SEO - Back to Basics II
  • 25
    Mar

SEO – Back to Basics II

SEO Basics – Off Page SEO

What is Off Page SEO?

Off Page SEO is the actions you take outside of your Website to send signals to Search Engines that determines your website content relevance to a given search term also known as Keywords or Keyphrases.

What are Off-Page Signals?

Now you are entering the dark art of SEO. Nobody really knows for certain but everyone has an opinion and “thinks” they know the 600+ signals. The key here is about experience and we are sharing here some of the key signals that we have seen impact websites. This is not an exhaustive list of elements and do remember Search Engines change their algorithm regularly.

  • PageRank

    This is based on the number of links from other websites that are pointing to your website. This is defunct as we see more and more websites with lower PageRanks beat higher ranked ones in SERP. In March 2016 Google announce it will no longer publish PageRanks. This is understandable as so many people have tried to game the system by buying or trading links. Google in particular started to penalise sites that it suspects are buying links, so be very wary of buying or trading links even in triangular trade (This is where you put a link to one website, which has a link to a 3rd website that in turn puts a link to your website!).

You should also stay away from Directories and Link Farms as the only thing that helps in SEO is “Relevant Links” from “Relevant Sites” and not sheer numbers. It is of no use having a link from a Grocery Website if your website is about Car Hire. So you need links from good quality and trusted websites that have relevant content to your subject. You can stop obsessing about PageRank now and concentrate on getting natural links which means unpaid links from relevant websites to your website. This is a big subject which we will do separate article on later (Can’t wait, can you?)

  • Domain Age

    New domains are always at a disadvantage when it comes to SERP (Search Engine Results Page) performance. Google needs to trust your website. Google’s trust is built by a combination of age, number of links from trusted websites, content quality, website performance, ownership, and length of time the domain is paid for (commitment to the web as it is known within the SEO circles).

If the domain has been active, i.e. with an active website and not a holding page, then optimisation of this site should be much easier than a brand new domain. However, if the active website is relatively new, then the ageing process would have only started from the moment a live website was installed.

  • Domain Registrations

    Domain names are registered with “Registrar” company who comply with ICANN regulations. There are a number of questions that Google needs clear answers to which are readily and publicly available from the Registrar. This is also known as “WhoIs” record that allows anyone to inspect the records of any domain. The critical information for Search Engines and visitors that are asked to part money with on a website include:

    • Age

      How long has the domain been registered and active? This is about maturity of domain. Just like wine, domains become more valuable as they age! (see above)

    • Ownership

      Is the name of the owner available or is it a “Anonymous” register? You can register a domain under “Protected Name” or “Private” where the Registrar has your details but publishes itself as “proxy owner”. This is a bad idea as both users and Google assume you have something to hide. To top this off, the Registrar will ask you for more money for the privilege of having a “Private Register”!

    • Owner’s Reputation

      In line with the above, Google considers how many other domains the owner has registered. If it is more than a dozen or so, it assumes the owner is a spammer or is a front to hide the identity of the real owners. This brings you back to “Anonymous/Private” register and lowers your domain’s trust value. This is another reason we do not register Client’s domain names in our name.

  • Back Links

    Firstly what is the difference between Back Links and Links? Well none except Links can be internal or externals links, whilst Back Links are always links from an external source (another website, social media, etc.) to your website. This means a link from Facebook is a Back Link just as a link from another website to you is a Back Link. However, the value of the back link, also referred to as “Link Juice”, is based on how highly thought of (or trusted) is the website linking to you and also how relevant they are. The more links you have the better for your website but only if they are from reputable and relevant websites or sources.

  • Link Juice

    The impact of a link on your website is dependent on the originating site’s (or source) own Authority, Reputation, Inbound Bank Links, Relevance, and Anchor Text. You cannot really impact this but you can ensure websites with poor reputation or spammy content either remove their links to you or you can use Google Webmaster tool to “Disavow” them (in other words “Disown” them). This means you declare to Google “Sorry, I did not ask for this link and please do not count it against me”.

  • Good Link, Bad Link

    Now you need to be aware of what is a bad link and which links are good. It is simple common sense, which means if someone charges you for a link, or the source website is full of links, or the website reputation is questionable, or the content is not relevant to your content, etc. you should avoid them. Also remember you cannot force people to remove their links to you, which is why Google has come up with the idea of “Disavow”. Google used to ignore these links and did not pass any Link Juice to the target website, but in their wisdom they decided to make the website owner accountable! Welcome to crazy universe of Google.

  • Anchor Text

    You may have noticed that some text (word or even entire sentence) in some websites are in different colour and/or when you hover your mouse over them you see a link and if you click them you end up in another page or another website with content relevant to the highlighted text. This text is known as Anchor Text. You can see this in websites such as Wikipedia or our own website where you see text in Burgundy. The Anchor Text should ideally include keywords relevant to the target page content. This amplifies the value of the link.

  • Link Building

    This is the process of actively searching out for websites to link to you. This can be done by directly contacting the right kind of websites (avoid directories) or by creating content including blogs that encourages people to link to your website page. Whatever you do, avoid paid links, swap links or get into triangular links where Website A links to Website B and Website B links to Website C and finally Website C links back to Website A. If the content of these websites are not relevant to you and they are seen as spam content or domain, they will harm you instead of help you.

  • Outbound Links

    Now be aware that links from your website to other websites drain your “Link Juice” and pass some of it on to the target website. You may wish to do this as this may add value by encouraging the target website to link back to you. However, unless you see a real advantage in this you should use “No Follow” tag to signal to Google and other search engines to ignore this link. This is the same as “Disavow” but in reverse where you say to the Search Engine “Ignore this, I had to put this link here either for information only or I was forced for some reason but I am not giving them a vote or a boost or my Link Juice”.

Conclusions

Off Page SEO is an ongoing process which requires commitment, creativity, networking and a sprinkling of brilliance. Your job is never done. Even if you manage to get everything right and push all your competitors down to second place, it is unlikely that they will take it lying down and let you walk off with their lunch. Your competitors will fight back and try to reclaim their place, which sets off the entire cycle again.

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