So you want to SEO your blog but you find that you are limited on your budget, your time, or more than likely both. On top of that it appears that your blog requires two major SEO elements, link-building and the ever popular on-page tuning. There are literally hundreds of SEO companies or consultants that would be happy to help you however more often than not you’ll find that they will recommend whatever they happen to be there selling. This isn’t always a bad thing and there are plenty of reputable firms that can do a lot of good work but it’s still a little fishy. So what is the answer you ask? Do I spend my time cleaning up on-page factors, or do I dive right in and begin the link-building process? Since I’m not selling anything I’ll tell you the truth. Every blog is different and it’s impossible to say which aspect of SEO is more important without also taking into consideration the individual site. There are a few general rules of thumb one can consider when trying to decide where SEO time and money should be spent so let’s use these generalities to help narrow down the best choice.
A Fresh Blog
A fresh blog has just been launched, and no marketing has been done at all. Clearly on-page concerns as well as link-building must be considered, however in this case on-page should take priority. This is mainly due to the fact that quality links will be difficult to generate if your site is a mess, and Google will have difficulty crawling your entire site if the structure is flawed.
A fresh blog is also very light on content. This should be the absolute number one thing to focus on in the beginning. It’s been said before but it’s worth mentioning again, content is King and without it quality links will be impossible to get. Once you get a reasonable amount of content up on your site and you feel it is presentable, only then should the link building begin. As you are considering your on page SEO make sure to avoid the following:
- Poor site structure
- Chaotic internal linking
- Broken paths and redirects
- Low quality content
- Excessive keyword optimization
That last point, excessive keyword optimization, is serious business and needs to be considered. This is also referred to as keyword stuffing however I use the phrase excessive keyword optimization in order to highlight the fact that it’s not simply repeating a keyword over and over and over again. When a URL, title tag, and the body of the text on a page match up perfectly with a specific key phrase it is possible that a given page is over optimized. Now there are times when a page will legitimately have all of those elements line up perfectly, and this isn’t something to be concerned about. However if your site more often than not matches the above issue you may start running into trouble. Google has announced that it will begin penalizing sites that are over optimized, so this needs to be considered now before the penalty comes into play. It is likely the penalty will include not only on-page SEO tactics but also inbound linking. Since the algorithm will probably take a global approach to a particular site it’s unlikely that individual mistakes will make that big a deal unless the SEO efforts are too aggressive.
You would think that an established blog would be much easier to SEO than a fresh one. This is not always the case as an established blog could’ve made mistakes that have been around for years that will have to be overcome. To be established the site must have an existing inbound link profile of some kind, the more organic the better. In this case a quick on-page pass needs to be made looking for the same things you were looking for in a fresh blog. Content is no longer an issue however site structure is. Look for the following:
- Poor site architecture
- Outdated content
- Duplicate content
- Duplicate keyword focus across multiple pages
- Broken links
The established blog probably ranks for several keywords across many different search engines. With all the potential issues that can exist a little bit of tuning can go a long way. Once the above issues are dealt with it it’s time for link building. It is important to understand the link profile of the site before you run out and start grabbing links. An unnatural link profile is a giant red flag to Google to pay close attention to your site. We don’t want that. An unnatural link profile is one that has a large focus on a given keyword, or extremely high percentages over several keywords.
Let’s use an Internet site as an example. If 50% of all the inbound links to this Internet site all say “satellite Internet providers” then it is likely the webmaster has used artificial means to get these links. Organic links grow in many different ways. You will have the site URL, the blogger’s name, and simply random words as anchor text across many different links that should lead to the site. This doesn’t mean that some sites are not going to have a lot of keyword rich inbound links. It does mean that the percentages will probably play out just like any other site, and aggressive keyword link marketing not only has a diminishing return it can actually hurt over time.
As you have probably come to realize the answer to the age-old question of on-page SEO or link building is that you need both. No site is ever going to rank well focusing on a single aspect of SEO; the trick is to know where your focus should be at any given time.
Jon T. Norwood has written over 200 helpful articles in the areas of SEO, personal finance, and Internet Service.