Thousands of business owners ask the same question every single day: Why am I not ranked better in Google? These business people know the potent impact that a well-placed search engine ranking can have on their bottom line. As a result, they spend great effort trying to figure out why their rankings are not as strong as their competitors. This usually results in many hours spent reading forums and poorly written web marketing sites. Additionally, they are likely to tour through ten or twenty website graders to try to diagnose the problem.
Therein lies the problem. Most website graders are actually not that helpful for improving your rankings. Let’s step back a bit and dissect what a website grader really does and doesn’t do. Most, if not all, focus on on-site SEO. While this is important, industry leaders tell us that on-site SEO is 30% of the fuel for search engine rankings. This puts on-site SEO into the “necessary but not sufficient” category. Yet, most business owners flock to these on-site SEO website graders with the belief that if they could only find that missing TITLE or H1 tag, their fortunes would dramatically turn. They won’t.
Website graders are a reasonable tool for evaluating your on-site SEO. However, if your objective is to improve your rankings, you are barking up the wrong tree. What’s worse, many businesses spend time on multiple website graders and then invest large sums of money to implement on-site changes based on the feedback from web graders. In the end, their search engine rankings don’t change and they are left scratching their heads. In most cases, the on-site SEO for these websites was not all that bad to begin with. If you produce original content of any value, and use a keyword-rich writing style on your on-site blog, you probably have 80% (of the 30%) covered. Job done. Well-enough.
But what about the other 70%?
Again, industry leaders tell us that off-site SEO, or links to your website, are the leading reason for why you do or do not rank in the search engines. As a result, 70% of your efforts should be focused off-site. In other words, after you have an on-site blog that is well written, you’ve tuned your landing pages with a strong call-to-action, and you have solid tracking set-up on your website, it’s time to head off-site.
There are a few website graders that focus only on off-site SEO. There are other tools known as backlink analyzers or backlink benchmarking tools. Run these. This is where your time needs to be spent. Additionally, you need to become intimately familiar with the keywords your main competitors are using. Again, there are tools for this. Your research needs to be informed because link-building and search engine rankings are long-term endeavors. You need to NOT miss your target.
Once you have found a high quality off site seo web grader, use that as your barometer of success. A good tool will track your search engine rankings as well as your backlinks. Get busy in the community. Don’t spam people. Instead, find where the hot conversations are happening in your field and join the debate in earnest. If you budget your time so that 70% of your marketing time is oriented this way, with the other 30% spent on your website, you will be pleased with the results. If you find that this time commitment is too high, explore ways to outsource SEO. If you are a web designer or agency and have customers who need SEO but you’re unable to provide that service, find a SEO reseller who can do the link building for you.