SEO (search engine optimization) written on display.

On-Page vs Off-Page SEO: What is the Difference and Importance of Each

Diana Aghumyan

Table of Contents

Are you ready to lose 88% of your potential customers? Hopefully, you are not. Here is the risk. The search engine is the most used Internet feature, with Google processing 8.5 billion daily searches. Furthermore, 49% of product searches begin on Google as a rule of thumb. Numbers talk louder and intrigue to reconsider business operations and expenditures to onboard and retain the customer base.

Search Engines being the first place where prospective customers look for you means it is where your business needs to be located, in front of the searchers’ eyesight. The first page of Google search results, i.e., the first SERP, is your final destination of arrival as it impacts your page’s visibility and click-through rate (CTR) of your website. Visibility leads to traffic which translates into sales and revenue for your business. The more substantial the visibility, the higher the profit.

SEO (search engine optimization) strategy on both sides on and off the page is the one investment your business cannot afford not to make. That is why you should learn the underlying layers of on page vs off page SEO and how they can transform your business. 

On Page vs Off Page SEO: The main differences

When discussing on page vs off page SEO, there is no good or bad and right or wrong. The essence is to understand each with elements and principles. Only with a thorough grasp of each will you be able to combine them for the best business results.

On-page SEO (also called on-site SEO) is the internal site optimization concerning apt content and the clean HTML code base on the page. Along with helping search engines identify the page content, strong on-page SEO also simplifies (human) searchers’ navigation and understanding of the page. Proper on-page optimization tells the visitors they are in the right place for the search intent. The fundamental element of on-page SEO content is to stay ethical to the consumer. It implies creating in-depth, relevant, and user-friendly content original to the niche and lined up with the search intent. 

Off-page SEO (also called off-site SEO) is external site optimization involving tactics and techniques outside of the page. Off-page optimization takes in practice to increase page authority, creating a robust site reputation, trust, and relevance outside your domain. The primary strategy to strengthen the page is to create a reputation by linking your content to reputable sites on the web. Trust builds trust in return. 

Off-page SEO impacts SERP ranking and drives quality traffic to your site, adding up to your customer base. The backbones of off-page SEO are links. SEO pros divide off-page links into natural, manually built, and self-created categories. When getting any, ethical actions should be on top of the mind.

Both are to provide a high  SERP ranking and organically increase website traffic. Combined efforts for a common goal win in the battle of on-page vs off-page SEO.

Important Elements of On-Page SEO

On-page optimization is a never-ending process of improving and strengthening the site, which is a path requiring constant rectification and advancement. You must keep the primary elements in mind in the continual SEO improvement. Let’s dive into discussing them one by one.A blogger’s website showing the landing page.


URL, the same as Uniform Resource Locator, addresses the individual content piece on the web. URLs are displayed on the SERP, so its structure increases the chances of getting more click-through rates. Google does its Google things, and we must follow the rules of the game. The most forthright strategies for URLs are:

  • Add primary keywords in the URL and be descriptive.
  • Keep clear page naming for each of the unique pages on the website 
  • Use short, sharp URL structures to grab human attention and gain engine evaluation.
  • Make the URL easily readable for humans.
  • Have lowercase letters in the structure.
  • Specify the serving location of your business.
  • Secure your domain with the ‘HTTPS’ protocol. Google appreciates security in rankings. 

These steps will help the users understand if their intent meets the URL intent, identify the page value and decide whether to click through.

Title Tags & Meta Description

Title tags and meta description condition the relevancy and power of your page. 

The title tag is the first signal for the users and engines to understand the content of your page. This is an HTML code that interprets the page’s content. You click the blue line on the SERP to enter the page. To be optimized and optimal as an on-page SEO element, your title tag needs to include your primary keyword, be of a proper length (not too long or too short), and be unique for each page. Think of what you optimize with the specific title tag. Is it a restaurant in a certain location? Then include the exact city. Is it a type of product you offer? Include the name in the title tag. This optimization will help you win a place on the SERP ranking.

The meta description comes after the title tag on the SERP. It is either a randomly chosen sentence(s) from the content or written explicitly for a page. Investing some time in writing a good meta description is highly recommended for optimization. Unlike the title tag, the meta description is more prolonged (around 150 characters is ideal) and gives a more detailed page description. A strong meta description always includes the primary keywords, emphasizing the search intent.


Headings that include H1, H2, H3, etc., serve as a quick glance for searchers and engines to seize a brief understanding of the page. Most readers only skim through the headings to find what they are looking for, and if the headings are missing, chances are that the bounce rate is high. Heading 1(H1) and Heading 2(H2) are necessary if you want a proper SEO-structured page for ranking. Each must clearly and coherently state what the coming paragraph covers. Heading 1 is the main title which encompasses the general idea of the whole article; H2 covers a more specific point of the topic, and so on, you narrow a particular point under each heading going from wide to narrow. Therefore, headings make it easy for the reader to skim the text and the engines to rank your content.

Page Speed and Quality

Google has claimed to prioritize page speed as a significant ranking element. Since users are a priority, so is their experience. No one enjoys waiting for hours for a page to load. It has long been proven that most people leave a cart unchecked or an engaging article half-read because of the slow page speed. Thus, page abandonment rises with slow page loads, and the engagement rate increases with the page’s speed and quality. Big images, network congestion, data discrimination, content filtering, or restrictions are causes of a slow-loading page. Troubleshooting any of these issues will add up to one point to your on-page optimization in on page vs off page SEO discussions. 

Quality Content

On-page SEO concerns primarily with the content on the site. All the elements are connected with content. Content is the unique material you produce as part of your marketing to interact with your audience by educating, informing, and prompting them to act throughout the buyer journey. It comes in the form of articles in the blog, video content, questionnaires, etc. Good content establishes authority; great content boosts the site on the SERP ranking. To have great content must:

  • Engage the reader with relevant information and match their intent.
  • Lead to interactions with the website through properly inserted links.
  • Be worth sharing with new audiences or on other mediums.
  • Provide original and unique content to the audiences.
  • Contain primary and secondary keywords in a natural insertion.
  • Have a CTA (call to action) but not sell directly.

Combine the components for an awesome on-page SEO result. Investment in content should be substantial since any other element is based on content in ranking metrics. 

Mobile Functionality

Accounting for the fact that around 60% of searches are by mobile Google’s algorithm regards mobile functionality as a major ranking factor. When you are structuring your website, the question to ask yourself is ‘How mobile-friendly is my website?’. Work on the issues to adjust it for mobile too. Consider the size of texts and images, the navigation of buttons, and other clickable tools to work properly. The internet is full of tools to check the mobile-friendliness of a page, take the test, and make the corrections right in your on-page optimization.

Image Alt Texts

The next stage of developing a well-structured quality webpage is optimizing the images on the page. That is having an ALT text (alternative text) for each picture. That is an HTML code that helps the engines understand what the image or video on your page represents. Since engines can only read texts, we help them by adding alt texts to the pictures. For instance, if you have a picture on your page showing a man wearing NIKE shoes, the alt tag will be alt=”a man wearing NIKE shoes”. The description tells the Google engine what the picture shows and if it matches the searcher’s intent. 

Internal Links

In the “battle” of on-page vs on-page SEO, we come across internal vs external linking. We will discuss the latter further; let’s stick to internal linking for now. 

On-site SEO intends to help search engine crawlers identify page-specific content. Internal links with relevant descriptive texts are called anchor text (the word/ expression you insert your links on). 

Internal linking helps engines and real users interact with your page longer, browse your content more, and dig in for more information in your blog. This long engagement, in turn, creates a “warning signal” for engines that your page is trustworthy, worth consuming, and ranking.

Schema markup

Search engines do not speak the human language; this is where schema markup, i.e., the structured data, comes into play. The language of search engines is a schematic vocabulary to help engines understand what is behind the page content. Using codes, we break down the human language for engines, which results in more accurate browsing and content crawling.

Schema implementation hugely depends on the platform where you build your website. WordPress, for instance, has plugins to install. In the case of a CMS platform (content management system platform), you either install it by hand on the page head or line it with the HTML.

A mind-blowing statistic tells that schema implementation boosts the click-through rate by 30%. Surprisingly and fortunately, the biggest search engines, Google, Bing, Yandex, and Yahoo!, have come together and collaboratively agreed upon a common metric to read the information. That implies you don’t have to implement schema markup for individual engines. There are various types of markup schemas, from organizations to local stores. The good news is you don’t have to be in coding or learn a different coding language to create yours. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Open Google Structure Data Markup Helper
  2. Choose what sort of data you want to markup
  3. Insert the URL of the markup page or article
  4. Select the elements you want to markup
  5. Add up the markup data items on the list
  6. Generate the HTML
  7. Check how it looks with the Structured Data Testing Tool 
  8. Integrate the created schema markup into your web page

As simple as it is, your on-site SEO experience will not be complete without the schema markup. Invest in adding value to your page by creating it with the eight simple steps above. 

Important Elements of Off-Page SEO

To build authority and reliability outside of your domain, you must also master the central elements of off-page SEO. In on page vs off page SEO, on-page outweighs the number of elements but none yield in importance. Let’s discuss off-page features separately.Insights from off-page SEO.


The biggest part of off-page SEO relies and depends on backlinks. When building backlinks for your website, you need to pay attention to the quality and not the quantity of the links. Building links with unrelated pages will not only harm your web page authority and reputation, it will also negatively affect the rankings. It works since engines are services that quality sites link to each other. There are three main types of backlinks: natural, manually built, and self-created. To build quality backlinks, you need to pay attention to the following:

  • How popular the site you are linking to is
  • How relatable the site you are linking is to yours
  • How up-to-date the page is
  • How many other links the page has
  • How relevant the anchor text is

Backlinks guarantee link equity, i.e., the “link juice”. They drive value from one page to another, so there is no time to lose in gaining this advantage over the competitors for ranking. 

Domain Authority

DA (Domain Authority) indicates how successful a specific page will be for SERP ranking. MOZ has developed the metric, which ranges from one to one hundred; the higher the score, the bigger the chances of ranking. Building domain authority makes up an important off-page SEO factor, strengthening your domain and improving your running chances. Trust comes from authority, and authority is the direct result of link-building. Domain authority is calculated based on the linking domains and the number of overall links. Thus off-page elements are incredibly interconnected.


The circle brought us to the E-A-T concept: expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. E-A-T is measured by the actions off your page. A few steps for improving your page’s expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness include:

  • Getting your brand mentions on authority sites
  • Earn positive online reviews
  • Inform the media members about your recent developments through a press release
  • Collaborate with big brands
  • Create visual content you can share with other blogs

Investing in E-A-T will boost your link-earning opportunities to a greater level.

Social Proof

If you recall the last time choosing a cafe or restaurant, you will realize your choices were based on your friends’ or relatives’ opinions about a certain place. This is social proof– in the form of reviews, ratings, testimonials, or previous users’ experience about a service or product. It is a signal for the brain when making a decision. But how does it relate to SEO, and why is it an off-page optimization element? 

Social proof impacts tremendously on the conversion rate. Also, search engines rank a particular site based on its content, particularly fresh content. Testimonials and reviews are also part of the content that helps engines push your site forward on the SERP. It is an off-site element since users often write reviews on google or other social networking sites separate from your domain. You can encourage users to give feedback after receiving the service or product.

As discussed earlier, social mentions, which are also done in reviews, impact page authority. Therefore, the more your brand name is mentioned on various platforms, the higher your DA score will be. To display the social proof for future users, you can place positive reviews and testimonials on your landing or product page and promote those on mediums as ads.

Social Media Presence

Where else, if not on social media platforms, can you share your excellent content and make it available to potential customers? Social media presence is the ideal way to promote your content, make it go viral, and earn audiences from various platforms. Having a presence on various mediums increases the possibilities of spreading your brand name, building authority across different platforms, and driving more site traffic.   

What insights we take away from on page vs off page SEO 

SEO, the practice of optimizing your webpage for maximum visibility on the search engines, consists of two branches – on-page and off-page. In this article, we discussed on page vs off page SEO with their elements, features, and characteristics precisely, delved into each in detail, and emphasized the importance of each for ranking your website. The takeaway is that there is no good or bad, right or wrong, and more or less in the middle.

While on-page optimization concerns what is happening on the site, off-page optimization deals with the outside factors that impact the rankings. It is significant to note that engine ranking is no more related to one but the merging of as many SEO factors as you are about to handle. The more technique you include in the game, the sooner you win your lucky place on the SERP.


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