Althought the great majority of consumers today prefer to find companies, products, and services online prior to making a purchase, most businesses have been slow to adopt best internet practices such as search engine optimization. As a foundation for achieving high rankings, let’s start at the beginning; there are two types of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), “On-Page” and “Off-Page”. On-page optimization refers to having each page of your website constructed with all of the on-page SEO elements required to achieve perfectly optimized pages along with alignment with carefully selected, popular search terms for your industry, product or service. This process involves implementing the on-page architecture across each page based on keyword research, stakeholder input, competitive analysis, and search engine statistics. In addition, to maintain best practices for On-Page SEO, constant testing and refinement is recommended.
While on-page optimization is the type of optimization that most people are familiar with, it is not necessarily the most effective component of SEO. What holds the most correlating significance to high rankings is “off-page” optimization.
Off-Page SEO Confirms the Pareto Principle…..Again!
Pareto’s 80/20 Rule means in essence that 20 percent of something is responsible for 80 percent of the result or activity; and so it is that off-page optimization is responsible for the majority of your advances with search engine rankings. This important aspect of the off-page optimization process involves creating authority for your website. Google quickly realized that everyone has the ability to create “on-page” optimization for their site as this is a fairly straightforward process. One of the algorithms that Google uses to rank websites is by how many back links are coming into your site.
The number of back links ‘or votes of confidence’ is an indication of the popularity or importance of your website. Links are the currency of the Internet and each link into your site acts as a “vote” that tells the search engines that your site is a quality site.
Before we dive in too deep, you need to realize that it’s not only the quantity of back links that matter; but more importantly, it’s the quality of the back links. Google realizes that getting a large number of back links is another fairly easy thing to do as you can hire companies that will provide 1000’s of links for a few hundred dollars. All companies interested in having sustainable success doesn’t want to do this as it is considered a black hat tactic that Google will penalize you ‘as it did to JC Penney’ if it appears that you’re growing your links too fast, or in an un-natural manner. Additionally, most of the links provided by these types of companies have zero link value.
Google uses a matrix to gauge the quality of your links. The matrix is based on how popular your site is in its vertical market, how many visitors your site has, the quantity of quality industry links that you have, and the authority of those linking sites. There are a number of legitimate to get quality back links; some of them are fairly easy such as obtaining links in industry or shopping directories. You can find these sites by conducting a simple Google search for “your industry” and “directory”. With this method, you can find a large number of free and a nominal-fee directory sites.
Another good way to find links is pursue to links that are utilized by your competitors. You can find all of your competitor’s links at Yahoo! Site Explorer. This is a free and valuable competitive analysis tool where you can not only find all of your competitors links, you can also view which are their most popular pages.
As I mentioned previously, there are a number of ways to get links, but the best way is to create high quality content based on original thought. If you create quality material or advanced content, it many times gets published by another site gaining the most valuable links you need to raise your search ranking. It’s all about creating consistent content that is helpful to your primary audience or even better – a broader audience.
That’s right, your article can be more successful if you write about something that is not only important to your vertical market, but it is also important to the general population. You could write about a hot trend or product that you’re using and telling everyone how to use it better or more efficiently, i.e. the 10 best Iphone apps, How to Get Relevant Twitter Followers, How Your Business Can Profit from Facebook, etc. With this type of content, you have the chance for your article to be picked up not only by your trade publications, but your article could be distributed in a large amount of consumer or other trade publications. This type of reach could equate to a larger quantity of quality back links for you site.
While writing, it’s important to realize that you are appealing to three main audiences; the actual reader of your article, the search engines, and the feed sources. Feed sources have become extremely valuable avenues; RSS readers are widely used by readers and are one of your important “audiences”. Some publishers even publish articles strictly based on the keywords they specify for their newsfeed. If you have the keyword in your title or body copy, your article could be picked up by these publications and back links will be established.
Another important point to remember when writing your articles is to remember to place anchor tags in the body copy of your article (preferably that are part of your on-page keyword strategy) to link back to your site.
Link building, along with all Off-Page SEO techniques, require an ongoing process and no single blog or article will put you over the top. With consistent article and blog submissions that are highly targeted and optimized, you will be on your way!