Search engine optimization (SEO) is a complex world, and many businesses don’t invest much time into learning about its nuances. But you don’t have to go very deep to learn useful tools that many websites aren’t using—tools that can give you an edge ahead of your competition. One often overlooked strategy is off-page SEO.
If you only know the basics about SEO, it’s easy to focus entirely on your website and crafting pages with great content. And while that’s an excellent thing to do, your SEO strategy has more to it. Yes, you’ll be able to rank on search results pages just by focusing on your website, but you won’t be able to reach the top for competitive search terms without expanding your strategy. That’s where off-page SEO comes into play.
Off-page SEO describes the tactics you can use outside of your website to drive more traffic to your website. It can help you gain traffic directly, through links, or indirectly by boosting awareness of your business and your site. Off-page SEO is a vital part of any strong digital marketing strategy.
So what are some ways you can improve your off-page SEO? Here are nine you should know:
- Get in directories. While most people don’t use phonebooks anymore, similar tools still exist online that can help people discover your business and even link them directly to your site. Directories also boost your SEO through backlinks to your site, which Google’s algorithm uses to make connections between websites and learn about your website’s popularity and credibility. List your business in directories like the Chamber of Commerce, and you can also get your business listed in directories such as Yelp and YellowPages.
- Register with the Better Business Bureau (BBB). The BBB functions like a directory, but it also is a highly trusted site that can help your website’s credibility. Not only can it make potential customers more trusting of your business, but Google’s algorithm trusts the BBB’s website, which means that it’s valuable to gain backlinks to your website.
- Invest in social media. You can use social media to link back to your website as well as to promote your brand. Like the BBB, most social media sites are highly credible to Google’s algorithm, which means that they can create valuable backlinks. It’s also a great way to create engagement around your brand and to increase your digital presence to make users more aware of your brand and more likely to remember it.
- Feature on guest blogs and podcasts. Reach out to others who already have a following and who focus on topics related to your own to arrange a guest blog or podcast. This allows you to get in touch with their audience, and it’s an easy way for them to get content. Always be willing to return the favor. A big part of link-building requires outreach, and it’s a good idea to have someone on your digital marketing team who looks for PR opportunities and handles outreach. This can be a labor-intensive way to improve your SEO, but can also be extremely effective.
- Publish articles in larger publications. Write articles in your area of expertise and submit them to relevant publications. Like guest blogging, this will expose you to a larger audience, and you may be able to link to your website as well. The credibility of larger sites that publish articles from multiple sources can be helpful in building valuable high-quality backlinks.
- Perfect your Google My Business listing. Your Google My Business listing, which is what users see when they search your business on Google Maps, is a key ingredient in your off-page SEO. In fact, for local searches, your Google My Business listing may show up on the search results page above any web pages. Unfortunately, many business owners neglect this important SEO aspect. Optimize your listing by claiming your business if you haven’t already, then ensure that you’ve filled out all of the important information, especially your business’s name, address, and phone number. It’s a good idea to add your business hours as well as photos, and hiring a professional photographer to photograph your business makes your listing even more professional. Once you’re all set up, you can respond to reviews and ask your customers to give you five-star reviews to improve your ranking.
- Set up an email subscriber list or newsletter. A great way to get people to return to your site is to capture their email and send something to their inbox every now and then. Most people won’t subscribe for no reason, so often businesses offer a free resource download in exchange for an email address. You can send your email list updates on the business, useful information and resources, and notices when you run promotions. Of course, be careful not to overdo it so you don’t frustrate your subscribers—you don’t want your emails to get marked as spam.
- Comment on blogs and in forums. You can leave links to your website in comments on blogs or in forums, which will create backlinks from those sites. However, it’s important to do this in a way that doesn’t register as spam. Write a genuinely helpful post, and offer a link to a page you’ve written with more information. One of the best ways to achieve this is to find someone asking a question related to your expertise. Answer the question in a way that is as helpful as you can, and add a link at the end if they want to learn more.
- Focus on your branding. Off-page SEO is about more than just creating backlinks. It’s about building your reputation and creating greater awareness around your business. To do that well, you need to have a memorable brand. If you put a lot of effort into building your brand, it will naturally improve your SEO as your brand gains traction and more people search for your business and engage with your brand.
There are many aspects to SEO beyond the work that you put into your website. By diversifying your approach to digital marketing and reaching beyond your own website, you create a better presence for your brand across the web, making it easier to find your business and improving your reputation in the eyes of Google’s algorithm. If you aren’t using these off-page SEO techniques yet, pick one to start implementing it today.