8 Elements of Strong Off-Page SEO
The whole point of SEO is improving your website's ranking in search engines. And while good SEO includes a checklist of website optimization tips, it's the marketing that happens on other blogs, forums and websites — and even in the real world — that can really fuel a climb in the search rankings.
This is called off-site SEO. It's those aspects of marketing that raise awareness of your brand while building your reputation with your audience. Guest-writing posts for popular blogs, getting great Yelp reviews and impressing the pants off of your customers are all examples of off-site SEO. With strong off-site SEO, people will want to learn about your business before even bothering with Google. Reach that point, and SEO gets a whole lot easier.
Read on for eight elements of strong off-page SEO that you should incorporate into your marketing strategy.
1. Sell a Fantastic Product
This is ground zero for off-site SEO. Great marketing can sometimes make up for a ho-hum product, but only temporarily. Eventually, the truth comes out — and good luck getting people excited about something that's average at best.
In addition to providing goods and services that are actually useful and valuable, you should also focus on how you can sweeten the deal with remarkable associated offers. Back your product with a lengthy warranty. Create a generous return policy. Open a tech-support line. Don't just sell your product — convince customers that your business is the best place to buy from.
2. Seek Out Higher-Quality Inbound Links
Since the earliest days of SEO, inbound links have played important roles in establishing a website's credibility. In recent years, though, Google started penalizing sites with larger volumes of low-quality inbound links. It's far more important nowadays to focus on high-quality inbound links from reputable blogs and websites.
With this in mind, you should always be thinking of ways to get more links from high-quality sites. Consider writing guest blogs or informative articles for influential websites in your industry, or pitch story ideas to your local media to get inbound links from news stories. You can also build high-quality inbound links by interacting with influential industry figures on Facebook, Twitter and other forms of social media. You might even find link-building opportunities with clients and business partners.
3. Be the Best at Customer Service
Word of mouth is extremely powerful — not just the good, but the bad. Customers who have great experiences with retailers and local businesses are much more likely to become loyal shoppers. On the flipside, customers who feel spurned, overlooked or insulted might vent to their friends or, worse, rip your business on social media.
Simply put, be the best at customer service. Treat every customer with reverence, and make sure your employees are fully prepared to answer questions about your goods, services and policies. Everyone wants to be treated with respect. Do this well, and customers will look for your website — and further cement your online authority — the next time they need help.
4. Seek Positive Reviews From Customers
Did you know 88 percent of online shoppers incorporate reviews into their purchase decisions? Or that more than half of young adults ages 18 to 34 trust online reviews more than friends and family? We could go on and on, but the point is this — businesses backed by positive online reviews are much more likely to be searched for on Google.
Encouraging customers to write positive reviews on Yelp and other websites is actually quite simple. It starts with selling a great product and being the best at customer service — two things we've already covered. You can also take the extra step of asking customers for feedback. Put Yelp buttons on your website and in follow-up emails for purchases. Also make sure you've made profiles for your business on Yelp, Angie's List and other relevant online directory sites.
5. Start a Blog
Blogging is unique on this list because it's beneficial for both on- and off-site SEO. Google's algorithm loves websites that are regularly refreshed with unique, high-quality content. Well-written blogs do this well. In addition, blog posts that are helpful, informative or simply entertaining are great for sharing on social media and industry-specific websites and forums; they also provide substance for email campaigns to reconnect with customers. All of this is helpful for off-site SEO.
Make sure to update your blog on a regular basis — nobody likes a blog that's gone stale. Experiment with different types of content, too. Create short how-to guides, post about community involvement or share your thoughts on an infographic from a relevant trade publication. The possibilities are endless.
6. Get Active on Social Media
Social media isn't just a fad. Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms have become interwoven in our lives. In fact, a Pew Research Center study from 2013 to 2014 found more than half of internet users had profiles on at least two social media platforms. In addition, 70 percent of Facebook users check their feeds daily, the study found.
This means your customers are most likely using social media. You should be, too. Focus your social media efforts on just one or two platforms (you can't go wrong with Facebook). Don't hesitate to interact with commenters, and be proactive about addressing complaints. Post regular updates that show the human side of your business. Share your videos and blog posts. You can even hold social media contests to build your followers and expand your reach. All these things can help drive interest and help your off-site SEO.
7. Produce YouTube Videos
You don't need to be a professional videographer to reap the benefits of YouTube. What's more important is creating videos that are valuable to your customers. Think in terms of guides, tutorials or demonstrations of your newest products.
Videos are the most engaging types of content online. You can share your videos on your website, your blog and on social media. Chances are, others will share them, too.
8. Volunteer in Your Community
Good things happen when businesses get involved in their communities. They get local media coverage, social media mentions and great material for their blogs and marketing campaigns. People often notice when businesses get involved, leading to generous bumps in word-of-mouth publicity.
Don't wait around for the perfect community event. Take the initiative and start your own! This is the best way to guarantee the coverage and mentions that generate positive off-site SEO signals. Think of how your business benefits your community and build an event around that.
Off-site SEO is critical to your overall marketing strategy. Yes, it's important to have clear meta tags and headers that match your primary keywords - but all those webpage optimization tactics are more likely to impress bots than actual humans. A concerted effort to boost your off-site SEO will eventually lead to higher-quality inbound links and better brand recognition, producing a plethora of digital signals that establish your website as unique, valuable and credible. That can have a profoundly positive impact on your website's search rankings.
Want more tips to improve your SEO? Click here to grab a copy of our Ultimate SEO Checklist.
Phil is Founder and COO of Main Street ROI. Phil leads the company’s operations and is primary creator of Main Street ROI’s marketing training programs. He is an expert in search engine marketing, website analytics, and sales funnel optimization. Phil’s marketing thought leadership has been published on Forbes.com, Inc.com, MSN.com, and many other major business media outlets.
Phil earned his Master of Engineering Management degree from Thayer School of Engineering and Tuck School of Business and his Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Engineering degrees from Dartmouth College. While attending Dartmouth, Phil started every game on the varsity football team as the defensive safety.