What is the difference between front-end and back-end optimization?

Google’s search engine algorithm and SEO recommendations are always evolving. In turn, digital marketers must evolve to meet Google’s requirements. Many people believe that Search Engine Optimization is simply stuffing keywords onto a web page and having functional navigation. In reality, effective optimization involves much more than keywords: it requires equal attention to on-page (front-end) and technical (back-end) elements of a website.

What is the difference between front-end and back-end optimization?

Back-end Optimization

Technical, back-end or off-page optimization allows search engines to better understand the purpose of your website. Technical components cannot be seen by a user. They can only be seen by search engines, crawlers, and bots. These components allow bots to better understand, crawl and index your site. These bots help search engines understand the intentions of your website. If search engines and bots are unable to Interpret the back-end of your website it doesn’t even matter what the front-end of your website looks like. The back-end of a website can act as a roadmap for search engine bots. This roadmap informs search engines and robots of your company’s purpose and priorities. It also gives directions to where the different categories, products, and or images are located. There are many different items to address to enhance such roadmap. Below are a few examples to help with off-page optimization:

  • Ensure there are no sitemap errors
  • Ensure there are no console errors
  • Robots.txt file allows all necessary pages to be viewed by search engines
  • Meta information – can be seen by users but is for search engines to understand the basics of what’s on the page
    • Title Tags – A rich title that gives a description of what’s on a page. This is seen within search engine results pages
    • Meta Descriptions – A paragraph that gives a summary of a page that is also seen on a search engine results page
    • Alt Tags – allow robots to know the subject matter of an image and or video
  • Add Structured data so that search engines can generate featured snippets or rich information on results pages
Technical SEO Flow Chart

This flow chart demonstrates the several factors of technical, or back-end SEO.

Obtaining a clean, concise, and strong back-end of a website is crucial for search engines to understand the who, what, where, and why of a website. Knowing its importance for optimization is necessary for the success of your website. Here are just a few tools that can be used to ensure this happens.

  • Search Console – Provides information on errors detected by Google’s bot. Sitemap errors are easily noticed in this tool as well.
  • SEMrush – An audit tool that flags anything that does not meet Google’s guidelines.
  • GTMetrix – Analyzes site speed and overall webpage performance

It is imperative to keep a close eye on Back-end adjustments. Often times things break, algorithms change, or adjustments don’t work as planned. The back-end of the website is usually misconstrued as less important than the front-end of the website because the user interacts with the front-end. This is not true. In order for a web page or a website to be seen by a user, it needs to be seen and analyzed by a robot and ranked by a search engine. Back-end, or off-page optimization, is important to generate success from front-end, or on-page, optimization. They work together to make a website perform and to be viewed as best they can be.

Front-end Optimization

On-page optimizations are adjustments that can be made to the front-end of the website, allowing users as well as bots to understand your website. On-page components can be seen by both the users and bots, whereas technical adjustments are just seen by bots. On-page optimizations may take more time than back-end optimization. It is necessary to pay attention to each individual page on your website. There are essentially more components that can be optimized for SEO on-page than in the back end. On-page involves copy, design, navigation, and more. There are some items that can be adjusted on page sitewide and other items that can be adjusted on just an individual page. Below are some examples to help with front-end optimization:

  • Copy expansion and saturation – content that is rich in information and keywords
  • Rich headings – include keywords and overall information in the headings of web pages
  • URL structure – clean and informative URLs are needed for backend bots and users
  • Responsive design – Google recommends a design that is both desktop and mobile friendly
  • Site speed – a fast website retains more users and leads to more transaction


On page SEO example article

This photo demonstrates several examples of variables to consider with On-Page or Front-End SEO

While both front and back end optimization are equally important, we must learn how to disperse our efforts towards both. Stay tuned for future articles on the art of balancing on-page and off-page SEO.

Contact Ecreativeworks for more Optimization Understanding Today

The optimization of a website is an extensive process, not something that happens overnight. It is a digital marketing strategy to enhance a website’s viewability, usability, and hopefully, lead to business leads and growth. Optimizing both the front and the back-end is crucial for the success and growth of your website. Contact Ecreativeworks for more information or assistance in optimizing your website for both search engines and users.

Written by Kelly Bergeron: Digital Marketing Specialist at Ecreativeworks

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