So, you’ve optimized your site content and followed all those under-the-hood best practices to maximize your appeal to search engines…what’s next? Executing a truly complete SEO strategy means going beyond the confines of your own site to also engage in off-page SEO.
A search engine ranking isn’t solely based on your own site’s merits; it’s also a bit of a popularity contest. Off-page SEO includes bolstering your digital reputation and authority by earning both backlinks and reputation-validating placements across the web. Search engines strive to connect information-seekers with content they’ll find valuable, and these off-page factors demonstrate there’s a world out there that believes your site and your content is useful and trusted enough to recommend. Said another way: search engines want their users coming back, and quickly pointing them to the relevant information they need is the golden ticket – your goal is making that job as easy as possible for them.
To that end, here are seven specific techniques for building links and growing your site’s reputation from an off-page SEO perspective:
While earning a link from another site helps affirm your brand’s relevance and authority in the eyes of search engines, not all backlinks are created equal. Search engines view a link to an external site as a recommendation, and the reputation of the linking site informs how much weight that link carries. This being the case, effective link building means not just earning backlinks, but high-quality ones.
Search engines assign links their value based on several factors, including the linking site’s overall authority and the number of backlinks to the site—generally, sites with good off-page SEO make more weighty recommendations. Links also carry more value coming from pages that are more relevant to the content, brand, and industry being linked to, and also benefit when the link’s anchor text is relevant.
To assess sites and select worthy targets for your backlinking efforts, checking a site’s website traffic rank provides a useful indicator of its influence.
1) Guest blogging builds links—and your reputation
Successfully placing guest blog posts with influential sites is a highly effective method for boosting off-page SEO. Most guest blogging opportunities will allow you to include a link or two back to your site, which will also help build your reputation in the eyes of the all-powerful search engines. To recognize guest blogging opportunities, investigate sites that are authoritative in your industry and/or with relevant topics (finding such sites through your own research or via tools). Also, uncover where your competitors are active and check the ranks of sites that share the same audiences. Once you determine which targeted sites overlap with your desired audience and have the rank to make them worthwhile, reach out.
2) Turn existing brand mentions into links
If your brand has reached a certain level of success, you may already be receiving mentions of your brand, products, or other company information on influential sites outside of your guest blogging efforts. If this is the case, it’s worth searching for these mentions and reaching out to ask that links be added (or updated to point to the correct or newest content you’ve published).
3) Help other sites fix broken links
Links are somewhat ephemeral—sites change link structures or go offline, and URL addresses stop working. With tools such as Broken Link Builder or Check My Links, you can quickly locate broken links in articles or content relevant to your business. After identifying promising targets, contact the site in question to helpfully inform them of the broken link (and offer a potential substitute link that goes to your own site).
4) Where your competitors have links, often you can too
Beyond guest blogs, your competitors may successfully gain inclusion in articles, industry roundups, directories, and more. These are often ripe targets for your own off-page SEO efforts. Recognize where competitors are active, and work to achieve similar placements wherever possible.
Not all methods of enhancing off-page SEO focus on link building. Follow these additional best practices to win search engines’ trust by bolstering your digital reputation:
5) Really build out your business directory and social media profiles
After creating your website, building out business directory and social media profiles are the next most important steps to establishing your digital foothold. This means ensuring your business and your website appear in directory searches and across major social media platforms (depending on your business this could include LinkedIn, Crunchbase, Wikipedia, etc). Brick-and-mortar businesses should also create a Google My Business page to appear as a rich result in searches. Not only will search engines take notice of these placements when calculating your site’s reputation, they often include the opportunity to add a link.
6) Utilize social media marketing
While social media metrics such as likes and shares aren’t confirmed to directly influence off-page SEO, the indirect benefits are too compelling to pass up. Developing a social media presence certainly builds your brand’s reputation and authority; doing so can also win you brand evangelists, thus increasing the reach of your content and ultimately adding to your site’s traffic – which is certainly a contributor to SEO improvements. To do so, create content that’s shareable, encourage shares by including share buttons, and actively maintain your presence on key social channels.
7) Attach your reputation to influencers
Industry influencers germane to your market—and other brands that make sense as strategic partners—can boost your own reputation by association. To make the most of this technique, enlist influencers (who don’t need to be celebrities!) to share your content and play an active role in marketing your brand. This improves your off-page SEO by adding traffic, mentions, and authority to your site, while also introducing your brand to new audiences you want to reach.
When using these off-page SEO techniques, it’s important to closely monitor site metrics to understand their effectiveness and adjust strategy as necessary. In conjunction with successful on-page SEO, these methods will enable your site’s reputation to flourish and better ensure that search engines are taking proper notice.
Kim Kosaka is the Director of Marketing at Alexa.com, whose tools provide insight into digital behavior that marketers use to better understand and win over their audience.