Onsite Versus Offsite: Identifying the Type of Content Your Business Needs
In a world where content remains king, when it comes to SEO there are two primary types of content at the core of most successful strategies: onsite and offsite. According to the Content Marketing Institute, in 2017’s study, 72% of B2C marketers stated that higher quality content creation contributed to increased success, while 53% attributed success to improved content distribution. With content clearly acting as a driver for better business performance, it can be difficult to determine which type of content is right for you and your business.
While both onsite and offsite content have their merits, and both are incredibly important for a healthy SEO strategy, they have different benefits. So how can you determine the best content approach for you and your business?
Before an offsite content strategy is even considered, your onsite content needs to be addressed. Onsite content refers to all content on your website – be that guides, help pages, how-to pages or FAQs. Without content on your website, there is no website and no reason for users to stick around. But what are the benefits of a solid onsite content strategy?
- Crawlable, Indexable Pages – Not only are onsite guides and detailed pages useful for users, providing informative content, they also provide content for Google’s robots to crawl and pages to link to. Without content, not only would a user have no reason to visit your site, your whole SEO strategy would be pointless, as there would be nothing for search engines to index.
- Keyword Optimisation – One of the major benefits of onsite content is the ability to optimise your copy to target specific keywords relevant to your business and your audience. A good onsite strategy allows you to increase the relevance of the pages on your site by optimising for specific keywords off the back of keyword research in order to target your customers from the searches they’re already making.
- Communication With Customers – Beyond being a tool to help you rank on search engines, informative and useful content on your site which is relevant to your audience can be a great tool to aid conversion and enhance your brand image. Getting a user onto your site is half the battle – answering their question from a place of authority and linking internally to related content or commercial pages can be a great way to drive users to convert.
Often the aspect of content marketing that first comes to mind, offsite content is content created for the purpose of link building in order to improve your website’s DA and, as a result, your page ranking. While creating linkworthy content is no mean feat, with 65% of marketers in agreement that link building is the most difficult marketing tactic to perform (Advanced Web Ranking, SEO stats report 2017), this content is also expected by customers. According to the 2017 Meaningful Brands survey, 84% of people expect brands to provide content that entertains, tells stories, provides solutions, and creates experiences and events. So what benefits can you expect from great offsite content?
- An improved Domain Authority (DA) & page rankings – Perhaps the most obvious reason to employ an offsite content strategy is for the SEO benefits. Creating content worthy of high authority links will in turn improve your website’s DA and page ranking. It’s important to remember here that content that achieves this will not be heavily branded – the focus is on remaining newsworthy in order to achieve follow links.
- Referral Traffic – A secondary benefit of newsworthy content can also be seen in the referral traffic driven. While not the primary aim, placing content on popular publications’ sites can introduce your brand to users who may not have heard of you otherwise and drive new visitors onsite.
- Brand & Reputation Building – Great offsite content is made successful by a great PR strategy. Placing coverage on, and earning links from, major outlets is a great way to get your brand out there. By creating relevant, but not branded, content you can position your brand as an authoritative voice on appropriate topics, helping the public to see you as a trusted expert in the field.
Identifying The Right Content Strategy For You
Understanding the benefits of both strategies is only part of the battle. Of course, we would all like to reap the rewards of both by implementing a full strategy, however this is not always immediately practical. If you need to select one to begin with, you need to assess your goals and the current infrastructure of your website. While it can be tempting to jump straight into the ‘fun bit’ of creating large scale research projects visualised in stunning images and data visualisations, if the content of your actual website is particularly thin this is probably not the best approach.
When to Use Onsite Content
Where You Are – Your website has a basic infrastructure, but little additional content.
Your Goal – You want to drive more users onsite, targeted for your specific business focus. You want to rank for strategic keyword terms for your industry, but haven’t targeted them yet.
Solution – If the above sounds like your business, onsite content is the logical next step. As mentioned previously, content pages onsite are the basic building blocks of any website. Without these, there is nothing for search engines to index, and with no content there are no pages to help you rank in the SERPs.
If your website is thin, there is little point in you diving into offsite content as it’s unlikely this will rank and if you do, it’s likely you will see a particularly high bounce rate as users won’t stick around.
When to use Offsite Content
Where You Are – You’ve nailed content onsite, now you’re looking for the competitive edge.
Your Goal – You want to improve your DA and page rankings and are also interested in increasing brand awareness and authority.
Solution – A good onsite content strategy is key to improving your DA and page rankings. The additional benefits, mentioned earlier, from gaining coverage in high authority publications also mean that awareness of your brand will increase which is a great way to build a new audience or broaden your current one.
When it comes to offsite content it’s important to always consider that you’re creating this content to appeal to a journalist or a user – not as a branded piece for your website. It’s key to not get too hung up on ensuring the content looks exactly like your site, as branded pieces will often be called out by journalists for looking too much like an advertorial. This in turn can prevent you earning links and coverage.
The Next Steps
Once you’ve established which content strategy you want to employ, it’s good to follow best practice steps in order to ensure the content you create is as effective as possible. We’ve pulled together some criteria to help you produce successful content below:
Good Onsite Content Criteria
When looking to pull together your onsite strategy, it’s important to ensure these boxes are checked.
- Is the copy keyword optimised? A keyword research task should always take place first to help you identify which keywords you want to target; these should then be used in the copy you produce.
- Is any content duplicated? While it can be tempting to fill out your site with similar pages, duplicate content is penalised and will not help your SEO strategy in the long run.
- Is the content well written and relevant? This may seem obvious, but take the time to ensure any content is written well and relevant to the brand. Also, it’s key here to make sure that keywords have been used in an effective way, rather than just placed randomly throughout the copy.
- Is the content user focused? Good onsite content should focus on the questions users are asking and help guide them through their purchase journey. When used accurately, onsite content can be great not only for SEO but also as a conversion tool.
Good Offsite Content Criteria
According to a study by Venngage, in 2017 67% of marketers rated infographics, charts and data visualisation as the most engaging type of visual content. However, these are not the only types available, and creating graphics on just any topic will be unlikely to result in a successful link building campaign. Some key factors to consider are:
- Is the piece brand relevant but not branded? I may sound like a broken record, but while brand relevancy is important, it’s key to not go too far down the branded route.
- Is the content newsworthy? Again, this may sound obvious, but linkworthy content needs to be newsworthy. What are the hooks of your story? Is this a question people are asking? Can you imagine reading the story?
- Is the content evergreen? It’s never a good idea to tie your content down to one time of the year or one event if possible. The key is creating content that keeps on giving, by making a piece that can be outreached again and again at relevant times.
- Do journalists have a clear reason to link back? While your story may be fascinating and journalists may take the press release and write the story up, without a clear reason to link back you may end up with a lot of mentions that don’t hold the SEO value you were looking for. User-led experiences, such as interactive tools, or use of first party data to be referenced are great ways of encouraging a link back to the site.
- Is the data you used unique? While a fun, listicle style graphic may seem like a great idea, it’s also very easy to rip-off as the data is widely available in this form online. Using unique data can prevent this and encourage journalists to include that all-important link. To read more about the importance of unique data, and how to produce it, you can check out our previous post on this here.
So, how do you know which form of content to use?
As we’ve discussed, the choice of which content strategy essentially boils down to your business aims and needs. It’s important to understand the difference between the different types of content and when to use both to ensure your content strategy is effective.
In summary, the key things to remember are:
- Onsite content is vital to any SEO strategy – start here and follow with the offsite strategy once this has been successfully implemented.
- When it comes to offsite content, don’t get too caught on branding.
- No matter which content strategy you employ, knowing your audience and your product is key. Be this for effective keyword optimisation within your onsite content or to target the most relevant publications with your offsite content.
By Pete Reis-Campbell - 19/09/2018