here’s a guide to understanding the difference between on-site and offsite SEO and tips for putting each of them to work for you today.
What’s the difference between on-site and offsite SEO?
On-site SEO refers to the steps you take on your actual web page to lay the foundation for a good search strategy. At the structural level, these include your site’s titles, meta tags, URL structure, and XML sitemap. As you develop your content, it takes into account each page’s title tags, URLs, alt tags used for images, and the keywords used in each article or section of copy.
Off site SEO refers to the activities that you do to create a network of links pointing back to your site. Google and other search engines currently look to links for signals of authority and significance. Examples of offsite SEO include article marketing, linkbuilding, linkbait pieces designed to be shared on sites like Reddit, inbound marketing, and social media campaigns.
What can you do in each area to improve SEO on your site?
The quality of your content is by far the most important factor in your SEO plan. If your content is high quality and worthy of being linked to and shared, this goes a long way to support all the other efforts that you put in place. If the quality of your content is poor, the strongest SEO campaigns will have limited effects in the long-term. Make sure you’re taking the time to put out the best quality material.
Top 3 On-site SEO Action Points
- Install a good SEO Plug-in: If you use WordPress for a content management system, consider installing an SEO Plug-in like Yoast. This Plug-in will quickly evaluate your SEO situation and give you actionable tips that you can implement right away to improve your site. Features also include an easy analysis tool that gives you pointers on each new piece of content before you publish. This single step can have a dramatic impact on your rankings if you take action on the tool’s recommendations.
- Review your pages’ title tags: Title tags are used to tell search engines what a piece of online content is about. SEOMoz suggests that title tags are the second most important piece of website real estate after your actual content. You can view a page’s title tags across the top of your internet browser. The best title tags are descriptive and include your keywords, but should never be “stuffed” with them. A good structure to consider is [Primary Keyword] – [Site Name] – [Secondary Keyword]. So for example, if your site is about landscaping, the title of an article might be “How To Get a Green Lawn – The Happy Landscaper – How Often to Water and Mow Your Grass.”
- Ensure you have descriptive URLs: The default structure on many websites is something like www.website.com/01012012/782323084. Instead, it’s important to have descriptive URLs that include your keyword. In our landscaping example, your URL might be www.website.com/landscaping/how-to-get-a-green-lawn.
Top 3 Offsite SEO Action Points
- Identify a list of influencers in your niche: Develop a list of the top blogs and influencers in your niche. This list will become pure gold. Spend time daily or weekly reading content on these blogs and interacting thoughtfully through comments. The goal is to develop relationships and create real value in your discussions, and become a known entity to the writers and organizations behind these blogs. In addition to the link you may receive when you comment, over time this can open opportunities for you to guest post, for them to link to your content, or to promote your products and services. Don’t focus on this end goal though; instead, be committed to highly valuable interaction and establishing meaningful relationships.
- Guest posting: One of the best ways to get highly valuable and relevant links to your site is to guest post on other blogs in your space. You can find opportunities by looking at the blogs you typically read, or searching for keywords in your niche along with terms like “guest post” and “become a contributor.” When approaching a blog about guest posting, make sure that you focus on providing high quality content that’s specifically geared toward a blog’s audience.
- Effectively promote your content: If your content is high quality and highly linkable, this strategy can yield tremendous returns. It’s one thing to write great content; it’s another thing to write great content that’s never seen. Once you’ve focused on creating amazing material, do the legwork to get it out there. Be sure to share it on social media. Then focus your efforts on smart outreach to key influencers in your field whose readers would find it interesting. Craft a simple letter explaining why your work is a good fit for their readers, and then send it. Your goal is that they’ll take action by linking to your piece on their blog or referencing it in a newsletter or on social media.
Navigating SEO in 2013 can be a challenge. Knowing where to invest your efforts is key to seeing both short-term and long-term results. Use the three-pronged strategy of creating excellent high-quality content, developing the structural foundation of your site with on-site SEO, and building links through promotion and outreach. You’ll be well on your way to getting your site found.