SEO: Off-Page Criteria
Okay, I know you must be eager to monetize your site. But you still need a few pieces of solid groundwork to make sure that the monetization avenues will have a good chance to succeed.
The Off-Page criteria or external factors that will make sure you are found, found by lots of people, on a consistent basis are as important as all the work you have done so far to make your themed-site and relevant content pages optimized for search engines (SEs).
One of the biggest factors that can bring you lots of visitors is the SEs. So now we need to answer the question as to how you get onto the SEs and how to be preferably within the top 20 positions in the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs).
Search Engines: how do you get in there?
Even if you do nothing but publish your pages on the web, you will most probably get into the search engines. If not immediately, then eventually. But our aim is not just to be on the SERPs coz what is the use if your page is on the 100th or 1000th page of the search results. Who is going to see you? Who will come?
However, let us first find out how to just get onto the search engines and do it faster than if we waited around for them to find us.
Search engines have little "spiders". Yes they do! These are amazingly little spiders that crawl around the world wide web at unbelievable speeds trying to find pages. And as soon as a page is found, they will follow every link on the page to the next page and the next page and so on. That is how you can be found even if you did nothing but write and publish to the web. Once they have your page(s), that page is indexed. That just means that the search engines have stored information and a cache maybe of your page(s) in their database. And when people make a query in a search engine, it is from this database that they find a match and display a listing of results in the SERPs. And amazing as all this is, it can take a while for the little critter (oh, I mean, the spiders) to find and index you. How do you speed this up and get found sooner?
Tell the Search Engines
Introduce your site and pages directly to the SEs.
Major Search Engines
As of the time of this writing and has been for quite a while, the big-player search engines are:
There is a whole heap about search engines, their complexities, their differences, who owns who, what database they use, and so on. But what you really want to know is good news ... and I have that. There is very good advice that you don't even have to worry about submitting to search engines anymore. It is with gratitude that I direct you to this very good article "Don't submit your website to any search engines".
In a nutshell, what that articles says is that due to the way spiders work, all you really need is one inbound link (i.e. some other website pointing/linking to a page on yours). The spiders will do the rest.
But if you don't have anyone who will link to you or you don't want to ask anyone or for whatever reason .. but you still want the search engines to index your site, what do you do?
Repeat: tell the search engines!
You do this by going to the search engine, and somewhere on there, there will be a facility for you to submit a url. You just enter your domain url and that's it. You certainly might want to do these for the major search engines.
There are also a whole heap of software program, free and not-free, that will submit your domain URL to anywhere from 20 to thousands of search engines. I personally don't think that is worthwhile mainly coz it all takes time and yes, money. And you still have to read and familiarize yourself with yet another piece of software and its accompanying terminology.
Me, I personally submit my site to Google to make sure that they find and index the site. All you have to do is sign up for Google Webmaster Tools. You can then add your site and get it indexed by Google. The instructions will be all there for you to follow.
Don't wish to sign up? No problems. Just go directly to Google at http://www.google.com/addurl/?continue=/addurl and submit your URL to let Google know about your site and get their little critter-spiders to index it.
Sorry, I will write more about the major search engine submission details when I have time.
Set Up your Preferred Domain & 301 Permanent Redirect
If your site can be reached via the www as well as the non-www version of your domain name, then it would be advisable to set up a preferred domain and maybe even a 301 server-side redirect. Read about how having a preferred domain name is important to the PageRank of your site and its pages.
More importantly than introducing your sites to the (major) search engines is getting backlinks. Back links are also called Incoming (or In-coming) links or (spelt) backlinks. These are links (from another site) that points to your site.
There are many ways of getting incoming links, some harder (and possibly more expensive) than others.
Never use 'link farms' and 'spam sites' to get inbound links. Link farms are those sites where the only 'value' they have is list of links pointing to discordant, unselective sites. Search Engines these days are smart enough to detect them and penalize them and any site having anything to do with them.
Inbound Links Criteria
Some important things to keep in mind for getting inbound links:
- get links from relevant, related sites. Those sites should be related to the theme of your site content. Off-theme links can be ignored, penalized, or can lower your own ranking.
- preferably, get quality links. That is generally speaking, links with a good (Google) Page Ranking. This may not always be possible, especially if you are just starting out but just building inbound relevant links will help in the long run.
- start getting inbound links only after you have 20-30 pages of good content. Most quality webmasters will only consider linking to your site (or exchanging links) if you have something of value to offer their site visitors.
How to get inbound links?
There are many different ways to get in back links.
- Link Exchanges - request from other (relevant, related) sites. Many webmasters are happy to exchange links as long as your content is relevant and related to theirs and the out-going links (from your site pointing to them) is not buried deep in undiscoverable layers. You want to make sure that where they put the link to your site is the same. A Level 2 page is common and very acceptable (i.e. the link pointing from them back to you is one click away from their home page).
- write articles (at other sites)
- advertise (e.g. Google AdWords)
- Wikis (e.g. Wikipedia)
- Forums and discussion groups
- press releases
- email signature with link to your site(s)
Of all the methods of getting backlinks, getting top quality links from top quality sites is probably the best. But that can take a lot of time. To get the ball rolling, you need to consider directories. Check out our SEO Resources for more important information and useful links.
Directories these days are no longer major pushers of traffic - i.e. don't expect to get any significant amount of traffic from them. What they will do which is equally important, is provide backlinks to you.
Of all the many directories out there, the 2 most powerful (in terms of giving you quality backlinks that will almost immediately up your ranking in SERPs are:
As with most best directories, these 2 are managed and maintained by humans.
- DMOZ.org (Open Directory Project) and
- Yahoo! directory
Drawbacks of DMOZ and Yahoo! directory
DMOZ - not easy to get in. Though free, often there is no response or very very very slow response. And you cannot keep trying and resubmitting coz then they won't consider you at all. Multiple submission of same or related sites can result in being excluded with the possible deletion of those and affiliated sites.
See their help and submission page.
Even though it is highly recommended that your site has been accepted at 2 or more directories or that you have a few good quality backlinks from other sites, if you are waiting and waiting on DMOZ before you monetize .. DON'T.
If you cannot get into DMOZ or even while you are waiting for them, just get on with getting either quality directory or quality site backlinks to yours. Then monetize anyway. With DMOZ, if you wait, you could be waiting forever!
Yahoo! directory- another directory that will immediately have a major impact on your ranking and therefore, your visibility in SERPs. But it COST! At the time of writing, it is USD299 non-refundable fee - only to be reviewed and considered. And if accepted, the is also an annual recurring fee. And that is NOT for inclusion into the directory. That was just for review and consideration! And no refund if your site is not accepted. You can access this at Yahoo! Directory Submit
So what do you do?
Second-tiered and Niche Directories
Look for quality directories that have a review process. There will usually be some submission costs but will be quite reasonable. The waiting time will also be less. Though not as powerful as backlinks from the top major directories, a few decent links will help with the search engines.
Also look out for themed or niche directories that are specific/related to your site content.
Where possible, try to get a listing higher up in the directory hierarchy. (Example, a listing in Arts > Jewelry is generally better than Arts> Jewelry > Costume Jewelry).
Look out for categories that contain your most important keywords (or parts of it) and check the sites that are listed there are similarly in content type to yours.
Be very wary of using submitter software to submit to hundreds and thousands of directories. SEs have already begun considering some of these as link farms as, due to the backlogs, most sites included in these directories are not reviewed and are hence (rightly) considered as low to no value as far as the SEs are concerned.
Summary: SEO Off-Page criteria
List of what to do:
- Submit to (major) SEs
- have 20-30 good content pages and then submit to directories (see: SEO-Resources)
- quality link exchanges with related sites
- any of the other forms of getting your site out there (and pointed to) - forums, article submission on other sites, etc.