On-Page SEO vs Off-Page SEO: What’s The Difference, and Which Should You Focus on First?

SEO is one of the most important investments you can make in your business. But if you’re new to the game, knowing where to start with your SEO strategy can be difficult—do you prioritize on-page or off-page SEO tactics?

Understanding the difference between on-page vs off-page SEO is the first step for anyone looking to optimize their online presence and increase search engine rankings.

  • On-page SEO is all about optimizing the pages on your site in order to rank as highly as possible and generate relevant, organic traffic from search engines.
  • Off-page SEO involves increasing your website’s authority by building links and mentions from other websites.

Both types of SEO are equally important and should be used together for the best results.

In this article, we’re breaking down the key differences between on-page vs off-page SEO, so that you can develop an effective strategy specifically for your business.

We will explain which elements you should be focusing on when it comes to each type, and offer advice on which approach should come first in terms of focus and execution.

To begin, let’s take a closer look at what makes up On-Page SEO.

What is On-Page SEO? 

On-page SEO deals primarily with internal optimization within the confines of a website or blog.

This includes:

  • Good site architecture
  • Optimizing core web vitals (load speeds)
  • Creating relevant title tags and meta descriptions
  • Ensuring content quality is high
  • Using internal linking effectively
  • Using keywords strategically
  • Optimizing your images
  • Making sure your site is mobile-friendly

Together, these On-page SEO factors help search engines understand what information is on each page so that they can easily index it in their results.

Factors like having good site architecture and internal linking between pages on your site also have the added benefit of increasing usability from a visitor’s perspective. This can increase the time they spend on your site, which in turn, should have a positive impact on your earnings.

So it’s a win-win from all perspectives.

Ultimately, good On-Page SEO (WordPress SEO) makes it much easier for users to find and navigate your site.

What is Off-Page SEO? 

Off-page SEO looks beyond the walls of a website or blog to ensure that other external platforms are linked to it. This helps to build your website’s authority and builds brand recognition through mentions/social media engagement.

Backlinks from reputable sources are one of the most important factors in gaining credibility for your website. High-quality backlinks show search engines that other trusted websites consider your content valuable enough to link to it.

Other off-page elements, such as mentions from influencers on social media, can help build trustworthiness while exposing your site and content to a wider audience.

Finally, signing up for a Google Business account sets up an official profile associated with Google Maps so users can find your website quickly without leaving their current device or location — this is essential if your business provides goods or services locally!

Once effectively implemented, a solid off-page SEO strategy will help improve your site’s authority and visibility over time.

On-Page SEO Elements

So now that you know a little more about what on-page SEO entails, let’s dive a little deeper into each element and what you can do to optimize it.

You can start working your way through this list as soon as your site is up and running.

Core Web Vitals

Core Web Vitals are a set of metrics that Google uses to measure the performance, speed, and usability of a website. These metrics help evaluate how users experience a website’s loading performance, interactivity, and visual stability.

Optimizing your Core Web Vitals can help to increase user engagement and conversion rates while reducing page abandonment.

After analyzing millions of page views, Google found that users are 24% less likely to abandon a page when the site meets the Core Web Vitals threshold.

You can find and fix any user experience issues on your site by running Google’s Core Web Vitals Report.

Title Tags

Title tags (also known as Meta Titles) are HTML elements that provide a concise and accurate description of the content on a webpage.

They appear in search engines as page titles, making them important for usability as well as SEO. An optimized title tag can go a long way toward improving the visibility of your website in search results.

They essentially help search engines understand what the page is about, allowing them to index and rank it accordingly.

Your title tag doesn’t need to be the same as the <H1> title of your actual blog post. For example, it could be shorter, or more click-worthy.

When adding a new post or page to WordPress, you can set a custom title tag in the editor. If you have Yoast installed, you can simply enter your Title Tag into the “SEO Title” box in the Yoast section below your content.

Make sure to include the main keyword you want to rank for in the tag. You should also keep it under 60 characters and make it as descriptive as possible without being too long or complex.

Meta Descriptions

Meta descriptions are brief summaries of content that appear beneath titles in search engine listings.

This is an opportunity for you to add additional information about your page’s content or write something that will encourage people to click through to your website.

Your meta description should:

  • Include your focus keyword
  • Describe what your content is about
  • Be under 155 characters

Content Quality

Publishing well-written, original content will give you the edge against your competitors.

It’s important to use H2 and H3 headers throughout your content. This helps break up the content, making it easier to read from a user’s perspective. Headers also give page crawlers a better idea of what your content is about, so it can be ranked appropriately.

Once you’ve written your content, you can use a content optimization tool like Surfer, Clearscope, or Dashword, to highlight any keywords missing from your content, grade your readability, and show you what you need to do to outrank your competitors.

Site Architecture

By organizing your content and linking it to other related topics, you will build topical authority while ensuring that search engines and users can easily navigate your site.

Take the time to visualize a plan that includes your home page at the top of the list, followed by all other main pages in your menu.

Diagram of WordPress site architecture for on-page SEO

If your blog covers a wide variety of topics, consider breaking them into specific categories. This will assist users in finding the information they need quickly and easily.

Internal Linking


Link Whisper banner

Internal linking involves linking between different on your website to other relevant pieces of content. This has a few benefits.

Firstly, it helps create hierarchies among pages and makes it easier for visitors to find related content as they browse your site. This not only encourages visitors to stay longer and explore more of your site but also helps boost search engine rankings due to an increase in user engagement.

It also makes it easier for search engines to crawl and understand the relationship between different pages on your site. This can maximize your website’s ranking in SERPs, leading to more organic traffic.

The easiest way to manage your internal links is by using Link Whisper. With Link Whisper you can build an internal link strategy quickly:

Check out the Niche Pursuits internal links case study to see how internal linking increased both traffic and rankings without any content updates or external link building!

Image Optimization

Image optimization includes decreasing file sizes while still maintaining quality, properly tagging images with captions and alt-text descriptions (for accessibility), and following best practices for image title tags — all of which help with SEO!

Site Speed

Improving site speed is essential for providing a great user experience as well as increasing visibility on SERPs, as fast-loading websites tend to rank higher than slower ones!

Choosing a fast, lightweight theme is one of the best things you can do to increase your site speed.


Security might not seem like a priority when it comes to SEO. However, if your site is not secure, you are risking getting penalized by search engines, which could have a negative impact on your traffic.

Thankfully, if your site isn’t already secure, this is an easy fix that you should be able to do with your hosting provider. Make sure you’re using HTTPS/SSL encryption on your site. This will ensure that your visitors’ data remains private and secure as it passes between server and browser.

This will improve trust levels among customers and translate into better SEO performance since crawling behavior changes depending on whether websites are secure or not.

Off-Page SEO Elements

Off-page SEO is a little different. Since these off-page SEO strategies involve building links and mentions to your site from other sources, you won’t always have control over everything like you do with on-page SEO benefits.

That being said, off-page SEO is just as important as on-page SEO and shouldn’t be overlooked.

You can start working on these off-page SEO strategies as soon as the key pages on your site are ready and you have some content worth sharing.


Backlinks are the most important component of off-page SEO. This is because they are a signal to search engines that other sites consider your content trustworthy and useful.

When it comes to building backlinks to your site, quality is far more important than quantity, so you don’t want just any old backlinks. Ideally, you should be aiming for backlinks from high-authority sites in your niche with a low spam score.

You can get backlinks by:

  • Guest-posting on other sites
  • Responding to HARO queries
  • Become an authority in your niche by publishing original research and content that other sites will want to link to
  • Using an agency to build backlinks for you


Online mentions on blogs, articles, forums, and other websites, help to make customers aware of your presence and can potentially draw attention to your product or services.

Mentions can also help you build trust and credibility with customers as it shows them that you are widely recognized across different platforms. This also helps to improve your visibility in search engine results, pushing you up the rankings ladder.

Social Media

One of the first things you should do after setting up your website it to claim your social media handles and set up accounts for those you plan to use. You can include your website’s URL in your bio, which can give you additional backlinks to your website, and help to build trust with search engines.

Social media also helps to drive traffic to your website, and by engaging with customers through social media channels such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, you get the opportunity to target a wide range of potential customers based on their interests.

Google Business

Google Business is a great free tool that you should be taking advantage of for your off-page SEO.

With a Google Business listing, businesses can showcase their products and services, resulting in increased engagement with potential customers. It also helps businesses rank higher in search engines, increasing visibility, and organic traffic.

Having a visible presence on Google through a business listing helps builds trust with users too, and allows businesses to interact directly with customers by responding to reviews, hosting virtual events, or providing special offers.

Start by creating a free Google Business Profile and filling in the key information about your business. 

On-Page SEO vs Off-Page SEO: Which is More Important? 

The simple answer here is that both on-page and off-page SEO are equally important. 

They both need to be used together if you want to see results.

What to Do First? 

As soon as your site is up and running, you should start working on your on-page SEO. Although on-page and off-page SEO are equally important, it doesn’t make sense to start building backlinks if you don’t have quality content and pages to link to.

Once your site is ready, you can start working on your off-page SEO to increase your authority and boost your rankings.

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