The Complete Guide to On-Page SEO, Off-Page SEO, and Technical SEO

The Complete Guide to On-Page SEO, Off-Page SEO, and Technical SEO

November 1, 2021
(Reading time: 20 - 39 minutes)

Search Engine Optimization or SEO is often a term thrown around by web designers, digital marketing agencies, or anyone with a basic understanding of the web. But what does it really mean?

According to Google, SEO is “the process of maximizing the number of visitors to a particular website by ensuring that the site appears high on the list of results returned by a search engine.”

Search Engine Land defines SEO as:

the process of improving your site to increase its visibility when people search for products or services related to your business in Google, Bing, and other search engines. The better visibility your pages have in search results, the more likely you are to garner attention and attract prospective and existing customers to your business.

For the purpose of the post, we will use the definition by Search Engine Land to describe the process better. But I do want to expand on it as well. SEO can be broken down into a three-legged stool, with each leg or part being On-page, Off-page, and Technical SEO.

Complete Guide to the 3 types of Search Enginge Optimization

On-page SEO covers everything you do on your website to improve its competitiveness on the search engine results pages (SERPs). On-page SEO factors are those over which you have complete control because you are the business owner and owner of the website.

Off-page SEO is all about creating backlinks and boosting your SERP ranking externally. In other words, it is about link building. By definition, link building is the actions you take to help you increase the amount of inbound links to your small business website. The more connections to your website, the more Google will recognize your content and enhance your SERP ranking. Backlinks are highly valued by Google since they demonstrate the trustworthiness of your content and assist crawlers in finding their way to your website.

Technical SEO covers everything related to the structure of your website. It assists you in meeting the requirements that allow search engines to crawl your site and better find their way through your material.

Before I go any further, I must first mention that while many of the things I am about to cover can be done by a typical small business. But this begs the question, should you? By the end of this post, you should have an idea if it's something you want to tackle or if it’s something you should reach out to an agency that specializes in helping small businesses.

With that out of the way and the fact we have a high-level overview of each of these, let's see how you, the small business owner, can implement each of these legs on your website.

On-Page SEO: The First Leg of the StoolOn-Page SEO: The First Leg of the Stool

When it comes to On-Page SEO, I think George Harrison said it best in his song, Got My Mind Set on You, “It's gonna take time, Whole lot of precious time, It's gonna take patience and time.”

On-Page SEO Isn’t Simple, Quick or Easy, but Not Impossible

When it comes to On-Page SEO, there isn’t anything that is simple, quick, or relatively easy about it, but it isn’t impossible for small businesses. In this section, we will start with a quick rundown of what on-page SEO is, why it matters, and why Google cares. Then, we'll divide the process of integrating on-page SEO into several parts. We'll wrap this section with some tips and tactics that might come in helpful in specific scenarios but may not always apply to every single page you create.

So, without further adieu, let us look more in-depth at On-Page SEO.

What is On-Page SEO?

On-Page SEO (also known as on-site SEO) is the practice of optimizing elements on a website in order to earn more relevant traffic and rank higher on Google and the other search engines. Sometimes On-page SEO will lump both optimizing the content and HTML source code of a page. We refer to it as Technical SEO, and we will cover it in the following section.

Proper On-page SEO helps searchers and prospects quickly and clearly understand what a page is about and whether or not it addresses their questions. In short, good On-Page SEO assists search engines in understanding what a human visitor would see (and what value they would receive) if they visited a page so that search engines can reliably show up what human searchers would consider high-quality content about a certain search query (keyword).

Ultimately the goal of On-Page SEO can be seen as an attempt to make it as simple as possible for both searchers and search engines to: 

  • Understand what a webpage is about
  • Determine whether or not that website is related to a user's query or queries (i.e., a specific keyword or collection of keywords)
  • Consider that page valuable and deserving of a high ranking on the SERP

How to Get on Page 1 of the SERPs
How to Get on Page 1 of the SERPs

Any competent SEO Agency will tell you that we are all competing to get on the first page of Google and the coveted number one spot. The bottom line is the higher the ranking equates to more traffic, which equals more leads and sales. It makes no difference if you are a small business with 50 employees, a solopreneur, or a Fortune 1000 company; higher search engine ranks will often result in higher profits.

On-page SEO components contribute to both the user experience and Google's understanding of how your website is organized. The higher the quality of your on-page SEO, the more Google will recognize that any particular article or page is related to the user's search query.

Elements of On-Page SEO at a Glance

  1. High-quality content
  2. Title, headers, and meta descriptions
  3. Images
  4. Keyword and keyphrase density
  5. Linking internally 

Why Does On-Page SEO Matter?

The SEO industry is full of disappointed website owners who have accumulated hundreds of links and social shares but have yet to see a slight increase in their rankings. The root cause is frequently a lack of on-page SEO before developing and implementing an off-page link development strategy. Neglecting on-page elements is like attempting to build a home without foundation. 

Or in other words, think about what Christ said in Matthew 7:24-25:

...be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.

On-Page SEO matters simply because it is a straightforward technique for informing Google precisely what your website is about. If all other variables are equal, a site with excellent on-page SEO will rank higher.

On-Page SEO and User Experience

Before we delve into the details of on-page SEO, it is essential to examine the influence on your website's user experience, often referred to as UX, and why this is significant to Google (and thus, your ranking).

Google's primary focus is to provide searchers with search results that they want to view. Therefore, they are just as concerned about the user experience as the user.

Previously, the Google algorithm was reliant on human, hand-coded changes. Google's engineers would implement a change, evaluate and analyze how it affected the search results, and if everything looked okay, it would become a permanent adjustment to the algorithm.

As a result, the algorithm was always a little behind real-time results. As a result, shady and “black hat” SEO tactics and methods were rampant since “we” could get away with them for a while, even if they delivered a bad user experience.

Major Updates

In 2015, Google developed and implemented RankBrain. It is a machine learning-based artificial intelligence system that uses machine learning to adjust the Google algorithm depending on user feedback automatically. RankBrain, in essence, evaluates how well search results fit user intent based on metrics such as click-through rate, time on page, and bounce rate.

If RankBrain determines that a specific search phrase is not presenting the right search results, it will modify the algorithm and monitor user reactions to the new results. As this cycle of self-correction continues, Google's results for any given keyword become increasingly predictive of what the user actually wants to see.

In 2019 Google announced The BERT algorithm update. BERT stands for (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) and at the time affected approximately 10% of all search queries. 

Essentially, it gave Google the ability to think more like a toddler and understand things. For example, I told my son when he was very young to “pick up your toys.” He did as I asked but picked them up and put them on a shelf, not putting them away as I had intended. Had this been Google, they would now understand that I wanted the toys put away, not just physically picked up.

BERT algorithm update

What Does This Mean for Small Businesses?

If these updates teach us anything, it's that the most essential on-page SEO aspect is giving your readers precisely what they want. It means you have to think more like a human and less like a robot when creating content. Google bases its search results on how real people engage with your material, not just computers.

There are technical on-page SEO variables that are important, and we will address them later.

Create and Publish Quality ContentCreate and Publish Quality Content

Your content has a primary goal to inform and provide the reader with answers to their questions. On-page SEO begins with your content marketing strategy first and foremost. At this point, your goal is to think like a searcher and provide them with something better than anybody else ranking for your target keyword and keyword phrases.

Target the Right Keywords and Phrases

Choosing the right keywords and phrases can make or break your SEO campaign. At the same time, there is some truth to the common notion that creating good content will result in good rankings. You should still take the time to assess the landscape so that you can generate content that people are looking for.

Because Google's RankBrain AI can better understand user intent, your keyword research must take that into account. While targeting each of these keywords independently may have been a smart SEO approach in the past, your best chance now is to target medium-length keywords and phrases. Google may start to rank your content for several other similar keywords.

Beat the Competition in Quality and Length

Once you've determined your target keywords, the next step is to create the best content possible so that prospects select you above your competition. One of the things that RankBrain looks for is a phenomenon known as pogo-sticking.

Assume someone searches for "simple bbq pork recipe." They immediately click on the first search result, but they don't like what they see and return to Google after only thirty seconds. They now click on a few more results, bouncing back and forth until they discover one that truly gives the quick bbq pork recipe they like.

Pogo-sticking is the back-and-forth bouncing. And RankBrain doesn’t want searchers to be forced to do so. If enough others go through the same experience, the winning recipe will ultimately rise to the top of the search results. Therefore, the better you can provide users with what they are ultimately looking for, the less you'll have to make them jump back and forth.

Conduct a Competitor Gap Analysis

One method to ensure that your material is better than the competition is to take heed of what they have and ultimately what they are lacking. You want to try and create content that provides people with the same value—and then some.

I wrote a previous post about how important high-quality content is on your website and blog. But as a general rule of thumb, you will need to have longer posts and more informative posts than your competition.  

But, you also need to keep in mind that you don’t need to stretch out your content just for the sake of stretching it out. You may be able to say something in 2000 words what your competitor took to say in 3000; if yours comes across as more authoritative, then you have a better chance of ranking higher.

You should also consider investing in content that your competition doesn't have. If they aren’t using video, then think about making one. If they use all stock photos, can you get unique pictures? Here are several types of different content that can help to differentiate yourself from your competitors:

  • Infographics
  • Explainer videos
  • Research from authoritative studies
  • Downloadable guides or checklists
  • Client testimonials

 

Structure Your Content Around User IntentStructure Your Content Around User Intent

Almost every Google search may be categorized as one of three categories of user intent: informative, transactional, or navigational.

Informational Searches

Wikipedia defines informational search queries as “Queries that cover a broad topic (e.g., colorado or trucks) for which there may be thousands of relevant results.” When someone enters an informational search query into Google, Bing, or another search engine, they are looking for information. More than likely, they aren’t looking for a specific site, as in a navigational query, and they are not looking to make a transaction. They are simply just wanting an answer to a question or to learn how to do something.

Transactional Searches

A transactional search query is one that expresses a desire to complete a transaction, such as completing a purchase. Transactional search queries possibly include exact brand and product names (like “Apple iPhone 13”) or be generic (like “air fryer”) or actually include terms like “order,” “buy,” or “purchase.” All of these instances indicate that the searcher is thinking about making a purchase in the near future, assuming they haven't already pulled out their credit card. In other words, they've reached the bottom of the buyer journey. Many local searches (such as “asheville wine shop”) are transactional as well.

Navigational Searches

When a searcher is looking for a specific website or brand, they will utilize navigational searches. For example, a user might type "youtube" into Google's search bar to find YouTube rather than entering the URL into the address bar or using a bookmark.

Writing Content for Informational Searches

How to repair a sink that isn’t draining is an obvious informative keyword phrase that we might target. When creating informational material, you should begin by emphasizing to readers that you are providing them with the knowledge they require so that they don’t feel the need to return to Google and click another link. We might start with something as basic as "Clogged sink overflowing?" for this search phrase. Check out our do-it-yourself guide to fixing a sink that won't drain.”

Following that, informational material should provide readers with the information they want in an interesting yet clear manner. For this term, we'd probably want to start with an overview of the procedures, along with any items required, and then move on to comprehensive directions on how to unclog the sink. Because we want to provide the greatest user experience possible, material for a keyword like this should also contain a video instruction.

In terms of calls to action, your objective with an informational article should be to build your authority in the sector by giving the finest information available. In the case of the clogged sink, you'd probably finish the piece with an invitation to call your company if the reader doesn't think they can handle the work themselves.

Writing Content for Transactional Searches

Content for a transactional keyword, such as “termite extermination mooresville,” will be very different from content for an informative keyword. The consumer has obviously expressed a desire to rid themselves of termites; therefore, your duty is to provide a clear, persuasive sales presentation.

Starting with a title that emphasizes your value proposition is a guaranteed method to let visitors know that you provide what they require. One example of capturing the reader's attention is "Termite Management in Mooresville, NC." In addition to the title, you should clearly place your call-to-action above the fold and then repeat it throughout the text. The most common techniques to encourage consumers to convert into leads are a large and prominent phone number and a contact form where applicable.

In terms of content development, your major aim is to persuade the user that you can be trusted to supply them with what they are looking for. Our exterminator example would most likely wish to add client testimonials showing how the technicians successfully helped to save the person's home from the silent destroyers. Trust badges, before and after images, and other similar tactics can also be used to reassure a skeptical client.

Writing Content for Navigational Searches

Unfortunately, there isn’t any good way of targeting a navigational search query unless you own the site that the user is looking for. True navigational queries have a very clear intent.

There is one thing you might consider doing, and that is making sure you try to own your brand’s navigational query. Hopefully, your site will appear in both the number one organic spot and as the top sponsored result (if you are running an ad) in a search for your brand or business name. In a post on Search Engine Land, Brad Geddes pointed out that “in many cases, it is worth buying keywords even if you rank organically for them,” since your overall profits will be higher. Branded keywords are more likely to get both clicks and conversions.

Optimize Your Titles, Metadata, and Image Alt Text

Now that we have good, well-written content that helps answer user questions and beats the competition, it’s time to think about optimizing your title, writing a good meta description, and informative alt text for your images.

Fair warning, this gets a little bit technical, but I wouldn’t say it's beyond a good writer's realm. 

Optimize Your Title Tag

Your title tag is the large, bold, clickable link that shows on the SERP. Therefore, generally, you will want to think about what will make a user want to click on it. 

Start by putting your keyword in the title tag. As controversial as the SEO profession might be, almost everyone agrees that you need to have the keyword in the title. The reason is that the title is the primary way to communicate what your website is about. It makes sense to include the same phrase that the user typed into the search bar.

Next, think about how to make your title distinctive and catchy. You have to differentiate yourself from the other ten organic search results on page one so that searchers and prospects click on your site rather than the others.

8 Great Tips for a Good Title Tag

1. Including brackets or parentheses in the post title

  • This tip has been proven to increase click-through rates by 33%!
  • Brackets or parentheses let you pack powerful info into a few short words and can set you apart from your competitors. Here are some examples:
    • How To Clean Your Drain (Step-by-step With Pictures)
    • Complete On-Page SEO Guide (2022 Update)
    • How to Get More Students to Your School [Checklist Inside]

2. Ensure your title tag accurately describes your page

  • Your title tag should include the keyword or phrases you want to rank for on that page.
  • Make sure to include that keyword somewhere on the page.
  • Utilize a keyword that your visitors are likely to use. It's wonderful to rank high in Google, but if you're ranking high for a keyword that no one uses, it's not going to help you much.

3. What is the goal of the web page or post

  • Make sure the page's title tag and content correspond to the reasons visitors visit that page.

4. Put the keyword first

5. Don’t forget to mention your business name

  • For most small businesses, putting your brand name in the title tag isn't that necessary. However, if you are a market leader in your area, it is a good idea to include your brand name in your title tags.
  • Most businesses should place their brand name last. 
  • Don’t sacrifice the readability of your title tag just to get your brand name in.

6. Separate your business name from the page title

  • Use a hyphen (- ) vertical dash or pipe ( | ) to separate your brand name from the actual page title.

7. Write attractive title tags

  • If you stuff keywords into the title tag, it will make your title tag ugly and difficult to read.
  • The title tag is their first introduction to your business. Make sure you make a good first impression.
  • The page title tag appears in a list of 10 other search results. Make sure it stands out.

8. Unique for every page

  • Every page on your website should have its own title tag. If Google doesn’t know, they may rewrite it themselves based on context from the page. So I ask you, do you want Google writing your title tags, or would you rather?

Title Length

As you experiment with your title tag, keep in mind that Google search results are normally 600px wide, with headlines larger or longer are truncated with ellipsis (...) at the end. The reason being is that not every letter is the same width. Character count does not accurately represent how large a headline is.

  • Google may display up to the first 66 characters. 
  • W3C recommends a maximum of 64 characters.
  • Bing recommends a title around 65 characters long.

Therefore as a general rule, most in the SEO community say keep your title within 50 - 60 characters.

Title Optimization Tools

There are numerous tools out there to help you measure and optimize your title tags. Recently I have become a big fan of the Headline Analyzer Tool by Capitalize My Title

Optimize Your Meta Description

Your meta description is the short text blurb that displays below your title on the SERPs. While some people may never look beyond the headline to decide where to click, many will read the description to get a better idea as to whether the site provides exactly what they are searching for.

Similar to the title tag, make sure that your target keyword(s) occurs somewhere in the meta description, preferably early on. Another useful strategy is to leverage words found in the descriptions of paid advertisements for your desired keyword. These are usually based on numerous split tests, and these ads are likely well-targeted for conversions. Therefore, mimicking some of their word choices will likely bring more searcher’s attention to your result.

Another way to think about your meta description is it is a 160-character sales pitch. Your goal is to persuade the searcher that you have what they're searching for and that your content is valuable enough to click on. Find ways to show how your post is different from the other nine on the page. Perhaps it is based on original research, or perhaps it was written by an expert.

​​What Should Be the Length of Meta Description?

Google is continually testing and tweaking things, which frankly doesn’t make life any easier for agencies such as ourselves. Back in December 2017, Google increased the length of their meta descriptions only to revert back a few months later. 

According to Stan Ventures’ study, they found that for both desktop and mobile search results tend to truncate after 930px.

Optimize Your Headings

Headings help both the user and the search engine spiders to understand the hierarchy of your page. The best way to think about headings is like a book. Your H1 should be the title, the H2 a chapter title, and H3-H6 should be headings within the chapter. Also, to be technically or semantically correct, you should not have an H2 on the page until you have had an H1, and an H3 should follow after an H2.

Now there is always some confusion and the great debate about the proper usage of the H1 tag and how you can and should use multiple H1 tags. According to Google’s John Muller

You can use H1 tags as often as you want on a page. There’s no limit, neither upper or lower bound.

Your site is going to rank perfectly fine with no H1 tags or with five H1 tags.

(Source: Defining Rural at the US Census Bureau)

No matter what Google said, knowing that as of writing this, they are experimenting with rewriting page titles based on the information from the H1, I would be hesitant to recommend anyone using more than 1 H1 tag. If you need the visual look of an H1, I would suggest styling it with an inline style or CSS class. 

Optimize Keyword Density

Keyword density is simply a measure of how frequently it appears in the text. With the Panda Update, Google tightened down on keyword stuffing, so you want to keep the keywords in your text natural and readable to the average human being. 

However, a generally safe keyword density is 1 - 2 percent. For example, if you have a 1000 word post, your keyword(s) should appear 10 to 20 times. This is usually enough to persuade Googlebot of your topical relevance without seeming forced or unnatural.

Include Latent Semantic Index (LSI) Keywords

Google searches for Latent Semantic Index (LSI) Keywords to establish the topic of a piece of content. While many people believe they are synonyms for the target keyword(s), this isn’t 100 accurate.

LSI keywords are more like terms that generally go together, and Google will look for them in your content to help differentiate it from comparable material. For example, the term Cars could refer to the automobile, the band, or the Disney movie.

Googlebot scans your website for LSI keywords to determine how to categorize your content. It would recognize the band if it discovered phrases like "music," "American rock," and "band." However, it will realize that you are writing about the movie if you use phrases like "characters" or "sequel."

What this means is that you should modify your text to add LSI keywords that will educate and inform Google what you're talking about. You don't have to go overboard, but try to distribute LSI keywords about. A tool like LSI Graph can help you develop a list of phrases to utilize.

Optimize Your Images

Image alternative text or image alt text as it is often referred was originally designed to help describe the image. While I am 100% in favor of describing images, mainly for ADA purposes, this is also an excellent place to include information that will help the Googlebot and other search engine spiders to explain your topical relevance. Usually, you will want to use your target keyword(s) or a secondary keyword(s).

Internal Linking Structure Example: Lynnwoode in North Wilkesboro, NCInternal Linking Structure

It seems like in every town, there is that one place or development that, unless you are familiar with, it's easy to get lost in. Here in my hometown, it is Lynwoode. As a teenager, we would often joke and say, you could lose the cops there if you had to (not that we ever needed to, thankfully). I give this analogy not to highlight my youth but to illustrate that Google wants to get lost in your website. 

Let’s start by looking at what is an internal link. Internal links will lead to a page on the same site, such as a landing page, geographic landing page, pillar page, or possibly another blog post. All these links pointing back and forth help influence the page’s quality score also called PageRank.

PageRank is what put Google on the map and made it what it is today. The premise being that a page with more links pointing to it theoretically the more authoritative pages should be.

This begs the question of whether it is still in use today, seeing how PageRank was developed in the late ‘90s.

Yes, we do use PageRank internally, among many, many other signals. It's not quite the same as the original paper, there are lots of quirks (e.g., disavowed links, ignored links, etc.), and, again, we use a lot of other signals that can be much stronger.

(Source: John Mueller)

Any page on your site should have at least two links pointing to it. For example, if you have a geographic landing page, Google should be able to get to it from at least two places on your site. If you can have it linking to more than that is excellent as well.

If you want to dive deeper into internal linking, look at this post from SEMrush, Internal Links: A Guide to Building a Strategy that Works.

Technical SEO: The Second Leg of the StoolTechnical SEO: The Second Leg of the Stool

Thus far, we have covered On-page SEO in-depth, but it's hard to do On=Page without talking about Technical SEO as well. Some would argue that they are one and the same. Personally, I define them differently as with it, you need more of a technical background, and it ventures into the programming side. 

What Exactly Is Technical SEO?

As I alluded to, Technical SEO covers the technical or the backend parts of the website and web pages. This is where the structure of the website and the server parts come into play.

While on-page and off-page SEO are essential components of SEO, they are useless without a solid foundation. If there are technical issues with your SEO, it is probable that you will not be getting the organic results that you expect.

Now with that said, here are highlights of Technical SEO that I will cover in this section.

Elements of Technical SEO at a Glance

  1. What Is Your User Experience Like?
  2. Dealing With Site Errors
  3. Make Your Site Responsive or Mobile Friendly
  4. Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS)
  5. How Fast Is Your Website?
  6. Google Analytics
  7. Use a Third-Party Software to Analyze Your Site

What Is Your User Experience Like?

Have you looked at how easy your site is to navigate? Is your menu laid out efficiently? Do you need to have a search feature? Is the site aesthetically appealing? Does your site meet ADA compliance guidelines? These are often things that might be overlooked in a typical Technical SEO audit. However, they are all things that you should be aware of and think about.

Of that shortlist, the one that might have thrown you would be the ADA compliance. This isn’t something that most people think about, but they should. The bottom line really is if your website is ADA compliant, then chances are your Technical SEO will be on point at its most basic level. If you would like to better understand ADA compliance, I have written two older posts: Avoiding ADA and web-accessibility lawsuits and Should my website be ADA compliant like my physical business location? 

Dealing With Site Errors

SEO requires you to manage your 404 pages, 301 redirects, and duplicate content. If you haven't cleaned up your website's mistakes, you are hampering your success on the SERPs.

Google despises website errors. Therefore it's in your best interest to keep an eye on your site for problems. The bottom line is Google is the 800lb gorilla, and you have to make it happy by finding and replacing any broken links and trying to eliminate any duplicate content on your site.

Make Your Site Responsive or Mobile Friendly

To understand what your site has to be responsive or mobile-friendly, we first need to look at a bit of web history of how it became such a big issue. In February of 2015, Google announced that it was changing the way it would rank websites in search results. The reason was more people were Googling on their mobile devices, and Google wanted to make search results more relevant for those users. As of April 21, 2015, Google’s search algorithms would focus more on mobile-friendly sites. 

Flash forward to the end of 2017 when Google announced that it would start rolling out mobile-first indexing. They said they were expanding the rollout by the following March and told the web community to prepare. As you can imagine, something like this would take time. Suffice to say, as of the writing of this; we are assuming that the rollout is fully in place.

What does all this mean? Simply put, a responsive website is more important than ever, even over one that is considered “mobile-friendly.” 

Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS)

HTTPS stands for “hypertext transfer protocol secure,” and it simply means that any information transmitted to and from the website by a user is encrypted. 

According to Moz, on August 6, of 2014, “Google announced that they would be giving preference to secure sites and that adding encryption would provide a ‘lightweight’ rankings boost. They stressed that this boost would start out small, but implied it might increase if the change proved to be positive.”

A mere four years later, Chrome 68 came out and began marking pages not using HTTPS URLs as not secure.

Now obviously, this is something that most sites need to have implemented so that most users are not alarmed that your site isn't secure and turn tail and run. 

How Fast Is Your Website?

It's no secret that search engines love websites that load quickly. During the summer of 2021, Google rolled out two major algorithm updates, the June Update, and the July Update. Therefore when it comes to SEO, speed is of the essence! However, it will often require some significant adjustments to your website.

Here are a few things you may do to improve the speed and performance of your website:

  • Simplify your website template and minimize your site’s codebase
  • Optimize your site’s images with smaller sized files and properly sized files
  • Limit the number of redirects
  • Leverage better browser cache
  • Utilize a fast website hosting provider
  • Consider using a content delivery network such as Cloudflare

Google Analytics

While Google Analytics is not technically a Technical SEO, tracking your website's success in Google Analytics is an essential aspect of any long-term ranking efforts. The data you collect will help you improve both your Technical and On-Page SEO.

Use a Third-Party Software to Analyze Your Site

I highly recommend that you use a third-party software to analyze your site. Companies such as Moz, SEMrush, and Ahrefs all have subscription models that you can purchase to help you monitor your website.

Off-Page SEO: The Third and Final Leg of Our StoolOff-Page SEO: The Third and Final Leg of Our Stool

Off-page SEO refers to anything that happens outside of your website to suggest to Google and the other search engines that your content is valuable and authoritative enough to rank. Off-page SEO elements include things like social signals, company citations, and backlinks, many of which are out of your control.

Google considers these factors when determining how authoritative and trustworthy your website and, ultimately, your content is. In general, the more difficult an off-page SEO element is to get, the more effective it is in the eyes of Google. A backlink from us.gov, for example, will do far more for your rankings than a link from a random blogger.

What Are Social Signals?

Social signals are human interaction measurements on social platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Reddit, and Medium, just to name a few. Some examples of social signals are likes, dislikes, shares, pins, views, votes, etc., which are frequently used to demonstrate popularity and affinity for a specific piece of content. However, those likes and shares mean nothing if the social signals sit behind a walled garden and the search engines can’t access them. But if it’s open to being indexed by Google, then you have a much better chance of getting a social signal boost, albeit very minute. 

Increasing Social Signals

For businesses wanting to improve their search ranks, I would suggest that you need a complete social media plan, in addition to all of the standard SEO strategies. In other words, tactics for increasing social media interaction can help your website's search engine position.

First and foremost, high-quality content is essential. Valuable, interesting, or educational content always generates more positive engagement than obvious or spammy advertising. Here are seven tried and true strategies for turning the volume up to 11 on your social signals:

  • Listen: Pay attention to what others are saying about your brand and respond to criticism constructively and positively.
  • Monitor: There are many free social media marketing applications available that will track shares, retweets, likes, and keywords related to your business.
  • Post daily: To keep your business at the top of people's social media news feeds.
  • Use images & Videos: Images and videos significantly boost interaction rates across all social media platforms.
  • Collaborations: Share links and create original content with other well-known companies.
  • Competitions and giveaways: contests and giveaways are an excellent method to build interest in your business.
  • Cover all the social media bases: Create content for all of the major social media platforms.

Social signals are yet another metric in the already complex and mysterious field of Off-page SEO. With the major search engines being black boxes, it’s unavoidable that social media buzz has an impact on the popularity of a website. Increase your social media involvement, and your website may jump to the top of the search results.

What Are Citations?

Citations are online references to a business that includes the business's name, address, and phone number, often referred to as the NAP. Many of these types of citations take the form of an online business directory. However, there are various forms of citations.

Citations are an essential component in both Off-page SEO and Local SEO. When they are properly configured, they may be quite simple to maintain and can lead to higher local rankings.

Types of Citations

There are several different types of citation websites out there, and many in our industry argue about which are more valuable than others.

However, for Local SEO, the general consensus is that these citations are “must-haves.”

  • Google My Business
  • Bing Maps
  • Facebook
  • Yelp

The four listed above are simply that four in the hundreds of potential websites to list your small business online. The question becomes which ones are the most relevant for your business? You need to be sure to look at the category relevancy and the domain authority. Even if the site has a low domain authority but is highly relevant to your business, then it might be worth the time to set up.

What is Link Building?

In simple terms, link building or “backlinks” is the process of getting other websites to link back to your small business website. All marketers and small business owners should be interested in link building in order to boost referral traffic and enhance the authority of their websites.

Now let’s expand on that, search engines crawl the web using links, and they will crawl the links between individual pages on your website and the connections between entire websites.

Why build links?

Backlinks continue to be a vital component in how every search engine determines which sites to rank for which keywords; even though that Google's algorithms are complicated and constantly developing, this has remained unchanged.

How To Get Other Sites to Link to You

There are several link-building strategies used to get external websites to link to your small business website. Here are eight great such methods:

  1. Content Creation & Promotion: I touched on this at the first of this guide, but if you create compelling, high-quality, and unique content, people will naturally want to reference and link to it. In other words, it’s not the field of dreams. You have to tell people about it if you want them to come and link to it!
  2. Organic Links: These go hand in hand with content creation. Organic links are regarded as the gold standard in link building since it’s one of Google’s main ranking features. They help to drive traffic to your website. The bonus is you didn’t have to ask for your content to be linked! To make it easy, you have to think like a good friend of mine and former newspaper editor used to say. If you can make it easy for me, he would be more likely to run the press release. He would use an example of a bowling league going to the state championship with a great press release compared to a poor press release about a business buying a company across the United States. The same goes for your content. To make this strategy work, you have to give editors a good enough reason to want to feature your link. Because it is about organic link building, it must be spread organically through your various distribution channels. It is then your job to create high-quality content people want to connect with and share on their networks.
  3. Reviews & Mentions: Put your service or website in front of influencers in your industry, such as people with a large social media following or popular and famous bloggers.
  4. Links from Friends & Partners: Encourage that individuals you know and those you work with to link to your website. Remember that relevancy is important; connections from sites in the same broad industry or specialty as yours will be more valuable than links from random, unrelated sites.
  5. Blogger Outreach: This is a popular choice among Digital Marketing experts, Digital Marketing Agencies, and search engines. As opposed to organic link building, blogger outreach involves you contacting websites and asking them to promote your material. This technique includes contacting editors and websites with your content. If your outreach is effective, the website owner may give you a link recognizing or quoting your work. Perhaps they may even offer you the opportunity to produce material for their page. Search engines highly value these sorts of genuine backlinks!
  6. Paid-Link Building: Rather than having your website linked to other websites naturally, paid link building is the opposite. Instead of earning links, you will actually purchase them. While this may streamline your SEO Strategy, Google explicitly forbids the purchase or sale of links. Google defines this strategy as the exchange of money for posts that contain links or links. Even your paid reviews or sponsored blog posts could be considered as paid link building. While it can be an effective method of getting links and exposure, it’s definitely not worth the risk!
  7. Private Blogger Networks (PBNs): In the SEO world, there are definite white hats, black hats, and gray hat link building. PBNs fall under the gray hat. PBNs are a collection or network of websites that link back to your main website. The way they work is to purchase expired domains that have already have decent domain authority. Once they are purchased, all that is needed is to post basic content that contains links to your primary website. While this may seem like a good idea, it goes directly goes against Google’s terms of service! With minimal activity and almost no page value for the viewer on these websites, search engines immediately classify it as spam! If Google discovers your PBN techniques, you may incur penalties and a significant drop in your SEO ranking.
  8. Published Site Content: To be seen as an authoritative source on the search engines, using a platform like Help a Reporter Out (HARO) may be beneficial. They can be beneficial in terms of link building. HARO helps by connecting journalists with subject matter experts for their media or article coverage. In exchange, the source authors get a backlink to their website, and the benefit of submitting your content through sites like HARO is that you don’t have to worry about Google’s penalties. They are completely legitimate links in the eyes of Google and the other search engine algorithms since they can be considered legitimate and natural links. 

Conclusion

Wow, I have covered a lot in this post, and believe it or not, I have just scratched the surface. But to quickly recap and make sure you walk away with the TL;DR; On-page SEO is what you need to worry about when it comes to anything easily controlled on the web page. You might want to think about this as what you can control when editing it in Google Docs. Technical SEO covers everything related to the structure of your website, and you might need to outsource this or work with your developer here. Off-page SEO is all about creating backlinks and link building.

As I also mentioned at the start of this article, while many of these you the small business can do, the question I asked and will always ask is, should you? Therefore what are you going to do? If you want to go at it yourself, I hope this has been helpful. If you are looking for an agency to help, then take the time to reach out to us. We will be happy to talk to you about your needs and see if we are a good fit.

Chad Treadway

Written by:  |  November 1, 2021

Chad is our business development manager. He will help you survey your business needs, ensuring you are educated on your options before suggesting any solution. Chad also has several certifications through HubSpot to better assist you with your internet and inbound marketing.

See Chad Treadway's' bio: cubecreative.design/about/chad-treadway