Even as recently as a few short years ago, the process of search engine optimization with regards to your online presence was simple -- you would pick the keywords that you hoped would attract the most business and focus on those in everything you posted online.
If you ran a dentist office in Cleveland, Ohio, and wanted to increase your search engine traffic, you would make sure that keywords like "dentist office" and "Cleveland" appeared in just about everything you posted. It's a strategy that worked incredibly well for businesses across all industries since the early days of the Internet.
However, the game has changed in recent years. Search engines like Google are no longer solely concerned with how many times a keyword appears, but rather favor topic-based content, in-depth linked content and how you've proven yourself to be a trustworthy source of information that people can depend on.
Online and offline SEO are two ways to accomplish this, but utilizing them properly requires you to understand how they're similar, how they're different and how to optimize them.
What is Online SEO?
Online SEO is any action you take that directly contributes to the search rankings of your own website. When you update your site in any way, post a new piece of content or highlight a new product or service, this is an example of online SEO in action.
What is Offline SEO?
As the name suggests, offline SEO doesn't take place on your website and actually may not even take place on the Internet at all. Offline SEO (also referred to as offsite SEO) is defined as any tactic you conduct outside of your website to drive traffic back to your site.
If you post a blog about recent advancements in your industry to your own business' website, that would be an example of online SEO. If you post a blog about industry advancements as a “guest contributor" to a popular industry blog and that guest blog is linked to your website, that would be an example of offline SEO.
Inbound links can make a huge impact on offline SEO. These natural links from relevant websites act as a vote of confidence that search engines should trust your website and see it as authoritative.
Another example of offline SEO is throwing an event in your business' physical location that ties in your website, such as allowing attendees to download a free coupon or take advantage of some other mixed media promotion. You're suddenly increasing the flow of traffic to your website, making an impact on your search rankings at the same time.
🔎Related: 13 SEO Myths, Busted!
How to Do Online and Offline Search Engine Optimization
Search engine optimization (SEO) is never a one-and-done tactic. It’s a continual and consistent process involving many tactics. It’s website design, development, content, links, offsite influencers and more.
The best approach to SEO is strategic and holistic. It should be seen as an ongoing strategic process that’s part of your digital marketing program and tied to company goals and ROI.
Here are some of the best SEO tactics used today:
Online SEO Tactics
- Produce consistent, high-quality content that shows search engines your site is fresh and relevant.
- Use keywords and latent semantic indexing (related/topical) keywords throughout the copy to help search engines understand your content as a topic and theme.
- Incorporate keywords within page URLs.
- Develop title tags using primary and secondary keywords.
- Write meta descriptions that are unique and entice click-through rate; the better the click-through rate, the better for SEO.
- Develop your website with one H1 per page, using that page’s focus keyword.
- Use keywords in alt tags and image file names, as search engines “see” images by reading the alt tags and file names.
- Hyperlink SEO-friendly text when linking to internal web pages.
- Code pages for mobile so search engines recognize the mobile-friendly version.
Offline SEO Tactics
- Get backlinks with high-quality content. When other sites link to your site, this increases your authority with the search engines.
- Submit articles to industry directories or resource sites.
- Build relationships with influencers and ask them to share your blog and link to your blog. Return the favor by doing the same for their content.
- Contribute content on other high-authority sites as a guest author with a link back to your site.
- Engage in social media to help drive traffic to your site.
- Create an offsite traffic and promotion strategy that consistently and proactively drives traffic to your site.