We've explored best practice for on-page optimisation in the first part of this blog series last week, so this blog aims to provide insights on how to implement off-page techniques to enhance your content's position in search results. The world of SEO is constantly evolving, so it's important to keep up with the latest advances in algorithm updates and best practice. The tips herein will stand you in good stead for creating content with impact.
For those who are new to search marketing, off-page optimisation refers to factors that cannot always be directly controlled by the organisation, such as link building, social sharing, user-generated content and best practice use of Google’s other products and services, like Google Places and Google+. So, let’s look at how these elements can help you increase your performance in search engine results pages (SERPs).
This is the process of building links back to your website from other blogs or websites and is commonly regarded as the most important element of off-page SEO. A frequent error made by novices is to generate as many links as possible, however, as search engines have become more sophisticated they have (thankfully) focused on the quality of links, meaning unnatural backlinks are flagged and score negatively in terms of ranking. In essence, search engines now want to see relevant links from authoritative websites.
The process of link building begins with search engines crawling the Internet locating backlinks to your website. When located, these are indexed (which is like a bookmark for the search engine's records), whilst the algorithm decides the quality of these links (alongside numerous other factors) and where the website will rank on SERPs as a result. The key is to focus on the quality of backlinks, not the quantity.
The solution to gaining high-quality natural links is producing really good content. Producing engaging and original content will help you to build links and referrals from websites similar to yours or from authority sites with an interest in the product/service/information you offer. Google’s algorithm ranks pages on the authority they have, therefore gaining links from other sites Google perceives to be of a high authority is important - essentially it’s all about building credibility and your online reputation (like a backlink popularity contest). If a website with greater authority than yours links back to you, this is considered high quality by search engines, thus pushing your website up in search results’ ranking.
Top tip: You can assess the authority of a website by looking at the domain authority (DA) it has. Tools like Moz allow you to see this and it acts as an indicator of trust and credibility.
Blogging / Social Media Marketing
Blogging is one of the most powerful ways to promote your business online and goes hand-in-hand with social media marketing to increase the ranking of your website on SERPs. The first step is to publish relevant content to your website, then sharing with an interested target audience via your relevant social networks. In turn, these interested individuals are encouraged to share the content across their networks (gaining a far wider reach), resulting in an established quality link. Your blogs can also be promoted in the comments sections of crawler enabled blog websites.
In addition to sharing your content via social channels, placing your content in front of other bloggers can also contribute to performance in search. Blogger outreach is the activity of identifying relevant and reputable bloggers and requesting they either write a piece referencing your blog or provide a backlink. This increases the visibility of your content, whilst building your backlink portfolio. Blogger outreach requires time and commitment to not only find the best possible places to position your content, but to also nurture valuable relationships. It does, however, produce measurable results, with major brands worldwide relying on affiliates and bloggers to push their brand to new audiences.
Submitting your website to high quality directories under the correct categories is a worthwhile activity to increase website awareness and authority in search. Additionally, making your website accessible on a local level is essential for reaching a targeted audience - this can be done by submitting your website to Google Places (formerly known as Google Local), Maps, Google+ and Yellow Pages amongst many others. PR submission is also a popular activity for business / service providers as it can help to publish your website in Google News (there are a number of criteria you must meet to be featured within their News listings) increasing site authority further still.
Internal linking, also known as cross linking refers to you establishing links between internal pages within your site - for example, this blog article is linked to the first part of our blog series. Google’s latest algorithm rates relevant internal linking highly, therefore implementing this can result in page rank points to increase positioning on SERPs. The key here is to make sure content linked is relevant to one other and aids the user in their experience of your website. You should also link out to external websites, which you feel validate comments you are making as this increases the credibility of your content.
Community Creation and Online Reputation Management
Encourage your audiences - clients / friends / peers / staff members - to share your website or content within their own networks to disseminate the business name and generate interest amongst a wider audience. When content is created and shared across After Digital social channels for example, clients who are interested in the topics in discussion regularly re-share the content across their own networks, placing relevant content in front of a much broader audience, which can help to increase performance in SERPs. Beyond this you should participate in relevant conversations, provide answers to questions posed in forums and on social channels, including links to your content if it supports your answer.
These techniques are the most immediately impactful and commonly implemented, however they are not inclusive and there are a number of other techniques which can be adopted in the process of off-page optimisation. Link exchange, document sharing and photo sharing are also popular forms of off-page optimisation, but avoid appearing ‘spammy’ as this is likely to return negative results. Through a combination of both on-page and off-page optimisation best practice, you can optimise the performance of your website in search.