This is the third of four articles looking at what is SEO and helping you navigate the sometimes confusing world of SEO with our SEO Guides. This second part focuses on Off-Page SEO.
We’re exploring some essential tips and techniques of how you can improve the visibility of your website and increase a potential customer’s chances of being led to it through a search engine.
A quick recap
Everything discussed in these three articles is designed to help you to increase the ranking and authority of your website. In essence, the more trustworthy the search engines believe that your site is, the more likely they are to show it to people.
We use a variety of techniques through on-page SEO, off-page SEO, and technical SEO to assist with this.
Off-Page SEO refers to practices and tools that can be used, beyond the pages of your own website, that can help to build your search engine ranking and domain authority. With off-page SEO, there are actions that you can do yourself, but a lot is also down to a reliance on others to engage with your brand too.
- Look beyond the borders of your site
- Familiarise yourself with social media and forums
- Ignore this because it doesn’t focus solely on your site
- Underestimate this
If you want to encourage people to visit your site, you have to think beyond your own website. Off-page SEO is where you optimise the online and offline footprint of your brand’s communication. The work that you do off-site maximises the efficiency of your on-site work.
Imagine you have a beautiful online shoe shop, with cute shoes that no one else can stock. You have excellent customer service. Your prices are competitive. And yet you only focus on everything within the site. What would make a new customer know that your site exists?
The reputation that you build is going to be a critical factor in bringing people to your shop. Who is talking about it? Who will recommend it to friends and family? Where else are you going to raise awareness of it? If you have done nothing else to raise awareness of the business, then who else is out there that is?
It’s about relationships and recommendations
Off-page SEO focuses on the other people who are linking to your site, talking about it, or referencing it on social media. In essence, they are helping to build the authority and ranking of your brand, not only with people but also with the search engines.
Through the array of digital platforms available, your site can be mentioned to a far greater audience. If you nurture effective relationships, and positive mentions, your reputation is likely to instill in people trust in your brand. As more people talk about your brand, more people share links to your website. Each of these links can help to drive traffic and build trust.
Off-page SEO can be done through a variety of areas, these include backlinks to your site from other trustworthy sites, online reviews, referrals through social media, and guest blogging. These all, in turn, will have a positive impact on the visibility of your website.
LINK BUILDING AND BACKLINKS
A key component of off-page SEO is link building. Link building means that other reputable sites are linking to your site, and vice versa.
What is particularly helpful to you are backlinks. When other websites backlink to your site, it essentially means that they’re telling both visitors to their own site and the search engines that you’re a trustworthy source, and are providing content of value.
The more backlinks your site has from reputable sites, the higher the chances that the search engines will value you as a trustworthy site. This means that they’re more likely to put it higher in searches. The most effective backlinks are links from sites that are deemed authoritative – this instills trust in both people and search engines that your site is worth visiting.
A Note of caution
It’s worth reiterating here that each site has its own page and domain authority. The websites that you want to be linking to you are the ones with high authority. Sites that contain more spam-like content are likely to be pushed down in the search results and could damage your own site’s score. It’s worth spending some time researching the trusted brands in your field, and nurture online relationships with them, and stay away from spam sites.
NURTURING OPPORTUNITIES FOR BACKLINKS
The more people visiting your site and staying on your site the better your site authority. This might not be through a product, but it might be through providing content of value to customers, around the services or products that you offer.
Opportunities on Social Media
Social media is an often missed opportunity when considering SEO. It’s easy to dismiss as irrelevant if you misunderstand its potential. One issue is that you may not always see the traffic you are getting from social media in your analytics. This can lead to the false assumption that you aren’t getting any. This is a misconception. Your analytics will register direct traffic. That’s traffic received from, for example, someone typing your URL, or following a backlink. Everything else gets put in a group called “dark traffic”.
Dark traffic is just a name meaning that the origin can’t be directly traced. A link to your site could be shared on Whatsapp. It could be emailed. There are actually lots of sources, Snapchat, mobile apps, sometimes social platforms like Facebook, just to name a few. Any traffic to your site that isn’t direct could be coming from one of these sharing methods. This is an untapped goldmine for links, increased site visits and, when done well, visitor retention.
Find Your Audience
The first thing to do is find your audience. This means finding forums about or related to your product. Find blogs and Facebook groups. Search Twitter for related subjects. Build a list of places where people are talking about the area your site fits into.
One thing to pay attention to is that people don’t frequent communities such as these to be directly marketed to. A post that is basically the same as yelling “buy this” will put them off in a heartbeat. Comment spam has lead to an upsurge in people choosing to turn off comment following so it will do nothing for you.
What you need to do is be helpful. Answer forum posts. Respond to blogs. Offering knowledge and advice freely. Build up a reputation for being knowledgeable and helpful and people will take notice and find you. Then, your responses are more likely to be shared and commented on. Your empathy will draw more attention from even more visitors. It goes back to providing people with “content of value”. If you show interest and support of them, they are more likely to be interested in what you’re hoping to say.
Blogging is a key opportunity to help to raise your profile and to provide others with “content of value”. This, in turn, can then encourage people back to your website. As with the above opportunities, making sure that the blog contains content of value for your audience is vital. They are far more likely to share something if it is interesting to them or helps them.
In the past, it has been a popular idea to guest blog for the provision of links, but this really isn’t a great approach. Rather than just seeing a guest blog as a links opportunity, why not use it to build rapport with a new audience?
If your article is geared towards quality content, the links will come naturally. The goal here is to be mutually beneficial. Don’t beg for traffic, prove to them that your post will bring them value. Even if they turn you down, you have the relationship still, and that has value. You will also be able to use that experience to improve your approach to other sites increasing your chances in the future.
CONTENT ON DIFFERENT PLATFORMS
Another way of attracting backlinks is sharinging content of value for your audience away from your website itself, that points back to your website.
There are plenty of opportunities available when creating content, and on a plethora of platforms. It’s worth spending some time researching where your audience is most likely to be, and how they communicate, before throwing out content into the ether. What platforms are your audience using? What type of content are they likely to engage with?
Time spent in preparation will help to ensure that any content created is of value to your audience. If they find it valuable, it’s more likely to be shared and engaged with. This, in turn, can increase both the awareness of your brand and links back to your site.
Experiment with content types
There are ample ways to engage with your audience beyond your site. YouTube, for example, is the second largest search engine in the world. YouTube is owned by Google, the largest. Content on YouTube will contribute to your Google ranking. Here are just a few ideas of possibilities below:
• Youtube – Post a “How to” video, or explain a concept clearly. Show off a product.
• Imgur/Flickr/Instagram/Pinterest – Visual focussed platforms. Curate collections of images and add your own.
• Facebook -Share the content above in a post. Show behind the scenes content. Tease about upcoming releases.
• Facebook live – Stream live updates about what you are currently working on or soon to be released products and features.
• Snapchat – Snap funny shots from around the office. Post a group shot from an exciting meeting.
• Twitter – Tweet and retweet interesting videos and articles, including yours but from others too.
The more people can engage with you as a person and a brand the more likely they are to seek out more.
CONCLUSION – OFF-PAGE SEO
Think about the average person’s daily interaction with the web and the world outside of it. Any place they may be going for information, entertainment, to kill some time while waiting for a bus, wherever. Be there, being useful and interesting. Your site is the core, but there are rings of influence radiating out around it. Don’t miss out on these opportunities.