To really compete on the growing Internet on-site SEO optimization is crucial, but it may not be enough to gain significant rankings, you’re going to need links. Most Internet marketers will tell you it’s worth the time spent or budget paying an experienced professional or agency to develop an offsite SEO campaign.
Focusing on acquiring a diverse amount of relevant links with the correct anchor text distribution will make all the difference in your search positions. If you do it right, you’ll find yourself getting better results from your effort and over time push past your competition to the top of the search page. When you acquire links use this information below and get a ton of additional value out of them.
Diversify your distribution and link sources
It takes significant effort to take your marketing to a higher level. At it’s best a healthy backlink profile is the result of great marketing. By having a diverse amount of quality links pointing back to your website you’ll gradually see your search engine rankings improve along with increased overall traffic to your website.
Both B2C and B2B business’s regardless of targeting a local or national campaign have a mailing address or place of business and can benefit from citations and listings with top level directories. Whitespark and Moz Local are a great starting point, also use industry research to uncover niche opportunities.
Create valuable content on your own site and you will gain attention and subsequent links. Participate in social media and communities around your topics and if you do things right in a non-promotional way people will note you and share or link to your own relevant content. Network for links by building relationships with people who have real businesses that are compatible to yours and associate with them in some way that is mutually beneficial.
Focus on providing information to your ideal reader. Develop a few fictitious persona’s of the people you are intending to write for. Start by giving them names and basic demographics like age, family, where they live, what they do and what challenges they might face. Having your audience figured out can help shape your overall marketing and uncover hidden gems you may not of thought of otherwise.
People tend to use generic references or your articles title when linking to your site. Open graph is also very common across social sites and will use your page title. Keep this in mind when considering how your link profile is progressing.
If your content isn’t gaining enough backlinks on it’s own guest blogging is a great way to get links while also driving traffic to your site. Start by having value added content on your own blog then reach out to websites in your industry. When writing a blog post format your content around the link. Links should be used as a source to the information you are providing. They’re used to attribute thoughts, ideas or a reference to another site. If you format the context of the article around the link so it’s referencing your site as the source no one will never question your intentions (i.e “according to Clayton Johnson, an SEO Specialist, guest blogging is effective”). If the links that you place in a guest post are ever removed you should reconsider the value you are adding and the approach. As you write more and build a name for yourself or the company you are writing for editors will never doubt your links. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship when you provide content to an audience that finds it worth reading.
Keep the velocity of links in check
Link velocity is the rate which other websites are linking back to your site. To put it another way it is the amount of links grown over time in your backlink profile. If you get a lot of backlinks in the first month, no backlinks in the second, a handful in the third, and finally over 5,000 backlinks in the fourth month. Doesn’t that seem odd? Links that are obtained naturally typically build over time, not overnight. Having links proportionate to the amount of content that you have on your site is essential. Producing high quality content maintains the optimal link building velocity. Different referring domains linking to your pages steadily over time is a great sign your doing things right.
Use domain authority (DA)
Domain authority is the measure of power that a domain name has. Domain authority is based on: Age, Popularity, and Size. Moz a leader in inbound marketing software created this metric and Google has since stopped updating the public display of the equivalent metric Pagerank used in Googles ranking algorithm.
The higher the domain and page authority a site has typically the higher quality site. It shows they have quality links themselves and ensures indexing of the fresh page you publish to or an updated caching of a page that already exists. By putting more effort towards publishing on sites with high domain authority you ensure your links are in good company and not associated with low quality pages.
You can check (DA) using Open Site Explorer, there are also plugins available from Moz for Firefox and Chrome.
Get nofollow links
“Nofollow” is an html value that lets webmasters tell search engines “Don’t follow links on this page” or “Don’t follow this specific link.”. The rel=nofollow attribute was introduced by Google to combat spam, specifically when comment linking was abused. In other words nofollow tells search engines that the link should not influence the ranking of the link’s target in the search engine’s index.
Google can still use a nofollow link to discover and crawl your sites pages even if it isn’t counting towards your influence. They also give your link profile a natural profile, which is definitely a ranking factor. Regardless if the link is dofollow or not it can create awareness, after all it is still a link to your site. They are just as valuable as any other relevant and quality site linking to you. Focus on distributing your content and don’t worry if the link is nofollowed or not.
Optimize in relation to your URLs
Your anchor texts should depend on the URL that you’re linking to. If your URL has your keywords already in it, you’ll have less room to send in anchor with those same keywords without posing risk to over-optimization.
|URL||Keyword Anchor Usage|
In the example URL #1 above, the keyword cheap flights isn’t used at all, so you have the highest amount of freedom when it comes to sending anchors with the word “cheap flights”. URL #2 is what a majority of people are probably working with. In that case, stick to the niche-specific target anchor text. URL #2’s configuration is also what I recommend for onsite SEO. URL #3 uses “cheap” twice, which really limits you in how many target anchors you can send to this URL. I would be extremely careful about over-optimization if you’re in the same situation as URL #3.
Use natural anchor text
Having a variety of anchors keeps your link profile natural. Use this chart as a loose guideline to follow when you are getting links to your site.
|URL: This is just the website address as the anchor text||Yourwebsite.com|
|Brand: The business name on its own is a natural anchor text to use||Brand|
|Branded Keyword: Your brand name and keyword mixed||Keyword Brand|
|Phrase: Your keyword mixed into a longer phrase||Best Keyword in area|
|Related: Industry related keywords||Keyword1, Keyword 2, Keyword2|
|Generic: Click here, go to site, this website||Click Here|
|Exact: The keyword you are targeting main keyword||Keyword|
When people are trying to rank for local terms, such as “Cheap Flights Minneapolis”, what they typically do is create links with the anchor “Cheap Flights Minneapolis”, but how does that look in an article? “Are you looking for Cheap Flights Minneapolis” No one would ever say that. Instead use “Cheap Flights in Minneapolis”. You’re getting credit for “Cheap Flights Minneapolis”, but look completely normal while doing it.
Never use the same anchor text repeatedly
|Cheap Flights —>||Cheapest Flights|
|Cheap Flights —>||Cheap Airline|
|Cheap Flights —>||Flight Deals|
|Cheap Flights —>||Cheapest Airfare|
|Cheap Flights —>||Cheap Plane Tickets|
In the early days of SEO you could get away with anything, people that wanted to rank for “Cheap Flights” would send all their anchors as “Cheap Flights. This doesn’t work at all anymore. What are the odds of this happening naturally? The probability of multiple websites all linking to another website using the exact same anchor text is pretty slim. If you have thousands of backlinks it is certainly possible some will overlap. Instead, never use the same target anchor more than once and mix up your keywords by throwing in filler words. Not only does it look natural, but it gets a better result with fewer links.
Understand LSI and use synonyms
It’s important to use keyword related terms to get credit for your keyword, while avoiding being over optimized. Google has an extensive amount of latent semantic indexing (LSI) and synonym matching into it salgorithm. You see this on many searches but you might not notice it.
Latent Semantic Indexing sounds complicated, but in a nutshell it means that Google is showing results based on relations to similar words and phrases.
A search for “Cheap Airlines”
When you search for “Cheap Airline” you’ll see that Google will bold the keywords that match your search terms. The word airline is a synonym to flight that you can use instead. When you’re reaching your limit on how many times you can use your target keywords, start to use in synonyms instead. You’ll get the ranking benefits while avoiding over-optimization.
Research Your Own link Profile
Use Google Search Console to examine your current links and anchors distribution. This will give you an idea of your current diversity and anchor usage.
If your web property isn’t already verified see this guide. If no data is showing up be sure to verify and check all versions of your site (http://site.com http://www.site.com, https://)
From the main dashboard of Search Console click on “Search Traffic” and then “Links to Your Site”
Go to the More > section of “Who links the most” and download all 3 tables. This will show you everyone Google has found who is linking to you and how many times.
Also go to the More > section of “How your data is linked” and download the table. This will show your anchor texts listed by most used to least.
Research your competition
Google shows you exactly what they want for the search terms you are trying to rank for. Checkout your top 3-5 competitors and how they have used link diversity and anchor text distribution in your niche. Researching your competition is also a great way to identify new linking opportunities.
In this example I am using Ahrefs site explorer to see an in-depth view of links
The Anchor Clouds section shows a nice overview of the type of anchor texts that they are using.
For in-depth analysis you can click on the referring domains of anchor Phrases and terms
Use the research of your own link profile and your competitors to identify what’s working now and take full control of your offsite SEO
Take action now
Now that you know how to take control of your offsite SEO, it’s time to take action. Stick to providing value and pay attention to all the caveats mentioned in this article to see impressive results.