Having internet presence can be considered as a necessity for businesses these days as customers are now spending more time and making transactions online. Because of this, SEO or search engine optimization is no longer limited to companies who sell products online. SEO is the process of affecting the visibility of a website on a search engine’s search result’s page in hopes of attracting (qualified) customers to their site.
For small and medium businesses new to SEO, there are basically two approaches on how a website can be optimized to establish authority on search engines.
On-page optimization involves tweaking the elements found within your website in order to allow the search engines to better see and record them to their servers. Search engines such as Google and Bing use crawlers or bots to browse the web and build a database of web pages using information gathered by these software robots which it later uses to help users find a specific piece of information.
What on-page optimization does is to make the content of a website more presentable and readable to these crawlers. The optimization process involves several components of a site including its copy or content, the code in which the site is written and data markers that identify certain sections of a website.
A search engine’s algorithm defines the criteria on how these site components should be written and organized in order for the page or site to rank high on the search results. This algorithm changes over time as search engines constantly update the formula in order to keep providing users the most relevant results for their queries and at the same time to thwart any attempts to trick the engine to favor certain sites.
Examples of good on-page optimization (or white hat techniques) includes the proper construction of meta-titles and H1 tags, proper tagging of images and anchor texts, and an optimized code that makes the site load faster. On the other hand, examples of bad on-page SEO (or black hat techniques) include keyword stuffing, hidden texts and scraping (or mirroring) of a popular site’s content.
On the other hand, off-page optimization involves activities done outside your website. This may include any form of link building activities as well as social media efforts. Part of the search engine’s algorithm in determining site authority relates to how a website links to other websites. It’s basically like networking in a party, but instead of connecting with people, off-page optimization connects websites and pages.
Just like in the real world, the number and quality of your connection determines how popular you are in a party. Websites that have links to authoritative websites have higher chances of ranking better than those that are connected to lower ranking sites and blogs.
Websites who also act as authority in certain topics also have a tendency to be better optimized than others. This is because their authoritative content means they are always referenced by other sites and pages who talk about that topic allowing them to build links easier than less influential ones.
White hat off-page optimization techniques are relatively difficult to define as there are practices that lay in gray areas. Those techniques that are known to be black hat strategies include link farming, paid links, hidden links and social network spamming.