If you ask anyone who works in the SEO industry what optimisation means and what its purpose is, they’ll probably be able to give you a quick, if not necessarily straightforward answer. The aim is clearly to improve the status of your business website /brand on the results pages of search engines: the higher the ranking, the more likely users will be attracted to your services. Now ask those very same people how to best achieve this and the waters start to get a little muddier.
Some SEO experts favour on-page, or on-line optimisation techniques, others prefer off-page. The majority, you would hope, would recommend a combination of the two strategies. If it could just be left at that, the world would be a simpler place. However, SEO professionals don’t seem to do ‘simple’. They’ll start telling you about the importance of ‘organic’ marketing, ‘Meta tag’ settings and other weird and wonderful sounding concepts that you really ‘must’ use. Is it any wonder we mere mortals get confused? What do any of these terms actually mean? Well, hopefully after you’ve read this article the waters may become a little clearer.
On-page SEO refers to the optimisation of the pages that make up your actual business website. This is the more technical aspect of the optimisation process and refers to those factors that have an effect on website or webpage listings in natural search results: these factors are controlled by you or by the coding on your web pages. Any optimisation will focus on the keywords that make up the content or the copy on your web site. It will also look at areas like HTML coding, Meta tags, unique content, website design and layout. Essentially on-page optimisation is all about tweaking all the technical bits and bobs that lurk beneath the surface, so that both search engines and ordinary users are given the precise information they’re looking for: the better and more accurate the results, then the greater the traffic.
Offline SEO refers to the optimisation of the pages away from your website. They are referred to as ‘off-page’ because they are not controlled by you or by the coding on your website. Off-page optimisation techniques focus predominantly on areas like link building, directory and article submission, blog posting and forum posting. The purpose of offline optimisation is to maximise all the links that come off your website pages to encourage a higher placing in the search engine results.
So which is best?
It won’t surprise you to learn that there isn’t a simple answer to this. Well, there wouldn’t be, would there? Each has its own merits and limitations. It’s all a matter of horses for courses: it depends on what your ultimate goal is and how quickly you expect to see the results.
Traditionally on-page optimisation will produce better long-term results, but these can take time. If your business aim is to get yourself established on the likes of Google and Bing or other high-ranking search engines, then you’ll have to be prepared to be patient. Building a reputation and creating top-notch, relevant content takes time and effort. Those SEO companies and business who aren’t prepared to bide their time will have to explore other avenues to get the quick fixes they desire.
Off-page optimisation can and often does produce quicker and more-measurable results, but that can come at a price. It’s all predominantly about link building. If your website is able to link to high-profile, respected websites, then your ranking can receive an immediate boost just through the power of positive association. Off-page SEO can give your business website this boost, a sort of kick start if you’d prefer, but it can’t necessarily sustain it for the longer term. If your aim is sustainability, then it’s probably much wiser to use a combination of both optimisation strategies.
Everybody seems to want the quick fix nowadays: I suppose it’s a direct consequence of living in a world where we all appear to demand instant gratification. However, some things are still worth waiting for: when they eventually come, you appreciate them all the more. Internet marketing strategists will tell you that the only way for a website to achieve sustainable organic growth is by adopting a holistic marketing strategy, and do you know what? I think they’re probably right.