As a business owner, you may not have the necessary technical knowledge to maintain your own website. But you’ve probably heard of Search Engine Optimisation or SEO as it’s better known, and you know that it affects your ranking on search engines such as Google.
While it’s not necessary for you to have an in-depth knowledge of SEO, understanding the difference between On-Page and Off-Page SEO techniques, and how they work together, will give you the edge. It will also help you understand why you should partner with a professional digital marketing agency if you want to maximise the effectiveness of your website.
How search engines ‘read’ the web
Search engines such as Google and Bing, send out ‘robots’ or ‘spiders’ to crawl webpages and gather information. They’ll look at the text, images and graphics and your website and store the information they find there.
So when a user types in a query, the search engine refers to the index it has created to find a match. It sounds simple, but the reality is more complicated. Beyond merely finding a match, search engines use hundreds of other factors to determine which results will give the user the best answer to the query.
What is On-Page SEO?
When optimising your website for search engines, you need to look at all the parts of your website that search engine’s robots crawl. Remember that bots don’t see what people see; they read the code that’s used to construct your website.
And this is where you can changes elements to make it easier for these bots to understand what your website is about. This is On-Page SEO and it includes the following:
- Title Tags
Title Tags are used to describe the topic or theme of your page. It’s also the ideal place to use a keyword that your potential customers are likely to type into the search bar when looking for your business online.
If you have any copy on your site you should use headings to make it easy for readers to find the information they need quickly. This is another good place to insert a relevant keyword.
An URL is the page’s ‘address’, and as you might have guessed, it should ideally contain a keyword. But don’t go stuffing keywords into your URL’s unless you intend to redirect all of your old pages to new ones.
- Alt Text for Images
Bots can’t ‘see’ images what it is like humans can, so alt text is there to describe the image. Your visitors won’t see this text, but the bots will and that’s why you can add relevant keywords here.
- Page Content
Obviously, the content on your page has to be useful to your visitors. Google has ways of working out if you visitors find your content valuable.
- Internal links
It’s good practice to add links to other pages on your website in your content. Not only does it help search engines get a clearer idea of what your site is about, it will also encourage visitors to spend more time exploring your site.
- Page Speed
Users tend to navigate away from pages that take too long to load, so Google is more likely to direct them to pages that load quickly.
SEO isn’t just about making it easier for bots to find and understand your website, it makes it easier for your visitors to navigate your site too. And the more time people spend on your site, consuming your content, the better your rankings will be.
What is Off-Page SEO?
As you may have already guessed, Off-Page SEO refers to all the off-site activities that influence the ranking of your website. While the most important of these is link-building, social media marketing also plays a role.
Quality over quantity
One of the most important factors Google takes into account when ranking a site is the links that point to it. But simply having a large number of links to your site won’t guarantee a better ranking. Google’s algorithm has evolved to take into account the authority and quality of the sites that link to you.
In other words, a link from a well-respected website will be more valuable than a link from an obscure blog that’s not related to your industry.
How to attract good quality links
Natural link building takes a little effort, but there are some things you can do to encourage the right people to link to your website:
- Create useful, quality content that people want to share.
- Identify and connect with influencers in your industry and ask them to share your content.
- Offer to guest blog on related sites and make sure your posts link back to your site.
Social Media and SEO
Your social media profiles also act as links that direct people to your website. Although they’re not as direct as a link from a different website or blog, Google does recognise the influence that social media has on web traffic. And you can be certain that they are investigating ways of tracking and measuring the effect of social media on rankings.
Your profiles also offer you an opportunity to employ some basic SEO techniques, especially the use of keywords that inform people and bots what your business is all about.
Making SEO part of your marketing mix
Far from replacing traditional marketing activities, SEO should be seen as part of the marketing mix. A full-service web maintenance firm will be able to assist you with On-Page SEO and Off-Page SEO. And now that you understand how the two work together, you’ll be able to identify more opportunities for using SEO to get your website noticed.