Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Off Page Optimization

Off-Page Search Engine Optimization - Off page search engine optimization consists in optimizing all the factors not dependent on a page that are important for search engine visibility (getting a high position for a keyword or keywords in Search Engine Results Pages).
Off page search engine optimization is supposedly the complement of On Page Optimization. The main factors in Off page optimization are the Links ("backlinks") to your page and the authority  of your Website.
The figure shows the relative place of what is usually called off-page optimization in the the totality of Search Engine Optimization factors.
One thing you can see from the figure, is the "off page" is generally a misnomer. What most search engine "experts" describe as "off page" optimization is off site optimization. There are optimizations to be done in the Web site, that can help any and all pages - these are discussed in Website SEO design factors.  A second thing that the diagram hints at, is that the links from a page. as well as links to a page, are important in determining how well it will rank for a topic in search engines. A page that is supposed to be about "widgets" but only links to online gambling is not going to be positioned as high as a page about widgets that has one or more  links to other good pages about widgets.

How to achieve Off-Page Optimization

The most important strategy for off page (or off site) optimization is getting links to the page from other Websites  and linking to the page within your own Website to turn it into a  doorway page or portal. The best links are those that you get from high Authority Websites and Web pages (highest Google PageRank). Links that come from paid directories, link farms or pages with 0 PageRank will not help much.
Links should contain appropriate Anchor Text  and should preferably come from relevant Web pages. If your page is about widgets, and you want that page to be the top page retrieved for keyword [widgets] then people should link to that site or page with word "widgets" in the links and you should get people to link from relevant Web sites. A link to the page that just gives the URL or a link that says "Here" may help increase the authority of the page, but it won't raise the position of the page very much in search results for keyword [widgets]. If several different keywords are used to link to a page after it attained a high position for one keyword, the new links do not seem to detract from the positioning for the original keyword. If you are thinking of sabotaging competition by linking to them with an irrelevant keyword, don't do it.
Sources of external links include: Your own auxiliary websites or web logs, link exchanges with related sites, directories, unsolicited links from other people's websites, social networking Web sites (facebook, twitter, digg, stumbleupon) forums and comments in Web logs. Because of the way the Google PageRank algorithm works, it is best to get links from high ranking websites and web pages. It is better to get links from many different sources, but internal repeating links within your own Web site are counted as well.
Reciprocal Links - Some claim that reciprocal links get less credit than one way links because search engines "think" that the reciprocal links are just a way of getting higher ranks in search engines and have nothing to do with merit. This is probably untrue, and if you think about it, you can probably figure out why.
Deep Links - Deep links are links to specific pages inside your Website. Deep links are good for your site and Web page, and you should encourage them.

Relative Importance of off-page optimization

At one time it was thought that for Google at least, off page optimization got a weight as high as 80% relative to on-page optimization. It clearly did have more importance two years ago. However, the algorithm was quickly abused by people who created thousands of links to irrelevant Webpages ("Google Bombing"). A gambling site might, for example, latch on to a popular keyword like "warez" and generate a lot of links for "warez" that would link to their exploitation Website. That is one species of Black Hat SEO. Another sort of abuse was linking a phrase such as "complete failure" to a page about George Bush or another politician. Google started looking a bit more at page content and also instituted specific filters that would check low probability phrases in anchor text. However, off-page and off-site optimization is still very important.  

Same-site versus off site links in off-page optimization

The name of the process is "off page optimization," but many articles about search engine optimization neglect factors in Website design that are not on the particular page you are creating, but are in your Web site. Specifically, we are talking about internal links to various pages within your site. These can be repeating links to highlight portal or doorway pages in your site, that can be in a sidebar or at the bottom of a page and contextual links. For example, if your site has an SEO Glossary  glossary, you can increase the search engine visibility of specific entries such as On Page Optimization whenever you mention them in an article. For that reason, it is best to build the glossary or other reference section before you create most of the other pages. See Website SEO design for  a discussion of additional important factors that are not usually included in either Off Page Optimization or On Page Optimization

Pernicious superstitions related to off-page optimization

There are several mostly groundless SEO superstitions related to external backlinks and off-page SEO. It is absolutely untrue for example, that you should not accept links from sites with a lower pagerank than yours. Apart from being uncharitable, it is an idea that defies all logic, since search engines assume that the links to your site or page arrive naturally. You don't control who links to you. A little site may one day grow to be a very big one. It is also untrue that search engines "want" you to have links only to the main page of your Web site. If it were true, Wikipedia BBC and ther large sites would be hardly visible on the Web, because links to those sites are usually links to specific articles. Check out- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Superstitions.
Ami Isseroff
October 3, 2008
Note - Definitions of Search Engine Optimization terms are based on inferences from common usage and definitions given by other sources. Conclusions about search engine behavior are based on understanding of the behavior of the most popular search engines. Both are subject to error or may change. Search engine company management may define or use a term or set or change any policy in any way they see fit, and may make these definitions and specifications public or not. These decisions and definitions are beyond our control.  


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