On-Page Vs. Off-Page Search Engine Optimization (SEO): What’s The Difference?

On-Page vs Off-Page Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization is a complicated thing. Google, the best search engine, uses more than 400 “checks” to determine how it is going to rank a web page. As a blogger, your goal is to get there to the top, or at least on the first page. 

It is imperative that you understand the difference between on-page and off-page seo. If you do, you can take different actions, all of which are necessary, to improve your SEO rankings.

Our topic today is on-page vs off-page search engine optimization, and we will cover:

  • What is on-page SEO?
  • What is off-page SEO?
  • On-page vs off-page search engine optimization: what is better?
  • Components of on-page SEO
  • Components of off-page SEO

Today, we will put more attention to the components of each, as these are the critical elements that can help you make your website rank. 

What is On-Page SEO?

On-page SEO has something to do with the content of your pages and blog posts. It is basically about everything that you can control your website to get a search engine’s attention. While many people think that on-page is just about keywords, this is not entirely accurate.

Generally speaking, on-page SEO covers keywords, the quality of your content, its length, its structure, and much more. We will discuss more about these components later. 

What is Off-Page SEO?

Off–page SEO refers to things that you cannot directly control but you can influence. An example of this is a backlink profile. Off-page SEO also refers to how the community perceives your website. 

The main difference between on-page and off-page is this—on-page is what you can control, while off-page is a matter of perception and relationship. 

You may look handsome as a person, but if you do not socialize, you cannot build relationships. And if you cannot build relationships, people you know (Google) will not refer you to date. The referral process is analogous to SERP rankings, and the person who should date you is the user. 

This does not mean that you will be single forever. It just takes some actions to change how others perceive you—socializing and building relationships with others so they can get to know you. 

On-page vs Off-Page Search Engine Optimization: What is Better?

None of these two are better than the other. You will find it hard to rank if both of these are not met. While it is entirely possible to rank high without building a backlink profile, this is going to be an uphill battle. 

You need to address both. Find a balance with how you can achieve the ideal state for both on-page and off-page SEO, and you will see the fruits of your labor materialize.

If at all, on-page SEO is the easier between the two, so make sure you do this right. 

Components of On-Page SEO

Let us now discuss the components of on-page SEO. 

  • Keywords – keywords are the things that a user types in a search engine. your blog pages will rank if your page uses the appropriate amount of keywords. There is no magic trick to rank your blog post high on the SERPs. What we all know is that your article must contain information that the user is looking for.  
  • Headings and Meta Description – the title of your blog post must definitely contain the keyword you are targeting. On top of this, you should also use the keyword in some of the H2 of your blog posts. This way, the search engine can read that the keyword appears not only once but several times in your blog. The meta-description refers to the snippet of information that Google shows to the user. This is an important on-page SEO factor, as users usually browse this snippet to find out if the article is going to answer their questions, or if it will serve what they are looking for. 
  • Pillar Pages – a pillar page is a long blog post that serves as your ultimate message. It contains as many things as possible about what your domain is about. As a pillar post, your other posts must point to this pillar so Google will understand that it is what your page is about. 
  • Alt Text – alt text is a text you put on your images. Google and other search engines cannot see photos the way humans do. They only know that somewhere in your blog is a photo. You have to name that photo appropriately, and use keywords on the image name and on the alt text. This way, Google and other search engines can index that photo like something that is related to what a user is looking for. 
  • SSL/HTTPS – your website must have a secure connection. You see, Google does not only rank pages and the quality of the blog. Google’s overall intent is to provide the best user experience. As such, if your website is not secure. Google is not likely to show it to the users.
  • Internal Linking – it is important that you link your site’s content with other content. This helps Google understand, and decide, that the content of your blog posts are related to each other and that you are serving a specific niche. 

Components of Off-Page SEO

Now, let us take a look at off-page SEO components that can help you rank.

  • Backlinks – backlinks are links from other websites pointing back to yours. While Google does not really rank a page based on backlinks alone, a quality do-follow backlink makes Google come back to your page and crawl it again. Naturally, if Google observes that there are a lot of websites pointing to yours, it will begin to think that your post or page must have some value. Otherwise, why would other websites refer their readers to you? 
  • Social Media – your social media presence is important. If people like your page and share your posts, Google will know. Social media shares will tell Google that your posts are popular and that people trust you. As such, it has more reason to show your blog posts in the SERPs. 
  • Domain Authority – while this is debatable, this can serve as a guide to help you with your off-page SEO. Domain Authority is a metric that moz made, not Google. Google does not use it. Moz, a company, uses 40+ “checks” to give your domain a rating from 1 to 100, with 100 being the highest. According to Moz, a high Domain Authority or DA means you have a better chance of ranking at the top of the Google SERP. Domain authority is a measurement of many things like backlinks and social media shares. You need to subscribe to Moz to be able to see the complete analysis of your site as far as DA is concerned.   


As you can see, you need to work on both. What many bloggers probably do not know is that Google is pitting every page of your blog against other blogs.

Here are some things to remember: 

  • Good on-page + Good off-page = competitive keywords are ranking
  • Good on-page + Bad off-page = your keywords are not competitive enough to rank
  • Bad on-page + Good off-page = your keywords are mildly good and you may have lots of backlinks
  • Bad on-page + Bad off-page = your blog post is not going to rank for any keyword

The trick here is to strike a balance. Use SEO tools that can guide you whether your on-page SEO is meeting basic expectations, and then reach out to other bloggers to get some link juice. You can do guest posting or participate in forums and then leave your links there. 

John Kilmerstone

I'm an Aussie living in Japan who enjoys traveling, photography, and blogging. Please visit this website and explore the wonderful world of blogging. Discover how to turn your passions and pastimes into an online business.

Recent Posts