If you’ve been around the marketing block once or twice, you’ve probably heard the old adage, “Nothing kills a bad product faster than good advertising.” A great advertising campaign builds up hype, awareness and expectations, but a bad product leaves your customers solely disappointed with their purchase; Hell hath no fury like a dissatisfied consumer. In today’s online world, the same rule still applies. Only now, the phrase should read, “Nothing kills great SEO like a bad website.”

The debate for which SEO is more important, on-site or off-site, has been going on between Internet marketing professionals since the birth of the search engines. The best SEO campaigns do both well. The worst campaigns do neither well. But what happens when you do one (off-site SEO) better than you do the other (on-site SEO)? You are effectively shooting yourself in the foot.

Think of your website as the central hub of your Internet marketing. Off-site SEO works to develop numerous pathways to your site through various means—link building, social media marketing, content marketing and so forth. Each one of these touch points is designed to target your potential customer and encourage them to click over to your website, where hopefully they will convert. But if someone were to click from an article or a social profile or a video through to your site, what would they find?

If your site doesn’t live up to your link building, you are driving your own traffic away!

There are many ways a site can fail to live up to your off-site SEO. First off, look at the link that brought that visitor. Does the page they landed on have anything to do with where they came across the link? If they thought they were getting information about kitchen cutlery, and suddenly find themselves dealing with a page about dog grooming supplies chances are they are not going to stick around. It doesn’t have to be that blatantly wrong to annoy your visitor either. Does the link take them to an error page? Redirect them across the site? Your off-site link building is a promise to your visitors that your site can provide them with more information about what they are looking for. Your site has to live up to that promise or you’ll lose your target audience as fast as they arrive.

You also have to look at your site itself, starting with the homepage. Your homepage is oftentimes the most linked to page of your site, and serves as the landing page for most of your visitors. What does your homepage look like? Is it cluttered with scrolling banners and large graphics? Is your visitor staring at long bricks of content? Is the page more ads than content? All of these things and more create a bad user-experience for your traffic upon landing. Most aren’t willing to sort through the fluff and clutter to get to the good information. If you bury your best content, who will ever see it?

Site navigation and structure also play a huge part in a high bounce rate. Visitors to your site don’t want to struggle to find the information they are looking for. Your site has to be built to lead traffic down a predetermined path, where they can’t get lost, confused or distracted. Internal linking is important, but do each of your pages link to a dozen others? That much anchor text can be very jarring and confusing for your visitor. What are they supposed to do next? What page should they be trying to find? You don’t want your site to become a maze for your traffic. They won’t bother solving it.

Off-site SEO helps build your online brand presence, develop your reputation as an industry authority and more. All the things you do work to gain the trust of the search engines and your target audience. Once you have their trust and get them to click through to your site, a bad website will undo all the hard work you’ve done and send that visitor back to the SERP, never to return. It doesn’t matter how much off-site SEO you do, conversion has to happen on the site itself! You can’t expect traffic to convert well if your site is driving them away with bad design, layout and poor content.

About the Author

Nick Stamoulis is a Boston SEO expert and owner of Brick Marketing, a SEO link building services and social media marketing company. With over 12 years of industry experience, Nick Stamoulis shares his SEO knowledge by posting daily updates to his blog, the Search Engine Optimization Journal, and publishing the Brick Marketing Newsletter, read by over 140,000 opt-in subscribers.

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