On-Page vs. Off-Page SEO: What are They All About?


  • In order to achieve SEO success, it’s necessary to look at every little aspect of what factors decide rankings, searching for what can give you an edge in that battle for the top. 
  • Those elements are broken down into two fields: on-page and off-page SEO. 
  • On-page SEO is the more familiar of the two ranking categories. It deals with things that you have control over, namely what appears on your site and how. 
  • Off-page SEO, on the other hand, is the art of building relationships and maximizing your recognition outside of your own site

Getting to the number one position is what SEO is all about. It’s right there in the name: optimizing your content and websites so that search engines rank it higher on their results page. Unfortunately, it’s easier said than done. To achieve SEO success, it’s necessary to look at every little aspect of what decides those rankings, searching for what can give you an edge in that battle for the top. 

These elements can be broken down into two fields: on-page and off-page SEO. Though that also creates more questions, like what is on-page SEO, how is it different from off-page SEO, and how can I get both of them to work successfully together.

This Analogy Might Help

One way of looking at them is like the music business. Getting to number one in the charts is the primary measure of success, but how does a song get there? Sure, the content, i.e., the song itself, matters; how it sounds, who produces it, what the lyrics say, and who it connects with. But that’s not all that’s necessary to get a record to the top. Artists or managers also need connections with DJs, so the song gets played, they need to create hype on social media, so people want to check it out, and they need to look at different avenues of promotion, like if they manage to get the song on a commercial or in a movie its popularity will skyrocket. 

In terms of SEO, it’s pretty much the same dynamic. On-page SEO is everything to do with the content you produce and how you present it. Off-page SEO covers the promotion of that content outside of your own channels and paid advertising; this includes links from other pages and their quality as well as domain-level factors, such as the general authority and trust of your site, and social media. 

That’s the basic answer to questions like ‘what is off-page SEO?’, but of course, there’s a whole lot more to it than that. As Google weighs both factors around 50-50 when ranking search results, it’s vital to know what to do for both.  So let’s get deeper into what on-page SEO and off-page SEO really mean and how you can maximize their SEO potential. 

What is On-Page SEO?

On-page SEO is probably the more familiar of the two ranking categories. It deals with things that you have control over, namely what appears on your site and how. The ‘what’ of on-page SEO is the content, which is generally written but can also include video, images, infographics, or even interactive elements like quizzes or games. The ‘how’ is the technical aspects of how your site displays that content and the efforts you have made to help search engines connect it to a search query.

Here’s a look at some of the most important aspects of on-page SEO.


Whatever form it comes in, content is the foundation of every SEO strategy. Without it, there is literally nothing for a search engine to find and serve up to their users. To maximize the effectiveness of your content for your on-page SEO, it’s important to take the following into account:

  • Keywords: This is and has always been one of the most important indicators to a search engine of what content is about. If your page is about flowers, include the word “flowers” where relevant. Don’t just copy and paste it a thousand times though: search engines got wise to that move a long time ago.
  • Quality: As you can’t just ‘stuff’ your content with keywords, good on-page SEO means creating great content that actually informs and engages visitors so that they stay longer on the page. Staying on the page tells the search engine the searcher found what they wanted, which means your page was very relevant to their query. High quality also means high shareability.
  • Title tags: Meta titles and descriptions are the first snippets that tells a searcher what your page is about. Keep it short and to the point. The user and the search engine will thank you.
  • Recency: The younger (or most recently updated) something is the more relevant it is, at least according to search engines. After all, what is on-page SEO good for if not also weighing in on the Boomer-Millennial culture wars?


Aside from the material that a site visitor actually sees, on-page SEO also draws a lot of its ranking power from the more technical aspects of your site and how you aim to present your content. Some important elements to take note of in this mix are:

  • Page load speed: As we’ve looked at before, the performance of your site and how fast pages load not only affects how quickly visitors back up and go somewhere else, it’s also a major ranking factor for search engines.
  • Layout: Both the layout of a specific page and how easy a website is to navigate impact on Google’s rankings.
  • Security: Sites without ‘https’ with SSL security get severely punished, even to the point of not showing up in natural search engine results pages.
  • CSS and HTML: Organizing your page’s code to make it easily readable and in the order you want can make a big difference to your on-page SEO.

What is Off-Page SEO?

Off-page SEO is the art of building relationships and maximizing your recognition outside of your own site. It’s about letting search engines know how your site fits into the community; do people in the field know you, do they trust you, and value your input? 

As mentioned, the on-page/off-page split is about 50-50, and search engines view off-page SEO as so important because it’s the digital version of word of mouth. Like in the music industry, a DJ isn’t going to just play every Soundcloud link from aspiring artists that gets DM’d to them, but if someone they know and trust gets in touch and says they’ve got the next big hit on their hands they’ll give it a shot.

Search engines leverage this community recognition and trust to give their searchers the optimum results for their query. They want to be able to say that this brand is number one because that’s who people in the industry believe is the best. It means someone can’t ‘game’ the system by just doing all of their on-page SEO right; they have to actually be offering something that people vouch for and recommend.

The most common off-page SEO techniques that you might be familiar with are to do with linking, but there’s a whole lot more to it than that. These are a few key factors that can help to understand what off-page SEO is all about:


  • Inbound links: Any time someone else posts a link to your content, search engines view this as a recommendation. 
  • Anchor text: The keywords that are used in the hyperlink’s text let the search engine know what the link’s context is about.
  • Domain authority: The higher the authority of the page that’s linking to you, the more powerful the recommendation. 


  • Geographic location: Where you are physically located and the market you serve. This is very important for local search results.
  • Social media indicators: These can be likes, shares, and links in posts from non-related accounts.
  • Mentions: Not all positive linking has to be hyperlinked. Search engines also count when a brand is mentioned in passing or in conversations.


Off-Page SEO Techniques That Will Boost Your Rankings

So now, next time someone asks “what is off-page SEO” you should have a better idea. But it’s not good enough to just understand what it is, you need to know how to make it work for you. Here are some of the best off-page SEO techniques that you can start putting into practice right away.

Engaging with your community: Social media for businesses can be so much more useful than just another medium for ads or offers. By creating a community of loyal customers and interested followers you have an instant audience to help you drive traffic. The key is to treat your community like normal people and engage with them about things that might actually interest them or add to their lives, rather than just following the lazy marketer’s tactic of doing nothing but spamming links to your own content. 

Establishing yourself as an authority: There are many online forums, such as Reddit or Quora, as well as real-life situations, such as industry podcasts and conferences, where you can display your credentials as a thought leader in your field. It’s always good to be connected with the rest of one’s professional community to keep your finger on the pulse of the industry, but by fostering a reputation as someone who really knows what they’re talking about you’ll be more likely to be trusted and linked to when you do drop some new content. 

Get discussions going: Most people just write their blogs, post them, and leave it at that. They are sent off into the air like autumn leaves, left to wither and die for lack of love and attention. But why? You’ve spent time working on some content that you really like and imbued it with your own personality and identity, so why not use it as a jump-off piece for a conversation with your audience? Lots of major sites are turning the tide against unhelpful comment spam and making their content the foundation of healthy discussion.

Be smarter about guest blogging: Guest blogging is one of the most popular off-page SEO techniques to build links from other sites. You get in touch with the site owner, offer to do some content for them for free, and in return you get to include links back to your page. While this seems like a simple win-win, it’s a process that can be greatly improved. 

It’s more important to focus on delivering value rather than just link-spamming. If you do quality work, it increases the chances of that content being shared further, plus it shows respect for the host site. It’s also good to maintain a healthy relationship with the host site by following and interacting with the publisher outside of just the guest content you create, instead of just performing a blog hit-and-run.

The focus should not just be on link-building but rather relationship building.

Trust the On and Off-Page Experts at RMG

Just like the different factors at play in making a song great and then making sure everyone else gets to hear that great song, SEO is complex. A rockstar content writer can create pieces of magic, but there needs to be a whole structure in place to bring it to the masses. Understanding on-page and off-page SEO, what they include, and how they’re important is the first step. Then you have to hone in on your on and off-page SEO techniques so that they’re delivering what you want for your brand. Do all of that, and success will be around the corner.

Fortunately, you won’t have to go it alone. At Redefine Marketing Group, we strive to be more than just experts in our field; we want to be partners that help you get the growth you want. Get in touch today to see how we can make that happen!

Author avatar
Michael Gomez
Michael was an in-house and freelance content writer before joining the team at Redefine Marketing Group. He is now the Content Manager at RMG, where he focuses primarily on content creation but helps with SEO and Social Media. Michael graduated from CSU Channel Islands with a degree in English.
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