SEO 2015: Offpage Optimisation

Jochen Fuchs

Previously in our SEO 2015 Series we talked in detail about the different aspects of Onpage SEO. Let’s now look at things you can do outside of your own site to positively influence your search engine rankings.

Linkbuilding – Backlinks as a Ranking Factor

In many cases offpage optimisation comes down to building up backlinks, or links from other sites back to yours. It’s without question that Google uses these links in their ranking algorithm, but how exactly and to what extent they do it isn’t quite clear. Lots of what gets thrown around comes from Google’s early days, when the raw number of backlinks was a vital ranking factor. This quickly led to the creation of so-called Link Farms. Link farms were pages that served only one purpose: Contain as many links to other, real webistes as possible. During their heyday, you could by links by the thousand – Offpage SEO used to be easy.

Not to go on too much of a tension, but let me briefly talk about companies that still sell backlinks today and promise the first page of search results. Keep away from those. There isn’t a single company in that field that isn’t selling snake oil. While their services might benefit you short-term, Google will punish your ranking faster than you might think. The damage bought backlicks will cause by far exceeds any potential short-term benefits.

Not very surprisingly, Google never really liked people buying links to boost their rankings. That’s why they fundamentally changed the way their algorithm looks at links over the last few years.

What does modern, responsible linkbuilding look like?

In my opinion, the most important rule for successful linkbuilding is “Don’t do linkbuilding”. If you look at things from a basic level, the only viable strategy to generate links to your site is having relevant, high-quality content. I've seen multiple companies set linkbuilding as their primary goal and never get anywhere because they didn’t have any content to offer. However, once you’ve got good content, there are a few things to look out for to get the best results.

 A nofollow Link is still better than no Link at all

It’s without question that Google takes backlicks to your site into account – just the extent to which they do is unclear. But wether or not Google cares, a link from an external site back to yours is always a good thing. Someone finds your content useful enough to link to it from their own website. This link will over time bring visitors and potential customers to your site.
The “natural” in natural link is key. Don’t waste time trying to get your site into online directories or buying links. In most cases, these sites have vey little relevance and will potentially do you more harm than good. Also, don’t worry too much about external backlinks having the nofollow attribute set. While serach engine crawlers won’t follow those links, they will still drive visitors to your site. A nofollow link is by no means a bad link.

Content is King

I’ve said this many times before, and I’m happy to emphasise it again: Don’t just produce any content for the sake of it, make it valuable for your customers. If you’re passionate about what you do and put out interesting content, people will naturally start sharing and linking to it. Just look at your own browsing patterns: When do you take the time and actually read an article? When it has fresh information that’s interesting to you. Stuff you’ve seen a dozen times before you probably click away within split seconds.

Tell the world

If you have good content, don’t shy away from telling the world about it. Use networks like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to spread the word. Get people’s attention. Even if you might just get one backlink, one like or a single retweet in the beginning, these things will add up over time as more people learn about your site. Linkbuilding isn’t a matter of a few days or even a couple of weeks. It can take months until you’ve built an audience large enough to have your updates shared and spread reliably. But if you’re going to use social media, engaging and interacting with your audience is absolutely essential. Just dumping your links there won’t get you far.

Network

Having a solid network und good relationships to bloggers and other website owners can be very important. But: This isn’t about begging people for backlinks, you should really to make a name for yourself within your area of expertise. The backlinks will come eventually.
Actively take part in discussions without posting your URL all ver the place. Link to other people’s blogs and websites without asking for anything in return. People will recognize you if you really have meaningful things to say on your topic.

Wrapping up

Offpage SEO is mostly about building up backlinks. Keep away from people selling links. Don’t waste time on online directories. Don’t spam blogs with your URL without ading anything to the discussion.

  • Produce high-quality content that’s valuable to your visitors.
  • Build a network within your industry.
  • Let people know about your content on social media
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