You just finished optimizing all the pages on your website.
Now you’re ready for all the search traffic to start flowing in.
Not so fast…
You have just begun.
Your next move is Off Page SEO.
With both on the page and off page SEO playing an important role in the performance of a website in major search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing, it is not surprising that there is a minefield of information and how-to guides to educate on ranking higher on Google.
The problem with much of this information is that it can be conflicting and ultimately confusing for those of us who are trying to implement it.
Add to this the rate at which Google algorithms change and you can soon feel you are trying to crack the Da Vinci Code when all you’re trying to do is rank number one for a keyword search phrase on Google.
Last year, Moz reported in their Search Ranking Factors as seen below that the #1 and #2 ranking factors are based around off page links back to your website.
So what isn’t up for discussion is the importance of off page SEO strategies and the impact they can have on your website in the SERPs(Search Engine Results Pages).
This article looks to address the misconceptions of off site SEO and offer an easy to follow the guide of how and why you need off page SEO.
If you were to ask most people ‘what is off page SEO?’ then you would be greeted with a simple response – LINK BUILDING.
In one sense that is true, BUT it is not as simple as that.
In part, this stock response comes because of the history of search engine optimization.
Fortunately, gone are the days when you could spam a domain with thousands of over optimized and keyword stuffed backlinks and rank for almost any term you wanted.
Google and the other major search engine players have come a long way since then.
That being said, link building still has Major Relevance and Importance for SEO – just not in quite the same way.
The search algorithms need some form of links pointing at sites to help them understand what a website is about and whether it is valuable to its users.
Always remember what Google is trying to achieve… they want to offer the best result that will give value to the searcher by offering the most relevant results on page one.
The key word here is ‘Relevancy’.
Off page SEO is all about pointing out unmistakably (with your on-page SEO efforts) what your website is about.
In part, this is done through backlinks pointing to your website – but it is the value and relevancy of these backlinks and the content or the surrounding context that is going to really add value in the eyes of Google.
For Google to rank a website on page one or towards the top of the SERPs it needs to trust your website.
The easy way to think of this is treating each link like a vote of trust.
BUT…, not all votes are equal!
The votes (or links) from some websites will carry more trust than others due to the authority of the website.
However, some websites that have a lower level of authority but have more relevance to the niche of the website can also be very influential votes in the eyes of Google.
There are several ways that Google measures the relevance of your website to its users and we could never unravel all of them.
With over 200 factors at play (and many of them constantly changing or evolving), we will never fully understand Google’s search algorithm.
There are, however, several tools and important metrics we can use to determine the power of inbound links to our websites.
Domain authority and page authority are still important metrics to consider when looking at building links to your website.
Maybe you are looking to do blogger outreach for backlinks or you are guest posting – and domain authority (DA) and page authority (PA) will be a factor you should consider.
You can check these by using Moz’s free Open Site Explorer tool.
Just know that the www. and root (non-www.) will be different so check whichever the website in question is using.
These metrics are good for checking the authority of a website (in terms of votes we discussed earlier) but it is important to realize that these metrics are not the be all and end all when determining a backlink strategy.
DA and PA are particularly good metrics to look out for when working on a brand new website to give the new site some added DA and PA of its own and ultimately to give the website a little boost in the early days of its life.
A far more valuable metric when building the relevancy of your website is the Trust Flow coming into your website and the context of (or the niche of) the website in question.
The easiest way to determine this is to use the Majestic Site Explorer that will quickly and easily show you the Trust Flow and Citation Flow of a domain.
Again, it is important to choose the subdomain (www.) or the root (non-www.) depending on which one the website you are looking to link from is using.
When establishing whether a website has a good amount of trust or relevance we can look for two things.
First, the trust flow being higher than 15 is a good sign as long as it is at least half of the citation flow.
So a ratio of 1:2 should be applied.
For example, a domain that has a Trust Flow (TF) of 15 should ideally have a Citation Flow (CF) of no more than 30.
If the TF is higher than the CF then this is a good sign.
The higher the trust flow the better.
When using the Majestic Site Explorer you should also check for a minimum of 10 referring domains and you can also check the backlink profile of the sites to ensure that there are no spam links that might be harmful to the trust of the site.
When using metrics and tools such as Moz and Majestic it is important to realize that like anything, the system can be fooled to an extent.
You should be on the lookout for anything that looks suspicious such as a low number of referring domains but a high number of backlinks or a low number of referring IP addresses.
If you want to build the relevancy of your website, you need to pay more attention to the website that is linking out to yours.
We are not simply looking for a website with high domain authority or with a high trust flow, but are more concerned with the niche that the website has this trust flow in and the context that the link is in.
There are two key factors to consider when assessing the relevance you can expect Google to see:
Perhaps the biggest value to try to build relevance to your website will come from the relevance of the links pointing to your website.
You should look to leverage the power of other websites that sit in the niche you want Google to recognize your website for.
For example, if your website was about Dog Kennel Repair then it would make sense to have links coming in from animal-based websites.
The power of relevancy would be even greater if the links were coming from dog based websites.
This is where the majestic niche (use Majestic Site Explorer) comes in handy and the more power that the niche has, the more relevance it will push through to your website.
If you don’t have a paid account for Majestic tools, then you cannot check the niche relevance, but don’t let that hold you back.
Majestic is an excellent tool for checking the niche of a website, but it is not going to be exactly how Google sees a site.
You should be able to grasp the theme of a website by checking a few pages of content on the website itself.
If most of the pages in our example here were about dogs and cats, then the theme of the website will work well.
You can also check the top backlinks coming in to the website for free using the Majestic Site Explorer and this will give you a sign.
Sometimes you will find a website that is not themed to your niche.
This is where the context of the page or post (the content that surrounds your link) becomes powerful.
However, by adding plenty of context around your link you can add relevancy this way.
A 500-word article is an absolute minimum you should aim for here and the simple rule is that the more context you add, the more relevance you are adding to your link.
A 2000 word article on dog kennels sitting among other 10,000 word articles on a range of topics will have more relevance than a 500-word article.
Branded anchor text (the name of your website) will be given all the power of the context of the article and avoid over optimization by linking in an overly aggressive way with anchor text for your site.
If you follow these simple steps we have covered so far then you will be well on your way to creating some effective off-page SEO for your website.
The final element you must consider is to ensure you avoid over-optimization of your link building strategy.
By looking for relevancy over keyword stuffing, exact match anchor text, and spammed domains you are way ahead of most other Search Engine Optimization companies.
Just be careful not to stuff keywords into your articles too many times, avoid repetition in the domain name, URL, and anchor text.
If you build backlinks, like to save time, and want software that makes insightful and useful recommendations – Linkio might be what you’ve been looking for.
Just follow these simple rules and always keep in mind that Google wants to bring the most relevant results to its users then you will really see a reward in terms of your off page SEO sooner rather than later.
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