Search Engine Optimization Explained: On-Page vs. Off-Page

Updated on April 4, 2023

What is Search Engine Optimization?

Search engine optimization has big implications for all small businesses – yours included. So, what is SEO? The first thing to recognize is that your potential customers are searching on Google for your products and services when they need them. A website with good SEO will ensure your site shows up at or near the top of search results when your potential customers make those searches.

What goes into optimizing your website for Google and other search engines? There are two components: on-page optimization and off-page optimization.


On-Page Search Engine Optimization

This aspect of SEO is likely to be the most familiar to you. Basically, on-page SEO is the process of telling Google what your website is about, like what services you provides, what times your business is open, and what other customers think of you based off your reviews.

It all starts with a keyword analysis for your specific industry and location. These keywords are the search terms your potential customers use when they’re looking for someone in your industry. Typically, these search terms and keywords are related to your top services.


Keywords: Help Readers Find What They Need

After the keyword analysis, those keywords are incorporated into the content on your website.

For example, if you’re a contractor in Scottsdale, Arizona, the major keywords that you might focus on are:

  • contractor in Scottsdale AZ
  • custom home builder in Scottsdale AZ
  • remodeling contractor in Scottsdale AZ
  • kitchen remodeling in Scottsdale AZ
  • bathroom remodeler in Scottsdale AZ

Get the idea?


Metadata: Help Search Engines Categorize Your Site

Now, using those keywords in your content is great, but there’s still more we can do to make sure Google understands what your website is about. While Google does read the primary content on your site (the same content your potential customers are reading), it also scans the backend of your website (the metadata).

For instance, a page about custom home builds might have a title tag that says “To Rated Custom Home Builder in Your Area” Keeping those title tags and meta descriptions current and optimized is extremely important. Google scans this information, along with everything else on your site, to decide if it’s relevant to those searching for custom home builds.


Off-Page Search Engine Optimization

Off-page optimization is the second major component of SEO, and it encompasses everything that isn’t on your website.

It starts with online directories. These directories are similar to old-school phonebooks, but they live on the internet. If you have credible and consistent directory listings, your business looks more authoritative to users and search engines. If they’re inaccurate or inconsistent, search engines are likely to penalize you.


Online Directories: List Your Business Across the Internet

Think of each accurate directory listing as point you earn with Google. The more listings you have, the more points you score – as long as they’re all consistent. Businesses lose thousands of dollars every year because of wrong phone numbers, so it’s important to make sure every bit of information is correct. That includes your business name, phone number, area of service, company description, hours and services.

That’s just step one. Step two involves suppressing all of the inaccurate information already on the internet so you don’t lose business or get flagged by Google for having inconsistent information online.


Google My Business: The King of Online Directories

The final key aspect of off-page optimization is a Google Business Profile. Make sure your listing is claimed and optimized. Your Google Business Profile is what gets your business shown on Google Maps, and it’s as important to consumers as it is to Google.

Your GBP page allows your potential customers to see where you are located, access your phone number, visit your website, view photos, read reviews, and see the services you provide.

The best part of having a Google Business Profile? When someone searches for your business on Google, your listing can show on the main search page, providing those potential customers with your contact information before visiting your website. And, if you link out to your website, you’ve instantly tied your on-page and off-page SEO strategies together.


In short, when SEO is done right, you pop up at or near the top of search results for your business’s keywords. It all depends on how well you incorporate those keywords into the content on your site and how robust your off-page optimization strategy is. Ultimately, Google should mark your business as a trusted source of products and services for your customers in your location.

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