SEO (4 of 4) – Promoting Content Off-Page

Finally, we’ll be talking about promoting content off the page.  Of all the things you can do to optimize your content for search, this is the most important.  This is how Google is determining your popularity and putting you at the top of the results page.

Run with the Popular Crowd

Gaining popularity by link building is the key to getting to the top of the results.  It’s more important than anything else you’ll be doing to optimize your page.  Here are some tips for building links.  First, get links from trusted and relevant sites.  Examples of trusted sites are credible institutions like .edus and .govs, user-generated content like blogs and forums, popular sites that Google deems particular relevant and important for a keyword (a good way to find this out is to search the term – popular sites will show up at the top of the results page), and then content rich sites. 

The more links there are on a page, the less value those links have to Google.  Relevancy is just as important as trustworthiness.  It will actually hurt you if your site is about test and automation and you get a link from a blog on women’s fashion.  You should also focus on getting links from external pages as opposed to internal pages.  At NI, we’ve got a lot of content, so it’s pretty easy to build links to our pages from within the site, but for Google, it’s more important that we get links from outside of ni.com.  It’s more valuable if someone else says your popular than you say your popular.  Finally, try to get links from unique domains.  A domain is the name of a website or URL.  Ni.com is our domain name.  It’s more valuable to get 15 links from 15 different domains than 15 links from one domain.

How to Build Links to Your Site

First, create excite content.  Again, Google is trying to reward good content.  If people are really excited about what you do as a company, they are naturally going to talk about you and link back to your site.  You can even create exciting content on an external blog and point back to your site from there.  Then you get some external links to boot.  Next, build relationships.  Build relationships with editors to write articles for you, build relationships with bloggers in your industry to get them to write posts on you.  Next, post comments on blogs and forums related to your industry.  Social  media is a great way to get links back to your site.

Building credibility and popularity through links takes some time, so it’s important to start investing in it early and keep at it until you see the results you want on Google.

Things to Avoid

There are some things to be aware of when you are creating links.  The biggest we’ve already talked about, which is making sure the site is credible and relevant.  “Nofollow” is also good to avoid.  “Nofollow” is an HTML tag used to instruct search engines that a hyperlink should not influence the page’s value in the rankings.  Essentially, it is a vote that doesn’t count.  So don’t waste time posting a link if you aren’t going to get credit for it.  How can you tell if a link is “nofollow”?  Firefox has a great SEO tool that will highlight the “nofollow” links on a page for you.  That way you can easily see if the entire comments section is off limits for SEO-valuable links.  Why would sites want to use “nofollow”? A  lot of social media sites like Facebook and Wikipedia use “nofollow” because they want to make sure the content is valuable for users and not just a breeding ground for links. 

Next, don’t move too fast.  I would recommend only adding 5-7 links a week.  Google is wary of you trying to best their system and they want to make sure you’re earning your popularity.  So don’t make rapid changes. 

Paid links are also a big no-no.  Google has lots of tools in place to try to tell if this is happening, so beware of any site that asks you to pay in exchange for a link.

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