OnPage vs. OffPage SEO: differences and priorities

Veröffentlicht: 21. December 2020

What you will learn

  • What is meant by OnPage SEO
  • What is meant by OffPage SEO
  • Where the difference between the two disciplines lies
  • What you should focus on

A frequently asked question in connection with an SEO strategy is: What is more important? OffPage SEO or OnPage SEO? As is so often the case in life, the answer lies in the middle.

A holistic SEO concept requires targeted measures from both areas. So it is not OnPage vs OffPage, but OnPage and OffPage.

Nevertheless, it is important to know the difference between OffPage SEO and OnPage SEO, not least to know which area you should focus on.

Onpage measures and offpage measures have very different approaches, but they are united in their goal, namely a good ranking for the respective website. Offpage SEO is more than just backlinks and onpage SEO is more than just content creation.

In the following, we would like to introduce you to the most important differences between the two SEO variants. The Google algorithm is still a mystery to many in the online marketing sector. But if you know the most important measures of on-page SEO and off-page SEO, then the probability increases that you will optimally use the ranking factors to secure your own website a place in the Google Top 10!

What is OnPage SEO?

As the name suggests, on-page SEO primarily concerns the content that can be found directly on the page. It is about structuring the content and the general structure of the website in such a way that the search engine recognizes it as useful for the user’s search query.

The search engine algorithm is much more sophisticated than in the early years and is therefore better able to recognize whether the content of a website corresponds to the quality of what the user is looking for. The days of an infinite number of keywords on a website are (fortunately) over.

The content of a website must therefore be structured in such a way that a combination of optimization of the content for the user and optimization for search engines takes place.

Put simply, this means providing useful & high-quality content and giving the search engines the best possible support so that they can evaluate and interpret your website in the best possible way.

Content is king

Search engine optimization is not an end in itself. SEO is intended to ensure that meaningful and good content goes where it belongs. If the content of a website is of poor quality, you may be able to get this website into the top 10 for a short time with targeted search engine optimization, but no user will spend more than a few seconds on the website.

The rankings are then over just as quickly. It is therefore always important to create qualitatively appealing content first and then subject it to on-page optimization in the next step.


The non plus ultra of the early years of onpage optimization. It was not uncommon to come across websites that placed keywords in every free space. In the past few days, we have sometimes come across content that consisted solely of keywords and was therefore basically useless for the user.

Those days are over because the search engine algorithm has evolved and can see through such cheap on-page SEO tricks.

Nevertheless, keywords are still an important factor in the creation of content and should be used to an appropriate extent.

If you don’t use SEO tools that tell you the keyword density, then always remember “content is king”! So only use as many keywords as are still legible for the user.

Title Tag

The title tag is the title of a webpage and is of great importance for onpage optimization, as this heading also appears on the SERP. The title tag should be short and sweet, so choose your words wisely.

Meta Description

The meta description is the short description that appears under the URL of a website. This should also be relatively concise and should be positively differentiated from the other meta descriptions on the SERP. The targeted placement of keywords is also important here.

URL structure

The URL structure is doubly relevant. On the one hand, a good URL structure helps users to find their way around the website without any problems. The same applies to the search engine.

They can find their way around an optimized URL structure much better and can therefore verify much faster whether the content of a website is relevant for the user or not.

The term Pillar Pages can also be found in the URL structure. “Pillar pages are pages that are filled with particularly frequently searched content. This pillar page is then of particular importance for internal linking. The URL structure is adapted so that the internal linking of all other pages always leads back to the pillar page.

As already discussed in connection with the Pillar Page, the internal linking of a website is an important factor for the ranking. This makes navigation easier for the search engine and the user.

In principle, you should always use internal links if they provide the user with added value at this point. Incidentally, this also applies to external links (even if many bloggers are afraid of linking…).

Breadcrump Navigation

Just as with internal linking, this is primarily about navigation on a website. There are three basic forms of breadcrumb navigation:

  • Hierarchy-Based: Shows how many steps you are away from the homepage. For example “Home > Guide > OnPage SEO > Technical SEO”
  • History-Based: Organized according to the activities on the page – Home > Name of the previous page > Name of the current page
  • Attribute-Based: Filtered by specific attributes, often found on e-commerce sites

Page Performance

The previous factors focused primarily on the structure and quality of the content on the website. Another aspect of on-page optimization is the performance of the website. Nothing is more annoying than a slow website!

Poor website performance causes the bounce rate to skyrocket and results in a lower search engine rating.

If you are doing on-page optimization today, you must not only think about the web browser, but also pay much more attention to the mobile view. If you want to check out a website quickly, you usually do it on your cell phone. From 2021, Google also wants to switch completely to mobile first indexing, so a responsive website is mandatory!

There are many more details in the OnPage area, you can find out more about OnPage SEO here.


OnPage: All measures on the page

This includes the content, structure and technology of your website

What is OffPage Optimization?

Off-page SEO refers to all measures that take place “outside” your own website. Off-page optimization focuses on fewer measures than on-page optimization, but is still an important factor in giving your website the necessary ranking boost.

Simply put, the aim here is to make your own site known on the Internet. The most common method for this is to get as many links as possible from external sites.

You can not only gain new visitors by linking to other websites. A link is also seen by most search engines as a kind of “recommendation”. So basically a positive signal!

Link building is the focus of off-page optimization. Here, however, it is no longer about collecting as many backlinks as possible, but similar to the keywords, the same applies here: Quality before quantity.

Backlinks do not include internal links, but links from other websites. Off-page SEO now generally relies on organic link building, for which the following measures can be useful, for example:

  • Guest posts in relevant blogs / magazines
  • Mention in publications
  • Podcasts or social media events
  • Journalistic publications

But be careful, there are also some backlinks that you should definitely avoid. This includes, for example, links from dubious spam sites. You should also avoid classic link farms or PBNs. At best, these links won’t do you any good; at worst, you’ll be penalized.

Domain Authority, Trust Flow & Co.

If you have been dealing with the topic of SEO for a while, you have probably already come across terms such as “domain authority” or “domain rating”. What is it all about?

Basically, these values are nothing more than a relative assessment of the link profile of a website. A value between 0 and 100 is usually assigned to express how “strong” or “good” the link profile (number and quality of backlinks) of a domain is.

However, these values have a catch: they were created by external parties such as Moz or Ahrefs and do not come directly from Google. The Alphabet subsidiary is not interested in these values either. In my opinion, this is often forgotten.

So are these values useless? Not at all, they can certainly be used as a rough comparison value between websites. However, one should not become too fixated on these values and should not overestimate them.

Rating portals & social media

Review platforms such as Yelp, or business directories such as the Yellow Pages: They also play a role in on-page SEO.

The extent to which social media profiles and reach play a role in the ranking of a website is controversial. Indirectly, however, you will definitely benefit from a strong social media presence. The better known your brand/website is, the more often it is searched for, the more often it is clicked on and the more often it is linked to.


OffPage: All measures outside the website

The primary goal is to make your website known. This includes link building in particular and brand building in general.

OnPage vs. OffPage SEO – Which is more important?

You have now learned how OnPage / OffPage SEO differs and what is meant by the two terms. But what is more important? What should you focus on?

Both areas are important. In my opinion, anyone who claims that you can achieve high rankings purely through on-page SEO is only telling half the truth. At least in competitive niches, you won’t get very far without strong backlinks.

However, many search engines have also been trying for years to pay less attention to the link profile of a website. It is therefore definitely the wrong approach to rely solely on off-page SEO.

If I had to divide the effort for OnPage / OffPage SEO, I would choose a 70 – 30 ratio. 70% OnPage, and 30% OffPage. Focus primarily on your content, user-friendliness and the flawless technology of your site. Once you have created this basis, help with qualitative backlinks!


Focus first on on-page measures, then on off-page SEO

There is no point in marketing your content if it is of inferior quality. Focus primarily on the quality of your website, and only then on marketing!

Hannes Kaltofen

Hannes Kaltofen

Gründer & Geschäftsführer

Seit über 7 Jahren in den SERPs unterwegs. Dank SEO konnte Ich das Affiliate Marketing, Blogging und Agenturgeschäft kennelernen und helfe Unternehmen tagtäglich bei ihrer Sichtbarkeit.

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