On-Page SEO VS Off-Page SEO in 2021

One of the major problems we see with Search Engine Optimization today is how marketers approach it. While a lot of marketers think all things SEO to fall under one umbrella, there are actually two types we want to pay attention to: on-page and off-page SEO. To help you learn more about both sides, here is a breakdown and explanation of the most important best practices:

What is On-Page SEO?

The most common search engine optimization practices are using keywords in your copy, optimizing the meta description, HTML code structure, title tags, and alt tags. This is the foundation for on-page SEO. So in a nutshell, on-page SEO refers to everything contained within your website to improve it’s position in the search rankings. This includes of all the basic tactics listed above, but also considers things like overall quality of your content, page performance, load times, and content structure.

On-page SEO components:


While keywords alone won’t make you rank on the first page of Google anymore they are still an important factor to your websites SEO. With today’s extreme competition for keywords, the focus has shifted more towards long-tailed-keywords, which are four to five words stringed together which will help you reach a more defined audience with less keyword competition. Think of the audience you want to get in front of and the keywords they’re searching for. Try to create and optimize your websites content around those keywords to avoid competing with the big players and get higher quality visitors to your site by providing exactly what they are looking for.

Meta Description

A meta description is the short description that appears below your URL on the search engine results page and below the headline in social posts. They are designed to describe the content on that page and this is where we insert our keywords both long-tailed and short form for the robot crawlers to index your page. Aim to keep your descriptions under 300 characters to make sure your entire description is shown in search results. 

Alt Text

Alt text is there first and foremost to help your visually impared visitors navigate and understand what is being shown on your web page but it is also a great way to get your images to rank in search results for your keywords. For instance, if you have an infographic that explains how to bake a pizza and you save the alt tag as “how-to-bake-a-pizza”, that image will start ranking for that phrase in the image results. It’s a win-win in helping the visually impared and getting your site to rank better.

Title Tag

Some people say the title tag is the most important part of your SEO and it refers to the title of your web page, or will be the main heading you see in the search engine results pages. Once again, this is another major opportunity to insert relevant keywords and increase the ranking and searchability of your page.


Page security is more important than ever in 2020, and when you enable Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), a security technology, it majorly improves your security, trustworthiness, and visibility. By enabling SSL, it authenticates your website to let your visitors know that they are safe from any third parties looking to take advantage of their information so they can feel safe while visiting your website. Google will actually prefer sites that are SSL-enabled, making it an essential step in climbing search engine rankings.

URL Structure

An organized URL structure helps by allowing search engines to crawl from page-to-page on your website more easily, and allows your visitors to navigate more efficiently. The goal is to have your URLs to contain keywords that reflect the pages they direct to. Easy to understand URLs are more likely to get clicks, and they also help search engines crawl your site and index you for relevant searches.

Internal Linking

Internal linking is exactly what it sounds like. Linking other related pages of your website is an easy way to boost your on-page SEO and it helps your page visitors stay engaged longer, which in turn helps with your domain authority which we will come back to. It also makes it easier for search engines to crawl your page.

Page Performance

Most of the on-page SEO strategies deal with content quality and structure, but the performance of your website and its pages, including load times, is another on-page ranking factor. Pages that take a long time to load, images that are not formatted properly or are too large, or even pages that don’t render properly on mobile will result in lower rankings in the search engine results pages (SERPs). Search engines evaluate this and use it as a key page ranking factor, so it’s highly important to consider the image file sizes on your pages, reduce redirects, improve the mobile responsiveness of your site, and reduce the amount of unnecessary code.

What is Off-Page SEO?

While on-page SEO refers to the elements you can control on your own website, off-page SEO relates to the page ranking components that happen off your website, such as backlinks from another site. It also includes the amount of exposure something gets on social media or other pages or accounts that are directly related with your site such as business listing directories.

Off-page SEO factors:


The number of backlinks and the quality of those backlinks is unquestionably the biggest factor of off-page SEO. The more websites you have linking to your content, the more domain authority Google will grant your site which will, in turn, boost your ranking. This has brought a lot of “SEO gurus” to try controversial paid link-building tactics which, if or when Google catches on, will dramatically affect your search engine ranking in a negative way. That being said, there are several organic methods you can use that produce worthwhile results, such as business listing websites, being featured in local and/or industry publications, and seeking out contacts in the industry who would also benefit by sharing your content.

Business Listings

For businesses, business listing directories are the quickest and easiest way to boost your websites SEO and to get traffic from individuals who are already searching for what you have to offer. Depending on who you ask, there are between 40 and 100 business listing directories that are crucial in getting your website to rank as well as it could. These sites include Google, Facebook, Yelp, YellowPages, Youtube, etc. By syncing your information such as business name, phone number, email, website, socials, categories, and descriptions it puts your website far beyond those that have not registered with the top ranking directories and this should be the first step for any business trying to get their website to rank better.

Domain Authority

Domain authority (DA), measured on a scale from 1-100, is a number given to you by Moz to predict how well your website will rank in search engine results pages(SERPs). Think of it as a grade, and the higher your grade is, the more likely your website shows up at the top of the search results while sites with a lower domain authority are more likely to never reach the top of the search results. Domain authority is measured by a handful of factors, including how long your domain has been live (the longer the better), the history of the domain name, the number of backlinks, and the number of 404 error pages (the lower the better). By making sure you follow all the SEO best practices on this list you will be able to increase your Domain Authority to find yourself at the top of the search results.

Social Promotion

While page ranking isn’t explicitly tied into the engagement on your social media posts, posts that accumulate a lot of clicks will definitely boost traffic to your website and generate more link shares which result in more backlinks.

Nobody should be choosing between on-page and off-page SEO but instead, you should always be optimizing your website with these best practice rules in mind to help create a website that search engines can’t resist putting at the top of the first page.

To tie everything together:

  • You must have a website to sell SEO optimization packages.
  • Everyone can benefit from some form of SEO.
  • All websites I build or remake will have on-page SEO already implemented.
  • Business listings are my primary focus for off-page SEO. $300/yr includes all primary account setups.
  • Websites or businesses that are constantly changing or adding content are the ones who can use SEO the most so that they can get their new content indexed by Google and optimized.
  • If business owners aren’t building their organic traffic with SEO I can guarantee that their competitors are and that those competitors enjoy bringing in all those leads that could have potentially been shared if they had good SEO.
  • Building your domain authority is something that will constantly pay off and bring them organic traffic even when they decide to stop paying for SEO but making sure you are staying competitive in your market is the most important thing we can explain to business owners.


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I’ve been working in the digital marketing space as a freelancer/contractor since the early 2010’s and like to focus on things that bring the biggest results. Email me, drop a comment, or find me on social media to connect if you have questions or want to connect.

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