Penguin was Google’s way of essentially “changing its mind” on over a dozen years of well-established SEO best practices. Why? To make money. When big-budget SEO clients saw their rankings, traffic and sales plummet literally overnight, they fled with their tails tucked between their legs to the safe haven of Google Adwords. The result?
Google Penguin resulted in Google seeing a whopping 35% increase in revenue from Google Adwords. For Google, Penguin worked. For advertisers, CPCs soared as the Adwords advertising market became even more congested.
But not all hope was lost. For those who were hit by Penguin, there are ways to recover. And in the post-Penguin era, one of the key things that webmasters and website owners should focus on is following Google’s current guidelines for off-page optimization.
On-Page vs. Off-Page Optimization
Many SEO experts agree that between on-page and off-page optimization, the latter is more important, especially for competing in extremely competitive markets. That’s because Google’s search algorithm needs to rely on external sources to “vouch” for the relevancy and credibility of websites. Relying on on-site signals just doesn’t provide the level of assurance that Google needs for its search results. These external factors include:
Think of it this way; the more fans, entertainment news and social media sites that talk about a celebrity, the more famous the celebrity becomes, regardless of their talent level. The same is true for website rankings; more buzz = higher popularity, and thus higher search rankings.
But this doesn’t mean you should abandon on-page optimization. In fact, on-page and off-page optimization are now more important than ever, in tandem. If the two aren’t aligned properly, significant points are lost. If the two are aligned, they have a synergy that boosts rankings significantly.
Below are five key offsite optimization tips for the post-Penguin era.
Too much of something is always bad: avoid over-optimization
This can’t be stressed enough. Using exact match anchor text used to be a marketer’s best strategy for link building, whether linking from article directories, web 2.0 properties, PR sites or blogs.
Today, however, Penguin penalizes link building strategies comprised of too much exact match anchor text.
So what’s the best strategy for using anchor text post Penguin?
Use a good mix of everything by using naked URLs, using your brand as anchor text and using terms that are related to your profile or business. Exact match anchor text should only comprise about 1% – 5% of your overall inbound link profile.
Social signals now play heavily into Google’s algorithm, and they only figure to become more significant. The more actively you engage your visitors via social sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest, the more search engine love you’ll get.
Don’t forget Google+. It’s poised to play a huge role in search engine optimization soon, and we can already see evidence of how Google intends to use Google+ social signals in its ranking algorithm.
Keep your social profiles active and engage your audience with meaningful interaction. Don’t be overly promotional; keep a dialogue rather than a one-way conversation. Always provide value and content that’s useful to your audience via your social media channels.
Establish yourself as an expert by guest blogging
Guest blogging isn’t new, but many online marketers are beginning to realize the importance of this off-page optimization strategy.
One of the great things about guest blogging is that you can use it as a platform to reach out to a brand new audience for your business.
The more you engage in guest posting, the more high quality links you’ll create for your website. And most importantly, the more you engage in it, the more people will see you as a credible and authoritative figure within the industry.
Off-page quality is just as important as on-page
Not long ago, marketers churned out as many articles as they could just to create tons of inbound links, without much concern for quality or adding value. These methods worked just fine until Google Penguin, but now they provide little value.
Now, it’s all about quality rather than quantity. One inbound link from a highly-regarded website such as Mashable.com is probably worth 10,000 links obtained in cheap, bulk, low-quality methods such as blog comment spamming. And, in all likelihood, Penguin probably attaches a negative value to spammy links now, meaning that no amount of links obtained via old methods could ever match the value of one link from a highly credible and authoritative website.
Always provide quality and relevant information to your audience with your off-page content, just as you would with your on-site content.
Explore a wide variety of content
Get found in as many channels as possible. To do that, explore different types of content that apply to your marketing message.
Some of the most popular types of content include video, PDF, e-books and infographics. Exploring different types of content provides you with an opportunity to engage every type of audience, across different platforms and media.
Off-page optimization takes hard work, a lot of time, and a lot of expertise, but it’s worth every second and penny if done right. I hope this post has helped you gain a more thorough understanding of the importance of off-page optimization for improving your site’s search visibility.
If you need help with your off-page optimization campaigns, let’s talk about how AudienceBloom fits into your initiative.