Where should you put your SEO Budget – On-Page tactics or Link Building?

Written by Amit pankaj
on April 20, 2012

Strategic SEO planning fails when it has fuzzy objectives, lack of direction, and a rushed schedule. More than often, you can’t settle on a path forward unless you pinpoint on the exact problem you’re trying to eschew.

Unfortunately (or fortunately!) there are plenty of SEO companies out there cantering to help you pick your jelly beans (the red ones! umm or the purple ones??) – to tell you exactly where to put in your SEO dollars. There are no brownie points for guessing as that answer just happens to be whatever the company/consultant is good at – whether link-building or on-page tactics.

So which is the right jelly bean for you?

To answer this I would say, once you are aligned, focused on your core questions and have avoided (the very engrossing!) meandering discussions, you’d realize that all jelly beans in the SEO jar are just “diverse”; For real results what you need is to audit and validate what your site is ready for and then to make the right distinction of your jelly needs.

Develop your SEO Strategy the Smart Way

There are numerous theories aligned to explain how should you or should not allocate your budget.  To add to the confusion, “on-page” can mean a lot of things to a lot of people. But for clarity and for the purposes of this post, I would say it is anything you directly control in the code or content of your site.  The following would help you make relevant distinctions of possible website SEO and help you in evaluating the website/s you’re working on.


70% On-Page, 30 % Link Building

The good authority is an established site with a solid, trusted link profile and usually a goodbase of content. In many cases, it’s a site that’s evolved ‘organically’ and because of the above factors has kept it ranking well. The problem is – that you’re sitting on a full-brim oil well of untapped potential. You site could be suffering due to any one of the following reasons —

  • Keyword research is a million years out of date ( well in ‘e-terms’ a million = 5 years 🙂 )
  • Keywords are cannibalized across many pages
  • Internal links  have spread like weeds
  • Site architecture doesn’t  reflect business goals
  • Old but valuable content is 404’ing

The good thing is that the authority gives you an upper hand to other competitor sites, but a shift to really planning and focussing on on-page issues, from site architecture to keyword research, could produce a huge dividend.

The Not So BAD

30% On-Page, 70% Link-Building

Here we put up with an almost ‘perfect’ site, which is following each and every webmaster rule as best they can. In the process, these webmasters are so obsessed in creating the perfect site that they overlook the macro economics of internet marketing. At this point, when your on-page is good enough — its time to get Google at your site — and that means building links. It’s important to develop content, but at the same time spend at least solid 6 months developing and implementing a link-building campaign.

The Messy n the Ugly

90% On-page, 10% Link-Building or

10% On-Page, 90 %Link-Building

The Messy miss comes about when she’s broken every single limb of ethical on-page SEO, which of course worked fine for a while, but then came ‘May Day’ and ‘Panda’, and now Google is even talking about penalizing her for optimizing too  much. The Messy 90 % On-Page has let something spin out of control, including:

  • Blocked crawl paths and bad redirects
  • Massive URL-based duplication
  • Aggressive ad-to-content ratio
  • Extremely ‘thin’ content
  • Nonsensical site architecture and internal linking

Whatever the cause, you need to start fixing the problems now.

Similarly being an Ugly Duckling is a curse – for he’s quacked out every rule in the Google link-building playbook, and now the Mama Duck (google) has noticed. This could be a large-scale devaluation or a big penalty, and at this point, all the on-page tweaks in the world won’t help you. The fix is tricky, depends a lot on the situation, but until the ugly is washed and wiped out – the mama duck isn’t going anywhere.

To summarize it all, both on-page and link building is important, but how important each is really depends on your current strengths and weaknesses. In long-term, you will need all the jelly beans in your bag (on-page structure, unique content, authorative links, social presence etc) to create that noise– but until then, you need to keep polishing each of them.

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