Off-Page SEO Factors

Although it is important to have well-optimized landing pages, you will find that on-page SEO is rarely going to be enough to get the results that you want from your search engine optimization efforts. The reality is that most of your competition has already optimized their landing pages and they are now going through the off-page SEO process.

Link Importance aka PageRank, Link Popularity, Link Equity, etc.

One of the biggest innovations that Google made in the search engine industry was to look beyond the body content of a page to determine what it's about. Specifically, they decided to consider the links going to a page in order to determine its importance on the Web. In their eyes, a link to a page is essentially a "vote" for its content. The more votes that a page has, the more important it must be. However, your calculated importance is not entirely about vote quantity. Google also considers the importance of the page linking to your page, so it's theoretically possible for you to be a more important site than your competitor with fewer links if your inbound links are of a high enough quality.

Although it was Google who initially pioneered the idea of looking at a page's inbound links to determine its relative importance on the Web, all of the search engines now factor links into their algorithms. Developing inbound links to your site is necessary to achieve good rankings in virtually every search engine these days. Whether you hear it called "link popularity", "link equity" or "link importance", everyone is talking about inbound links, and they are crucial to the success of your search engine optimization project.

Link Importance vs. Link Relevance

It is helpful to distinguish between the concept of link importance and link relevance. Depending on how you define them, you might think they are the same thing. However, they should be thought of as two very different concepts. Put simply, link importance is entirely based on which pages link to you and is completely independent of keyword usage. PageRank is the perfect example of link importance according to this definition. Your site's PageRank is based on how many pages link to you and each of those page's PageRank (it's also dependent on how your pages link to each other if you want to be completely accurate). It does not matter if keywords are used on the pages or not—PageRank flows regardless.

Link relevance, on the other hand, is entirely dependent on the keywords that are used on the linking pages. So let's assume a random 3rd party page links to your intended landing page. If you were trying to optimize for Keyword A, then that link would have high link relevance if Keyword A appeared throughout the linking page. The most relevant link possible for Keyword A would be from a page that has been completely optimized for Keyword A. In other words, Keyword A is utilized in that page's Title tag, Meta Description, H1 tag, and a handful of times in the body content.

Assuming the link relevance of two links is equal, the link with the highest SEO value will be the link from the page with more importance (i.e. higher PR). However, if you had to choose between a link with high relevance or high importance, then you should almost always opt for the link with more relevance. Here are a few link scenarios to help illustrate this concept:

Link Scenario 1: PageRank 8 page links to your site with good anchor text, but the targeted keyword does not appear anywhere else on the page
Link Importance: High
Link Relevance: Low
Overall Link Value: Minimal

Link Scenario 2: PageRank 2 page links to your site with good anchor text and targeted keyword appears throughout linking page
Link Importance: Average
Link Relevance: High
Overall Link Value: Good

Link Scenario 3: PageRank 4 page links to your site with good anchor text and targeted keyword appears throughout linking page
Link Importance: Good
Link Relevance: High
Overall Link Value: Excellent

We will explain the concept of link relevance further in the Advanced section of our site once it is developed, but there is one more thing that must be noted about link relevance. Unfortunately, it does not make the concept any easier to understand (it makes it much more complicated, in fact), but it is a very important point. The link relevance of a link is different for every potential keyword phrase that you are targeting. For example, let's assume you have a link from a page about Keyword A. The link would be extremely relevant if you are valuing it for Keyword A. But let's assume that you are also targeting Keyword B on your landing page. If the linking page does not utilize Keyword B, then the link value for Keyword B would be minimal (for the same link!).

Internal Links vs. External Links

All the pages on your site start out with a certain amount of link importance which is distributed throughout your site based on how the pages link to each other. Your site gets additional link importance from all of the 3rd party sites that link into it. Throughout the rest of this site, we will refer to links from 3rd party sites as "external". Link importance is distributed similarly whether you are considering an internal link or external link. However, the overall value of a link for Keyword A's search engine ranking is dependent on whether the link is internal or external. For instance, let's assume you had two links that were completely identical in terms of link importance and relevance. If one of them was internal and the other was external, then the external link will carry more SEO weight.

It is unclear whether internal links are discounted or external links are inflated in value algorithmically, but the reasoning is clear from the search engines' perspective. You have direct control over internal links, and you voting for yourself effectively should not give you a big advantage over competitors that have votes from other sites.

Learn more about how to optimize internal links and how to start building external links. If you are an HTML beginner, you might want to learn what anchor text is first.

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