Off-site or off-page SEO is the process of improving the search engine perception of your website.
How do I Improve Off-Site SEO?
That is all there is to it! All you need is other sites linking to your website.
It is like a popularity contest. Websites that link to your website is like a “vote” in the eyes of Google. This link/vote tells Google that these other sites are recommending and trusting your website.
So essentially, the more websites that link to your website the higher your rankings.
There is more to it.
You don’t want just any websites linking to your website. You want relevant, authoritative websites linking to your website.
These external links that point to your website are called backlinks.
How do you create a backlink?
With the following HTML code:
This would create a clickable link to LeadGenerationWP.com, like the following:
The blue text is the link to the website, and the green text is the anchor.
When Google crawls this blog post, it will see this post linked out to LeadGenerationWP.
LeadGenerationWP will now have a backlink from this website (localgrowthhackers.com).
What is a Relevant, Authoritative Website Backlink?
Let’s look at an example, say two local Fort Worth Dentists.
Dentist A has a website with the following backlink profile:
- 200 backlinks from Russian websites with the anchor text “ugg boots.”
- forum links from animal rights topics
Dentist B has a website with the following backlink profile:
- link from Star-Telegram (local news website) with branded anchor text
- links from Dentist associations
- links from mommy bloggers talking about their kid’s teeth
Which website do you think Google would rank higher?
Hopefully, you picked Dentist B!
The key is to get backlinks from other established, relevant websites.
How to get Local Backlinks
Before we go down this path, I want to mention that buying/selling and trying to manipulate your website rankings is against the Google Guidelines.
Backlinks to your website should come “naturally”…
For example, your website can acquire links from press releases, associations, organization, community service events, general website, etc. Get creative, anywhere, and anything you can think of to get a link from another website is fair game.
If you are a member of an association/organization and they list website links on their membership page, request a link to your website. If you sponsor a community event, request a link on their website. If you submit and distribute a press release about a new service/product your company offers, be sure to include a link to your website. If one of your clients has a website, maybe you can request to do a guest post or testimonial on their website with a link back to your website. Are you active on a forum that relates to your industry? Add a link in your signature. Make sure all your social profiles link back to your website.
These are just a few examples. Again, get creative and think about ways to get more links to your website.
Amazing content is another way to to get backlinks. If you have the best content about a product/service in your industry, people might link to your page without you even having to ask.
To do this, create in-depth guides and resources that completely cover a topic of a subject. Be the expert content source!
I covered website content in the What Makes a Good Local Business Website post, check it out.
Bottom line, you need backlinks! Depending on how competitive your niche is, you might need a lot of backlinks!
You will see this when we start digging into specific local websites when doing SEO audits.
Black-Hat versus White-Hat SEO
Black-hat, grey-hat, white-hat, who cares?
If Google determines that you are trying to game their algorithm by purchasing backlinks or by over-optimizing your website, you simply won’t rank well in the SEPRs. In some cases, your website might even be hit with a penalty.
In my opinion, a majority of link building falls into the black hat group. Any link building is meant to improve and influence search engines to increase your website rankings. It is what it is.
To be true white-hat takes a looong time to start ranking websites. Especially for a brand new website.
Here are some ways to start a white-hat SEO campaign:
- create and launch website
- start writing amazing content and linkable assets
- create and link up social profiles
- add business/website to online directories
- start rubbing shoulders with industry leaders and commenting on blogs/forums
- outreach to other site owners that allow you to guest post (grey-hatish)
- be active on social media and encourage shares
- continue creating and adding new content
- pray websites link to your website
This is a broad example, but it is the white-hat way of doing SEO.
The problem is, this usually takes a long time to acquire links. For example, how likely is it that a local dentist creates a piece of content that attracts backlinks?
They are trying to run a business and pay the bills. They are normally not trying to figure out how to create a viral piece of content.
This is where the black-hat and grey-hat techniques come into play.
Because the internet has everything, you can find other webmasters and backlink providers that will link to your website. Normally for a fee.
You don’t just go around purchasing backlinks on every site you can find. You want to find sites that get traffic, are an industry leader, and relevant to your website.
You might be surprised how many sites will allow guest posts or “sponsored posts” for a fee.
I am going to stop here. You hopefully get the idea…
Private Blog Networks
At this point, you might be thinking you will buy domains and create more websites that relate to your business and link them all together.
I like where your head’s at my friend! Already trying to think outside the box.
People do this, the websites are called PBNs(private blog networks), and they require a bit of technical work.
Because you have to hide them from Google and you need to acquire established domains.
Hide PBN from Google
Google is smart. They know where a website is hosted, who owns the domain, where the domain is registered, the outbound links, and a number of other things.
Some people don’t even use the Chrome web browser or any other Google product when managing their PBNs as they think Google might be watching…
To pull off a PBN, you need to hide your domain footprint. If Google determines you have a network of websites that you are using to increase your website rankings, they will just de-index your PBN and slap a penalty on your primary (money) website.
To hide your PBNs, you need:
- different aliases
- private whois information
- different domain registrars
- unique hosting/IP addresses
- separate email addresses
- a proper outbound linking strategy
- unique content
Lots of work!
If you are trying to rank one website, I don’t recommend trying to set up a PBN. You usually hear about large SEO agencies running PBNs so they can rank their client websites a bit quicker.
FYI, some of those ‘white-hat’ links you are purchasing are just PBN links.
Don’t kill the messenger.
On top of hiding your PBN, you need established domains. You don’t just want to buy brand new domain names.
Brand new domains won’t have a backlink profile or any traffic! A link from a brand new domain with no backlink profile is pretty worthless.
You want backlinks from established, authoritative, relevant websites.
To get these domains, you are going to have to purchase non-dropped auction domains or existing websites. The key here is to acquire domains that have strong backlink profiles.
There are domain brokers and websites that offer auction domains all over the web.
Happy hunting and good luck!
How many links does your local website need? What should my link velocity be? What anchor text should I use for my backlinks?
These are all great questions and will be covered soon or in the local SEO audits.
See you in the next one.