In the first installment of "The Basics of Good Optimization," AussieWebmaster presented a collection of tips, that if followed correctly and incorporated into site development, could attain decent positioning for Google’s organic or free search results. Previously covering "On Page" factors, today's series conclusion will focus on "Off Page" factors...
Once your "On Page Factors" are taken care of, it is time to get to the trickier elements, the so-called "Off Page Factors." While tying a rabbit's foot to your computer monitor and saying prayers cannot hurt, realistically it's hard to account for any influence on your place in Google's search results. These tips will help, though:
The first thing to look at is your site, and could be considered an "On Page" factor, but is really part of the "Off Page" rules. Google does not differentiate between links from your own site and other sites when making its calculations! So right off the bat always use hard coded links on your site (a link to blue-widgets.html is not the same as www.domain.com/blue-widgets.html to a spider so it has two references to what it sees as two different pages).
To a spider, www.domain.com/, domain.com/, www.domain.com/index.html and domain.com/index.html are different URLs and, therefore, different pages.
Just as a naming convention for your pages is important, so is having a reliable host that the spiders can find. The host can be down once when the spider comes back, but any more than that and you risk losing them coming back.
Once you have been listed on Google it is time to increase your presence and position. Update your content as often as possible and constantly add new pages. The more content and pages the more of an authority Google sees your site as for your keywords and overall theme. Also the site's overall rank total goes up with each new page, but then the pages grab some of the site's PR. So, although adding new pages does increase the total PageRank within the site, some of the site's pages will lose PageRank as a result. The answer is to link new pages is such a way within the site that the important pages don't suffer, or add sufficient new pages to make up for the effect (that can sometimes mean adding a large number of new pages), or better still, get some more inbound links.
When you start the process of getting links, look first to sites of similar nature, or who have a good position for some of your keywords. Then ask to exchange links, and ask that your link be as a text link as opposed to a straight link of your site. The text should contain your keyword phrase – this adds to the count for the term in your page's ledger, as it were. It is beneficial to have the link go directly to the page you are building PR for, though it shares the wealth over the entire site that is linked (the process can be hijacked if it dead ends), internal page structure has impact. Link exchanges and inbound links are a great method to improve your standing at Google. Directories are particularly good because they are categorized and provide strong themed links. DMOZ (www.dmoz.org), Yahoo Directory, and other directories are a good source, use www.searchenginewatch.com for a starting list of directories. Remember that it is generally a myth that you can be penalized for inbound links. It would be open to too much abuse by competitors and other malcontents; so worse case the link has no impact. Recip links can connect you to 'bad relations' so be careful when making choices as to who to link to.
Here are a few more things to keep in mind and work on as you develop your "Off Page" strategy: The number of outbound links on a referrer's page, the position of the link on the referrer's page (the higher the better) and the theme of the referrer's page are good factors to work with. Keyword density, the page title tag, and the level of expertise the referrer's site is perceived as, also impact greatly.
Some dubious factors but ones that will always get mention are the age of the site (guess Google respects its elders), number of visitors and duration of visits (these are hard to measure) and open questions I have not found suitable answers to so they are in my more than likely myth category.
Things to avoid will become a smaller article of warnings, but it does give me one closing note. If you do a site revamp never leave orphaned pages, people may have them bookmarked and then they become lost to the rest of your site if the links have changed. Where possible use a 301 redirect to the new pages that cover the old one's content. If there is none, then point that page to your new main page. Remember page numbers help, and throwing away old page ranking is a waste.
Editor's Note: We've covered a lot of ground recently, showing you ways to maximize your rankings in the search engines, with a focus on Google. Today's article provided some great "hands on" tips that can help you achieve greater success! Keep Optimizing! ~ Stephen