Alright, time to step outside your house and take a look at the front yard. I’ll now show you four big areas of off-page SEO. If you want a solid overview on one page, consider looking at Shane Barker’s great infographic.
PageRank, the famous formula that the founders of Google invented, certainly isn’t the only measure they take when ranking pages in the top ten search results. Trust is getting increasingly important, and most of the recent Google updates have hit spammy and obscure websites. TrustRank is a way for Google to see whether your site is legit or not. For example, if you look like a big brand, Google is likely to trust you. Quality backlinks from authoritative sites (like .edu or .gov domains) also help. There are four parts to building trust.
Authority – Google determines the overall authority of your site by a mix of two kinds of authority that you can build:
Domain authority, which has to do with how widespread your domain name is. Coca-cola.com is very authoritative, for example, because everyone has heard of it. Page authority, which relates to how authoritative the content of a single page (for example a blog post) is. Two other popular authority metrics are the domain and page authority numbers from Moz.
Moz also bases this score out of 100. But it’s a weighted scale. That means that it’s relatively easy to go from 0-20. However, anything over 50-60 is pretty high. And 80-90 is often the highest in a particular industry.
But what’s the simplest way? High-quality, editorial links almost always reign supreme. For example, try to do things that will encourage mainstream media sites to feature you. No, this isn’t easy. Yes, it takes a lot of time. But it’s worth it because links like these are virtually algorithm-proof. Remember earlier when we spoke about how guest blogging could be white, gray, or black hat depending on how you use it? Getting third-party validation like this from top publications is as white hat as it gets. Bounce rate – Your bounce rate is simply a measure of how many people view only one page on your site before immediately leaving again. Content, loading times, usability, and attracting the right readers are all part of decreasing your bounce rate. The math is simple – the right readers will spend more time on a site that loads fast, looks good, and has great content. Video is another great way to do so, but you need your video content to stand out and deliver. Tools like InVideo make it very easy to edit amazing videos, even if you don’t have a ton of experience.
These website usage metrics give Google indications of quality. For example, let’s say you’re looking for “pizza” near your home. You click on the first three results to compare each one.
The second and third options look good, so you browse around for a bit. You spend at least five minutes checking out each of those sites. But the first one didn’t meet your expectations for whatever reason. Five seconds after clicking, you hit the back button to open the other results. That tells Google something about that site, and it isn’t good. They’ll factor that information into their results. They’ll see that users aren’t finding that first result helpful for this query. And they won’t hesitate to drop them. That’s why click-through rates are becoming as important, if not more important, than rankings.
Domain age – Remember the times before young entrepreneurs like me were all the hype? Who were the most respected businessmen around? It was the old guys. It was the Jack Welches and Warren Buffetts of the world.
With domains on the Internet, it’s similar. Domain age matters even if they only matter a little. If you haven’t gotten your site up and running yet, consider finding an affordable, expired domain and using it. Domain trust, authority, and age often have one other thing in common:
Identity – As I mentioned above, having a brand or personal identity online is a huge trust signal for search engines, but it takes time to build. You know you’re a brand when you Google yourself and something like this pops up.
You don’t have to have a brand name. Creating your personal brand works just as well. What’s more, building brand signals prevents you from future penalties through Google updates. This partly explains why Google gives big brands preferential treatment. It’s not just a crazy conspiracy. It’s that more often than not, people prefer brands they recognize over ones they don’t. One study from Search Engine Land and Survey Monkey found that “70% of US consumers look for a ‘known retailer’ when deciding what search result to click.”
Having a recognizable brand name was even more important than the price or quality of the product in question! Think about this scenario for a second. You need tires badly. Your personal safety is at risk on the road. So who are you going to go with?
Will you pick the one that you recognize, has been around for decades, has a blimp, and appears in commercials? Or would you take a huge risk on the unknown one?
Just by how far you’re into this search engine optimization guide already shows you that the common conception of “backlinks are everything” is just wrong. They’re only a part of SEO just like all the other areas I covered already. There are plenty of ways to get backlinks. But no matter what you do, don’t just wait for people to link to you. That’s a fool’s game. You’re going to have to take the initiative and ask for them. Consider these three factors when trying to get backlinks:
Quality of links – While links are not everything, when looking at links, their quality is everything. The quality of your links matters much more than the number of links you have.
Building quality backlinks is all about reaching out to the right sources and offering value in exchange for a solid link. I show you tons of ways to do this in our advanced guide to link building.
Most people only look at the total number of links. And that’s a huge mistake for a few reasons:
- Search engines might ignore the vast majority of links if they’re low-quality or spammy
- Links from brand new sites are worth more than repeat links from existing sites
- Links from other websites are worth more than a bunch of links from your own site (from one page to another).
With all that in mind, now take a look at my site’s link profile. Specifically, focus on the bottom half.
High-quality links matter more than low-quality ones. “Total Linking Root Domains” tells you the number of unique sites that link back to you. Followed, equity-passing, external links pass the most ‘strength.’ Often, the ratio of those numbers compared to the total links is a much better indicator of success. Anchor text – The anchor text is the text that other sites use when they link to you, and yes, it matters. Differentiating between the types of anchor texts is part of the nitty gritty, but a good rule of thumb is: The more natural the link text sounds, the better. Here’s an example: You could either link to a guide on anchor text best practices Here’s an example by linking the words “click here Here’s an example ” or by naturally mentioning it in the flow of your writing (like I did in the first half of this sentence). The second category is called contextual backlinks, and that’s the one you should strive for. A number of links – Lastly, the number of total links you have matters as well, and you need to build high-quality backlinks at scale over time. We just touched on this. It’s not just total links that you’re after. However, at the end of the day, the site with the most high-quality links will usually have a better edge. And it also depends on the pages you’re getting links to. Here’s what I mean. Links to your homepage are good.
However, most natural links won’t be to a homepage unless they’re mentioning your brand name specifically. What you often find is that people will link down to pages or posts on your
site. If possible, you want to make sure the right sources are linking to the right pages.
Because there’s nothing to buy from that page! Visitors can’t give you their information or subscribe or buy. That’s the first mistake. The second is not considering how and where those links are coming from.One of Crazy Egg’s most popular features is the heatmap.It helps people pinpoint which site elements are aiding conversions and which are distracting people from converting.So if you’re trying to get links to this page, you want to get links from landing age or conversion-related sources. That might change for other feature pages like Recordings. Here, a design-related link wouldn’t make as much sense. It’s not as contextually relevant.However , if the page or post were speaking about usability or interface design, then it would be a decent fit.So the quality source of the links you get matters. But so, too, does the place they’re linking to.
The third category of off-page SEO that’s worth taking a look at is personal factors. While most of these are out of your control, there are a few things you can do to increase your chances of reaching a certain audience. Country – All searchers see results relevant to the country they’re in. Open times of recommended stores and restaurants appear according to your time zone.
Search engines interpret words differently. Someone searching for “comforter” in the US will see blankets for their bed, whereas someone in the UK might see pacifiers because that’s what the term means there. A way to tell Google that you want to target certain countries is, of course, by including them as keywords. But first, ask yourself if it’s worth it to go multinational. There are also different competition levels from country to country.
Remember how keyword selection depends largely on the competition already ranking?
Well, Google Canada is going to have different results than Google South America. That means that each country might have different levels of difficulty. A multilingual site not only expose your information to more people in their native language, but it could also help you rank easier in other places. I first saw the power of this when I saw a 47% traffic lift after translating my site years ago.
That’s whyInow have sites in almost every language, including a Portuguese version for my Brazilian readers.
Creating multilingual content is hands-down one of the easiest ‘quick wins ’I’ve seen. So what’s the catch? Well, pulling it off isn’t easy. Most of the web’s translation plugins aren’t very good. Many will promise to automatically translate your content into almost any language. But the end result isn’t natural. Personally, I’d rather pay a little more to have native-speaking people help translate the content. The quality and accuracy increase and that means that people stick around longer. And that means that my site usage data and rankings go up, too. City – The geo-targeting goes even further. It goes down to the city level. That’s why you usually see results from right around the block when you search for a fast-food chain. Again, using city names as keywords helps. But don’t paint yourself into a corner, or you’ll end up looking like you’re only a local authority. Searcher’s history – If the searcher has been on the same page before, or even if they’ve just visited your site in general, you’re more likely to show up because Google thinks you’re a relevant result for them.
Do you have a YouTube channel or a Google Plus profile for your brand? If so, the more people like you, the better. When Google sees that someone likes a brand on a social network, they’re more likely to show them results from that brand or from personal contacts that they have.
Lastly, let’s take a look at the social factors of off-page SEO. Besides social signals directly from the searcher, there are other ways good results on social media will help you rank better. Whether that’s directly through more links or indirectly through a PR boost, social matters. I’ve done several case studies on Quick Sprout, proving that social media is well worth your time. There are two main factors of influence.
Quality of shares
As with the quality of backlinks, who shares matters more than how often. Google recognizes influencers, and when they share your content, their share has more SEO juice than your neighbor’s. A great way to get influencers to share your content is by giving them a heads-up before you even publish it. Or better still, include them by quoting or interviewing them. Of course, you should also tell plenty of online celebrities who are already interested in your topic.
Tere are a few ways to find these people. The first is with Follwerwonk. It’s an analytics tool for Twitter that can help you find influencers just by searching for keywords in their bios.
I like this tool because you can sort the influencers by different metrics. Just like total links can be deceiving, so too is total followers. Instead, I find engagement metrics like social authority a much better indicator of value. New influencer marketplaces are also popping up to make this even easier. Tribe will let you search through a massive database of content creators. Again, you can sort them by metrics. But this time, you get their costs as well. So, you can find ones that overlap or influence your audience and pay them to help promote your stuff. And best of all, you can get all of the fine print ironed out before spending a single dollar.
Number of shares
The secondary social metric is the number of shares. Landing a viral hit is every marketer’s dream, but it is overrated. There are a lot of tips and hacks out there. But the truth is a little simpler: Make awesome content. That means different things to different people. For example, in the marketing space, I’ve found that long-form content almost always outperforms short-form. But think about celebrity gossip sites for a second. No one wants to slog through a whole bunch of words. The opposite is almost true here. Their audience wants something succinct with a lot of drama. They want more videos and images with less text. Just browse BuzzFeed.com or TMZ.com if you don’t believe me.
And it makes sense when you consider what makes content go viral.
Jonah Berger released a study years ago in the Journal of Marketing Research that found the following: “Virality is partially driven by physiological arousal. Content that evokes high-arousal positive (awe) or negative (anger or anxiety) emotions is more viral.” We started this article by talking about how many millions of posts people publish each day. There’s a ton of competition. So the stuff that sticks out is often at one extreme or the other. That’s why fake news stories often go viral even though many of them are completely bogus. Some of the top fake news sites could pull in ad revenue topping $500,000+ in just a short time because they get so much traffic.
Of course, I’m not recommending that you post fake news.
I am, however, suggesting that you need to think long and hard about the angle of something before publishing it. If you tap into the emotional triggers of your audience, you will almost always make your content get more attention in the long run. Oh, and promoting it like crazy helps, too.
I hope this guide helped you realize that search engine optimization isn’t optional anymore. While it doesn’t take a lot of effort to get a few basics right, it might kill your online presence if you don’t. Don’t worry if you’ve already made some SEO decisions in the past that might not have been the perfect choices. Just commit to getting started today as it can take you 6 months to a year to see results. Do your keyword research before you write your next blog post. Then, use your keyword data to optimize the basics, such as your title tags and descriptions. And who knows – maybe the next time you press publish, you’ll stand out.
After reading this guide, how will you change your attitude toward SEO?
What is SEO?
SEO stands for search engine optimization. Which is the art of ranking high on a search engine in the unpaid section, also known as the organic listings.
How long does it take for SEO to work?
If you are targeting competitive keywords, SEO can take upwards of 6 months to a year.
Does duplicate content hurt your SEO?
Search engines do not penalize for duplicate content.
What factors in link building matter?
Search engines look at the relevancy of the site linking to you, how well known is the linking site is, how many links you have in total, and the anchor text of each link.
Why SEO matters?
The vast majority of online experiences begin with a search engine, and nearly 75% of searchers start their searches on Google.