When thinking through your SEO strategy, there are two paths you can take—on-page strategies and off-page strategies. Where on-page tactics focus on your website and changes to content and code, off-page tactics force marketers to get creative.
Off-page tactics are efforts that get results without paying for advertising services such as Google Ads. Paid ads can get fast results, and can be used to push a particular special or limited time promotion. But, other off-page tactics will help your site rank higher in the long run. Google doesn’t weigh paid activity in it’s algorithm, but it will, for example, weigh a highly watched video.
Off-Page SEO Strategies
Backlinks were once considered the heartbeat of off-page SEO. Now, with so many other factors to weigh in, they are no longer the backbone, but still carry considerable weight. There are three types of links, each defined by how they are earned:
- Natural links occur without an outreach or action from the page owner. Example: a travel blogger linking to restaurants she ate at in Dallas.
- Manual links are added through outreach or another link building effort, such as affiliate programs and brand ambassadors. Example: a fitness enthusiast is sent free workout gear in exchange for a review and backlink on his blog.
- Self-created links appear in things such as blog comments or Reddit threads. These are typically considered black hat SEO moves, and should be used with extreme caution.
Various sites carry differing amounts of backlink equity, or how much weight that domain carries in the SEO world. Some of the factors that contribute to a site’s equity value are:
- Site popularity or traffic
- Whether or not the site is relevant to the topic it is linking to
- Anchor text on the linking site
- Trustworthiness of the linking site
- Number of other links present on the linking site
- Domain authority, which is measured on a 100-point scale. Sites with a higher authority are seen as more knowledgeable on the given topic(s).
In order to gain trustworthy backlinks, it is important to have authoritative, shareable content, such as a pillar article. There is a lot of research that goes into a pillar article, and these articles should answer a lot of questions that your target audience has. In turn, they can act as a resource for other organizations writing about the same topic, gaining you a backlink. The more backlinks your page has, the more Google loves it. Plus, you begin to look like an industry leader.
Google My Business
For businesses that have a strong local presence, Google My Business can make a big difference in search rankings. When people search for goods and services on Google, they are shown a list of places, both in Maps and Search. These small listings act as a digital phone book, allowing users to quickly see where you are, what you do and how to contact you.
While Google keeps quiet about just how much Google My Business affects rankings, their recent release of an app gives a strong hint about where their priorities currently lie. Simply claiming your listing and ensuring that all information is correct can go a long way, but here are a few tips to make sure you get the most out of Google My Business.
- Solicit reviews. This doesn’t need to be a project that takes hundreds of hours or reaches your entire city. Simply asking a satisfied customer, while they are still in your store, to leave a Google review can make a big difference. It’s no secret that the businesses with more reviews tend to rank higher.
- Add photos. If you don’t have a location photo set on your account, Google will automatically publish the street view of your address, which can be unflattering and inaccurate. Upload a few images of your beautiful building and smiling staff, so that customers know what to expect when they get there.
- Add your logo. Make sure that people can recognize your listing the moment they see it.
- Make posts. One of the newest Google My Business features is the ability to make posts. Similar to Facebook posts, these can be anything you desire—highlight a product, promote a sale or just say hi. One thing that is unique about these posts is that they expire after a set period of time, which forces your content to stay relevant and current.
Content creation doesn’t have to just live on your website. In fact, the more engaging content that can be created off-page, the better. When creating video content, avoid the temptation to create a “viral” video. No matter how good a video is, no one can force it to go viral. Instead, focus on creating authentic, high-quality content and let the video do the talking. Video content, when hosted on YouTube, is searchable and can show up on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). This increases your chance of being seen by people interested in the topic you are covering.
In order for the video to be found by search engines, make use of YouTube’s description field and tagging system. The description field allows you to write long-form content describing what your video is about. Think of this field as a mini blog post in a way. Aim for 150-200 words describing the video, its topic and who you are. Be careful not to give your entire video away, as you still want people to watch it!
Tags are how YouTube categorizes content. Aim for about a dozen tags, focusing on the essential points of your video. Here are some tips for brainstorming tags:
- Use branded keywords.
- Use YouTube’s auto suggestions for your keywords or topic.
- Use a YouTube keyword tool. There are many free options available!
Influencer marketing is when brands and social media influencers (i.e. people with a lot of followers) work together to promote a product. Often, these influencers are given the product in exchange for exposure, but there are cases when the influencer is not compensated.
Influencer marketing has come under scrutiny in recent years, causing Instagram to update their terms and expectations of how these partnerships are handled. Often, influencers are asked to add #sponsored or #ad to any compensated posts.
In response to these changes, some brands have moved on to micro-influencers, which is the same concept, just on a much smaller scale. Brands partner with accounts that have smaller followings in exchange for authentic visual content. Historically, micro-influencers, while having smaller audiences, have higher engagement rates, which can lead to more sales for brands. They are also more affordable than the traditional big-name influencers.
To find quality micro-influencers, look to your social media pages. Who is liking and commenting on your content? Do you have fans that regularly check in or tag your page in posts? If you find strong believers in your brand, they should be easy to convince. When you reach out to them, be sure to express how thankful you are that they follow and engage with you.
Ensure that your micro-influencers post quality content, as well. If they only comment but rarely post, they may not be the best fit. Are their images high quality? Do they write good captions? Do they “get” how the platform works? Be aware of all of these points, as well as if they post other, potentially conflicting, products.
These tactics can take a little more work than writing website content, but the results are impactful. Last year, we had a client launch a brand new website. This website had 0 backlinks and about 50 pages of content. Over the first few months of the year, we diligently wrote content, but also sought out backlinks from organizations that carried a lot of weight in the space. Video content was created. Social pages were updated. Months went by, and we slowly saw them begin to work. Over the course of about 8 months, the site went from about 100 visitors a day to 500 to seeing spikes of 1000 visitors in a single day!
Through diligence and outreach, the site (which is just over a year old) has 826 backlinks! Google now sees this site as trustworthy and authoritative, and consistently serves it up in the SERP.
If your SEO strategy needs some off-page love, we can help. Just let us know.