This article comes as a follow up to our previous post ‘SEO Basics Revisited: On-Page Optimization‘. Now that you are familiar with the basics of on-page optimization, let’s move on to the next step – Off-Page Optimization. This too isn’t as complicated or as difficult as you would imagine. Off-page optimization is nothing but a number of strategies that you can implement off your web page to improve your search engine ranking and increase targeted traffic to your web site.
Here’s is a simple explanation for all the newbies: Let’s say you build a great product and invest all your time and effort into making it the best. However, you do not spread the word about this great product and no one knows about it! What’s the use? So, just as you need to let others know about your product and get recommendations from them, you need to do off-page optimization for your site as well.
Off-page factors should be carefully planned and implemented to achieve a higher search engine ranking. Many people think that off-page optimization is just link building and go about it in a random and unplanned manner. However, this is not going to bring much benefit to their site. They’re just going to waste a lot of time and efforts and not get any results. They need to consider several aspects before starting off-page optimization for their site. Given below is all the information you will need to know about off-page optimization.
I. Factors to Consider Before Building Links
It’s not enough to get just any websites to link to you, the quality of inbound links is also very important. You may get 100 links but may not see any difference in your results if you don’t consider the following points:
1. Inbound Links from Authority Sites
Authority sites are popular sites that people frequent, get linked to on the basis of their merit, or are referred by many when they need to check up on the subject. Getting links from known websites is priceless while doing off-page optimization for your website. It’s like a certificate from an authoritative figure who has acknowledged the quality of your page. For example, if your site is about current events or news, and CNN.com links to you, consider it as the best bonus ever!
Tip: Make your website as professional and informative as possible. If you give reliable and valuable information, it will instantly impress people. This will also increase the chances of getting linked by other such authority sites.
2. Anchor Text of Inbound Link
Anchor text is the actual word or phrase of your link. It is important to have anchor text targeting your keywords because the search engines will notice this as a relevant link for your site. As you start getting more and more links with your targeted anchor text, your rankings for those terms will start to improve.
For example, if your site was about selling or renting houses then you should use your keywords in the titles: such as ‘Houses for sale’, ‘Houses for rent’, ‘Homes for sale’, ‘Homes for rent’, ‘Buy a house’, ‘Rent a house’ etc.
The most common anchor text is ‘Click Here’. Sometimes, it is not possible to choose the anchor text for your links from other pages, but for those sites where you can, you need to get it right. Some places where you can enter your own anchor text are online web directories and social bookmarking sites. However, for those sites which do not, you could try sending a request asking if the anchor text can be modified to make it more relevant for your site. You’ll be surprised to see many of them would make the necessary changes.
Tip: Try to include your keywords in your anchor text. Decide what keywords you want to rank for and include them in your anchor text. However, be careful because your anchor text should not read like a string of keywords, it should make sense as well.
3. PageRank of Incoming Links
Google Page Rank is a tool developed by Google to determine the importance of a website or a webpage based on clearly defined set of algorithms. It is ranked on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the highest. Whenever you link out to another website, you pass on some of your page rank value. Similarly, if you get a link form a high PR page, your site will also benefit from a fraction of the PR value of that page.
PageRank is based on incoming links, but not just on the number of them – relevance and quality are also important (in terms of the PageRank of sites, which link to a given site). However, not all links weigh the same when it comes to PR. If you had a web page with a PR8 and had 1 link on it, the site linked to would get a fair amount of PR value. But, if you had 100 links on that page, each individual link would only get a fraction of the value.
Tip: While links from high PR sites may be beneficial to your PR, do not restrict your off-page link building activities just on the basis of PR.
4. Placement of Link in Web Page
The position of your link from another website says a lot about it to search engines. Links can be placed in the footer, header, sidebar or inside the content. With so many people selling links in their sidebar or footer, search engines might possibly give these links slightly lesser value. The ones placed as a part of the content (contextual links) could be considered more valuable than the sidebar or footer links. There is a growing amount of importance of placing links on a page in a natural manner.
Tip: Try to get links from a page which does not have too many other links. The page you are getting a link from should not be one which makes it obvious that they sell links.
5. Get Links from Relevant/Related Sites
It doesn’t make much sense when an astrology site links to a website that deals with cars. The topics are niche and completely irrelevant to each other! The audience you are looking at can’t be any more different (unless you want to ask the psychic if the car’s registration number will bring you luck!) This type of linking is not only worthless but if you have exchanged links to get that link, you’re also putting your page at risk. The search engines will smell something fishy and suspect a link trade because the sites aren’t related in any way. So, always try to get links from websites that are related to your topic.
Tip: As mentioned above get the majority of links from sites that have similar topics. Even if you are getting it from general sites like online directories or social bookmarking sites, your link should be placed under the correct category.
II. Link Building Techniques – Direct and Indirect
There are many ways to get inbound links. A few links to your site from reputed, high quality, authority sites are much more valuable to a search engine than hundreds of low quality links. I’d advise you to not to participate in an automated link exchange program as you’ll be automatically exchanging links with all sorts of low quality and unrelated sites. Here are some tips for direct link building:
1. Directory Submission
Even those who are new to search engine optimization know that a directory submission is one of the easiest ways to build links. Directory submission involves submitting details of your website including titles and descriptions about your product/service to online directories. This helps to get links with relevant anchor texts placed under relevant categories. There are many free and paid directories available online. All you have to do is submit your link and add details about it. You will get links form relevant categories in these directories.
Tip: Try avoiding automated submissions or submission softwares as most directories have a ‘Captcha’ code which can be verified only by a human being.
2. Article Submission
Article submission involves writing articles related to the theme of your site and submitting to article directories. By doing this, you will get permanent one-way links from these directories. In addition to that, your article will be put under the most relevant category as well. Now only will you be getting a link, you will also be reaching out to more people. Visitors of that article site will get to know about your site and may even link to you if they think you are an authority figure and like your site.
Tip: Try to keep to original articles you write yourself, the search engines can find out if the article is copied from somewhere! You’ll want to stay away from software programs designed to produce articles one after the other with little difference.
3. Social Bookmarking
Social bookmarking lets you store, organize and manage your sites of interest on a public bookmarking site, instead of on your computer. As long as you’re logged on to the Internet, you can access and share these bookmarks from anywhere in the world. Once you bookmark with social bookmarking sites and people find your content exciting, they will save it and share it with others. Your bookmark moves to the front pages of the category or site and you’ll soon see the increase in traffic.
While some social bookmarking sites may not give you search engine friendly links, the traffic and visibility you get from these sites could result in other sites linking to you.
Tip: Participate in your social bookmarking community’s activities by posting your comments and giving suggestions. This will increase your social bookmarking credibility and help make you visible in the social bookmarking community you participate in.
4. Forum Posting
Forum posting means visiting online forums that have topics related to your site and participating in the discussions. People usually visit forums to hold discussions with other like-minded people. Forums give you an opportunity to build relationships and build your credibility but if you start promoting your link too much and contribute little, you’ll be considered a spammer and you might be at risk of getting banned from the forum.
Tip: When you post a comment, include your link in your signature.
5. Guest Posting in Other Blogs
Guest posting in blogs is one of the best ways to build your brand and site popularity. You get a much wider audience and get links from really powerful sites. It is also a great way to build contacts in your industry. The traffic and exposure you receive is great compared to what you can usually generate from a new site. You can get backlinks, get new readers, get offers from other blogs and increase your traffic with this.
Tip: Study the blog you want to write an article for and see what kind of articles have been successful there. Write on topics similar to the ones that have been appreciated. If you do not do your research properly, you might end up writing on topics that are of no interest to their readers… you might just end up wasting your time.
6. Press Releases
Some people think submitting press releases is a boring old way of trying to optimize your site. However, if the release is written well, the search engine optimized press release can prove to be one of the most effective ways to deliver news of events taking place within your company or industry. Press Releases are also picked up by Google faster. Usually you’ll find press releases on top of the search engines faster than the usual articles.
Tip: Don’t use complicated jargons, but simple language that people can connect with and search engines will decipher easily.
7. Social Networking Sites
An active Social Networking campaign such as using platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin can serve you well in driving traffic. Sometimes, the links are ‘No follow’ but the exposure and interaction you gain with potential customers is extremely valuable. If they like what you are discussing and find your information or products interesting they can help spread your word for you. As of now, FIFA’s profile on Twitter has over 178,555 followers. Even the Facebook fan page for popular potato chip brand Pringles stands out mostly for its great use of video.
Tip: Social media marketing is all about subtlety. Try not to market yourself so much that it turns people off. Give lots of information and inject your product or service details into it.
So that’s that! These are just some of the basics under off-page optimization and link building. If you have something to add or would like to disagree with some of the points, leave your comments in the form below!