How Keyword Research Is Considered Part of Off-Page and On-Page SEO

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When it comes to SEO, there is a lot of debate about what techniques fall under which category. For example, some people argue that keyword research is a part of on-page optimization, while others say it falls under off-page. So, what is the answer?

Keyword research is one of the most important, and also one of the most confusing, aspects of SEO. On the surface, it seems like it would be a simple matter of choosing the right keywords and then including them in your content. However, there is a lot more to it than that. In order to truly optimize your website for search engines, you need to understand both on-page and off-page SEO.

In this episode, I'll explain both on-page and off-page SEO and how keyword research is a key part of both.

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Read the Full Transcript

Atiba de Souza: So I got this question recently and I want to answer it for everyone today. Is keyword research off-page or on-page SEO?

Hey, everybody! Welcome to Traffic Keys. I am your host, Atiba. And today we're gonna be diving into this question about keyword research. Is it considered on-page or off-page SEO? But before we dive into that answer directly, let's talk about what keyword research really is all about.

And I want you to pay attention here because don't skip this part. I'm going to give you probably a slightly different definition of keyword research than what you're used to. Okay? Because traditionally people say keyword research is, you know, figuring out what keywords you want to rank for, and whereas that is true, it's also incomplete.

It's a very incomplete answer. Okay? Because it's not just about figuring out, "Oh, what keywords do you wanna rank for?" It's about asking this question. What is the intent of the searcher? And what intent do I want that searcher to have when they're searching for this keyword to know that it is a relevant keyword to me.

For example, if someone did a search about elephants and they wanted to know the lifespan of elephants, well, that person could be just looking that up because they're writing a book report. Could be a kid writing a book report, but you are selling some elephant conservation thing. 

I'm making this up right now, right? Well, then the lifespan of elephants, although it sounds like it could be a relevant keyword, the intent of someone searching for that keyword wouldn't match you, and it wouldn't say that the person who is searching for that keyword actually is looking for what you do.

And so that's one of the very most important things of keyword research that people overlook. It's not just about getting this big old list of keywords and saying, "Hey, let's just go rank for all of this stuff." That's not the point, because if that kid who's searching for information for their book report happens upon your website talking about elephant conservation and that's not what they were looking for, then they'll leave your website very quickly and Google doesn't care. 

Google looks and sees, "Okay, people are bouncing away from your website. They don't wanna learn about elephants from you." Well, it's not that people don't wanna learn about elephants from you. It's about that subset of people, of those keywords that you chose don't wanna learn about elephants from you.

So yes, keyword research is about keywords that you want to rank your content for, but it goes further and includes the intent of the searcher. You must ensure that you consider: who's searching, why are they searching, and what are they searching for? What information do they want to provide? What provided to them?

What's going to answer their question? And if that's the information that you are providing, then yeah, it's a great keyword for you. If not, then no, it's not a great keyword for you and you need to pass. So that's keyword research. So now, let's dive into this whole thing of on-page versus off-page. And based on what I've said so far, you're probably going to be leaning towards on-page SEO.

And that's what most people would say. Most people would say, keyword research is in on-page SEO and that answer is correct, but also incomplete. 

So honestly, a theme here, a trend here today, it's not that it's wrong. Absolutely, keyword research is on-page SEO. Because you're doing that research, you're trying to figure out intent so that you can create content on your website, on-page that will rank and answer the questions that your audience has. But it's also off-page SEO. Because once you start to really get into link building, once you start to really understand the art and the science of link building, on the science side of link building, there is the reality that every link has what's called an anchor text. Anchor text. And the anchor text is the text that's actually in the link, the words that are actually in the link.

So a lot of times you see links and they say, "Click here." Well, click here doesn't tell the reader, and it also doesn't tell Google very much. However, if it said, "Click here to learn more about elephant facts", or in your case cuz you do an elephant conservation, "Click here to learn more about elephant conservation." Well, that's a much better piece of anchor text than just click here. Read more is another one that we see a lot. You see those things, although they work as back links, absolutely, you can do keyword research to figure out what's the best text that needs to be in this link for that link to have the most — strength is the word I will use and value to the search engine.

So that the search engine understands why it wants to follow that link and what it expects to find when it gets there. So when a relevant website has a link to your website using a relevant term as the link in the anchor text, that is a solid back link. And that my friends, is what you want to have as much as possible.

Now, can you always control it? Absolutely not because a lot of times people build links to your pages and you have no control over it. But there are times when you do have some control. There are times when you can even suggest what the links should say, and those are the times when you want to. Now, keyword research on-page or off-page SEO?

Yeah, it's both. Sure, 99% of the times it's on-page SEO, but there is a sliver of time when it can be used in off-page SEO. Now, we've been talking a lot about intent today, and if it's your first time hearing intent and you're probably wondering, "Hey, how do I figure out intent?" Well, we've actually have a tool that will help you with that.

It's a playbook that will help you with that. And if you'd like that playbook, then do me a favor, go to That's We've got a link for it down below as well, and it's on the screen. But go to That will take you to my LinkedIn. Drop me a message. Connect with me on LinkedIn. Send me a message on LinkedIn.

Let's chat. I would love to send you that playbook over if on intent, if that's something that you need. All right, everybody! Once again, it's great to be here and I'll see you soon. Bye-bye.

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