13 December 2006

On page or off page?

What the heck is he talking about now? One of my clients asked me to describe the difference between on-page and off-page optimisation activities - here's a quick overview.

On-page refers to the things that website builders do to the content and code to make sure that a website can be spidered and ranked by the organic search engines. It includes a range of things including:
  • title tags
  • header tags
  • bolding, underlining and italicising
  • alt image tags
  • meta tags
  • content rich text
  • keyword density
Off-page activities are the things that search engine marketing people do, helping to build the number of inbound links to the site. Key things to monitor include:
  • the anchor text used for the link
  • the title of the page the link is on
  • the page rank of the linking site
  • and the theme and content of the linking site
OK, if that is the list of things that you can do on and off the page, which are the most important?

Well, since I have mentioned it before on this blog, let's take a look at Adobe's page. If you do a search in Google for the term 'click here' you will find that Adobe.com's Reader Download page ranks number 1 and number 6 for the same search on Yahoo!. Now, if you want then you could search Adobe's site for the keywords 'click here', but I'll save you the trouble - they aren't there. If they aren't in the words that we can see we can safely assume that Adobe hasn't optimised its site to be ranked highly for those keywords.

If that's the case, then why is Adobe ranking so highly for a search term it has made no obvious attempt to optimise for on-page? Does this mean that something is happening off-page which is giving Adobe a high ranking for this term? The answer is yes, Adobe gets linked by many sites with very high page rank and many of them use linking text which includes the words 'click', 'here' or 'click here'. Adobe's situation arises because they have made no serious attempt to control the linking text. Now, if you could control the anchor text of inbound links to your own site, imagine how you can improve the quality of your inbound links and the ranking of your site for the keywords that you do want to promote.

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