On-Page vs Off-Page SEO: What Is More Important?

by Nedim Talovic · Updated 14 Jul 2021

Don’t know about you, but I’m really annoyed with On-Page SEO.

Let me explain why.

If you search for on-page seo at UpWork (probably the most popular website for freelancers) you’ll see a large number of job offers. Basically, you’ll see something like this.

First offer:

UpWork On-Page SEO Offer

Second offer:

UpWork On-Page SEO Offer

Third offer:

UpWork On-Page SEO Offer 3

I wonder how they make their websites? Do they simply create a website and then start to think about On-Page SEO? If that’s the case then we are talking about horrible practice.

Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure they are following that practice since there is no increase in their search traffic.

They probably think that, after creating some changes on the website, their search traffic will increase. Well, it won’t and that’s a fact.

Here is why.

Website Speed

Personally, site speed is one of the most important things for me when I develop a new website. However, I do this primarily because of my visitors, not the search engines.

If you take a look at Backlinko analysis, you’ll see that websites whose average page load speed is near to 2 seconds rank better.

Average Page Load Speed

It makes perfect sense. Internet users want to read websites and blogs that are enormously fast.

But on the other hand, if you make your website to be among fastest in the world, nothing will happen.

Why?

Because your competitors’ websites are fast enough to decline you that leverage.

You can use tools like Pingdom to check both yours and your competitors’ website speed. For example, let’s compare Kissmetrics and Mixpanel. Here are Kissmetrics benchmarks.

Kissmetrics

and here are MixPanel.

MixPanel

Notice that MixPanel has a better performance grade and it’s even faster for 1 second.

What does it mean in Google’s eyes?

Not so much, according to traffic metrics from SimilarWeb.

Kissmetrics vs MixPanel

As you can see, Kissmetrics ranks much better on Google. 65.08% of their traffic comes from Search. They have 1.69 million visitors every month.

On the other side, Mixpanel gets “only” 288,860 visits per month and 13.13% of their traffic comes from search.

Bottom line - speed time is great for user experience but it’s not something that will make the leverage. Links will. But let’s not jump to conclusions just yet.

SSL

Google announced that you should migrate to HTTPS protocol.

Again, many people start to think that migration to HTTPS will boost their rankings. Same story as website speed. You migrated to HTTPS protocol so did top ranked websites.

Can you outrank them with installed SSL?

No, you can’t. Don’t get me wrong, you might see some small improvements, but not as nearly enough as you would like to.

You need SSL because of security, not because it’s Google ranking factor.

Creating 301 redirects is a must-have. Otherwise, you’ll have a duplicate content. Note that it’s possible to lose rankings for a few weeks.

SSL Migration

Their rankings returned eventually, but it took a while. Of course, this doesn’t happen to every migration, but you need to be careful.

My suggestion is to migrate on HTTPS in your bad months. Bad months?

For instance, fitness blogs shouldn’t migrate on HTTPS in the spring because their organic traffic will be increased in March, April and May. People are preparing themselves for the summer.

Extra tip: Check your internal links.

What Should I Do?

I don’t want to say that On-Page SEO is not important. It is, but not as much as most folks on UpWork think.

You need to focus on Off-Page SEO. When we say Off-page SEO here’s what we think about:

  • Link building
  • Brand authority
  • Content promotion

Producing great content and acquiring new backlinks will skyrocket your SEO. Let’s see how to acquire backlinks using Ahrefs.

I’ll use broken link building tactic, although there are many other ways. Step #1: Explore popular website

In this step, I’ll explore socialmediaexaminer.com and here is how.

Open Site Explorer, write the domain and hit Explore.

Site Explorer

In the menu choose Outgoing Links - Broken links.

Outgoing Links

After you get the list of backlinks, you need to filter them. Almost every website contains nofollow links in its comments and we want to avoid that. Now, click on Link type and choose Dofollow.

Broken Links

Voilà! I got the list of broken pages and now I have to find something interesting to me.

I’ve been scrolling until I found that there is a page called Twitter Landing Page.

Twitter Landing Page

Step #2: Use Web Archive We need to see what used to be on this page.

Open Internet Archive and browse the history.

Web Archive

It’s funny that some people are wondering why would someone browse old pages.

Now you know why! I’ll return to 2012 to check what this page was about.

Twitter Landing Page Screenshot

Now I know what was there.

Step #3: Create something similar & outreach

The next step is to create something similar and even better - modern. I won’t talk about this, but let’s just say that when you complete the task, you’ll need to outreach websites who linked this page.

Firstly, you can outreach the website where you have found this opportunity - socialmediaexaminer.com.

Then, you can reach out other 12 domains that have dofollow backlinks to this broken page.

This is a template you can use:

Hey [Insert name], I was browsing the Internet and I just found that you’re linking to non-existing page here: [Insert the link to the page] It’s not good for your visitors because it adds no value. I thought you are interested in replacing this page and because of that I’d like to share with you this article: [Insert the link to your article] If you think it’s worth adding, please let me know. Best, [Insert your name]

Some percentage of people will link to you because you’re making their content better. It’s simply a game of numbers.

Furthermore, you can find pages that have at least 50 referring domains. In my example, there are only 12 referring domains but it’s just for testing purposes. I was researching only for like two minutes or so.

Extra tip: Use follow-ups. Never, and I mean never, send only one email.

Conclusion

On-Page SEO matters a lot, but Off-Page SEO is much more important. I’ve worked with a client who says that he had optimized his On-Page SEO but the truth is that he didn’t have even <h1> tag.

Don’t let this happens to you. I strongly suggest you to optimize your page and analyze it in tools like HubSpot Grader and Readability Test Tool.

After that, just move on and focus on Off-Page SEO. There are so many ways of getting new backlinks.

Firstly, you need to outreach a lot of people but later, when you get an initial traction, things will become easier.

For instance, guest blogging is a great way. Create three articles, send them to 10 blogs and wait for a couple of days. If they accept your blog post - great! If not, no big deal - move on. Find another 10 blogs, and then another 10.

Keep repeating the process until you succeed. It’s as simple as that.

Never forget: SEO IS A GAME OF NUMBERS. Lesson: SEO is becoming harder and harder and without links, it's highly unlikely that you won’t rank for targeted keywords.