Search engine optimization (SEO) helps increase organic traffic to your website. Companies with well-developed SEO strategies have seen massive success through search. Despite this, there are still companies that sit on the fence regarding the importance of SEO.
In a recent survey conducted by Fractl, only 18.4% of respondents said that SEO is very important to the health of their business. Around 26% (not at all and slightly) didn’t see SEO as a critical element to their success.
The survey also looked into business owners’ understanding of how Google determines which search results to show first. Unsurprisingly, over a third of business owners find SEO a vague or unfamiliar concept.
These research findings drive home the point that there are many owners who are missing out on the benefits of SEO for their business due to this lack of understanding.
The good news is that it is never too late to get started. If search engine optimization is new and confusing to you, this article is for you.
Broadly speaking, there are three main pillars to SEO — Technical SEO, Onsite SEO and Offsite SEO. Understanding these will help you to develop a proper SEO strategy that will drive more targeted traffic to your website and drive up sales.
Technical SEO versus Onsite SEO versus Offsite SEO
Technical SEO focuses on code and performance improvements on your website. Your development team would be heavily involved here, under the guidance of an SEO Strategist expert.
The goal is to improve the code to be more friendly for search engines to understand, and optimize the speed and mobile-friendliness of your website. Together, these website optimizations would lead to improvements in your search engine rankings.
Onsite SEO, also referred to as On-page SEO, involves techniques implemented ON a website to optimize its overall structure and make it search-engine friendly. After developing a keyword strategy, the main elements of Onsite SEO would be keyword placement and content creation on your website.
Offsite SEO, commonly known as Off-page SEO, refers to optimization techniques done OFF your website. This includes activities that promote your website to grow links from other sites on the Internet, known as backlinks and improve the trust factor of your website.
SEO is like a 3-legged chair, with each pillar being one leg, that would not be able to balance unless you focus on all areas.
Technical & Onsite SEO Strategies
Technical & Onsite optimisation is the foundation on which offsite optimisation is built upon. Without focusing on these, your offsite optimisation efforts will be wasted.
1. Website Optimization with Technical SEO
You have to pay attention to your overall website structure and user experience. These are two critical Technical SEO factors that have a direct influence on the success of your website with SEO.
A well-optimized website architecture takes a lot of effort. Here is a quick website optimization cheat sheet to guide you:
- Create a sitemap. This step is highly recommended, especially if your website has hundreds or thousands of pages. It helps search engine crawlers to find the pages you want to show up on their search engines.
- Link to relevant pages. Add internal links to relevant pages within your website to increase user interaction and help search engines determine the important pages on your website and how to get there.
There are two kinds of links that you can incorporate into your web content—structural and contextual. Structural links are navigation links on your website (i.e. header, footer, breadcrumb navigation). Contextual links are links within your content; they point users to other related content (i.e. read more links).
- Improve page load speed. Page speed is a critical ranking factor. If your website loads slowly, users are likely to hit the back button and look for another result. The ideal page load speed is 2.9 seconds or below.
- Adopt a responsive web design. People use different devices to search on the web. That’s why you should make your website look good on any screen—be it on mobile phones, tablets, or PCs. Furthermore, search engines like Google have switched to “mobile-first” indexing since 2019. This means that the mobile version of your website has now become more important for rankings.
- Make sure your site is 100% secure. It is important to secure your website with an SSL certificate. This enables HTTPS and ensures data from your website to the user and vice versa is encrypted. Implementing this protocol is now a ranking factor, and will help your website maintain good standing on Google.
- Add Schema markup whenever possible. Schema markup is one of the most powerful forms of SEO. It uses code (semantic vocabulary) to mark up your pages in a way that search engines find easy to understand.
Here’s an example of schema markup in action on a local search result. The schema markup enables the SERP to display a schedule of upcoming hotel events, giving more context for searchers, and leads to improved click-through back to the website. The SERP looks as follows:
Sample from Neil Patel
Together with your Technical SEO website optimization, you can also start working on your Onsite SEO by developing a keyword strategy and implementing it on your website.
Let’s dive into the strategies around Onsite SEO.
2. Keyword Placement
Keywords are the core of on-page optimization. They are terms or phrases that lead searchers to your website. Optimizing for them will make your website more visible on search engines.
Needless to say, your selected keywords drive the entire onsite SEO optimization process—from crafting content to satisfy readers to writing titles and meta tags that send the right signals to search engines.
Adding keywords naturally to your website content is a critical on-site SEO activity. You should place them strategically throughout your web content, being mindful of the keyword density.
By doing this right, you send the signal to search engines that the topic of your page revolves around your chosen keyword(s). Over time, this lets you rank better for those keywords in search engine results pages (SERPs).
When focusing on keyword placement for your on-site SEO, the following areas are considered key:
- URL. Include your main keyword in your page URL. This makes it easy for the search engines to find and understand the topic of your webpage content.
- Title. The title tag describes the content of your webpage. Add your keyword to your title tag to increase the crawlability of your site. Note that this title shows up on SERPs, not on your webpage.
Tip: Keep your title tag under 60 characters so that it does not get cut off on SERPs.
- Description. Your meta description shows on SERPs below the title and URL. Using one of your target keywords and crafting this snippet to resonate with your intended audience can raise the click-through rate to your website from search.
Tip: Google generally shortens snippets to 150-160 characters, so keep your descriptions around this character count.
- Heading/ H1 Tag. This is the title of your page or blog post. Aim to include your main keyword in the H1 tag to improve your SERP placement.
Tip: Your H1 tag should read naturally. If possible, use focus key phrases within subheadings (H2-H6) to make it clearer what the page is about.
- Main Content Body. Adding keywords in the body of your content helps search engines identify the subject of your page and rank it in search results.
Tip: SEO experts believe an ideal keyword density is around 1-2% for a page, which means one to two keywords per 100 words. Adding long-tail keywords or more specific keywords in the body may help in refining the search and generating targeted traffic.
- Image Alt Text. Images are a great visual addition to any webpage. The priority is to provide context to the image. However, if possible, include your keyword in the alt text of at least one image on the page.
Tip: Keep the alt and title texts short. Focus on writing a descriptive text that includes your target keyword.
3. Regular Content Creation
Writing regular blog posts is one of the most effective onsite SEO strategies. Google and most search engines favour timely, up-to-date and fresh content. They love it so much that it is a signal called Query Deserved Freshness (QDF) in their search algorithm to determine search rankings.
Google uses this algorithm to analyse the user’s search pattern and prioritize fresher content that fits the search intent. If your content provides something fresh on the topic, Google will give your page a boost in the SERP for days or sometimes, even weeks.
The major stumbling block with this strategy for most companies is time and resource. This is why not many businesses take advantage of it. If not in-house, you can choose to team up with professionals. The priority with every piece of fresh content should be quality over quantity.
Here is how you can ensure you stay on the “fresh” side of Google’s algorithm:
- Generate topics. Topics don’t appear magically. Writers need to invest time in researching timely topics to write on that Google and other search engines construe as fresh content.
There are several ways to stay up-to-date with your industry’s latest news and trends. For starters, you can subscribe to email newsletters, visit Google Trends, use content curation tools, and follow influencers on social media.
- Keyword research. Performing regular keyword research helps in the discovery of new and fresh content opportunities.
The keyword should be relevant to your niche, and popular with users to attract organic traffic from your target market. You should aim for optimizing content for keywords with a lower competitive score to have a better chance of ranking quickly.
- Update old content. Have you already been creating content for a long time on your blog? In that case, instead of producing fresh content, it is time to give your existing content a makeover.
Try to reference new research, update statistics, include newer quotes, add semantic terms (long-tail keywords), link to new sources, and add updated relevant images to up the freshness factor for your older blog posts.
- Maintain a content calendar. Whether you hire a content marketing agency or do content creation in-house, it is important to maintain a content calendar. An editorial calendar keeps track of your content creation process—from planning to publication.
Spreadsheet programs like Google Sheets can be used to create a content calendar. It allows users to access data, edit information, and collaborate with others in real-time. This simplifies keeping the content calendar up-to-date and helps you maintain your publishing schedule.
Offsite SEO Strategies
1. Link Building
Link building is a long-term offsite SEO strategy that involves building backlinks from other websites to improve your website’s position on Google rankings.
Search engines use links to discover new web pages. The collective reputation of the sites linking to your web page and the topics of those sites determine which keywords and what position on SERPs your web page will show up.
According to Backlinko, there’s a clear correlation between total backlinks and Google rankings. The study found that pages with quality backlinks rank above pages that don’t have as many backlinks. In fact, the #1 result in Google has an average of 3.8x more backlinks than those in position #2-#10.
Below are some ways to generate backlinks to boost your off-page SEO:
- Business listing. Submit your website to relevant online business directories. While inbound links from directories are not authoritative, they still help your business to be found online.
- Content creation. “Content is king.” This phrase is a cliché but it is true. If your blog posts offer great value to your target audience, then it will likely get shared on social media, and be linked back to by other blog posts.
- Social media marketing. Although some social media platforms use ‘no follow’ tags, it still makes great sense to optimize your social media presence. Linking your social media profile to your website lets that audience reach out to you and builds a link in the process.
- Guest posting (external content). This refers to writing a piece of content on someone else’s website. The goal is to write on more popular websites so more people discover and read your guest blog, find it useful and come back to your own website. A guest post would also let you link back to your own website, thereby generating a useful backlink or two.
2. Local Optimization
Local search engine optimization (SEO) is a highly effective offsite SEO strategy. This technique helps your business be more visible within local search results, where the competition to rank may not be as high.
People often search for products and services near them. If you let Google know your physical location and your offerings, your business would start showing up on SERPs for potential customers within your vicinity.
These statistics make a strong case to localize your website:
- 46% of all Google searches are looking for local information. (GoGulf)
- 72% of consumers that did a local search visited a store within five miles. (HubSpot Marketing Statistics)
- 18% of local smartphone searches led to a purchase within a day, whereas only 7% of non-local searches led to a sale. (Think with Google)
- 88% of mobile searchers are more likely to contact or visit the business within 24 hours. (Nectafy)
Here are some ways to improve your local SEO:
- Optimize for voice search. Most customers run voice searches to locate local businesses. One way to optimize for voice search is by targeting long-tail keywords or specific key phrases that people would speak when doing voice search queries.
- Claim your online profiles. List your business on major directory and review platforms like Google My Business, TripAdvisor, Yelp, and more. This lets you easily connect with potential customers and signals your location to Google for ranking purposes.
- Produce location-based content. Besides creating content based on local news or events, it is also a good idea to write content optimized for local keywords. For example, if you run a coffee shop business in Singapore, you can use local phrases like “kopi in Singapore” to target a more local audience.
- Create a dedicated contact page. Make sure your website has a dedicated contact page. Include your business name, complete address, email address, and phone number on your contact page. Your phone number should be clickable on mobile devices so that users can call you without much friction. It also helps to add a map with your location.
3. Content Promotion
Content marketing plays a pivotal role in boosting your SEO. Interlinking articles is an onsite SEO technique while promoting your articles off your website is an offsite SEO activity.
Companies often spend an inordinate amount of time creating content with little promotional effort. However, you should ideally spend much more time on promoting your content instead of on producing it.
You can promote your content via multiple marketing channels to increase your reach. Here are some channels to focus on for promotion:
- Social media. Share your content on your social media accounts. There is now an estimate of 3.8 billion social media users worldwide, so it is an excellent way to spread a word about your brand. There are three things to note when promoting content on social media:
- Choose the right channel. You should know that some content is best shared on Facebook while others are more suited for LinkedIn or Twitter.
- Know when to post your content. Utilising social media management tools like Hootsuite can help you determine what times of a day your audience is most active. Post when they are most likely to read your content.
- Use hashtags to your advantage. Research relevant hashtags for your industry as they increase your exposure but do not overuse them.
Watch this whiteboard Friday video from MOZ to learn how to drive traffic from Facebook.
- Guest posting. Reach out to bloggers and media for a possible guest post submission to promote your content. Get started with guest posting by:
- Searching for sites with good Page Authority and Domain Authority.
- Writing an outreach email to the site owner or editor. Your email pitch should include topics that are relevant to their industry, as well as links to your published works.
- Promoting all your published guest blogs like crazy.
- Paid promotion. This form of online advertising covers a variety of tactics from paid social media to display ads, paid search and more.
- Social ads. Social media platforms let you customize the audience that would view your ads, so you can target the right niche likely to want to read your content.
- Search ads. Also called search engine marketing (SEM), these ads work best for intent-based searches. Use these for targeting users who already know what they want. The most common paid search tools are Google Ads and Bing Ads.
- Display ads. This ad format displays banners across partner websites. This means you can drive awareness for your content by displaying banners on websites on the same topic as yours or to users based on their demographics
- Email marketing. Engage existing customers or subscribers via email. This is probably the most effective way to promote your new content. Build a mailing list and send out monthly newsletters to everyone in the list to keep them updated on your latest stories, events, and promotions.
- Influencer marketing. Target influencers to help you create a buzz around your brand and specific content. Influencers, being experts or popular themselves, can encourage people to share your piece of content, comment on it, and build links.
Putting Together Your SEO Strategy
After reading to this point, if you are asking “Which works better, Onsite SEO or Offsite SEO?”, then quite frankly, you are asking the wrong question.
All three areas of SEO – Technical SEO, Onsite SEO and Offsite SEO – play crucial roles in helping your website ranking on search engine results, building relationships with your target audiences, and growing conversions from organic traffic.
The strategies and tips discussed can be implemented on your own at no cost and WILL lead to significant results for your organic traffic growth. However, it is extremely time-consuming and would likely require a dedicated expert to work on it.
Oftentimes, companies find that working with an SEO agency partner, such as 2Stallions, is a much more cost-effective solution that leads to excellent results long-term. If you are interested in making SEO part of the digital marketing mix for your company, reach out to us.
As a full-service digital marketing agency, we can assist with your SEO, content marketing and online advertising needs to help you drive results online.