Balanced site performance. Part 4: External Optimization

In the previous parts, we analyzed the Strategy and its components, and also touched on the topic of internal indicators of the site that affect promotion. In the same article, we turn to external optimization.

But first, take a look at our diagram to make it clearer what we are going to talk about:


First part: Strategy
Second part: Technical optimization
Third part: Content
Fifth part: Usability

In the diagram, internal connections mutually penetrate all the indicators of the site. And external optimization is no exception. But let's get it in order. And we will begin with a common understanding of why we need ...


In general, a link is what allows the Internet to function; without it, it simply could not exist. And although the ultimate goal of the user is content or service, without links he could neither find nor use them.

From the very beginning of the existence of search engines, the link was for them not only a navigation mechanism, but also a sign of the quality of the content. The very fact that the materials are referenced in the eyes of the search engines added weight to these materials. And this principle persists today, although its value in the general structure of modern search engine algorithms has significantly decreased.

Links still help promote sites, they just do it a little differently. Once it was possible to “drive off” a site with 2,000 white directories, and in a couple of months safely enter the Top 10. A little later, exchanges appeared on which it was already possible to buy links on sites with a guarantee of placement and open information about page performance. In those days, the promotion of two-thirds (or even more) consisted of link management.

Today everything works differently: links are taken into account differently, mechanisms have appeared that can identify SEO links and punish violations in the field of external optimization.

Therefore, now the work with the reference environment is carried out comprehensively and very carefully. Mass methods are practically not used.

We will start with how they are located and installed today ...

Thematic links

As the name implies, these are links that are affixed to sites with themes that match the theme of your site and the page that the link points to. It sounds simple, but in fact there are many pitfalls.

The resource on which the link is placed must itself have no incriminating signs or sanctions already applied. In this case we are talking about paid placement, so you need to evaluate the donor site thoroughly: the link for which you are going to pay may not bring any result if it is on a page with a poor rating.

The task of the thematic link is to transfer part of the weight of the page of the donor site to the page of the promoted site. There are specific indicators that search engine optimizers evaluate when choosing a donor site:

  • Whether or not in large network directories
  • Is the page or its content closed for indexing?
  • The number and quality of links that the site puts on the page
  • Website Quality Index
  • Thematic affinity of the site’s content in general, and the content of the page from which the link is purchased
  • Website content refresh rate
  • Link location on page

Therefore, links are not purchased in batches of 100-200 pieces, but selectively and with an analysis of each proposal. Exchanges are used to make a purchase: there are well-designed tools that allow you to secure the transaction for all participants. As a rule, the exchange itself monitors the placement through automated services. In the event of a violation by the seller, the buyer can rely on compensation and support.

How to make a link? First of all, we turn to semantics. Initially, all links were placed with the inclusion of key queries in the anchor (link text). Search robots linked the page that the donor site links to a specific keyword, and this affected the position of the site for this keyword.

Now the approach has changed, links are bought not only anchor, but also un anchored. This is done in order to make the link environment of the site look more natural.

Special algorithms can calculate links with a clearly commercial nature and lower the sites that purchase them. So, you cannot use the direct occurrence of a keyword if it is not consistent with the surrounding text in grammar. And even more so if it is not consistent on the subject. Links with frankly commercial anchors are perceived by search engines worse, and to enter them in direct entry into the text is always very difficult.

For this, non-anchor links are used. The name does not accurately convey their essence: they actually have anchors, they just include keywords. These are links like “here”, “by reference”, “”, etc. Keywords are inserted into the surrounding text. Such a link looks more natural, and is perceived much better by search algorithms.

As this is reflected in our concept and scheme: the semantic core influences the preparation of a plan for obtaining thematic links, but does not directly form their anchor component.

But the link between the link and the content, on the contrary, is the most direct. These are two sides of the same communicative impact with the user:
“The text of the donor site page -> link -> The text of the acceptor site page”
This is what a standard user-learning content chain looks like, and the search algorithm also evaluates potential communication. If in this chain logic is broken somewhere (for example, the text to which the link leads does not correspond to it), then the chain is evaluated negatively.

We will return to this topic when we summarize the results, and now consider another type of link, namely ...

Crowd links

They are also sometimes called “traffic”. These are links from forums, sites with reviews, “Question - Answer” services, blogs and the like sites where users ask questions to the community and get direct answers. Social networks sometimes also fall into this category, but we will consider them separately.

Crowd links are good for several reasons:

  • They are placed in the most natural and organic environment, therefore, search engines are not perceived as tools for manipulating the algorithm. Moreover, subject to competent placement, even a purely technical search engine will not find reasons for mistrust. And this means that such a link will definitely not become the reason for imposing sanctions, but rather will improve the site’s performance.
  • They are absolutely naturally perceived by the community, and minimizes negative attitude towards the brand. Of course, much depends on the filing and level of performance, but more on that below.
  • They provide a good flow of targeted visitors to the site. And this is a very important point: visitors are an impact on behavioral ranking factors. We will talk about this in the next article, we only mention here that crowd links (and this is even reflected in their name) provide an opportunity to quickly get visitors, even when you do not yet have any positions. And most importantly, these are people who have already indicated their interest.
  • They often have a long-lasting effect: if you “found” a popular and not losing relevance public request, then a series of such publications can deliver unique visitors to your site from search for a very long time. In particular, the “Answers” ​​service from is known for being very good at ranking first in the search for popular questions.
  • They increase not only SEO performance, but also brand performance: the frequency of mentions is growing, and then recognition is also growing. This, of course, does not directly affect the speed of promotion, but an indirect factor is, because after a while branded traffic to the site grows and this generally positively affects its ranking.

Unlike regular thematic links, crowd links are located on the border between content promotion and link management. You can’t just post a link to your site, you need to find the perfect place for it where you will be allowed to speak out and not be banned for this very link. Since this is a very time-consuming process, one of the solutions is to create such an environment on your own.

Organizing discussions and bringing them to publication of the link is a kind of art, albeit not too complicated. You will need the help of a professional copywriter who will prepare the materials. It is very important to build on the content to which the link sends. The above-mentioned logic of communication with the user in the case of crowd links becomes the main element.

Crowd links usually do not contain keywords in the anchor, they remain significantly diluted and adapted in the surrounding text. Of decisive importance here is the maximum correspondence of the conditional answer (page of your site) to the question that the service user formulates.

You can place crowd links through special services, but it’s better to do it yourself: if you want to get the result, you still have to analyze each placement.

If you are promoting in specific regions, then I advise you to include local resources. Local users usually show higher session rates (time on site, viewing depth, etc.), and this will be useful for SEO.

Please note that crowd links often come with the “hottest” audience, which is as ready as possible to make a purchasing decision. Therefore, it’s important to select or create a landing page that will place this audience in the right place in the sales funnel. So, again, we are thinking over what questions each page will answer and what problems each page will solve, we will cluster the semantics in detail and work out the content.

When choosing semantics, you need to immediately identify those questions and answers that concern the target audience, carefully organize this knowledge and work out the site structure for them (if you need to do this additionally). In the future, this will simplify the process of creating a link “crowd link - the right content”.

If you see that a large number of people are looking for non-commercial information about the product, then now plan an information section in which you will “land” this audience. Think out scenarios of communication with the user and bringing him to the purchase.

Social cues

Quite a lot is written about social signals, there are even interesting experiments, including from our compatriots. If we summarize all the experience that has been accumulated today regarding social signals, we can say that they really affect the ranking, but so far they cannot be attributed to the most important factors.

However, in SEO there are no such factors that can be neglected. Everything is important for us, including social signals.

What it is? These are all the actions that users perform on social networks regarding your site and brand. Likes, reposts, links, even just mention. It is clear that search engines are physically unable to track all the data that users generate on social networks: most of this information is banal from robots. Nevertheless, part of all the same they find and take into account.  

Therefore, the minimum program for us will be to create accounts in popular social networks, install their widgets and buttons on the site, and publish new materials. Here we practically come to the border where SEO ends and SMM begins, but this is normal: Internet marketing is a complex thing.

Ideally, an SMM specialist works in conjunction with an SEO specialist and copywriter, they create a single content product and implement it at all levels. In this case, even a contest held on Instagram will help you go up a little higher in your search.

Back to the strategy. Since we need widgets and buttons, then the site should be able to. We check the CMS for the availability of appropriate tools, if they are not there, then we find the necessary plugins.

Where can I get content for publications? First of all, this is the same content that you post on the site, but adapted to each specific social network. If appropriate, add links, if not, mention the brand. Any news on the site is a free info guide for social networks and vice versa.


Our scheme is almost completely covered, it established strong mutual relations between content, link environment, internal optimization. The main link in the whole scheme: promotion strategy based on four key parameters:

  • Website
  • Keywords
  • Promotion Regions
  • Competitive analysis

All these parameters establish certain development vectors for each of the indicators. Regarding the reference environment, one can distinguish the following patterns:

  • The structure of the site determines the content of its pages (and vice versa), and based on this, links are placed.
  • Site content determines the necessary content of donor sites.
  • The semantic core simultaneously determines the subject of the site’s pages, the subject of the donor site, the link anchor and the content of the surrounding text. And combines all these parameters into a single system.
  • The company's external resources (accounts on social networks) are not only points of content sowing, but also places of links and receiving social signals.
  • Regional targeting establishes an additional list of resources for linking and receiving social signals. And, at the same time, it determines the content of landing pages to which users will be brought.
  • Crowd links increase site traffic and directly affect the improvement of the site’s behavioral indicators and become points of long-term user engagement.
  • Metrics allow you to understand how effective link management is, identify problem areas, and fix flaws.

To be continued. Fifth Part: Usability

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