The performance of your site on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) is also affected by factors that aren’t directly related to your site content and code. What are the off-page SEO success factors that you should be focused on in 2017? You can find our guide to the on-page SEO success factors in part one of this two part guide.
The most important of the off-page factors that affect your SEO performance is Trust. What are the various Trust factors and how can you maximize performance?
Authority: Do the pages you link to and content you share come from legitimate and authoritative sources? By connecting to other authoritative sources, and avoiding illegitimate ones, you are also building your own site’s trust. Links are also covered more in-depth in the next section.
Engage: How long do visitors stay on your site, and how many pages do they visit? If you have a high bounce rate, it means either your content is not engaging enough for people to stay, or something more sinister is afoot. The more time people spend on your site, and the more pages they read, the better. This goes hand-in-hand with engaging content.
History: The length of time your site has been online, without major changes in the way it operates plays a role in your SEO performance. Unfortunately this is not something you can skip, so make sure you build up your site with a forward-looking strategy, and keep it updated regularly.
Identity: Anonymity does not build trust. Being able to verify the identify of the site and authors who publish on it strengthens trust in the content and the site itself.
Piracy: Do not host pirated content, or provide opportunities for others to do so on your site. Ensure your content is original.
Ads: Ads are the lifeblood of many sites online, but how many there are and how intrusive they are can negatively affect trust. Ads found “above-the-fold”, meaning those that are visible when a page is first opened, are most important when being analyzed.
Google’s PageRank algorithm has been relying on links to determine your SERP performance from the beginning. Despite there now being over 200 signals being analyzed, links are at the very top in terms of importance alongside keywords. As such, link-building is a major part of any SEO strategy.
Quality: As mentioned earlier, you want your outbound links sto come from trustworty and authoritative sources. Also, the better performing the site that links to you, the more “link juice” it will give you. A single link to your site from a major, trustworthy source can be worth more than the thousands of links you can buy from black-hat marketers.
Text: Do the links being provided use words that are relevant to what people who click would be searching for? Keep your link descriptions honest.
Number: These are the “Total Sites Linking In” that you can see in Alexa. Like Google, the Alexa bots are updated regularly to avoid link-sharing and other black-hat tactics when identifying the sites linking in. The more legitimate sites that link to your content, the more trustworthy your site is and the better your SEO performance will be.
Paid: A reliance on paid links is looked upon negatively. While it may seem like a quick way to boost your stats, purchasing links from black-hat marketers will not give you the performance you want, especially as Google’s AI RankBrain continues to roll out and be optimized.
Spam: Spamming your links on blogs, forums, and other public sites can also have a strong negative effect on your SEO performance as well as your public perception. Keep the links you post informative and relative to the topics being discussed.
Personal, Locality, History and Social: Where are the visitors to your site located? A local business should be receiving visitors from the area, as should regional businesses. Do these trustworthy visitors return? Furthermore, are these relevant visitors sharing your content on social media?
Social Media Reputation: Are visitors sharing your content on social media? How respected are these accounts that are sharing your content? The more authentic users sharing your content, the more trustworthy you will appear to be.
As with the on-page SEO success factors, it’s obvious that off-page success is also built upon content. Content is king when it comes to SEO, and should be the single most important focus of any strategy. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking there are shortcuts with which you can overcome your competitors. Even if there are, they are only temporary and will end up hurting your performance instead of helping.
By taking the time to invest in best practices, you will ensure that your website is not only optimized today, but will also not fall afoul of the constant algorithm changes search engines incorporate to fight cheaters. With the advent of modern AI and machine learning algorithms like RankBrain and BERT, shortcuts and black hat techniques have less and less appeal, and you should avoid freelancers and agencies who promise unrealistic performance and gains.