Off page SEO refers to factors which can impact a website's rankings that do not involve the modification of the website. This, in most part, involves link development. So let's see what links and link development are all about.
What is PageRank®?
PageRank® is the fundamental algorithm on which Google's rankings are based; however, it is no longer (and hasn't been for a few years) the overwhelming factor in a page's ability to rank. There are two types of PageRank®;, one which Google uses internally and is a rational number between 0 and 1. The other is the public PageRank®, which is what used to show up on the Google Toolbar, but is now only accessible through third-party browser plugins or extensions (note: this value is no longer provided by Google in any fashion), and is a number between 1 and 10. In both cases the higher the number the more 'powerful' the website.
If you'd like to learn more details about Google's PageRank®, you can find a detailed article on the American Mathematical Society's website: How Google Finds Your Needle in the Web's Haystack.
A web page's PageRank® is calculated based on the incoming links from external pages (either on the same site or third-party websites). Each link from another page is counted as a vote; however, not every vote has the same value and impact on rankings. The PageRank® of a web page is dependant only on link value and absolutely nothing else. The Google algorithm may decide to not assign the value of incomming links to a particular page; however, whatever value it does assign will be based on links, and not content or any other criteria.
Since links are important to a website's ranking ability, it is an important aspect of search engine optimization. Technically, and at the most basic level, the more incoming links a web page has the higher its PageRank® will be. Of course, the PageRank® of those pages linking to the site in question is also important--the higher the PageRank® of the linking page, the more value it can pass on to the site to which it is linking. But don't go running after high PageRank® links yet; there is more to it than that. Check our Link Development Guide before doing anything; it will save you a headache. Note: Just cross-linking the pages of your own website will not increase your PageRank® (it will just pass it around from page to page).
Even though on-page optimization is very important, inbound links are crucial for pushing a website to the first page of search engine result pages. With that said, it is important to know that not every link is a good link, and being able to recognize good from neutral or bad can make or break (and sometimes obliterate) a site's rankings. Here we will discuss the types of links, structure and formatting, relevance, and placement.
Types of Links
- Image Links: These are links which do not have any anchor text and are comprised of just an image being linked to the destination URL. The image link can be valuable, but it is not as desirable with a text link, keyword rich (this does not mean keyword-stuffed) anchor text.
- Text Links: Text links, as the name suggests, are the traditional type of link that everyone is used to seeing on every webpage. Text links are highly desirable as they allow for specific keywords to be linked to the destination URL. This is advantageous because the search engine algorithms assign more relevancy to the link if the anchor text is in line with the content of the page to which it is pointing.
Link Relevance & Origin Quality
We cannot overemphasize the importance of the relevance of the page from which the link originates, to the page to which it points. The relevance of the page and the quality of the site which it is a part of, are the factors that can make a link highly useful or potentially disastrous.
The relevance of a link is determined by the content of the site (or page) from which it originates as compared to the content of the site (or page) to which it points. So the closer the topic of the page/site from which you are getting the link is related to the page/site to which the link will be pointing, the more value the search engine algorithms will assign to that link. As a result, the rankings of the page which is being linked to will see more significant improvements in rankings than it would otherwise.
Link Origin Quality
Aside from relevance, the quality of the page from which the link originates also impacts the value that it is able to pass along to the destination page. In this case quality does not refer to how technologically advanced a page/site is or how intricate and awe inspiring the visual elements are, but rather, it refers to the quality of the content on the page which is in turn determined by the quality and relevance of the links which the linking page/site has earned. You can learn more about link development techniques and opportunities in our Link Development Guide.