Optimizing a website for search seems like an obvious strategy; it’s comparable to fine-tuning an engine for speed. Unfortunately, the purpose of off-site or off-page SEO is less apparent because people naturally ask, “What do other websites contribute to yours?”
The internet isn’t composed of independent silos but links or threads that connect every website together. In this paradigm, each site affects and even reflects the others. In the attempts of search engines to provide the most helpful information, reputation and credibility carry a great degree of weight but these are generally subjective judgments, which a mathematical algorithm can’t perform. But they can count the connections between each website and tally the people visiting to make reasonable deductions of a site’s reputation. This is where off-page optimization helps – by forming these important connections.
There are various methods to perform off-site optimization. Here are the three main ways:
Link building is the most common and reliable strategy for off-page SEO. Just like the names implies, it’s basically about building hyperlinks between sites. Backlinks, incoming links to your website, are particularly prized. Search engines make the reasonable assumption that the higher number of people which link back to your site, the more likely that your webpage is a credible resource.
In older SEO practices, this assumption lead to the creation of numerous spam links that cropped up everywhere: forums, comments sections, directories, and more. Entire websites were created as excuses to host links. As you can guess, this type of link spam annoyed users, which caused it to fall out of favor. Today, search engines are no longer counting sheer numbers; they’re measuring the quality of the sources of the backlinks.
Quality sources are known in the SEO industry as authority sites, which regularly produce high-quality data, information, or content. Websites with “.gov” or “.edu” are automatically considered an authority site as well as certain news sites. Backlinks from these are worth their weight in SEO gold because if they link back to you, your site has high credibility as well.
Popular websites that are regularly linked by authority sites and others usually become new authority sites themselves. Even if they don’t, they enjoy a high PageRank, which is the metric Google uses to determines a site’s reputation.
Getting backlinks from high quality sources can be difficult. So difficult that black hat SEO, risky practices, tempted many specialists, such as subtly hacking valuable sites to inject valuable backlinks or paying websites for links. This is – if not illegal – frowned upon and Google penalizes websites it discovers with shady links. In fact, if you discover dodgy links in your site, delete or disavow them ASAP.
To spare yourself from harm, limit yourself to white hat practices. The best method is to encourage natural links, which are links that other sites give to you because they like you. This is achieved by regularly creating high quality content.
Another tactic to build links is by guest blogging. Basically, you write an article for another site that links back to yours. This is done often enough in various industries that it feels natural. Just don’t overdo it and link everything in your article back to your website. Keep yourself to one, maybe two, but never a lot.
Social media can be considered another form of link building. Social signals do register in search engines and content that goes viral becomes heavily visited and popular, which naturally raises their ranking.
A tactic that is especially effective in social media is link baiting. It’s the creation of posts that almost guarantees that it gets shared. Usually the term is linked with sensational titles or opinions but it can also refer to listicles, infographics, and videos because they grab more attention than regular articles.
Social bookmarking sites, such as Digg, Slashdot, and Reddit, aren’t as popular today as they were in the past. But they remain a reliable way to bring more visitors to your site. There’s no harm in posting your content and seeing an extra boost.
Off-site optimization is rife with difficulties and temptations. Keep your white hat on, create quality content, and network with others to ensure your efforts always succeed.
If you’re not up to conduct off-page optimization on your own, contact an SEO specialist, especially those well-versed in blogger relations. They can help you create networks of links that will help your site rise up in the Search Engine Results Page.