Alright. So I’m exaggerating a little. Obviously nothing is as black and white as the title implies, and obviously you should put some attention toward your on-page SEO. However, I would argue that it should be about 1- 2 hours, tops. Followed by weeks worth of off-page.
And what do I have to back this up?
Well. Let’s go with the fact that we’ve just recently been shown a very public example of how with enough domain authority and links, you can rank anything. This is illustrated perfectly by the fact that Google ranked a non-existent, robots.txt blocked redirect on JC Penny’s website for a head term like “table linens”.
Photo credit: Matt McGee at SEL
Given the amount of authority/links that JC Penny has – even known spammy/paid links – they were still able to rank top 3 for a term like “table linens”. And this isn’t just without on-page SEO. This is with purposely done, anti-on-page-SEO. They deleted the page, added a redirect, and blocked it via robots.txt. There’s not much more you could do to sabotage a page. And yet, it ranked at the top until Google was publicly called out on it.
The official response from Matt Cutts was that the page simply wasn’t worked out of the system yet.
If Google hadn’t crawled the page (or tried to) post redirect/blockage then the legacy Title/Descritpion tag would still be visible in the above SERP screenshot. They went back to the page, found nothing, and still ranked it anyway.
On a personal note, I’m thrilled this happened. Because now I have a high-profile example to go with all my personal tests.
This really echoes my post about Good News for Greyhats where I lamented the fact that tons of people who claim to be SEO’s are stuck on the idea that on-page SEO is more than half the battle.
When I say on-page SEO doesn’t matter, this is what I’m talking about.
Yes, of course it matters somewhat, but the amount that you can do strictly with domain authority and links totally dwarfs on-page factors to the point where you can rank a page that doesn’t even exist anymore just by using links.
Quit worrying about your exact keyword density.
Quit tweaking how many times you have a keyword in bold.
Quit analyzing your ALT text strategy.
Build. Some. God. Damn. Links.