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What is the difference between on-page and off-page ranking factors?

19 February, 2007 (11:53) | Search Engines | By: Nick Dalton

On-page ranking factors are, as the name implies, limited to what you see on the web page itself (the HTML). Examples are: does your keyword appear in the page title, in an H1 headline, what is the keyword density for the whole page or sections of the page, what is the total length of the page.

There are dozens of software programs that will compute on-page statistics. Most SEOs will use such a program and then apply their experience, magic or crystal ball to come up with recommended changes that they expect will improve the ranking for your page. RaSof is the only software that I’m aware of that uses real statistical data to score on-page ranking factors. (If you know of any others please leave a comment here. I’d love to do a review.)

The best part of on-page ranking factors is that you are in full control over them. Make a change, wait for the search engine to pick up the change and see your page ranking change. You can make random changes or changes based on the latest fads in SEO forums and see what happens. Just like a monkey randomly hitting keys on a typewriter will eventually write Hamlet, you will eventually hit upon the right combination of on-page ranking factors. I would of course recommend the rApogee / RaSof combination instead.

One of the off-page ranking factors that many people do not consider is the complete URL of the page: the domain name, any directory names, the page name, the page name extension. Since the URL is something you do not want to change after you’ve launched your web site or written your blog entry, this requires some upfront planning. Nemeas is a tool that will help you with this.

Links is the off-page ranking factor that most people pay attention to. I’m still looking for a good tool that will evaluate links in a way that is similar to what search engines do. Until I find one (or write one) here’s a simple way to at least get a quantitive measure:

  • Google and MSN – Enter “link:” before your web page in the search box, e.g. link:www.theinquirer.net
  • Yahoo – Use the same “link:” syntax as above. This will take you to Yahoo Search Site Explorer and show the results there.

Which of the three types of ranking factors should you pay attention to? Of course the answer is all three. But which one is most important? According to James Brausch who compiled the ranking factors data, it varies slightly by search engine. On average it roughly breaks down this way:

  • On-page factors – 40%
  • URL factors – 20%
  • Link factors – 40%

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