As discussed in the white paper 'SEO Algorithms – An Introduction,' natural optimisation is the best way to avoid penalisation by search engines, and to ensure your website's long term presence in the top results pages. In this paper, you'll learn exactly what natural optimisation off-site techniques are and how you can use them to your advantage.
In order to understand what natural optimisation is, you need to first understand what natural listings are. Natural listings are the results that show up naturally on the SERP (industry jargon for search engine results page) due to scoring highly on relevance realated to that search engine's specific algorithm, not including the advertisements or paid listings that may also show up on that page. Natural listing is incredibly important simply because it's free, which means that if you can rank highly using natural techniques you may not need a pay-per-click campaign or a paid listing.
When we talk about natural optimisation, we are talking about the process of getting pages to rank highly not by attempting to manipulate results , per se, but simply by creating pages that fulfill the algorithm's requirements. Natural optimisation is also known as 'white hat' SEO , as opposed to 'black hat' SEO. White hat SEO is the use of open and honest SEO techniques such as keyword relevance and good site architecture, whereas black hat SEO is the use of various tricks and techniques which attempt to fool the algorithm. While black hat techniques can work in the short term, all major search engines are continually working to thwart these techniques, so they usually become ineffective very quickly and don't tend to make practical sense, especially if you are running a legitimate business which needs a stable web presence.
When we talk about off-site techniques for natural optimisation, we are talking about methods that can boost your natural search engine ranking out-with your own website. Basically, most off-site natural optimisation techniques hinge on the concept of backlinks.
Backlinks are important because the search algorithm takes them into account when it ranks your site. The more backlinks, and the better quality of backlinks, the better. However, off-site optimisation is not a simple matter of mutual link exchanges. In this paper I'll talk about some different ideas in turn, using article sites to link back to your own page, guest blogging and commenting on blogs, link exchanges, YouTube videos, social networking, and services you can share with the rest of the web.
Before I do, however, it's important that I explain link value and how some links are better than others.
Google and the other main search engines have methods of evaluating the authority of a site. Its authority depends on several factors: the amount of in-coming links it has, the type of sites that it links, and the quality and depth of its information. Current search algorithms take account of all these factors when deciding the weight to give to a link that comes from any given site. A link from an authority site is therefore far better value than a link from just any site.
Every site is rated in terms of its authority, which means in effect that the better quality a website is, the better it is to be linked from it. It follows from this that being linked from an authority website gives your own website a better degree of authority.
Next I'll discuss various natural methods of gaining backlinks and their value for SEO purposes.
Up until very recently, submitting articles to article directories was one of the main methods most webmasters used for getting backlinks. Sometimes these articles would be of a relatively decent quality, but too often they were very poorly written with almost no real informative content, and were very obviously written solely for backlinks purposes.
Recently Google made changes to its Panda algorithm that prioritised high-quality sites even further and seemed more able to weed out the good content from the bad. This has meant that many previously high-ranking article directories were heavily penalised, because a large majority of the content they contained wasn't actually very informative or good. Sites such as hubpages.com, ezinearticles.com, wisegeek.com, findarticles.com, howtodothings.com, helium.com, lovetoknow.com and articlesbase.com used to be mainstays of the SEO process, but it looks as though this technique is being attacked by Google.
From the point of view of both the search engines and searchers themselves, this new move seems to be a beneficial one , as it prevents the internet from becoming saturated with useless information as well as encouraging the development of truly informative websites.
What it means for webmasters, however, is that finding backlinks is going to be a much more difficult process from now on. While these article directories can still be used, the links coming from them will be worth a lot less than they once were.
Another good way of getting a backlink is to write (or hire someone else to write) an interesting, informative and, if possible, entertaining guest blog for an already reputable and established blog. There are many blogs out there that accept guest bloggers, so it shouldn't be too difficult to find one that suits your particular niche, but I must emphasise again, this content has to be of the very highest quality. If you don't have the necessary skill, hire a copywriter to write your guest blog for you , because any small grammatical mistake will now be recognised by the search engines and the site will be penalised because of it. If that site is penalised, the quality of its links will also go down.
At the moment, commenting on blogs also seems like a relatively good idea for obtaining backlinks, but I predict that this is going to be abused in the very near future, which will eventually render it ineffectual. Be careful about relying on any one method, especially methods like this that can come very close to being seen as spamming if you use them too often. Make sure your comments are interesting and relevant. Never post anything on someone else's page without having a relevant, genuine point to make, and whatever you do, never use others' comments boxes for blatant and undisguised self-promotion.
Remember, the more any technique is abused and over-used, the quicker it will become ineffectual.
Most experts will agree that mutual link exchanges have very little value. Search engine algorithms seem to be able to take this into account and don't view a reflected link in the same way that they view one single link coming from one page to another. The idea behind this is to promote authority websites which are likely to be linked by others just by sheer virtue of the quality of their information. The more 'genuine' a link seems, the more highly regarded it is by the algorithm.
YouTube videos are one of the best current ways to gain both backlinks and advertising for your site. The great thing about YouTube videos, as well as other social media, is that if a viewer enjoys your video they can then share it via social networks, spreading your message and your links even further. At the moment, it is thought that backlinks from social networks aren't viewed in quite the same as standard links by search engine algorithms.
However, the aim of all SEO is to gain visitors to your site, and creating a YouTube video can be a highly effective way of doing this without even using the search engines. Hopefully these visitors will be interested in your content and may even then link to it (perhaps on their own blogs) of their own accord.
If your video is entertaining it may even 'go viral,' creating instant worldwide notoriety for your site.
I would advise that everyone with a web presence get involved with social media right now. As I said before, although backlinks coming from social networks aren't treated quite the same as other backlinks, they do still bring in real visitors to your site. Creating a social media presence isn't so much about search engine optimisation, then, but actually about bypassing the search engines altogether in order to generate a 'buzz' about your site or product.
The Internet is a vibrant and continually evolving community, and it's important to take note of and become involved with upcoming trends.
After all, if your site becomes popular through traffic from social networks, you can be sure that a high search engine listing will follow. Every search engine wants its results to reflect exactly what people are looking for, so they will find ways to take note of social traffic. Believe it or not, but not all high-ranking sites pay any attention to SEO at all! Some of them have achieved their position through sheer viewer popularity and popularity alone.
Another great way of creating backlinks is to create a programme or service that others can use on their own sites for free, with the tiny addition of an embedded link to your page that comes along with it. This will generate not just a backlink that can be seen by the search engine crawlers, but also a visible link that can be seen by viewers. If you have created an interesting programme or widget, these viewers may well be interested to see exactly who created it.
One example is to design a Wordpress or Tumblr theme that can then be used on an infinite number of other sites, giving a limitless supply of backlinks. Although this idea is generally only utilised by design companies, anyone can create a Wordpress theme that illustrates who they are and what they do. For example, if you own a publishing company, you could design (or hire someone else to design) a book-themed Wordpress theme. If you have a website that sells shoes, you could create a shoe-themed theme. The possibilities are truly endless.
In essence, natural off-site optimisation is all about creativity and generating genuine interest in your site wherever you can. Try not to look at backlinks as just backlinks for SEO purposes, but as opportunities to interest real readers. Of course, off-site optimisation is only one side of the coin. See the white paper 'Natural Optimisation – On-Site Techniques' for more information on how the content and architecture of your site can be used to your advantage for SEO purposes.
Search engine optimisation can be a time-consuming and complicated process, which is why more and more businesses are turning to SEO specialists to help them get ahead of the competition. Zanity provide a full range of on-site and off-site search engine optimisation services that will have you at the top of the organic listings in no time. Contact Zanity today for a health check up on your current web presence and find out what we can do for you.