How to Leverage Off-Site SEO Strategies to Build Site Authority
In 2016, Google confirmed that external links were one of the top three ranking factors in search results. Moz also reported in its 2017 Local Ranking Factors study that link signals are the top organic ranking factor for local search, contributing to 29 percent of overall ranking impact.
Off-site SEO involves gaining links from other reputable websites to help build a case for the value of your content. While the off-site SEO practice of link building has evolved over the years, its relevance and impact on the modern SEO landscape holds steady. It’s important for marketers to develop a dynamic, long-term approach to link building, rather than acquiring links solely through unstructured means.
The Evolution of Link Building
As you work to take a strategic approach to link building, it’s important to first understand link building’s evolution to better cultivate your site’s content to avoid common black-hat pitfalls and favorably position your site within search engine guidelines.
Google’s Penguin algorithm update first launched in 2012 to ensure that quality content ranked in search results as often as possible. Part of this update likely worked to discredit link schemes – buying links, selling links, over-the-top link trading, and guest posts that used unnatural-sounding anchor text.
Google continued to transform how its algorithm understood links over time, and in September 2016, Google launched another Penguin update which allowed Penguin to operate in real-time to devalue low-quality links acquired through black hat SEO tactics. Instead of experiencing significant ranking drops for months at a time, websites found that once a spammy link was removed, the penalization was discarded the next time the page was crawled and indexed.
The best way to combat spammy links with the last update is to understand your current backlink profile and identify the largest areas of concern. Knowing that site-wide penalties are no longer the preferred method of Google, focus on the page level and the pages that drive the most value to your business.
How to Approach Off-Site SEO
When managed in a way that complies with search engine guidelines, building out positive links to websites is an invaluable component of off-page SEO. The steps below outline a modern, two-pronged approach to link building for businesses to better optimize the off-site factors that most impact your external link profile:
1. Content Development: As simple as it may seem to create compelling content that other sites or users will want to link to, the truth is that you are competing with a massive number of similar websites, all trying to catch a searcher’s interest.
The key to outranking the competition is to create content that achieves an end goal for a user. Whether that is to entertain, inform, or convert, a user is more likely to establish a backlink if they find value in the content. Typically, developing long-form evergreen content is a great way to build quality backlinks. In fact, a link building study that collected insights from over 1 million online articles revealed that although 85 percent of published content is shorter than 1,000 words, the articles that receive the most links and shares were long form content.
2. Link Monitoring: Any website can be affected by spammy backlinks. By using SEO platforms such as Moz you can check your Spam Score on a regular basis, identify areas of concern, and start to establish an execution plan to remove harmful backlinks.
For reference, Moz’s Spam Score is a compilation of 17 spam “red flags,” which indicate a site’s risk for penalization due to low-quality links. A score of five or higher suggests probable risk and can help prioritize areas of focus.
SEO marketers should be hesitant to assume that all links marked as spam originate from a flagged or spammy domain. To be proactive, take equal precautions and investigate all links within a link profile before considering next steps.
Along with content development and link monitoring, you can leverage the following off-site SEO strategies and techniques to build high-quality links:
- Perform research to see what types of quality links your competitors have, then see if those sites will work with your brand
- Reach out to sites that have already mentioned your brand but did not properly link to it
- Secure local press through sponsorships or partnerships with other businesses
- Host events and invite journalists or bloggers so that they are encouraged to post and link to your site
On average, it takes 10 weeks for ranking increases to take effect after quality links have been received. After those 10 weeks, look at Domain and Page Authority as it relates to organic traffic and keyword ranking changes.
To learn more about how to improve your link building strategy and other ways to improve your SEO, reach out to Rise. We are happy to help.