When it comes to on-page optimization in the world of link building you need to be quick and efficient. When trying to evaluate dozens of websites weekly for link opportunities a quick way to weed out inferior sites without even having to check out off page factors is to make sure the webmaster has put some effort into their on-page search engine optimization (SEO). If the blogger hasn’t even bothered to change their title tag to at least target their priority keywords then they obviously aren’t putting the right amount of effort into their website.
Here’s a quick checklist to always perform when trying to evaluate the on page SEO of any website:
Check the Title Tags for Keywords
There’s nothing worse than “Welcome to My Blog/Company” or even worse “Welcome to WordPress” lol – terrible! Ideally you’d want to have the domain name as well as the major keywords related to the site. I hate seeing something like xjhcv.net – CLEARLY a dropped domain so don’t waste your time. Here’s some good examples of what I’m talking about:
Home Renovation Blog – Your Source for Home Renovation Tips
Canada Travel Blog – A Travel Blog for Canadians
Check the Meta Description for Keywords
Don’t be lazy, view source and make sure that the meta description is at least optimized and includes the targeted keywords. Any blogger or webmaster who is serious about their site will have an optimized meta description, if not again probably are wasting your time dealing with them.
Other On Page Factors to Check for:
– if any keywords are included in the header tags
– check keyword density on the page for targeted keywords
– check overall content on the page to make sure it’s niche relevant
– check site architecture to see if they’ve linked well to their most important pages off the homepage
The BIG Picture
At the end of the day you need to take these on-page factors and also look at off page factors to get an overall feel of the quality of an entire website – it’s all about painting an overall picture of the site in order to truly gauge it’s online authority and the potential link juice you would get from having your link placed on the site. Onsite analysis is pretty similar to onpage analysis but you need to focus on a few more factors at the site level. Besides the obvious signs of pagerank, cache dates, number of inbound and outbound links, etc.; you need to really look at the number of indexed pages to gauge how SEO friendly their site architecture is. Also, you need to spend more time checking the quality of inbound links as well as anchor text and link variation (sites vs blogs, articles vs directories, .com’s vs .edu’s vs .org’s).
Before attempting to gauge how powerful the site is itself, it’s imperative to first check whether or not the site/domain is penalized or not (must rank for own domain name) as well as the age of the site. After that I always check to see whether or not the site is ranking for any of its main keywords, which should always be found in the title tags of the homepage.
Being able to quickly perform onpage analysis is extremely important but don’t forget to always take into consideration off page factors as well. Always look at Pagerank, domain authority and page authority using the SEO MOZ toolbar (helpful metric), related links, quality of outbound links, number of outbound links, dofollow vs nofollow links, cache dates, and more. You really need to look at all these factors (offpage and onpage) in unison when conducting a thorough analysis of the factors affecting the potential link juice from that link.
Obviously relevancy and a good pagerank is imperative, but a great telling signs of a pages’ authority is its cache date; within one week is great, 1-2 weeks is average, 2-3 weeks is just OK, and anything 3+ weeks isn’t very powerful.
When I’m evaluating a site, I love to use both SEO Open, Search Status and the SEO MOZ toolbar as well as some good old fashioned searching in Google. Within 5 minutes I check:
- PR (using Search Status)
- Page authority (SEO MOZ toolbar)
- Domain authority (SEO MOZ toolbar)
- Total pages indexed (SEO Open)
- Cache date(s) of the page(s) I’m evaluating (SEO Open)
- Total backlinks in Yahoo! site explorer (SEO open)
- Number of links and linking root domains (SEO MOZ toolbar)
- Check for the age of the site (SEO Open)
- Check the archives database (SEO Open)
- Title tags, meta description, header tags, content quality and relevancy
I always said being a link building rockstar isn’t rocket science – it’s just a matter of being organized, efficient, creative and having a competitive edge to your personality. Remember these points when trying to perform SEO analysis of any website.