Now that we have finished looking at what you can do on your blog to improve SEO it’s time to look at the other side: external optimization.
External optimization for SEO comes down to one thing: getting backlinks to your blog. Backlinks are just links from other sites to yours. Those backlinks build authority for your blog which is what matters most to Google. The more quality links you have pointing to your blog, the better Google believes your blog is, because it operates under the assumption that bad sites won’t have as many links as good sites. Sites with lots of link are trustworthy and in return deserve better rankings. When you search for something in Google the top results generally will have more backlinks than the results lower on the list. So if you want to get better rankings in the search engines you need to do one thing:
Get quality links to your blog using your keywords.
That is basically all external SEO is about.
Simple, right? It’s not about any secret techniques or shady dealings. You don’t have to be an expert in search engine optimization, you just have to focus on getting links back to your blog from other sources. While this might sound like a lot of work, it really isn’t that hard. You can get links from a variety of sources. If one source doesn’t work for you, then you can try using another to build links.
This is a good place to address Google Page Rank. What is Page Rank? What does it do? Does it matter for SEO? Page Rank, or PR, is the value between 0 and 10 that Google assigns each page on the internet. The higher the value, say a 10, the more authority Google gives your page. Page Rank is determined by the quality and quantity of the links to your website. Every page online starts out at zero and moves up as it gains more links. You can check the Page Rank of your blog here.
While having a higher PR is nice, it’s not crucial to ranking in the search engines. Sites with lower PR still can rank high in the search engines and receive search traffic for less competitive keywords. You don’t need to focus on getting a higher Page Rank because when you focus on getting more links to your blog in turn you will get a higher PR. See? This is why getting more quality links to your blog is important for many reasons.
External SEO: The Links You Need
Not all links are valued equally on the internet. When you are trying to get links to improve your rankings in the search engines you need a certain kind of links. There are a few factors that make a link a good link.
- Dofollow. Search engines came up with a system of labeling links using “dofollow” or “nofollow” to tell search engines what links to follow and give credit for. Google follows this system. In general most blog comments are nofollow while almost everything in a post will be dofollow. The links you want to improve your blog’s SEO are dofollow links.
- Links with keyword in the anchor text. A good link to help your blog rank for your keywords will contain those keywords in the text of the link. Often bloggers unaware of SEO will link to other bloggers using their name. These links are not as helpful as they would be if they used your keywords in the anchor text. For example, a link to my blog using my name, Mary, is not as good for SEO as a link to my blog using healthy living blog. Both are links to my blog but the one using my keywords tells the search engines what my blog is about and what to rank it for. You won’t always be able to control the links coming to your site, but where you can control things make sure you use your keywords.
- Links with varying keyword text. It is important to get links to your blog using your keywords, but you don’t want all of the links to be the same. When you chose your keywords for your blog you should have created a list of several keywords to target. Try to switch up the keywords used when you are creating links back to your blog. This ensures that you aren’t suspected of manipulating search engines by creating links to dominate one ranking.
- Links from high Page Rank sites. While Page Rank of your blog doesn’t affect your rankings much, the PR of sites linking to you will affect your search engine rankings. Links to your blog from sites with high PR gives your blog more authority with Google and will raise your blog in the results. When you are looking to create links to your blog try to find blogs and websites with PR 3 and above. Don’t get caught up too much in PR when you are trying to get links, just realize this is part of the equation for the search engines.
- Links from relevant sites. The best links to your blog for SEO purposes will be from sites that are about the same topic as your blog. If you are trying to rank for the keyword “running” then the best links you can get are from other sites about running. Since the health blogging niche is a friendly one you can generally get links from your “competitors” without much trouble. When you start building links to your blog focus on getting links from relevant blogs and websites.
- Links from numerous sources. The bottom line for external optimization is that you need lots of links to your blog. Generally the more the better. The previous factors – keywords in anchor text, varying keywords, high PR links, and links from relevant sites – are important to keep in mind, but they don’t mean you shouldn’t seek links that don’t have all those qualities. Links from PR 0 sites and links without your keywords are still links to your blog and they will help you with SEO in the long run.
External SEO: Where to Find Links
The first question most people ask about getting more links is “Where do you find them?” Creating links to your blog is not very difficult. There are many places and way to get more links and many of the methods are things that will happen naturally as you blog. So where do you find places to get links? How do you get them? Here are a few methods for creating backlinks to your blog and boosting your blog’s overall search engine optimization.
- Be awesome. Other blogs in the health blogosphere are the best place to get links back to your blog. These blogs are the ones that are relevant to your blog and the kind of links you want to get. While being put on someone’s blogroll is nice, it’s not the best kind of link you can get from another blog. The best kind of link is one that is one in the posts of another blog or website. The best way to get these links is to make your blog content awesome. Write about things that make other bloggers think. Write about things that are controversial. Link to other blogs to include them in the conversation. Write about things that other bloggers will want to link to when they are writing their posts. If you produce great content it will get links from other bloggers.
- Engage. Being part of the healthy blogging community will often end up creating backlinks to your blog even if you are just being part of the community. When you do an interview with one or more bloggers on your blog they will often link back to the interview. Once you get to know other bloggers and have a relationship with them you can ask them to link to cool projects or posts you write (just don’t abuse the privilege!) and they will often do it.
- Create something useful. If you create something useful on your blog and let other people know about it you are likely to get links back to that resource. If it is something that is timeless it will continually gather backlinks as new people discover and link to it. That useful resource could be anything from a list of top blogs in the niche to a list of top resources to a free ebook that solves a problem. Anything that offers a ton of value for free will draw in links from other bloggers. Think about something you can create that will take some effort but is something your readers really would like to have.
- Guest posts. Another awesome way to get those useful links in the posts of related blogs is to guest post. Guest posting is not just a great way to grow your blog socially, but it is also a wonderful way to get backlinks with your preferred keywords in the text. When you write a guest blog, the blog owner allows you to link back to your blog in your author profile or signature. Instead of using the signature “Mary writes A Merry Life” use something like “Mary writes the health blog A Merry Life” instead. This way you are creating a link with your keywords that will help out your blog’s SEO.
- Article directories and content sites. Article marketing is usually something internet marketers do when promoting a product, but you can use the same technique to build backlinks to your blog. You can create short (depending on the site 200-500+ words) articles for article directories that link back to your blog. Generally these articles aren’t written for the audience even though some people will read them and click through to your blog. The main power of these articles is the links you can include in the article or resource box. There are hundreds of different directories and content sites out there that you can submit articles to, but some of the best article directories are Ezine Articles, Self Growth, Go Articles, and Article Dashboard and two good free content sites are Squidoo and Hubpages. If you decide to use these sites try to create relevant content not just spammy articles with your links – there are already too many of those on the internet.
- Forum links. If you are already part of a forum community or there is one that you want to belong to, use a link to your blog in the signature. Most forums allow links search engines will follow. Each time you post it will create a new link to your blog.
- Social bookmarking sites. Social bookmarking sites like Delicious can be helpful in ranking sites since many bookmarking sites offer dofollow links. They aren’t the best quality links out there but if you are already bookmarking sites or want to use a site to store all your favorite links, add your link in there with the rest of them.
- Comments. Most comments are nofollow and will not help you with SEO directly because search engines don’t give any weight to the link. There are some blogs with dofollow comments and even a list of them, but generally these blogs get heavily spammed and aren’t a high quality link.
External SEO: Things to Avoid
When you start building backlinks to your blog beyond what just occurs regularly there may be temptation to do some things that you shouldn’t. While building links you should avoid doing these things:
- Link exchanges. Exchanging a link on your blog for a link on someone’s blog lowers the value of the link. If you want to link to someone’s blog or put them on your blogroll – do it! Just don’t expect or pester the person to return the link.
- Building links with one phrase. I mentioned it earlier, but it is important to vary your keywords used for links. Use different phrases as your anchor text instead of always using the same keyword.
- Building links too fast. Organic links to your site occur slowly and over time as your site grows. This kind of link building is what you want. So even if you are creating links by writing articles you still don’t want to create too many at once all to your site.
- Too many links from one site. Having a lot of links from one site isn’t a terrible thing, but after a certain number of links from one source the links don’t count as much for SEO. It’s much more powerful to get 1,000 links from 1,000 different sites than from just one site.
You could read for ages on SEO and what works and what doesn’t. The basics don’t really ever change but Google constantly updates it’s algorithm. This sometimes means SEO tactics that once worked well no longer work. The following books and websites will help you get a better grasp on SEO and how it can improve your blog.
moz.com is a great website with a ton of content about SEO and inbound marketing.
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