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What’s the difference between on-page, off-page and technical SEO?

Besides sounding like a rejected line from the first draft of the Hokey Cokey, what is the difference between on-page, off-page and technical SEO?

You probably know what SEO* is by now, and you probably know how essential it is to your wider marketing campaign, but if you’re planning to DIY some SEO, then all these terms may leave you wondering WTF?

All three work together; however, they can at times all feel pretty distinct at times. It’s best to remember that each one is working towards a common goal and if you want the best results, you’re certainly going to want to include all three as part of your marketing. That being said, let’s take a look at each one in turn.

*Is it…
A: Seeing Every Optometrist?
B: Soft Eggs Only?
C: Search Engine Optimisation?

On-Page SEO (AKA: The one that’s easiest to explain to your relatives

Unlike the other two, on-page SEO is the one that they, the users, are most likely to see. The stuff behind the scenes is, well, behind the scenes, so any optimisation you make to your pages’ content is considered on-page SEO.

Content really is the crux of on-page SEO and has become a byword for writing content for SEO purposes. By that, we mean finding keywords (another term you’re probably familiar with) and inserting them tastefully into your content, with the intention of convincing a search engine that your website is the one best equipped to inform/entertain/keep-a-user-using-that-specific-search-engine.

There are other facets to on-page SEO that go beyond content, such as the HTML on the page, the meta description, and the URL. While these may feel quite similar to technical (we’ll get to that shortly), it’s considered on-page because making changes to these will still affect what visitors to the site see.

Technical SEO (AKA: The one I told you we’d get to shortly)

If you ask me, not that you did, all SEO feels very technical. It’s just that some bits are more technical than others …Specifically the parts known as technical SEO.

Technical SEO in a nutshell (the edible kind) looks at the nuts (the inedible kind) and bolts of a website and how it interacts with search engines and the wider internet. This often involves the more complex aspects of a site and, depending on your skillset, may require the assistance of a web developer or passing nerd.

In the same way that knowing how your intended user’s search is necessary for on-page SEO, technical SEO also benefits from knowing how a search engine ranks sites. For example, we know Google wants its users to have a good time, but if people can’t wait to leave your site because everything is slow to load, then Google will be less likely to recommend your site to people.

There are ways to speed up your site, and this would fall under the technical SEO umbrella. The list of things that fall under said umbrella is long, so much so, it’s less of a brolly and probably more of one of those big canvas shades you get in the middle of beer garden tables.

Off-page SEO (AKA: There’s more?!)

Much like the kind of people who buy expensive trainers on eBay, search engines are very keen to find out if you are reliable, if your offerings are authentic and if you’re willing to do p&p for free.

Actually, scrap that last one.

One of the best ways to prove your website has something to offer is by having other, relevant, and more respected sites link to your site. It’s like if your favourite pub vouched for another smaller pub down the road and then a friend asks you which pub you should go to next. If the guys you currently trust recommend this other place, it’s probably a good sign that this next place is trustworthy, too, right?

It’s exactly like that, except instead of being you, you’re a search engine developed by a company worth roughly $420bn, and your friends are people using said search engine, and the pubs are websites.

But how do you get other pubs/websites to talk about your pub/website? There are a fair few ways you can go about this, depending on your website’s purpose, I won’t go into them all here because then you really will need a drink, but it’s well worth researching.

S(e)O… what now?

If this is all making sense and you’re starting to wonder how best to improve your site’s rankings, the best place to start is generally with your on-page SEO. After all, there’s no point trying to get other sites to link to yours unless there’s something worth linking, right?

Similarly, technical SEO can help you tackle any anomalies you may spot in Google Analytics or any site issues that affect how search engines interact with your site. But then, when your site is looking good, when you’re feeling good, it’s time to start working on your off-page tactics.

A little research will take you a long way, and there’ll be overlap, so it’s key to keep your end goal in mind.

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