What is SEO? On-page and off-page SEO explained

What is SEO?

SEO is an acronym for search engine optimization. When we talk about SEO, much of the time we are talking about developing, or programming, a website to help it to rank better on search engines.

However any SEO strategy should cover both on-page and off-page optimization tactics. Each of these umbrella important SEO techniques that help with the success of a website.

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On-page SEO

On-page SEO is the art of continuously refining a website so that search engines understand it, engage with it and rank it.

Google looks for quality page content with good structure, making it easy for the user to find what they are looking for.

Each page on a website should use clean code, markup and correct tags so that search engines understand what is on the page.

Dud links and missing tags can negatively effect rank.

On-page SEO

Off-page SEO

Off-page SEO, or off-site SEO, refers to online activity outside of a website to help it to continue to gain rank.

When talking about off-page SEO we are reffering to backlinks, social media alignment, social shares and online reviews.

This approach helps the user to decide if your site is firstly trustworthy and secondly active. In turn sending positive signals to Google that the website deserves to rank well.

This is a strong method to weed out deceitful websites.

Off-page SEO

Search engine friendly definition

The term search engine friendly is used to describe a website that has been optimised for search engines, such as Google.

Nowadays, 'search engine friendly' can mean a number of things.

In the old days search engine optimisation was simply a matter of making it easier for search engines to understand what the page was about.

A web developer could use key words within tags to let search engines know why the page was created.

Because of black hat tactics (i.e. abuse of the system), and of course technology, Google and it’s counterparts have become a lot more intelligent.

Now, to be search engine friendly a website must be informative, provide instant information, be easy to navigate, fast, mobile friendly and visually pleasing.

This gives the user the best experience, which is why Google will reward these types of websites.

There are also a lot of other more technical techniques that can help a site to be search engine ready, like using microdata (Schema) to improve pages.

What affects SEO negatively?

There are lots of obscure factors that have a negative effect on the rank of a website.

Bad code.

The Google bot has to crawl billions of websites per day. Each page of a site is made up of code, before it is displayed beautifully on a browser to the audience. Google rewards clean code, with correct tags and markup because the Google bot can easily discover out what a page is about, and offer it up to a Google user.

CMS website builders inject code into pages enabling non-professionals to put a website together. WordPress is one of the best at keeping this under wraps, but plugins and themes can unfortunately create a lot of unwanted lines. Googlebot must sift through all this code before it can understand content.

Slow download times.

Both code and media affect the speed of a website. Too much unwanted code takes time to download. Large images and other media makes the site slow. Google is looking to provide it's users with answers, fast. Any page that takes a long time to download will be immediately penalised. Keep your important information at the top, so users do not have to scroll to find answers.

Mobile usability.

Again, Google wants the best for its users. As so many users search using smart phones or tablets, Google rewards websites that are easy to read and navigate using those device.

Poor maintenance

Dud links are links that lead no where. These links could be links within your page, or links from other sites (including Google) that have not been redirected. Google likes to see well maintained websites, so that users are not faced with the 404 error message.

Keyword stuffing.

Seen much less these days, Google peanlises websites that overload pages with keywords they desire to be ranked for. Pages, posts and articles should include keywords, but never over power the content with keywords.

Repeated content.

I still see repeated content quite a lot, as some small businesses do not put time and effort into properly writing their own websites. A big mistake, as Google will then only rank one of the pages so you lose out on a lot of search engine rank power.

Bad content.

Google likes web pages to be to the point and well written. They rank good content that gives a good explanation to the user. There are no rewards for content that has been buffed up just to reach the 600 word rule. Bad spelling and grammar will also have an effect, so do be careful.