Myth: SEO = 1/4 On-Page Factors + 3/4 Off-Page Factors

Myth: SEO = 1/4 On-Page Factors + 3/4 Off-Page Factors

By Chad PollittSep 29 /2010

SEOGorrillaLately, I’ve been reading a lot of SEO forum posts and blogs and have discovered a group-think mentality as it relates to off-page factors (backlinks).  The myth is that 75% of your SEO is determined by the number, quality and anchor text of your backlinks.  I understand why so many people find this to be gospel – it is the expert opinion of SEOmoz.  If SEOmoz says that 75% of your SEO is from backlinks it must be true right?

My experiments and execution of successful SEO campaigns over the last three years have made me reconsider.  Before I address my findings though, let me lay out some SEO facts that are generally agreed upon.


  • SEO is like the game of golf.  You can be a really bad golfer, but you only have to be better than the people you are playing with to win.
  • SEO’s foundation is three things: Programming, on-page factors and off-page factors.
  • Google looks at over 200 metrics to determine your sites ability to rank in the SERPs. 


Now that we have that out of the way, let’s look at some real search results.  If you’re not already using SEO Quake I recommend you download it now.  I trust you now have an SEO Quake plugin on your browser – Do a Google search for “Internet Marketing Expert.”  As long as you’re not logged into Google and you have your customization turned off you should see results that look similar to this.


Internet Marketing Expert resized 600

You’ll notice that my name appears in the search results at number two and six. Pay close attention to the Yahoo Links and Yahoo Link Domain numbers of the top six results.  They are as follows:

  1. L = 6,372 LD = 10,109
  2. L = 92 LD = 182
  3. L = 2,315 LD = 2,342
  4. L = 520 LD = 717
  5. L = 8,474 LD = 9,275
  6. L = 32 LD = 9,685

I was able to land in the number two position with only 92 backlinks to that particular page.  The listing above and the listings below mine have 5 to 60 times the number of backlinks my site has.  How could this page possibly be in the number two position?  It’s possible that the vast majority of the backlinks shown by the SEO Quake plugin have very low authority, but due to the sheer number of them I’d say that is highly unlikely.

This is how I did it:  The on-page factors of that page and the whole site in general are sculpted as near perfect as I could get them.  This makes it look like the 25% on-page vs. 75% off-page is flipped.  I’m not saying that it is, but what I am saying is that on-page SEO factors are far more important than 25% of your site’s SEO. Backlinks alone may not result in top rankings. 

There’s a reason people say, “Content is King and backlinks are Queen.”