Let’s talk about off-site search engine optimization. Unlike on-site SEO (metadata, content, HTML, etc.), this type of strategy is a bit difficult to master because you aren’t entirely in control of how websites relate to your site. In order to boost your domain authority (a ranking score associated with how well a website will do on a Search Engine Results Page), Google needs to recognize you as an authority by the quality of backlinks you have. If you have high quality backlinks, you would be ranking more faster.
Makes sense, right? So, what’s the one way to do this? Well, by getting other websites to reference yours with a link, often in the form of a blog post or featured news articles. The chances of Google regarding you as an expert or leader in your field increase the number of links. But, unfortunately, not all links are good links.
Yes, you want external backlinks that rank well and have outstanding domain authority metrics. But these factors don’t tell the whole story. If you take the time to browse a website, you might find that they appear sketchy and untrustworthy, which will obviously reflect poorly on you. Google does its best to penalize such websites with their Penguin algorithm, but some still manage to slip through the cracks. Make no mistake, however, that they’ll eventually get caught and see their page rankings and domain authority drop.
When it comes to finding high-quality backlinks, there are a lot of factors to consider. Below are some of the things to look out for when deciding if a link is worth taking or leaving.
Are There Ads Galore?
When users look at a website, they should have a clear idea of what they’re looking at right away. They shouldn’t have to click around in an effort to find which parts of the website are valid and which are ads that will redirect them to an advertiser’s website. If the user is bombarded with so many different types of advertisements on one webpage, they’ll get frustrated and bounce off the site immediately. The trust of a user is quickly lost when a website looks like a compilation of sketchy ads. What’s more, sometimes the ad-images “are broken and don’t display a picture of any kind. It’s just a blank template for a picture. If you see the website like this, the chances are that it’s not the kind of link you want.
Is There Quality Content?
We’ve heard it time and time again: “Content is king.” It always has been, and it always will be. When it comes to content, it’s not enough to have just words displayed on a webpage. The evolution of Google’s technology has proved that websites should display quality content. This includes content that is:
- Void of grammatical errors and typos
- Informative and beneficial to the user
- Natural, relatable, and conversational in tone
If a website you’re considering for a backlink has minimal content, sounds robotic, it is full of errors or is difficult to interpret, opt out of the “opportunity” and find yourself another backlink.
Is it Hacked?
A hacked website is a major red flag and should be avoided, without any doubt. Any website can be hacked, so not all hacked websites are lost causes, but if the website you’re thinking of using for a backlink is hacked, it’s in your best interest to stay away. A hacked website will almost certainly lose domain authority, and it can take weeks, if not months, to gain everything back. Theoretically, if you’re external backlinks are on a hacked website, you can expect your website’s rankings to take a hit as well! As a best practice, if a website is hacked and looks like a mess, move on!
Does the Website Offer a Great User Experience (UX)?
Let’s consider the overarching theme of Search Engine Optimization: Google wants people to have an exceptional user experience. That’s why websites that are built to convert are extremely important, and websites that offer a great user experience covert. Not only should a website be fast and easy to navigate, but it should readily present necessary information in a way that respects users and understands their intentions. If the website offers the poor landing-page experience that leaves users in the dark, so to speak, the chances are that the website has a high bounce rate.
When choosing a source to reference your website, it’s important that the website where your link sits on is optimized for improved conversion rates. Not only will the prospective website appear more respectable but higher conversation rates could mean a more respectable domain authority as well. If you’re associated with a website with high domain authority, this speaks volumes about your website to Google.
All in all, searching for reliable, high-quality backlinks is an important component of your off-site search engine optimization strategy. And with the advancement of technology and the competitiveness in the digital marketing space, everything has to reflect your best effort including efforts to find high-quality backlinks. Instead of scraping the bottom of the backlink barrel, look for credible and quality websites. This proves to Google that you are a high-quality website too.
To reiterate, potential backlinks should:
- Be as ad-free as possible
- Contain quality content
- Be safe and secure
- Be built to covert
The websites you’re considering linking from may have great metrics on paper but take it a step further and think, “Do I want this website to represent me?” If the answer is no, don’t sweat it. The internet is vast, and there are more qualified links in the sea.