Not too long ago, a visitor to my blog posted the question: “What’s more effective, off-page or on-page optimization?” He had just finished optimizing his webpage using SEOPressor, and was understandably annoyed that the expected increase in traffic had failed to appear.
Unfortunately, the most definitive answer I have to his question is – it depends.
If you want to increase your site traffic by ranking well for lots of less competitive, long-tailed keywords, then on-page optimization is your best bet. If you are choosing to improve your ranking in the Google search results for shorter, more competitive keywords, then you should optimize off-page.
If you simply want a healthy and profitable website, then you need to engage in both kinds of optimization.
Google Ranks Pages Based on Content, not Sales Pitches.
Google uses a mathematical formula to rank your webpage based on its relevance to a particular user. That formula uses information found both off your page and on it, which explains why both on-page and off-page optimization are important.
The off-page information that Google looks for is the number of people or reputable sites that have found your web page useful and have linked back to it. The on-page information they look for consists of navigation aids like well-placed keywords and article descriptions, as well as quality content.
Both kinds of information are important, and therefore both on-page and off-page optimization are important, but they are not equally important. It’s been said that on-page optimization only influences about 20% of your Google search page ranking, while the other 80% of that ranking is influenced by off-page optimization.
That piece of information should tell you where the bulk of your efforts should be applied.
Off-Page Optimizing: Choose Your Friends Carefully
Long before the folks at Google publicly confirmed this, I and a few other internet marketers were already aware of it; Google takes a lot of stock in other people’s opinions. Those other people, by the way are the webmasters, bloggers and researchers who choose to link to your site.
Google keeps track of who links to you and determines the quality of your site based on the quality of those backlinks. For instance, if your website sells high-end cookware and you have backlinks from sites like BetterHomesandGardens.com or CooksIllustrated.com, than you’ll be ranked fairly well based on those sites.
However, if that same site has a few backlinks to BubbaJakesRoadkillCuisine.com or VegansforMao.au, you may find your site being punished because of the association with lower quality websites. Guilt by association isn’t necessarily fair, but you need to keep in mind that this is how the internet works.
Consequently, whether your website sells one of a kind children’s clothing, offers free online car insurance quotes or acts as a resource for geocaching in Kentucky, it’s important to pay attention to off-page optimization. This will ensure that you’re keeping good company, and enable your site to rank well for the highly competitive keywords.
On-Page Optimization: The Principal of Low-Lying Fruit
Although off-page optimization will influence the lion’s share of your Google ranking, you can’t afford to ignore your on-page optimizing, either. When deciding where to place your page in terms of a search for a particular keyword or keyword phrase, Google will look in three areas on your webpage:
– The title
– The first or second paragraph
– The meta description
The title of your article should contain your primary keyword or keyword phrase. This should be a natural result of matching the keyword phrase to the content of your article. If you’ve targeted a keyword phrase which doesn’t seem to fit in your title, perhaps you should re-think your approach to the topic.
That keyword or keyword phrase should also be in your first or second paragraph. One of these paragraphs should also contain a concise but detailed description of the article.
This is simply a more stringent standard than the one set by your fourth grade teacher when he or she taught you to write an introductory paragraph for a term paper.
The meta description gives you a second, more targeted area in which to provide a detailed article description to your potential readers. Because this description will often appear as a blurb under your site name on the Google search results page, it will not only affect where Google places you, but it will directly affect the amount of traffic on your site.
While directing more traffic to your site will not immediately result in stratospheric Google rankings, it will bring other, more direct benefits. Direct site traffic is referred to as low hanging fruit, because it’s easy to gather and, while it represents only a small portion of the whole crop, it is certainly enough to live on.
One final way to bring in this fruit is remarkably simple and therefore is often overlooked; simply provide your readers with quality content. If you purposely write informative, understandable information which is meant to be read by humans and not just analyzed by a search engine, your webpage will naturally contain many long-tailed keywords which are less competitive and easier to rank well for.
Tying Up The Package
A well-written webpage which has been properly optimized on-page may not rank particularly well for the shorter, more competitive keywords, but it will rank better for the longer tailed, less competitive keyword phrases.
If you want to – and you should want to – help your page rank well for the shorter, more competitive keywords, your off-page optimization will be far more effective for that task.
Whether your site helps folks compare auto insurance quotes or provides them with a comprehensive index of every film Kevin Bacon has been in, the same rules will apply for improving your search engine rankings. Both on-page and off-page optimization is necessary to keep your webpage visible and visitor-friendly.
That’s one man’s opinion, anyway. I’d be interested in hearing yours. Please share your thoughts in the comment box below.
Jason Monroe is one of the young guns in affiliate marketing loving life in his mid-twenties with all the luxuries that come from being single. But even this young gun knows how to get serious when it comes to affiliate marketing, a career that was born from his innate tendency to be a research hound.