Off-Page SEO is technically anything that isn’t On-Page SEO. Until recently that meant backlinks. More recently it has expanded to Social SEO. Although I have included Social SEO as aseparate section.
What are backlinks. Basically these are the html code that points from one web page to another web page. They take the form of
<a href=”http://TheTargetSite.com”>Click This link to go to the target site</a>
This html code will exist on a web site and show the text “Click This link to go to the target site” as a link. This is known as the anchor text. Clicking this will indeed open up the new site in your browser.
These links can be in more complex form like including video instead of text but basically it is that simple.
So when Google first started the team decided that these links were like votes for that target web page. If lots of people liked the page or found it useful they would link to it.
From that basic premise came the Google Algorithm that we have today.
Today just as before backlinks are an important part of SEO. However unlike before you cannot just throw up hundreds or thousand of links to a web page to make it rank high in the SERPs.
Google is now much smarter and recent changes Like Penguin take a much closer look at your backlinks.
In 2013 backlinks need to be:
From diverse IP address and Domains
Build naturally over time
Need to be constantly added
Need to come from relevant core related websites
Need to ensure they do not come from bad neighbourhoods (spam or untrusted sites or those hosted on the same server as the aforementioned)
Need a diverse anchor text
Google would like to see a perfect world (for them) when all links came naturally. So they frown on paid links, link schemes and any method that artificiality adds links. Even link exchanges.
So first I need to explain the following:
There are two parts to the Google Algorithm.
- Page Rank.
Every web page is given a Page Rank and this is calculated by the amount of links into the page and the amount of links out of the page. (in simple terms). It is a number from 0 to 100 where 100 is the highest PR. PR used to give a site authority (and to some extent it still does) and was originally a large factor in the next part of the algorithm (Search Rank). This is calculated every 6 months or so. A site needs to do it from/to every web page on the internet.
Google added a new “code” that can be added to a link to tell it to be “no follow” this basically means that it will not pass any rank or any link juice and so will not effect the PR or the Search Rank (SERPS position) of the target site. This is a way to tell Google to ignore the links.
Today however the PR does not have such a big impact on the search rankings and there are other, better measures like Moz Page Authority that holds up much better in the 2013 style SEO environment.
So now back to our original issue of Google not liking certain types of links. Why would we want to “no follow “ a link?
Links can pass traffic as well as rank. Passing traffic has nothing to do with Google’s search algorithm and so they should have no say of how you do that. If you want to pass traffic from one web page to another that is your right.
So you can now add the “no follow” code to the link
<a href=”http://TheTargetSite.com” rel=”nofollow”>Click This link to go to the target site</a>
This tells Google to ignore the link as far as they are concerned (so no bad kudos for your site if this is a paid link or an exchange link for example) but traffic can still flow to your site.
Penguin came and changed the face of anchor text forever. Pre Penguin you added your target keyword to every anchor text and it told Google just how much love everyone had for your site and it shot up the SERPs.
Those days are well and truly gone. Post penguin rafts of sites that had used this “gaming” method plummeted out of the SERPs. Now a diverse anchor text is needed.
Generally we view anchor text in 4 different categories
- The target keyword and variations of that keywords
- The target site URL
- Generic Others
Google are having a big push toward “branding” it means that pages can rank based on their brand and not just their immediate content. If you have a strong brand it will pretty much automatically rank any content related or linked to that brands. It is all part of Googles new world.
I can’t go into depth here but suffice to say if you have even one website you should start “branding” yourself rather than targeting exact match domains and beating keywords into submission.
But I digress……..Anchor text…
There is no exact science here just personal estimations from my own experience
The actual keyword your targeting and any variations of it (dog training, dog trainer, doggy trainer etc.) should not appear in more than about 20% of your total anchor texts.
The rest should be URL, Brand or Generic related but still diverse.
A great case study was done recently by Moz and is definitely worth reading. In it they ranked number 2 in Google SERPs for a fairly strong keyword with only 13 moderate backlinks.
The main thing was the backlinks all came from very relevant sites.