Technical SEO vs On-Page SEO: What’s the Difference?

What’s the difference between technical SEO vs on-page SEO?

Well, this post has the answer.

More importantly, we’ll explore if one is better than the other, as well as common practices to improve both.

It’s true: Both of these are super important if you want higher rankings and more organic traffic.

And we’ll break it down in simple terms to help you dominate your niche.

Let’s jump in.

Technical SEO vs On-Page SEO: What’s the Difference?

Technical SEO and on-page SEO are two components of Search Engine Optimization, which aim to improve website rankings in search results.

It’s difficult to completely separate these components of SEO. The goal of both is the same – to optimize a website to help its content rank higher.

However, there are some differences between technical SEO and on-page SEO.

Technical SEO helps search engines crawl and index content in the most efficient way possible. This is based on the technical aspects of a website, such as site architecture and URL structure.

On-page SEO helps search engines understand what the content is about and improves user experience. This is done by optimizing things like title tags, internal links, and content quality.

An effective SEO strategy shouldn’t neglect one over the other. Both are important.

However, if you have an issue with technical SEO, it can stop your site from ranking altogether, no matter how well you optimize for on-page SEO.

The rest of this post will provide more details about technical and on-page SEO, and how you can start improving both today.

What Is Technical SEO?

Technical SEO is the optimization of technical elements of a web page.

These technical elements include:

  • Crawling and indexing pages
  • Site architecture
  • URL structure
  • XML sitemaps
  • Pagespeed
  • And more

To simplify technical SEO, we can think about the way Google looks at a web page.

When Google’s search engine spiders (bots) crawl the web, they aren’t looking at web pages the way humans do.

They’re looking at the code that makes up the page.

Why?

Because this code provides much more information than what humans see on the page.

This is why a lot of technical optimization is done on the backend because it changes things on a source code level.

Why Technical SEO is Important for Your Website

Technical SEO is important because if there’s an issue with your site, Google won’t be able to index the pages.

This can have a huge impact on your rankings and traffic and even stop rankings altogether.

You could have world-class content and perfect on-page SEO, but, if there’s a technical issue, it won’t matter.

In this sense, technical SEO is more important than on-page SEO. However, once technical SEO is working well, it doesn’t require much attention.

On-page SEO, on the other hand, needs continual tweaking and attention.

More on this later.

To know if you need to improve technical SEO, you can perform a site audit. This will find potential issues that could be harming your site’s performance.

Site audits are performed with SEO auditing tools such as SEMRush, Ahrefs, and Screaming Frog.

After you’ve carried out an audit, you’ll have a list of items that might need to be addressed.

You’ll then fix these issues one by one to get your site running at its best.

Key Elements of Technical SEO

Technical SEO isn’t so technical when you know what to look out for. These are the most important elements to pay attention to.

Crawlability

For search engines to find your site and index its pages, crawlability is essential. This comes down to how accessible your pages are.

The first thing you can do to improve crawlability is to add internal links between pages.

Internal links help search engine bots move from one page to another.

If you have a blog with a lot of content, this can be a daunting task. This is where Link Whisper can save you a lot of time and effort.

You simply look at the internal links report to find orphan pages or pages with a low number of internal links.

Then you select the link suggestions Link Whisper provides to make your site more crawlable.

Other areas that improve crawlability are navigation links:

And breadcrumbs:

URL structure

An easy-to-read and logical URL structure helps search engines and users know about the page they’re on.

If the URL structure for your blog uses ugly URLs or isn’t logical, it can be confusing for both search engines and your visitors.

To improve URL structure in WordPress, change your permalinks to something simple. Like this:

Or this:

Site architecture

Site architecture is having an organized and structured connection between pages.

A flat site architecture works best because it keeps your pages closer together, resulting in a more efficient crawlability.

Backlinko

If your site architecture doesn’t follow an intuitive order, it can become difficult or impossible for Google to crawl or understand your site.

XML sitemap

An XML sitemap helps search engines find your posts and pages.

You can add a sitemap to Google Search Console by installing an SEO plugin such as Yoast or RankMath.

Or using an XML sitemap generator such as XML-Sitemaps.com.

If you’re using an SEO plugin, the sitemap URL is usually something like sitemap_index.xml, but check your plugin settings to make sure.

Then, head over to the sitemap screen in Search Console, paste the sitemap URL, and submit.

Now, whenever you add new content, the sitemap will update automatically and instruct Google to crawl and index the page.

Pagespeed

Pagespeed is a confirmed Google ranking factor that will have an impact on search rankings.

The reason is that a slow website makes it hard for Google to crawl pages and costs more in resources. It also gives a poor experience for the user, resulting in visitors leaving your site.

To optimize for pagespeed, compress and minimize your site’s HTML, JavaScript, and CSS.

This can be done with a WordPress plugin like WPRocket or Autoptimize.

You might also consider fast web hosting and using a CDN to serve static copies of your site in multiple locations around the world.

What Is On-Page SEO?

On-page SEO is the optimization of a website’s content to provide a good user experience for visitors.

It also helps search engines understand what the content is about and how helpful website visitors find it.

Common on-page SEO elements include:

  • Keywords
  • Internal links
  • Content
  • User experience (UX)
  • Click-through rate (CTR)

Most on-page SEO factors are different from technical SEO factors because they require attention every time you post new content.

Whereas technical SEO practices can be optimized less frequently.

To understand on-page SEO, it’s good to know how Google makes sense of content.

Google doesn’t read content the way humans do. Instead, it uses multiple AI models to understand the context and relevancy of words.

Then it analyses user signals, and off-page signals like backlinks to determine the most relevant and valuable results.

Essentially, the algorithm is trying to mimic human psychology so that the results are accurate and satisfy the user.

Why On-Page SEO is Important for Your Website

On-page SEO is important because, without optimized content, search engines will struggle to determine what it means.

You could have a great site with valuable information, but it won’t rank if on-page SEO hasn’t been considered.

The consequence of this is a lack of organic rankings, low traffic, and fewer sales.

However, the good news, is that it’s easy to start optimizing your content for on-page SEO, even if you’re on a budget.

The best way to start is by doing keyword research to find relevant content ideas in your niche.

Then post valuable content that helps the reader discover solutions to their problems.

This is content marketing in a nutshell.

When you have a good amount of content on your site, it’s important to add internal links between relevant pages.

This will also boost on-page SEO, rankings, and traffic.

Key Elements of On-Page SEO

To get all the on-page SEO benefits, here are the most common areas you’ll want to pay attention to.

Keywords research

Keyword research is the practice of identifying which terms people are searching for in your niche.

When you add relevant keywords to your content, it helps search engines understand what the content is about.

To optimize a site using keywords, you want to target each page with a primary keyword, then add other related keywords to help build context.

Moreover, creating lots of content on the same topic will boost topical relevancy and increase rankings.

Internal links

Earlier in the post, we mentioned that internal links are important for technical SEO. Well, they are also important for on-page SEO, here’s why.

From an on-page SEO point of view, adding internal links provides your readers with more valuable content to read.

This makes the experience better for the reader because they don’t need to find it elsewhere.

It also keeps visitors on your site for longer, which is a positive on-page ranking factor.

Lastly, it helps Google understand the context of your site when you interlink between related pages.

Title and description tags

Title and description tags, also known as meta tags, are essential for on-page SEO.

The main reason is that it tells Google what the page is about.

Even if your blog post or page is a little generic, a specific title and description can make all the difference.

To optimize for this, add your primary keyword near the beginning of the page title and description.

These can be customized with an SEO plugin in WordPress, like this:

Content quality

Content quality is all about providing valuable information that engages the reader.

It also satisfies the search intent, which means the content matches what the visitor searched for.

Creating high-quality content goes beyond the words on the page though. It’s also important to format the post well so that it’s easy to read.

You can add things like bullet points, sub-headings, and images to make the content more enjoyable.

User experience (UX)

User experience in on-page SEO is all about improving the way people interact with your website.

This is measured through user interaction signals such as Dwell Time and Bounce Rate.

Dwell Time is how long a person stays on your site before returning to the search results.

And Bounce Rate is the percentage of visitors who leave your site without engaging with the page.

You can improve user experience by making sure important information is visible above the fold. This will grab the visitor’s attention and keep them engaged for longer.

You can also make the content more readable by using shorter sentences and having a modern design.

Click Through Rate (CTR)

Click through rate is the percentage of clicks your site gets against the number of times it is seen in organic search results.

If your CTR is high, this can have a positive effect on organic rankings.

Even if your search result is in position 5, but gets clicked more than the 2nd position. Google will most likely bump your site up higher.

The best way to optimize for CTR is with engaging SEO titles.

Image optimization

As the speed of a website is a ranking factor, it’s vital to optimize your images.

Why?

Because images are one of the biggest culprits for slowing down pagespeed.

To make sure your site isn’t slowed down by images, first, make sure your scale them down to the right size.

If the width of your page design is 800px, but the image resolution is 1260 x 900, then you’ll waste valuable resources.

In WordPress, you can set the maximum width of uploads in the media settings.

And you can make further optimization using a plugin like Imagify.

URLs

SEO-friendly URLs help search engines know what the page is about far better than long, ugly URLs.

That’s why it’s a good practice to structure them logically.

You can set this up easily in WordPress from the Permalinks page, as mentioned above.

Common Technical SEO Issues

Here’s a quick rundown of the most common issues when it comes to technical SEO.

Ensuring these are checked periodically, will help keep your technical SEO on-point.

  • Broken internal links will prevent search engine bots from finding pages and result in crawlability issues
  • Not having HTTPS security will show a warning message in the browser, which can hurt rankings
  • Noindex tags will instruct search engines to not index a page, which stops it from showing in the results
  • Messy site structure causes crawlability issues and prevents Google from building relevance and context of your content
  • Slow site speed can prevent search engines from crawling your entire site

If you want to check these technical aspects of your site are running smoothly, run a site audit with a tool like Ahrefs.

Common On-Page SEO Issues

These are the most common on-page SEO problems people come across.

  • Content that isn’t optimized with keywords that gets search volume
  • A lack of internal links can prevent search engines from fully understanding the purpose of the content
  • Duplicate content can lower the value of your pages, as it confuses Google as to which piece to focus on
  • Duplicate title tags will make it hard for search engines to know what the pages are about
  • Thin content or pages with little content will struggle to rank, due to a lack of value
  • Missing alt tags in images stops search engines from understanding what the image is about, which can lower the value of the page

Using these as a checklist will help you develop an effective on-page SEO strategy.

FAQs

Here are some common questions people have about technical SEO vs on-page SEO.

Is technical SEO the same as on-page SEO?

Technical SEO is a type of on-page SEO. Both help improve the way search engines understand website content and determine where it should be ranked.

However, technical SEO focuses on crawlability and accessibility and on-page SEO focuses on content and user experience.

What is the difference between on-page, technical, and off-page SEO?

This article outlined the differences between technical SEO vs on-page SEO. But how are these different from off-page SEO?

Off-page SEO is everything that can be optimized outside of your website. This includes things like backlinks, social media, and testimonials.

Also read: On-Page SEO vs Off-Page SEO: What’s The Difference

Is technical SEO difficult?

Even though technical SEO sounds “technical”, it’s not as hard as it sounds. You just need to know which technical elements of your site need improvement.

You can get this information by performing a site audit. Ahrefs has a free site audit tool that provides you with a list of actions that need to be taken.

Conclusion: Technical SEO vs On-Page SEO

That concludes this guide on the differences between technical SEO vs on -page SEO.

In a nutshell, technical SEO focuses on optimizing for crawlability and indexing, whereas on-page SEO focuses on making improvements to content and user experience.

However, both of these fall under the umbrella of on-page SEO, because they are strategies performed on your website.

Moreover, there’s a lot of overlap between individual elements of both, where one can affect the other, and vice versa.

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