Advanced SEO Issue: On-site or Off-site Optimization?

When you get an SEO Strategy Report from us, it includes both suggestions for on-site optimization — which is to say, stuff you can do at your website, or have your webmaster do, to improve your results — and off-site optimization, which is the online marketing that can be done elsewhere on the web. The two go together like cereal and milk, and usually, it’s wise to do both. The cereal and milk experience isn’t the same without both elements, and you can say the same for online marketing.

But there are times when one really is more important than the other.

Take the two sites I’m working on right now.

One is a local business with little competition for search. Their current site isn’t doing its job for them, and they aren’t ranking as well as they should for a lot of searches. But their competitors’ sites also aren’t optimized for search. Once the client has a good, well-optimized site up, I’m confident that they’ll surge right ahead of their competition. In fact, our proposal for them doesn’t even include off-site optimization. We’ll be happy to do it for them if they want it, but I think they’ll get the results they want without much further effort. Google will look around for something to show their customers, see their great new site, and offer it right up with a sigh of relief at finally having something good to offer.

The other site is in a big city, in a highly competitive field. The search engines, receiving a request for their keywords, have dozens of well-optimized sites to pick from. They have to look further to determine which site to present first.

Here’s where off-site optimization is most essential. The search engines will consider the number and quality of links each site has in deciding which one to serve up. Certainly, the site has to be very well optimized, or it has no chance of good rankings. But once that’s done, off-site work should be the priority.

So when you’re planning where to put your budget for ongoing online marketing, be sure to consider the competitive environment your website lives in online. It makes a difference.

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