This is a great question a commenter recently asked: Which one is more important – on-page SEO or off-page SEO?
First, let’s clarify terminology: on-site (or on-page) SEO includes titles, descriptions, content, headers, alt tags, navigation, URL naming, load speed and other ways to make a site more friendly to both visitors and search engines; off-site(or off-page) SEO comprises inbound link building using a variety of techniques and strategies. When you include social media, video syndication, newsletters, advertising and the like, the whole shebang becomes an online marketing campaign.
I once read that on-site SEO is 80% and off-site SEO is 100%. That makes sense in the world of SEO. Here’s why…
The Importance of On-Site SEO
On-site SEO should be your primary focus. A well-optimized site will load quickly; it has content that makes it easy for visitors (as well as search engines) to understand what the site is about. Both visitors and search engines will be able to navigate through it easily, find what they want, and not get lost or reach a dead end. On-page is the most important element in your SEO efforts in the beginning. A site that is not well-optimized (80%) may do okay, but then again if visitors and search engines don’t like it, you won’t get far.
The Importance of Off-Site SEO
Once your site is optimized, off-page SEO becomes 100% important. Without inbound links, a site has little to no chance of ranking in search engine results. The following breakdown from an SEOmoz survey of top SEO experts shows the importance of inbound links:
The easiest part of your SEO will always be on-site optimization. Follow basic SEO practices, avoid sneaky (black hat) tricks, and offer up the best site you can for your visitors. After that, although link building is time consuming, tedious, and can take a long time to take effect, it’s also vitally important if you want your site to rank in Google’s search results.
So what’s my answer? Both – but put them in the proper order so they will work synergistically.