Feb 2, 2024

The Different Types of SEO

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) includes On-Page, Off-Page, and Technical SEO.

The Different Types of SEO

The Different Types of SEO - A Brief Overview

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a set of techniques to improve how your website ranks on search engines like Google. The goal is to be as close as possible to the first result of the search engine result page (commonly called a SERP, but I’ll call it “results page”) when someone searches keywords that relate to your products or services.

SEO is a form of internet marketing and it encompasses a laundry list of details from content creation to security. However, the general idea is to strike a balance between accommodating both people and search engines. The better the search engine algorithm the more these two aims overlap.

The vast majority of searches are with Google, so focus on Google if you are trying to get more traffic[1]. Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about whether to prioritize your website’s visitors or Google’s algorithm. Google focuses on providing search results that offer a good user experience[2].

So, you’ll be on the right track if you focus on making a website that your customers will find useful and convenient. Understanding how Google determines what makes a good user experience can be greatly aided by familiarizing yourself with its ranking criteria, as detailed in our article, Understanding Google’s 200+ Ranking Factors, which aligns perfectly with this approach.

Here, we focus on the mechanics of Google search because of its popularity.

Search Engine Basics

Anytime you do a Google search, the algorithm retrieves websites that have already been indexed. It is a misconception that Google’s algorithm actually scours the entire internet at the time when your search occurs. Instead, websites are crawled and indexed beforehand. Then the results are ranked and retrieved when someone searches[3].

Before Search - Web Crawling and Indexing

The first step is web crawling. This is when the search engine visits a set of pages to collect data[4]. The part of the search engine that does the web crawling is sometimes called a spider or search engine bot. The information gathered by the web crawler gets indexed, which basically means it has been stored in a database. Google’s algorithm will filter through the index when you make a query.

After Search - Ranking and Retrieval

Once the information is indexed, the algorithm ranks results based on how well your web page fits their query along with the quality of your page[4].

When you do SEO, you want to make your website easy for web crawlers to find and index.

Why SEO is Important

The value of SEO is simple. You want potential clients or customers to find your website easily whenever they seek out the products or services you offer. You want to be seen before your competitors.

Phrased another way, SEO is a marketing technique to increase your website traffic. Increasing traffic can help businesses manage their reputation (because a company website is customized to the business), increase brand awareness, and ultimately convert more leads to sales. This latter benefit is especially pertinent because most product searches start online[5].

The ultimate outcome of your SEO efforts is the position you rank on a search engine results page. The order your site shows up on search results makes a significant difference in the likelihood that someone will click on your website. Most clicks will be to the first three organic results (definition: organic result - hasn’t been promoted via an ad). Very few people will normally venture to page two of results; they stay on page one[6].

And because Google cares about user experience, your SEO efforts are also about improving the quality of your website and holistically improving your marketing efforts.

Main Subtypes of SEO

SEO can be divided up into three categories: technical, on-page, and off-page.

Technical SEO

Technical SEO refers to improving the technical parts like the code of your website[7]. Much of the focus is on web design and the makings of a quality website rather than the actual content. Making sure your site loads quickly and works on mobile devices is an example of technical SEO. It also involves structuring your website so it is comprehensible to a search engine’s web crawler.

Examples of Technical SEO

  • Organizing your website pages and navigation so pages easily internally link to each other[8].
  • Accommodating web crawlers by performing audits to make sure your website is crawlable and indexable[8]
  • Providing google with an XML sitemap[7]
  • Making your site secure[9]
  • Making sure your pages load quickly[8]
  • Adding a noindex tag to duplicate or similar pages[8]
  • Making your website work well on mobile[8]

On-page SEO

On-page SEO is when you optimize the actual content on the website (think “copy” or the writing on a website). It has a lot of overlap with technical SEO because it also focuses on internal linking[9].

Examples of On-page SEO

  • Keyword research[9]
  • Writing quality articles that answer the questions related to the keywords your customers are searching[10]
  • Using keywords in the right places such as alt tags, H1 tags, meta titles and descriptions[9]
  • Optimizing your images for SEO

Off-page SEO

Off-page SEO is the activities you do to improve search engine rankings that aren’t on your site[11]. When you place your website link on another person’s site (link building) that’s an example of off-page SEO[12].

Examples of Off-page SEO

  • Link Building[12]
  • Networking with influencers[12]
  • Marketing on social media to link back to your website[11]
  • Doing guest posts for other sites[13]

Is SEM (Search Engine Marketing) the same thing as SEO?

SEO is a subcategory of Search Engine Marketing (SEM). Search engine marketing is composed of both SEO and pay per click (PPC). SEO is about making unpaid (organic) results rank high on search results. In contrast, Pay per click is about ranking high in paid search results[14]. As a part of PPC, one bids for keywords so that your ad is shown when someone searches that keyword[14].

Special Types of SEO for Small Business

Local SEO

For many small businesses, your focus is going to be on local search results. As the name implies, local search is for when people are trying to find products or services in their local area. Typically users are searching for businesses that have brick-and-mortar locations or who offer in person services.

With local SEO, you’ll perform the same tasks you would do for general SEO (technical, on-page, and off-page). You’ll also work with Google My Business, write local content, and make location pages[15]. Location pages assist users in finding the location of the nearest branch of your business when they search for your industry and city[16].

SEO for E-commerce

E-commerce SEO is about optimizing SEO on product and product category pages for online stores. You’ll do things like discovering popular keywords for your products by using Amazon Suggest[17].


[1] “Search Engine Market Share in 2023 [Jun ’23 Update] | Oberlo.” Accessed: Jul. 29, 2023. [Online]. Available: https://www.oberlo.com/statistics/search-engine-market-share

[2] C. Interactive, “SEO vs User Experience: What Does Google Care About?” Accessed: Sep. 25, 2023. [Online]. Available: https://www.commonplaces.com/blog/seo-vs-user-experience-what-does-google-care-about

[3] “SEO 101: What is it, and why is it important? The Beginner’s Guide to SEO,” Moz. Accessed: Sep. 22, 2023. [Online]. Available: https://moz.com/beginners-guide-to-seo/why-search-engine-marketing-is-necessary

[4] “How Search Engines Work: Crawling, Indexing, and Ranking - Beginner’s Guide to SEO,” Moz. Accessed: Sep. 22, 2023. [Online]. Available: https://moz.com/beginners-guide-to-seo/how-search-engines-operate

[5] “87% of shoppers now begin product searches online,” Retail Dive. Accessed: Sep. 22, 2023. [Online]. Available: https://www.retaildive.com/news/87-of-shoppers-now-begin-product-searches-online/530139/

[6] E. Bailyn, “Google Click-Through Rates (CTRs) by Ranking Position in 2023,” First Page Sage. Accessed: Sep. 19, 2023. [Online]. Available: https://firstpagesage.com/seo-blog/google-click-through-rates-ctrs-by-ranking-position/

[7] “What Is Technical SEO? Basics and 10 Best Practices,” Semrush Blog. Accessed: Jul. 28, 2023. [Online]. Available: https://www.semrush.com/blog/technical-seo/

[8] “Technical SEO: The Definitive Guide,” Backlinko. Accessed: Sep. 25, 2023. [Online]. Available: https://backlinko.com/technical-seo-guide

[9] J. Owen, “The Difference Between Technical Seo, On-page Seo, And Off-page Seo,” Click Intelligence. Accessed: Sep. 25, 2023. [Online]. Available: https://www.clickintelligence.co.uk/difference-between-technical-seo-on-page-seo-and-off-page-seo/

[10] “A Complete Guide to On-Page SEO [Updated for 2023].” Accessed: Sep. 18, 2023. [Online]. Available: https://careerfoundry.com/en/blog/digital-marketing/on-page-seo/

[11] J. Hughes, “Off-Page SEO Checklist: 10 Tactics to Rank Higher in 2023,” Themeisle Blog. Accessed: Sep. 25, 2023. [Online]. Available: https://themeisle.com/blog/off-page-seo-checklist-wordpress/

[12] “Off-Page SEO: What It Is & Why You Need It [+a Helpful Checklist].” Accessed: Sep. 25, 2023. [Online]. Available: https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/off-page-seo

[13] “6 off-page SEO strategies for small businesses worth implementing.” Accessed: Sep. 18, 2023. [Online]. Available: https://keap.com/business-success-blog/marketing/seo/6-off-page-seo-strategies-for-small-businesses-worth-implementing

[14] “SEO vs. SEM: What’s The Difference?,” Backlinko. Accessed: Sep. 25, 2023. [Online]. Available: https://backlinko.com/hub/seo/seo-vs-sem

[15] “A Comprehensive Guide to Local SEO in 2023.” Accessed: Sep. 25, 2023. [Online]. Available: https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/local-seo

[16] E. Brady, “How to Craft Unique and Helpful Location Pages,” BrightLocal. Accessed: Sep. 25, 2023. [Online]. Available: https://www.brightlocal.com/learn/local-seo/local-search-optimization/location-pages/

[17] “Ecommerce SEO: The Definitive Guide [2023],” Backlinko. Accessed: Sep. 26, 2023. [Online]. Available: https://backlinko.com/ecommerce-seo

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