SEO Series: OffPage Factors «Links & Social Signals»
We have reached the 3rd part of our SEO article series. Here we deal with the topics OffPage factors "Links" and "Social Signals".
The so-called off-page factors are optimizations that are mainly done outside your website, but have a connection to your website.
We distinguish the core factor links between backlinks (external links) and internal links. We will be happy to explain what social signals are all about in detail further down in the article.
Please note that in addition to links and social signals, other elements play a crucial role in SEO optimization. In our SEO article series, we go into detail about the most important SEO factors. To increase your organic traffic on your website in the long term, all factors must be continuously considered and applied. This is the only way to permanently increase Google search traffic on your website.
Here you can find the overview of the different factors:
1. Keywords: Read our blog article SEO-Series: OnPage factors «Keywords & Content»
2. Content: Read our blog article SEO-Series: OnPage factors «Keywords & Content»
3. Technology: Read our blog article SEO-Series: OnPage factors «technology & user experience»
4. User Experience: Read our blog article SEO-Series: OnPage factors «technology & user experience»
5. Links: will be presented in this blog post
6. Social Signals: will be presented in this blog post
7. Branding: Read our blog article SEO Series: OffPage Factors «Branding & specific factors»
8. Specific factors (local, regional, etc.): Read our blog article SEO Series: OffPage Factors «Branding & specific factors»
Links or hyperlinks are an indispensable part of the internet and also an important SEO tool. For search engine optimization two types of links are relevant, the so-called backlinks, which are links from other websites that lead to your website and internal links, which connect the different areas and pages on your own website. We start with the internal links.
The Google crawler follows the internal links on your website to understand the links on your website. This is not only the classic text linking. Also your navigation (menu of your website), buttons or CTA (call to action) are considered as links.
When linking your individual pages to each other, always think about the website visitors, ask yourself which links would help the user while surfing your website and thus build a sensible and logical link structure.
Number of internal links
Theoretically, a higher number of internal links is positive. But as with many things, quality over quantity, or logic over arbitrary links. Do not set links just to increase the number of links, do not confuse your users. You have to keep in mind that your users are often on your website only once or for a short time. Use the 5-click rule. After 5 clicks at the latest, the user should arrive at the desired destination.
Call to action
Call to actions have two positive effects on your SEO performance. On the one hand, they are seen as a link and on the other hand, users click more often on buttons that are clearly marked and named as a call to action. Google considers the interactions on the page as well as how much time a user spends on the page when evaluating your site. With cleverly placed CTAs, 2 birds (links, interaction) are killed with one stone.
Make sure that misleading or incorrect internal links are removed from your website. This can be, for example, that the link was set a long time ago, but in the meantime the URL of the linked page has changed or the linked page has been deleted. You can find broken links on the website for example with the Google Chrome Extension «SEO Minion».
Aim of the internal links
The goal of all internal links is to generate a natural link profile for the user. This means a link profile that does not look artificial and illogical and at the same time offers the user added value.
In addition to the internal links, the external links, the so-called backlinks have a high value. As mentioned above, a backlink is a link that leads from an external website to your own website. For example, if you manufacture products, your raw material supplier can link your company on his site.
A backlink can therefore still be set by you, but the linking must be done by your partner, supplier or customer on his website.
With backlinks, quality also applies before quantity. Make sure that only thematically relevant backlinks lead to your site. As with internal links, the same principle applies to backlinks: what helps your users, Google will also evaluate positively.
A link from a strong brand can be very helpful in the backlink structure and have a positive effect on the ranking result. Google prefers companies in the ranking that are opinion leaders. So if you are linked by an opinion leader in your industry, this has a greater effect than if you get a backlink from 10 «small» websites.
No artificial optimizations
In earlier times, artificial backlinks could be created and bought. This resulted in good results in the ranking position. In the meantime, however, Google recognizes the artificial optimizations, which can lead to a penalty or loss of ranking. Therefore, it is recommended not to buy or artificially create backlinks.
Procedure for setting backlinks:
If you do not have a backlink strategy yet, we recommend the following procedure:
- Create a list of partners, customers and suppliers that are relevant to you.
- If possible, make sure that there is a strong brand among them.
- Now go through the list and ask your partner, customer and supplier if you can link from their website to yours. This should be done gradually! Getting all the backlinks at once can seem artificial to Google.
- Reciprocal linking should be done with caution. Google can also take this as artificial optimization if it is not judged as useful.
If you need support here, specialized SEO agencies can help you build your backlink structure.
If you do not want to pass on a link as a backlink, you can exclude this outgoing link. This can be done with the nofollow tag. With this you instruct Google not to follow up a link. This also applies to links that lead to your website. The nofollow tag must be stored in your HTML code. Your web agency can help you with this.
Now we turn to the topic «Social Signals».
Social signals are «signals» or interactions and links from social media. That is, linked posts, comments, shares, posts or likes. Until now, however, it is controversial whether and to what extent the use of social media has a direct influence on the Google ranking. Google itself, like many other factors, does not look directly into the cards in this context.
What is clear is that social media can also bring links to one's own website. Or that strong brands actively use and maintain social media.
As with all other factors, competition also applies to social signals. If your competitors are on par with you in all other SEO factors, but they actively use social media accounts, your competitors will probably be ranked better in the end.
Both the OffPage factor «backlinks» and the OnPage factor «internal links» should be paid attention to in your SEO optimizations.
Build a logical and understandable internal link structure. Apply a clear navigation, buttons or call to actions for this.
Use relevant links for the backlinks. Use your partners, customers and suppliers for this. Aim for backlinks from an opinion leader in your industry.
Although it's not entirely clear whether social media use or interactions have an impact on your Google ranking, social media accounts help strengthen your brand, get more reach and generate traffic. For this reason, regardless of how much it improves your SEO performance, social media should be part of your digital strategy either way.
We recommend that you allocate enough time resources to your social media so that you can actively and, most importantly, regularly manage your channels.