Off Page Optimization

Google changed the off-page optimization game with its roll out of the Penguin update. Though on-page optimization is still (and will always be) important, off-page optimization is where you should be focusing at especially if you want to rank in extremely competitive niches. Google’s latest search algorithm relies on external sources—most especially links—to assess the credibility and relevancy of websites. Below are answers to some of the most-asked off-site optimization questions in ensuring that a website thrives in the post-Penguin era.

When it comes to building backlinks, what is more important—quality or quantity?

Not long ago, the only goal of online marketers was t create as many inbound links as possible, without concern for quality or for adding value. This worked fine until Google released Penguin. Now, link building is all about quality, NOT quantity.

Here’s the deal: One top-quality inbound link from a respected and established website is probably worth 1,000 links obtained using low-quality bulk linking methods such as comment spamming and the like. If you analyze the top five rankings for popular keywords on Google, you will likely see websites with 10,000 backlinks falling below those with just 500. This is because Google’s Penguin update now looks at the quality of backlinks to determine the authority of a website.

Penguin also attaches negative values to spammy links, so no amount of spam links could match the value of a great link from an authoritative and credible website. Don’t ever fall for those advertisements offering thousands of backlinks supposedly delivered in just several days. Buying those links could damage your rankings instead of improving them. Google might actually penalize your site if it sees that it’s getting backlinks too fast and in an unnatural way. Such penalties can result in a drastic drop in rankings and traffic—which can be catastrophic if you rely on your website for sales.

That said, quantity can still be a deciding factor. It’s still impossible to rank for a high-competition term with just one or two backlinks. But Google has gotten smarter, and its algorithms now tend to put more weight on ‘where’ those links come from rather than their sheer number. Obviously, factors such as the age of the website and other parameters affect SEO, but great backlinks can deliver rankings like no other. This is why the best off-page optimization campaigns always integrate a natural and organic backlinking strategy.

How does Google evaluate the quality of link?

The biggest thing Google looks at when assessing the quality of a backlink is the Page Rank or PR of the website where it is coming from.Sites with a higher ranking closer to 10, such as CNN.com which has a PR9, are considered highly authoritative. Getting a backlink from such as high-PR website is like winning the lottery—it is almost impossible.

A more realistic target would be to aim for links from PR4 and PR5 sources, but even that can be hard to do right away. For a completely new website, it makes sense to aim lower—anything from PR2 to PR3. Wondering how to determine a website’s PR? There are plenty of free tools available online.

How can you get quality backlinks?

Don’t rush your backlinking program, as Google wants websites to grow naturally over a period (not overnight). Set an attainable goal of getting a few good quality backlinks each day, over several weeks or months. Doing it slowly is much more sustainable SEO-wise than buying thousands of PR0 links in just one day. So, how can you actuallyearn these links? The answer is guest posting.

Loads of PR2 and PR3 blogs are looking forgreat content and are happy to offer a link to your site in the author byline. To find them, simply search for guest posting opportunities in your niche. Contact the blog owner and write a good quality article about a topic that is relevant to both your website and theirs. This is a win-win situation; you get your link, and the blog owner gets content for free. Google favors guest posting because thelinks tend to be contextual. Good blogs also offerquality content and are not just link farms.

Did you know that guest blogging can also help you establish yourself as an authority in your target niche? This off-page optimization strategy lets you reach out directly to relevant audiences. The better you are at guest posting, the more natural links you will be able to create for your site—and the more potential customers will regard you as a credible figure in your industry.

What is the proper anchor text ratio in the age of Penguin?

If there’s anything the Penguin update taught internet marketers, it’s the fact that too much of something is bad. This is certainly true for anchor text over-optimization. Using ‘exact match’ anchor texts is no longer the best link building strategy, whether you’re linking from blogs, web 2.0 properties, or article directories.

So, what does penguin prefer? Here’s the formula: Use a mix of everything. Use naked URLs in some instances. For others, use your brand as the anchor text. Add variety by using terms that are related to your product or service. ‘Exact matching’ should only comprise one to five percent of your entire inbound link profile.

Is link diversity important?

Yes! Introducing greater link diversity can be one of the best things you’ll ever do for your off-page optimization campaign. Google lovesa mixture of ‘follow’ and ‘no follow’ links. Don’t make the mistake of having too many of one type and too little of the other, as this can look unnatural and may result in your website being flagged. No follow links—though they are not counted in your favor—still drive referral traffic and cam give your website a more balanced and healthy profile.

Links for social networks can also improve your link diversity. Google gives a lot of weight to social signals, so the more active you are in Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and other such social sites that allow you to link back to your website, the more Google love you will get. Keep your social media accounts active and aim to have meaningful interactions with your audience. When someone asks a question or posts feedback, acknowledge it and respond. Don’t let your posts become promotional. Be sure to add value by sharing information that you think your audience will find interesting, even if it doesn’t directly promote your business.

For even better link variety, aim to be present in as many content channels as possible. Try different types of content to see which ones are complementary to your marketing message. Why not try videos, PDFs, infographics, an even eBooks? Producing a wide range of content won’t only allow you to bait in more links, but also provide you with the chance to engage more audiences across different media.

Off-page optimization takes a lot of time and expertise, but it can be one of the best investments you will ever make for your website. Done right, off-page optimization can drastically improve your website’s search visibility. This doesn’t mean you should completely abandon on-page optimization, though—in fact, you should see them as a tandem that aligns properly to create the perfect synergy for boosting rankings.

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