Although we normally associate SEO with on-site factors, such as meta tags and page content, off-site factors are equally important. Join us as we discuss 5 tips for making the most of your off-site presence.
Off-site factors—especially backlinks—continue to play a significant role in a page's search engine rankings. Irresponsible tactics and shortcuts, however, have turned off-site SEO into a minefield of link penalties and backfire-prone schemes. To help you navigate through that minefield, we have put together a few tips for building a more successful and responsible off-site SEO campaign.
1. Slow Down
Building hundreds or thousands of links back to your site over a short period of time will raise red flags. Do not pursue links for the sake of having more backlinks; carefully select sites that are relevant to your business and build your link profile slowly and deliberately.
Look for variety in your link sources, anchor text and link types. Repetitive anchor text—the text used in the hyperlink back to your site—was once a common SEO practice. If you wanted to rank well for "wooden birdhouses," you used that exact phrase in your backlinks at every opportunity. As with many practices in the field, use became abuse and website owners should now proceed with caution. Diversify your anchor text and be sure to occasionally link using your brand name or domain name instead of a competitive keyword.
Vary your link types as well. There are two types of links: dofollow links, which instruct search engines to pass authority along to the target page, and nofollow links, which instruct search engines to ignore the link. While dofollow links seem preferable, it is important for your link profile to have a natural appearance, and search engines can still make associations between your site and another even if the link is labelled "nofollow." Even when your site only gets mentioned and no link is used at all, this can still benefit your rankings. Moz has discovered many pages that rank for terms based on these mentions, or co-citations, alone.
3. Thrive on Rejection
If you hear "yes" every time you ask for a backlink, you are probably not trying hard enough. Rejection is good. Rejection means you are testing your limits and pushing the boundaries of your effort. If one website offers you a free backlink while another requires that you provide them with quality content first, go for the later. If your content is rejected, work on producing something more suitable for the site's needs.
Many sites will ask that you write for them in order to earn links, so treat yourself as an author. Every successful writer has learned the art of collecting rejection letters; the only writers without such a collection are the ones that are not applying themselves.
4. Forget What You Learned on the Playground
Don't share. Trade value for value, not a link for a link. Write relevant content in exchange for a link or make the argument that your link adds value to the site that is hosting it. Link trading schemes and link sharing networks were once an effective way for two sites to scratch each other's backlinks, but the abused practices is transparent and frowned-upon by search engines. "I'll link to you if you link to me" only works if there is a legitimate, non-link-building reason for the two sites to associate with one another, and it should be strictly limited to nofollow links.
5. Don’t Reach for Your Wallet
There is nothing wrong with paying a specialist to help you with your off-site SEO efforts; however, you should never pay directly for links. Registries that charge you based on their purported SEO "link juice" alone and networks that promise you thousands of back links a month should be avoided at all cost. Buying into their promises could easily mean having to pay another specialist to dig you out of a link penalty.
If you have made any of these off-site faux pas in the past an you have noticed a significant drop in your site's traffic, be sure to visit our previous blog article on detecting and troubleshooting a link penalty.