Think of the perfect employee. What kinds of attributes do they have? If someone works for me I want them to be trustworthy and useful. I want them to get the job done well without misleading me or taking advantage of my time and/or money.
Google is really no different. They rank websites based on signals that tell them they can trust your site and that their users will benefit from what you offer. These signals come from the quality of your site as well as other sites linking to you. When you hire an employee you look at their resume and check their references. The most relevant resume and most positive references will usually win the job.
The resume is the website. It must be optimized for your message to get across, which I wrote about last week. The references are what the rest of the Internet says about you in the form of backlinks and social media. This is your off-page SEO.
A backlink is simply a link between one website and another. They can be in the form of text or images. From the beginning Google has used these links between sites as an indication of the authority of a site. The theory is the more links to a site, the more authority it has. It’s the online version of word-of-mouth. Simple right? Not so fast.
Not all links are created equal. A link from a bigger or more popular site will carry more value than a link from a brand new site that gets virtually no traffic.
Links from similar websites to your own are also important. If you are a fishing guide, you want links from your buddy who owns a fly tying website over links from your buddy who owns a lawn care website. Both links are good, but the more relevant site will be better.
My next post will talk more about backlinks and how to get them.
Since Facebook has taken over the world and Twitter is used to start revolutions, data from social media sites is being looked at more closely by Google/Bing/Yahoo and the rest. When two thousand people are talking about your website, the ears of the search engines perk up. In my opinion, the activity your site shows on social media will be more important than the old backlink system especially since Google Plus arrived. This is partly the reason behind Google’s social media platform.
So how do you boost this activity?
- Set up accounts on social media networks – Claim your space and brand name. There are a lot of social networks out there and you need to claim your brand even if you never use the site.
- Make it easy to share the content on your site – Add buttons or badges where people can share your content or follow you directly without leaving your site. Facbook Plugins – Twitter Buttons – Google Plus Badges
- Link your accounts to your website! – This is very important especially in Google Plus. Add a link to your homepage in your profile.
- Be active on Facebook, Twitter, AND Google Plus – post useful content and not just from your own site. Be a resource for your followers and your following will grow and share your stuff.
- Engage your followers – Ask and answer questions, share pictures, etc. The more you put into it, the more you get out of it.
These are the basics for social media and just barely scratch the surface but should be a good start.
Google Webmaster Tools
Now that you know the basics of off page optimization, we need to be able to measure progress and fix any problems that arise as well as let Google know we exist. Set up a Google Webmaster Tools account. This handy tool set will tell you who is linking to you (not a comprehensive list but still good to know), what keywords people are finding you with, and any problems your site might have.
Optimizing your site is a never-ending process and there are a million different things to do and ways to do it. Google, Bing, Yahoo and the rest are constantly refining and changing the way they rank pages in an effort to produce the best results.
Having said that, the most important thing to do is produce quality content. If you listen to the best SEO experts out there, they will tell you over and over again that content is king. Great articles, beautiful pictures, and engaging video will naturally attract attention from users and the search engines and you will be rewarded for that quality.
How do you make Google love you?