Technical SEO vs On-page SEO: The Key Differences

Written by Priyanka Kumari | Feb 22, 2024
Technical SEO vs On-page SEO: The Key Differences

The debate of technical SEO vs on-page SEO can be confusing sometimes. As an SEO expert with five years of experience, I’ve learned one crucial truth: technical SEO and on-page SEO are not competitors, but inseparable allies.

Optimizing for both creates a powerful synergy that propels your content to the top of search results. Neglecting either one is like building a house with a shaky foundation – it might stand, but it won’t weather the storm.

Let’s differentiate these two terms. Both are vital for Google ranking your website higher in search results, but they handle different aspects of the SEO game. Think of them as teammates working toward the same goal: getting your website noticed by Google and other search engines.

What is Technical SEO?

Technical SEO means optimizing your website’s infrastructure to enhance its visibility and accessibility to search engine crawlers. It involves a meticulous approach to ensure that your site is well-equipped to meet all criteria set by search engine algorithms. The goal is to make it easier for search engines to crawl, index, and understand the content on a site.

Key Aspects of Technical SEO Includes

1. Website Speed Optimization

Did you know that 40% of users abandon a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load? Google prioritizes fast-loading sites, considering user experience a key ranking factor.

It provides a better user experience, and search engines are more likely to rank them higher. Utilize tools like Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool identifies areas for improvement, like optimizing images and minifying code. 

2. Mobile-friendliness 

Over  50% of global web traffic comes from mobile devices. Google prioritizes mobile-first indexing means your site’s mobile version takes precedence in search rankings, so a responsive website design is mandatory.

Validate your site’s mobile-friendliness using the Lighthouse tool recommended by Google because As of December 2023, the Mobile Friendly Test tool and the Mobile Usability report have been retired.

3. Crawlability and Indexing

Search engines use automated bots (crawlers) to navigate and index web pages. Proper indexing ensures that search engines can effectively crawl and index your site’s content. Use tools like Google Search Console to monitor crawl errors, submit sitemaps, and analyze index coverage to identify and resolve indexing issues promptly.

4. Site Architecture

A well-organized site structure with clear navigation helps both users and search engines find content easily. This involves creating a logical hierarchy of pages and using internal linking effectively.

5. HTTPS and Security

Google rewards sites with HTTPS (SSL/TLS) is a ranking factor. Migrate your site to HTTPS to ensure data integrity and user trust while adhering to Google’s preference for secure connections. A secure website protects user data and enhances trust.

6. Structured Data Markup

Adding structured data (schema markup) to your pages provides additional context to search engines about the content on your site. This can result in rich snippets in search results, providing more information to users. Google Search Central offers detailed guidelines and tools for structured data implementation.

7. Canonicalization

Canonical tags help prevent duplicate content issues. They indicate which version of a page is preferred. This is important to avoid diluting the SEO value across multiple versions of similar content.

8. Robots.txt and Meta Robots Tags

These tools allow website owners to control which parts of their site search engines can crawl and index. They are useful for excluding irrelevant or sensitive content from search engine results.

9. XML Sitemap

Creating and submitting an XML sitemap to search engines helps them understand the structure of your site and prioritize indexing of important pages. Submit your sitemap to Google Search Console to ensure complete indexing.

Best Free and Google-Recommended Tools to Optimize Technical SEO

Google doesn’t directly rely on scores from third-party SEO tools for ranking decisions. However, while Google Search Console (GSC) and Lighthouse is a fantastic resource for technical SEO analysis, stating it’s the one and only best practice isn’t entirely accurate.

1. Google Search Console (GSC): Your Official Data Hub

Pros: Free, official Google tool, comprehensive SEO insights like crawling errors, mobile-friendliness issues, core web vitals, indexing status.

Cons: Lacks deeper analyses like backlink profiles and competitor comparisons.

2. Google Lighthouse: Dive Deeper into Performance

Pros: Free, Google-developed tool, detailed performance audits including speed, accessibility, mobile-friendliness test, SEO best practices.

Cons: Primarily focused on performance, not broader SEO strategy.

3. Schema Markup Generator: Enhance Rich Snippets

Pros: Free, Google-supported tool, creates structured data markup for rich snippets, potentially improving search visibility.

Cons: Requires understanding specific schema types, can be technical for beginners.

What is On-Page SEO?

On-Page SEO refers to optimizing individual web pages to improve their visibility and rankings in search engine results. It focuses on optimizing elements directly on the web page itself. The goal is to make the content more relevant, accessible, and understandable for both users and search engines.

Key Aspects of On-Page SEO

1. Keyword Research

Start by conducting thorough keyword research to identify high-traffic, low-competition keywords relevant to your niche. Tools like Google Keyword Planner and SEMrush provide valuable insights into search volume, competition, and keyword trends.

2. Keyword Optimization

Identify and target relevant keywords that users are likely to search for. Integrate these keywords naturally into the page’s content, including the title, headings, and body text.

3. Meta Tags

Craft compelling title tags and meta descriptions that accurately reflect your content while enticing users to click through. Incorporate primary keywords naturally and maintain relevance to improve CTR and SERP visibility.

4. Header Tags

Use header tags to break down your content and improve readability. The H1 tag typically represents the main heading, followed by H2, H3, and so on, to organize subheadings and content hierarchy. 

5. Optimized URL Structure

Maintain a clean and organized URL structure that reflects your site hierarchy and content hierarchy. Descriptive, keyword-rich URLs not only improve user experience but also enhance search engine crawlers’ understanding of your content. Avoid using complex or lengthy URLs that may confuse both users and search engines.

6. Image Optimization

Optimize images by using descriptive filenames, alt text, and appropriate image sizes to improve accessibility and enhance visual appeal. Compress images to reduce load times without compromising quality. WebP format images can offer smaller file sizes than JPG or PNG while maintaining quality.

7. Internal Linking

Link to relevant web pages within your website. Internal links help search engines navigate and understand the structure of your site, and they also contribute to distributing authority across your pages.

8. High-Quality Content

Content is the king in SEO. Provide valuable, unique, and well-written content that addresses the needs and interests of your target audience. High-quality content is more likely to be shared and linked to, contributing to improved search rankings. Aim for long-form content that thoroughly covers topics while incorporating relevant keywords and semantic variations.

Technical SEO vs On-Page SEO Differences

Feature Technical SEO On-page SEO
Focus Website infrastructure & accessibility Content
Goal Make website crawlable & indexable by search engines Make content relevant & engaging for users and search engines
Elements Optimized
  • Website speed & mobile-friendliness
  • Site structure & navigation
  • Robots.txt & Sitemap
  • Structured data
  • Security & HTTPS
  • Page titles & descriptions
  • Headings & subheadings
  • Keyword research & usage
  • Content quality & relevance
  • Images & multimedia optimization
  • Internal linking & anchor text
Tools & Techniques
  • Screaming Frog
  • Google Search Console
  • Page speed tools
  • Mobile responsive testing platforms
  • Robots.txt editor & schema generators
  • Keyword research tools
  • SEO plugins (Yoast, RankMath, and etc.)
  • Image optimization tools
  • Internal linking analysis tools
Relationship Technical SEO forms the base for effective on-page SEO On-page SEO builds upon a solid technical foundation

Technical SEO Vs On Page SEO: How They Work Together

Technical SEO ensures search engines can access and understand your content, laying the groundwork for ranking potential on the other hand On-page SEO makes your content relevant, informative, and user-friendly, signaling to search engines that it’s valuable for user queries.

Together, they create a powerful one-two punch that increases your chances of ranking higher and attracting organic traffic.


Understanding the differences between Technical SEO and On-Page SEO is vital. For a holistic SEO strategy, it’s imperative to combine the strengths of both. While Technical SEO ensures your site is technically sound, On-Page SEO enhances the content’s relevance and user appeal.

Striking the right balance between the technical foundation and user-centric content is the key to a robust and effective SEO strategy. As you navigate the evolving landscape of digital optimization, keep in mind that a harmonious blend of Technical SEO and On-Page SEO is the recipe for success.