In our last post, we talked about On-Page SEO. These were the tactics you have complete control over when it comes to ranking higher in Google.
This time we are going to talk about the tactics you can employ that you don't have complete control over. Some you'll have no control over, and some you'll have some influence in.
And as you guessed it:
This is called Off Page SEO.
What You'll Learn Today
- Off-Page SEO we control
- Off-Page SEO we influence
- The SEO Gatekeeper
- Referring Domains vs. backlinks
- Do-follow vs. No-follow links
- Pillow Linking
To make things simpler for us, let's break everything into three parts:
First is, what you can control.
Second is, what you can influence.
Third is, the characteristics of each backlink and how they relate to your website rankings.
Backlinks are a huge subject and that's why they are one of the 3 core pieces of the SEO puzzle.
What Can We Control?
Truly, there aren't any factors of Off-Page SEO that you have complete control over…
Except for one:
PBN's (Private Blog Networks.)
These are essentially aged domains that come with a clean backlink profile and a high domain authority.
The reason why people use aged domains is because they come with some weight in the eyes of Google.
Very simply, people buy a few of these old domains and point them back to their money site.
Giving it a stronger backlink profile.
In a very non-simplistic way, PBN's are difficult to maintain and are against Google's rules. But people still use them and they still work.
Check this out: We've also created ongoing content services for PBN builders.
What's another factor we have control over?
This is a simple concept – you swap links with other site owners that you're friends with.
I've heard people downplay this concept and say that it's useless. But if you are a brand new site and you don't have any links to you, it's not going to hurt you.
In general, you should aim to have links pointing to you from sites that are in your niche. But at the beginning, even if the links that point to you are random because your friends all own sites in different niches – it's ok.
Yes, Google is trying to figure out what your site's all about. But this effort will stretch your link building “legs” and you'll get the bonus of seeing some links in your Google Analytics dashboard. Which is another thing you should become familiar with as well.
What Can We Influence?
The difference between what we can control and what can be influenced comes down to an “SEO Gatekeeper”
An SEO Gatekeeper is:
A person or service that helps controls the links pointing you site.
In a way, Link Exchanging can fall into this bucket but your essentially exchanging an eye for an eye – so it's a little bit different than SEO efforts you can only influence.
Here are four ways we can spread some love back to our site:
Blog Commenting, Creating Shareable Content, Building Web 2.0 links, and Sending out Press Releases.
Who is the Gate Keeper for blog commenting?
Usually the owner of the blog. Most of the time if you leave a comment, you'll have to wait for the moderator (site owner) to allow your comment to show up at the bottom.
And if you have a link within your comments, you better make sure it's relevant.
This is the reason why it's best practice to read the article at least and make sure whatever you are saying either adds to the conversation positively or negatively. A negative take would be that you disagree with something in the article and have posted a different spin on it.
Of course, doing this in a respectful manner is going to garner you higher chances of having your comment show up.
What would be considered shareable content?
Shareable content is measured by engagement. It can have a click-bait title, is funny, a roundup list, or is extremely “good to know”.
Open up BuzzSumo and enter in your niche and sub-categories. Find some interesting articles in there and don't be afraid to take those exact subjects but make them better.
Always make the internet a better place.
Both blog commenting and creating socially relevant content can create links at a fairly low cost, but the next two options are generally paid services.
Create Web 2.0 Links:
The Hoth is the SEO gate keeper in essence, since your purchasing this service and therefore don't really have as much control over the results. Unlike if you were maintaining your own PBN.
Press Releases work in a similar manner:
You can submit your site to different directories and companies like The Hoth have press release services as well.
Backlink Characteristics – Here's Where to Start!
One thing I like to keep track of is:
Referring Domains Vs. Referring Pages Vs. Backlinks
Referring Domain's are the number of “.com”s pointing to your site. Put another way, they are the number of websites pointing to you. Including .com's, .net's, .edu – everything.
Referring Pages means how many pages are pointing to your site.
One website (referring domain) could have several links to you. And let's say the website has 20 pages and 10 of them have links to you – then you'll have 10 referring pages.
Next in the hierarchy is the number of backlinks:
Backlinks are simply the total number of links pointing to your site. For example, one site could have 20 backlinks pointing to you. But only have 10 pages published. This means that ‘on average', there are 2 links per page (referring page) pointing to your site.
Why is this important?
If you have a crap ton of backlinks but very little Referring Domains or Referring Pages, that could definitely look really weird to Google.
Remember that Google is building its algorithm to find unnatural looking patterns.
There are of course exceptions, big companies have been known to pump up their new sites rankings by providing footer links on all of their pages in order to send some “link juice” to their new babies.
Glen Allsopp from Viperchill wrote all about it here.
Do-Follow Vs. No-Follow Links
Well, Do-Follow links are believed to spread that “link juice” around. So if you get a new link to your site, you'll want it to be a Do-Follow link.
Link juice is simply the passing of ranking factors from one link to another.
However, in my own best practice – I tend to use Do-Follow links religiously because it seems “unnatural” to me to create No-Follow links.
Creating a No-Follow link is an SEO type of thing to do. And even though I have knowledge of the difference, I purposely reject creating No-Follows still.
Side note: You can't use do-follow links in sponsored posts. So if someone is paying you to write about them and it's technically a native ad, that's a big no-no in Google's eyes.
Here's an awesome video for you to see if the links pointing to your site are do-follow or not.
Is the Content Around Your Backlinks Important?
Link Relevancy refers to how relevant the content is that surrounds the links pointing to your site.
We aren't talking about the anchor text itself, but the words and even meta within images that surrounds your site.
Google isn't perfect and this is just another tactic it uses to judge what type of site you are. It's constantly moving you around trying to figure out what type of content your an expert in so that it can favor you when the time is right.
If your links are surrounded by words and images that are related to your niche, then it should be easier for Google to index you right.
Speaking of Anchor text:
It's best practice to diversify the words that are used to link to your site.
The words linking to your site are known as anchor text. In other words, they're hyperlinks from other websites.
For example, if your sites main keyword is “best gardening shovel” and 100% of the links pointing to your site are “best gardening shovel” – then that looks unnatural again.
So create what are known as “Pillow Links”:
These are just random anchor text's pointing to your site like “click here”, “yousite.com”, “this article”, etc.
But again, the content surrounding it should be relevant. All that pillow links are doing is diluting your main anchor text to look more natural.
If you had 100 different website owners linking to you. It would be very unlikely that they would all be using the same anchor text.
Josh Shogren does an excellent job of explaining and implementing pillow links as a successful strategy in his niche site case study.
One last thing:
Usually, if you're in the Amazon niche, it's going to be very difficult for you to get natural links pointing to your “money pages”.
Your money pages are usually some sort of review.
The best you can is spread the link juice amongst your pages in the classic Silo Structure.
Your money pages are known as the “pillar” and the other pages pointing your money page are the “supporting” articles.
Supporting articles can be created to be more favourable for SEO or Social Media.
SEO focused “Supporting” articles are created from the ground up based with a main keyword in mind. More specifically a keyword that is related to your Pillar's main keyword.
You pillar article could be “Best Night Light for Children”
Your supporting articles could be “why are children afraid of the dark” or “how old should children be before they sleep alone”.
Sometimes your Money Page could have less estimated volume but is focused on a keyword with more commercial intent.
To wrap up…
- Think of off-page SEO in terms of what you can control and what you have influence over.
- Owning a PBN is the only real off-page SEO effort you have complete control over.
- Exchange links with your friends at the beginning.
- An “SEO Gatekeeper” is who you have to impress in order to get a link back from.
- Only leave relevant and useful blog comments.
- Create shareable content.
- Use services like ‘The Hoth' to build Web 2.0 properties and send press releases.
- Remember that Google is trying to reward people with natural links.
- Backlinks are the backbone of your internet presence.
- Creating No-Follow links are a very unnatural thing to do.
- Your backlinks should be from pages with relevant content – both words and images.
- Diversify your links with a pillow link strategy.
- Create your site in a Silo structure. With a pillar post and multiple supporting articles within one silo.
To take your SEO to next level, we recommend this article on “extra mile SEO”