I just had a post from someone who was trying to get Google’s attention. He had purchased SEOPressor and had invested a good amount of time and effort using it to optimize his web page. Understandably, he hoped to see a significant improvement in traffic to his website.
What he did not understand was why that traffic had yet to show up. The specific question he asked, however, showed that he was sort of on the right track. “What’s more effective, off-page or on-page optimization?”
I say sort of on the right track because while this particular visitor to my site sensed that he may have overlooked something, he was making the classic mistake of playing either/or. Either his on-page optimization efforts were worth his time, or they weren’t, right?
Actually, that’s not right. As a matter of fact, both kinds of optimization are effective and therefore important, but it depends on what you’re trying to do.
Google Wants to Rank Your Webpage Properly – You Should Help Them
The whole point of a Google search is to allow users to find web pages which are most pertinent to the keyword or keyword phrase they choose. These searches are accomplished through the use of a mathematical formula that looks at the content of your web page in addition to many off-page factors.
If you hope to have any influence as to how Google ranks your pages, you should be spending your time optimizing both on and off of your web page. The reason my blog visitor wasn’t receiving new traffic on his website was not because he put his effort into optimizing his page; it was because he didn’t finish the job by optimizing off of his page.
Both kinds of optimization are important, but not equally important. On-page optimization affects about 20% of your Google ranking, while off-page strategies are responsible for about 80% of your position on the search page.
Off-Page Optimization; The Company You Keep
Without delving into the inner workings of the Google algorithm, I can conclude some things simply by experience. The most important of these conclusions is that Google judges you by the company you keep.
In part, this means that Google looks at the sites you link to, which you can usually control. Google also judges you by the sites that link to you, however, and sometimes webmasters don’t take control of that.
For instance, if you have a website for beagle owners, you’ll probably want to have a backlink from a site like the American Kennel Club or a few reputable veterinarians. However, if you have two or three backlinks from sites like EdsBeagleFactory.com or PsychicPet.nz, that won’t help your Google rating one bit.
Whether your website is intended to sell vacation homes, compare car insurance quotes, or serve as a platform for the literate members of the Oakland Raiders fan club, you need to take your off-page optimization seriously if you want to rank well for the more competitive keywords. With regard to the question of how much time you should put into off-page optimization, about 80% of your optimizing should be off-page.
The remaining 20%, which should be spent directly on your page, should not be ignored, however.
On-Page Optimization; The Friends You Want to Attract
Your Google ranking is affected by two very large factors; backlinks and site traffic. While backlinks do account for an insane percentage of your page position, you can’t afford to neglect your site traffic, and consequently you’ll need to attend to your on-page optimization as well. After all, Google needs a good starting point in order to evaluate your content, and that starting point is on your webpage.
The first area you should look at when optimizing your webpage is the beginning of your article. Your target keyword should be in the title of your article, and should also figure somewhere in the first or second paragraph.
That opening paragraph should also be able to stand on its own as a description of the page content. That’s a very hard thing to do, particularly if you were trained to sell real estate for a living and have never taken a journalism class. However, if you can pull it off, that will help both Google draw the right kind of visitors to your web page.
The meta description is the other important area to concentrate on, as it will have the same effect as a properly written first paragraph. It will tell Google which keywords to focus on, and it will also tell your site visitors about the information they can expect to find on your page.
An example of a well-written meta description for a home improvement site might be; “Simple and practical painting, carpentry, plumbing and electrical projects for the average do-it-yourselfer, complete with project lists, tips and step-by-step photos.” This provides a more complete description of the web page than could be easily accomplished in the first paragraph.
With your keywords and page description sorted out, you only have one more task to complete to make your page a great place for web traffic to park. You need to offer your visitors some quality content.
If you know your subject well, can make yourself understood, and have some new and useful information to pass on to your site visitors, you have all the ingredients you need for quality content.
More importantly, a well-written article will naturally offer more of the less competitive, long-tailed keywords which will attract more traffic to your site.
The Complete Attention Grab; Both Kinds of Optimization
Back to our original question; is on-page or off-page optimizing more effective? They’re both very effective when used for the right purposes.
On-page optimizing brings traffic to your site and will give Google something to work with when ranking your web page. Off-page optimizing will create the kind of quality backlinks that will boost your page’s Google rating for the more competitive, general keywords.
Ignoring one type of optimization in favor of another will prove to be an exercise in frustration. Whether you’re trying to improve a site that sells jewelry, offers free online auto insurance quotes, or keeps fans up-to-date on Sponge Bob’s latest escapades, attending to your on-page and off-page optimizing is the only sensible way to survive in the Google jungle.
These are my thoughts, anyway… how about yours? There is plenty of room in the comment box below for thoughtful feedback.