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On-Site SEO or Off-Site SEO–What Should Your Business Be Doing to Get Noticed?

The Hatfields ceased battling the McCoys nearly a century ago, King Kong didn’t really mix it up with Godzilla , and the war between on-site and off-site SEO has not left so many bodies in the field that they cannot co-exist.  The truth is, on-site SEO and off-site SEO are forever linked, joined at the hip, and you cannot have one without the other.  However, search engine results this year are pointing to an overall champ in terms of importance and SEO page rank.  Check it out!

Relevance and How to Get It

First of all, this debate of on-site versus off-site search engine optimization practices has raged and will rage on, with “expert” opinion on the matter being as numerous as noses on people.  Everyone has one.

One thing we know is that to court the likes of the Google eye in the sky, your site must be relevant.  So how do we define that?

Let’s make it very elementary.  Sites are relevant that get lots of clicks, meaning that many people find the site interesting.  This drives up forwarding, tweeting, and otherwise propagating the URL in cyberspace, meaning more people find it and more people click, the perfect upward activity spiral.  The cherry on top is that those clicks are interpreted as popularity—relevance—by search engines, which then push the page higher and higher in search returns for that page’s keywords.  This leads to, you guessed it, more clicks and more relevance.

But how do you get to that utopian state as a website owner?  Google has defined things like quality score for Adwords users that compares search terms with link-thru content, among other things.  The reality is, this just means you have good optimized page content relative to your keywords in your Google Ad.  This illustrates a key point:

On-site and off-site SEO practices should support each other in harmony to generate the best possible results.

There are plenty of things online you cannot control:

  • The whims of Google
  • Your competitors
  • The price of Adwords
  • World events
  • Acts of God

By focusing on the on-site and off-site activities you can control, you exert greater influence on your website’s relevance and SEO future.

What You Can Control On-Site

On-site SEO control is all about site content and keywords.  The quality of your site content, translated as its value to a viewer, needs to be keyword rich without being artificial, and the site needs to be as search-engine friendly as you can make it  Plenty of tactics that you can focus on include…

  • Meta tags, titles and descriptions
  • Heading tags
  • Body content
  • Alt tags for graphics
  • XML site maps
  • Anchor text links
  • Keyword research and placement

What You Can Control Off-Site

Off-site SEO actions that lie within your control are all about proactive backlink strategies.  There are plenty of other sites who will link to your site, especially if you have a great blog.  They can be of high Google page rank (PR) or worthless in the eyes of online search relevance.  What you can do is actively seek to get your content placed on high-PR sites using article marketing, video placement, and directory listings.  You can also blog comment on sites with similar or supportive subject matter as your site and backlink your comment as allowed.  If your page is about SEO in San Diego, your link will work well in southern California blogs as well as internet marketing sites.  Simple.

You can also use automated tools to leave links back to your site, but buyer beware.  Many of these tools are poor to total crap, leaving non-sensical gibberish on irrelevant sites with a zero (0) PR.  They won’t stay up long and if they do, likely hurt your relevance more than help it.  Great links from great sites influence the major search engines that your site is meaningful, and influence readers to follow and click-thru to your page, and your back on that wonderful spiral staircase again.

Who Wins in 2012?

There is more informational content that goes online every single year than there has been since the dawn of recorded history.  Consequently, there are MANY sites that provide great value with excellent writing and SEO content.

So which sites are more relevant to Google and the other bigs?

It stands to reason that the tiebreaker is site popularity, clicks from the outside world and links from other sites with superior PR.  That means off-site SEO is growing in prominence to determine search ranking, a notion supported by industry analysts.  But there is a contrarian rub, so read on.

The SEO Victor That Makes the Difference

I started this piece saying that SEO nirvana is a combination of great on-site and off-site techniques.  But we know that content quality, on-site SEO, will be the overall determinant of how long a page stays relevant, because if the page content sucks and provides no value, people will stop visiting it.  The better the content and experience for the user, especially with social media as the vehicle for hitting a tipping point of popularity, the more concrete, long-term SEO juice a page will receive, and as the spiral goes, get to and stay on page 1 returns for longer.

So what am I saying here?  Off-site SEO and popularity are determining the search engine placement of your site more than ever.  It’s the only thing Google, Bing and Yahoo have to distinguish the millions of like-quality sites.  But it’s your on-site page content, going the extra mile with high-value experiences for your visitors, that will drive your ultimate off-page popularity and ranking.

So the strategy is easy.  Put your absolute best page together that you can, all the while pursuing a quality link-building strategy off-site to precipitate your rise in the rankings, and then remain there forever as your reputation among readers, and the major search engines, grows in word-of-mouth and SEO juice.

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