How to Increase Website Traffic - The Beginner's Guide To Off-Page SEO
Several bloggers keep writing articles without knowing the technical background of copywriting even though this can very well come back to bite them. The ‘must-know’ techie stuff? SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
You may have started blogging because you have a business and thought everyone else wrote articles so, hey, you should too! Or maybe you wanted to monetize your blog and become a digital nomad. Whatever your reason, to be truly successful, you need to know what happens on the internet when you publish your masterpiece.
Creating a great article is not enough. You need to follow the Off-Page SEO (or Off-Site SEO) Best Practices to increase your website traffic and maximize the result of your efforts.
If you're someone who work tirelessly to produce content without any noticeable outcome, this article is for you.
Why is blogging important?
Initially blogging started off as a daily, personal (online) journal. Nowadays, blogs come in all shapes and sizes, helping people share their ideas, tips, experiences and building trust with an audience.
In the age of millennials it's crucial to be transparent and not to sell hard. Millenials want to learn about products before they buy them and are very cautious with how brands communicate. Blogging helps your audience bonds with you, and helps you build a healthy relationship with them.
As marketers are wont to, they eventually found the potential of leveraging blog content. And they found it in the fact that Search Engines LOVE blogs.
The techie side of blogging
What is SEO
Search Engine Optimization is a series of techniques used to improve a website's performance on the SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages).
Tha ranking signals are defined by Google updates. Google regularly updates its algorithm but most of the time SEO professionals only realize it after the event, based on sudden changes in the data.
For example, when there is a sudden drop in the number of visitors to your website, you’ll begin to suspect that Google has changed its algorithm, which has had an impact on your performance.
When someone types a question (so-called ‘queries’ in SEO-speak) into the search bar on Google, a page appears where the listing of the response can be found. The more relevant the result is, the higher its position will be on the SERP.
It's important to get the first spots on the SERP because the majority of people only check this first page. Like they say, the best place to hide a dead body is page two of Google.
Why is search marketing a big deal?
Search Engines like Google or Bing are the sacred gods of every digital marketer. It may be difficult to understand the concept of SEO if you don't do online marketing for a living, but trust me, it's something that anyone can pick up.
First thing's first. Google's main goal is to provide the most relevant and valuable result to the users' questions. You need to remember this when you write your article.
On-Site, Off-Site and Technical SEO are three different things
On-Page SEO covers the optimization of your website's elements. It includes keyword optimization implemented in the copy, URL, image and metadescription.
In order to get the most out of this tactic you need to run an extensive keyword research and consider your customers' intent. It doesn't make sense to write about something that ultimately helps no one solve their problems.
Use Off-Site or Off-Page SEO to increase your ranking outside of your website-
Imagine that your website is an island in the middle of the ocean. The only way to get there is via hyperlinks. These links are the so-called backlinks that point to your content from another website.
Why do backlinks matter?
The more quality backlinks you have pointing to your website is, the better. They show Google that your website has a high authority because others find it valuable enough to link to. It indicates that your website is popular and relevant.
For Google's content crawlers, the number of backlinks you get, determines how good your content is. (Other qualifying factors include the number of people who click on your SEO title and spend a good amount of time on your site). However, not every backlink has the same value.
Low authority websites can be bad for your ranking. That's why you need to be cautious.
How do search engines decide what the useful posts are?
There are several signals that the engines' algorithms follow.
Domain Authority (DA)
Google uses a rank scoring system to define a websites' domain authority (DA) between 1-100. The higher is, the better. You can use MozBar to see how other sites perform and whether it's worth it to link to them or ask for backlinks.
Backlinks from websites with a high domain authority means more than the ones from a lower domain. And there's more.
There is no common agreement on good DA benchmark, but to get a general outlook for your strategy, I would rely on the SEO software I use.
Page Authority (PA)
This is very similar to domain authority but instead of the whole domain, it shows how a specific page ranks on the SERP. This score measures one single page only.
'Trust Rank' is also an important indicator to measure the 'trustworthiness' of a website. There are several tools to check this score and find out if you can trust a website.
In every case, you can increase your own scores by getting links from other high authority websites.
Poor website authority backlinks can hurt your ranking. Why?
Manipulating Google used to be one way of doing SEO. We call these methods 'Black-Hat SEO' - and Google updates have adapted to counter these techniques. The guidelines set the rule for ethical marketing techniques. If someone violates these rules they will be penalized.
Wait like a speeding ticket? No, a Google penalty doesn't mean that you have to pay a fine, but they will make sure your website is at the bottom of the SERP, which as we mentioned, is a quick death for your website traffic goals.
So what do you do if a dodgy website links to your quality blog post?
Two options. You can disavow or remove them.
By disavowing these links you basically tell Google not to count these backlinks. These low quality websites are generally penalized by Google, and that's why they have an impact on your performance. You should avoid them.
The Nofollow attribute tells Google not to add PageRank from another site. It can be useful if someone posts your website in a shady forum or linkfarm.
A good backlink can result in a higher amount of referral traffic and provide 'link-juice' as well. Link-juice is SEO jargon for a number of quality backlinks from a website.
So what are these Black-Hat SEO methods?
You need to avoid these methods if you want to be successful in the long term. Unfortunately there are so-called SEO experts who promise to get your website on the first page of the SERP within a week or so. If anyone promises that, run!
What not to do
1. Spamming on forums:
It might seem a good idea to go on forums and insert the link of your website in the comment section. Google's sophisticated system knows what you are up to though.
You can share your blog posts if you think it's valuable and indeed helps answer the question but use this technique with caution.
Linkfarms were created back in the day to gather links to help visibility. Uploading your website on directories seems a good idea and easy solution of gaining backlinks but exchanging links by this method is considered to be black hat technique now.
How to do White Hat SEO?
The heart of Off-Site SEO lies in link building.
I remember when I started off my career, the term linkbuilding sounded so mysterious and I did not understand how I could do it. Now I know, it's about building relationships and great content.
What is linkbuilding
Searchengines need 'roads' so they can crawl your website. It's easier to find you if you have many hyperlinks leading to your site, and if the anchor text the other website uses matches what you do, you've hit the jackpot!
What you need to do is to get others to link to your page.
Types of backlinks
1. Neutral links are the most precious links you can earn.
They found your content, picked up your article and used it as a reference in their own content. It means that the content you wrote was so good, so valuable it did the heavy lifting.
That's why you need great On-Page SEO married with great Topical Authority. Write in-depth articles and show the world you are an expert.
Be active on social media and share your content regularly. Social shares do matter when it comes to Off-site SEO. It implies that people love your content and are willing to share it.
Make sure you have Google+, Linkedin and Facebook accounts at least. You can also experiment with Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Tumblr, Wechat, Foursquare and other social platforms depending on your profile.
Nota bene: use different types of content such as infographics, PDFs, templates. It can help reach your audience with different interests and needs.
2. Self-created links are the ones you uploaded on other websites
Postings on directories is not as powerful anymore and as I said before, choosing the wrong directories can get you into trouble.
But, there are certain tactics you can use. In the case of Off-Site Local SEO it's beneficial to upload your business on certain websites.
3. Outreach backlinks are the result of co-operation with others. How to do it?
Method 1: Analyze your competitors' backlinks and copy them
Run a backlink audit by using SEMRush or the Open Site Explorer by Moz to see what websites link to them. Find out whether you could get links from those sites too. It's very likely that they would be interested in your content as well.
Method 2: Find great websites
Is there a thought leader you look up to? Do they have a great website? Why not email them and ask for a link?
Here is how to do it:
- Ask them for a backlink. Tell them you've read an article from them and thought your blog post would fit in there.
- Ask about guestposting. This method works because writing takes so much time, they would be happy to take your work for free and boost their website performance. And, if they want to write a guest post for you, you can kill two birds with one stone.
Method 3: Leverage Influencer marketing
Again, it's about relationship building. Once influencers share your content you can have a tremendous visibility.
If you decide you pay for it, make sure you pick the right person. Otherwise it'll be a waste of money.
What SEO software to use?
SEMRush is a great tool, it allows you to have one project for free.
You need to connect SEMRush to your Search Console and website. After that you can set different Dashboards such as Site Audit, Position Tracking and Backlink Audit.
This software allows you to disavow backlinks that might hurt your website performance. You can also track how you perform on Google. Finally, you can also see how you rank for certain keywords compared to your competitors.
SEOProfiler and Moz are also great tools. Choose the one that seems the easiest and best fit for you.
Biggest blogging mistakes
There are millions of blog posts on the internet that have never been found. If you don't consider customer intent when creating content it's more than possible that your article will end up lost in the cyberspace.
Although SEO is very important to use, you always have to remember that you need to write for the readers and not the machines. In the long term your hard work will pay off.