Search Engine Optimization ~ On-Page and Off-Page SEO
On-Page and Off-Page SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a wide ranging field, with many different approaches that will help increase your search engine rankings and keep you ahead of your online competitors. There are two major and closely related components to SEO: On-Page and Off-Page SEO.
1- On-Page SEO
On-Page SEO (also known as on-site optimization) is an essential first step for the long term success of your website. On-Page SEO is the process of fine tuning your web pages in order to make them highly ‘visible’ to all the major search engines. Most importantly, it also involves targeting the exact keywords that are needed to highlight your areas of expertise. Keywords are the words and terms that describe your goods and services that are actually entered by potential customers into the search engines. They can be a single word or a longer phrase, sometimes known as a long tail search phrase. Essentially, this practice involves modifying the words that are coded into your web site’s meta tags which are equivalent to those search expressions that people are actually using. Meta tags are the text code that is used to communicate with the search engines. They are invisible to the visitors surfing your website, but are the most important means to tell the Search Engine Bots the major keywords of your site. These tags include the meta keywords, descriptions, page titles and headings. Related to these tags is the keyword density which refers to how frequently the keyword is used in visible text on the website page.
Another area it’s extremely important to pay close attention to is the actual written content of your web pages. All the text needs to be unique, both within your own website and also compared with other external sites. If you’re not careful with factors like this you risk being penalized by the major search engines which may result in low rankings or worse, being blacklisted altogether by the search engines.
Main On-Page SEO Factors
- Keyword research – including identifying the most effective keywords.
- Title optimization
- Meta keywords and description
- Internal linking structure within your own site
- Keyword density
- Heading tags
- Use of bold/strong/italic for the main visible keywords on the page
- Alt tags for images – ‘alternative’ text title added to the image files
- External linking structure to other websites
2- Off-Page SEO Techniques
Once you have effectively set up the On-Page components of your website it’s time to address Off-Page SEO. This is an entirely separate but equally important discipline to On-Page SEO.
Basically, Off-Page SEO is about building links between your site and other related sites on the web. If you want to obtain a page one listing on a search engine like Google, Yahoo! Or Bing, it’s vital to have a strong link building strategy. This will give your site valuable ‘authority’ and let the search engines know that your website is important in the areas specified by it’s main keywords.
When you have links from external sites which are considered to have authority and high traffic themselves, some of that authority ‘bleeds’ into your website. The search engines assume you must be important as well. In this way you get the benefit of a connection to a similar website that has well-established importance. It’s critical to create suitable ‘backlinks’ to gain more authority in the eyes of the search engines, and therefore a higher ranking yourselves. You need to use the methods recommended by the search engines themselves as some ways of achieving these backlinks are considered to be ‘black hat’, and if used, your website may be penalized in this search rankings.
The most effective form of link building uses ‘one-way’ backlinks which should point to your website, but are not ‘reciprocal’ links. Backlinks should be built from quality websites with high page rank that follow the relevant guidelines – this will ensure that the authority of these sites will get passed to your website, giving you more credibility in the eyes of major search engines.
One of the key aspects in the process is to ensure you have a variety of sources of the type of backlinks you are using. This is vital in order to increase your rankings and maintain them. Some examples of the different types of backlink sources include the following:
- Web 2.0 account creations (HubPages, Squidoo ect)
- Article marketing
- Directory submissions
- Blog commenting
- Forum posting
- Social media
- Profile page backlinks
- Press release submission
- RSS Feed Aggregators