Six off-site SEO tips that actually make a difference

6 off-site SEO tips businesses need in 2019 to increase rankings and continue to be found

If you’ve done work on your site’s Search Engine Optimization, you already know there are things you need to do on your website to optimize for SEO (like adding keywords to your page titles and adding alternative text). But in addition to these on-site must-dos, there’s more to SEO than what happened on your website. If you’ve been focusing on your content, meta descriptions and URL structure, that’s great—but you may have let some important off-site SEO factors go by the wayside. In a sea of SEO recommendations, these 6 off-site tactics will make a difference for your business. You’ll quickly see that these tips aren’t fast or easy, but unlike some of the “quick fixes” out there, they actually work.

Being found matters

Organic (unpaid) rankings matter. Being found in organic search translates to a gradual increase in brand awareness, traffic to your site, and eventually to conversions. It’s important that, while you have an ongoing strategy for your paid and other earned channels, you also stay on top of off-site SEO tactics that can make a big difference in being found. 

Not caring about off-site SEO is like having that great house in the gated community, but none of your friends want to visit because they’ve heard from others that it smells like vomit on the inside, and no one they talk to can either confirm or deny it.
- Ronell Smith, Blogger for Moz 

On-site SEO can take some structural changes, a lot of keyword research and changing some content entry habits to make sure you get all the pieces in place for each new landing page or blog post. But off-site SEO is an ongoing, ever-changing ecosystem that digital marketers need to stay on top of. Guest blogging once? That’s great for business for about a week. But an ongoing content partnership strategy can boost your website’s rankings and keep it there over time.

Our first tip is a “one-and-done” step to take that once you have in place you can move onto other things. It’s basic, easy to do, and doesn’t take much time. If you like checking things off a to-do list, add this to yours:

Tip 1: Claim, then optimize, all of your listings

(And make a calendar to regularly check on them, i.e. annually)

What do search results look like when someone searches for your business category? Do you show up in Google Maps? Having incorrect information, out-of-date or duplicate/conflicting results on the Internet means Google can’t confidently send users your way. 

What Works:

  • Accurate, up-to-date listings that are all in agreement
  • Claiming as many listings as you can confidently manage
  • BONUS: Responding to reviews (weekly or monthly) posting images and updating descriptions regularly (monthly or quarterly) to keep content “fresh”

Try This:

  • Visit Google My Business, Bing Places, Yahoo! Places and claim your properties. Each has their own process for verification. Once you’ve done this, make sure your phone, address and website are in agreement.
  • Check out all your social and HR platforms where contact information might be listed, like Facebook and Glass Door. Log in and update any old info.
  • Now that you’re up to date, make a calendar to check it regularly. If you don’t plan on a move, once per year might be sufficient. 
  • Designate one person to check and respond to reviews. A high response rate can help your local search rankings.

The following 5 tips are ongoing strategies and practices you’ll need to monitor, continually attend to and update. We recommend putting the people, tracking methods and evaluation criteria in place now so you can see over time what works best for your business, and so you can determine what is worth the time investment.

Tip #2: Cultivate a responsive social media presence

That’s right. Having a steady stream of social content has an impact on business’s SEO mojo.

What Works:

  • Frequent posts (ideally daily, but at least 3 times per week)
  • Posts that get a lot of engagement (Likes, Comments, Shares)
  • Posts that produce a click-through to your site (and good engagement once there)

Try This:

  • Create a social editorial calendar to hit your frequency targets (we have a guide [IL:] for that).
  • Review your social analytics to see which types of posts get the most engagement (then post more like that).
  • Check out your Google Analytics to see which social channel (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) sends the most high-quality visitors to your site; focus your efforts there.
  • Hire a content creator to help you meet your goals and evaluate the value of social over time.

Tip #3: Hit the discussion boards

Look for relevant topics on channels that fit your audience. Consider closed or open groups on LinkedIn, an industry-specific forum or even Reddit (depending on your business).

What Works:

  • Authentically answering questions and giving advice
  • Asking questions of the group
  • Posting resources from your own site only when highly relevant

Try This:

  • Designate one person per forum to split up the responsibility.
  • Track your traction. Is one group very active and another is largely silent? 
  • Divert resources where there’s the most potential. Don’t be afraid to cut your losses when it comes to duds.
  • Use a link shortener to track clicks from a specific thread so you can identify your most engaged audiences.

Tip #4: Guest blog for your expertise, not for an easy link

This one’s tricky. But getting a guest blog opportunity on a site that’s closely aligned with your business and with what your audience is looking for will be more effective in the long run than simply placing a general article on an easy-to-get site.

What Works:

  • Long-form (500-900+-word) articles
  • Content that closely aligns with what you do and what your users want

Try This:

  • Dig through your network before becoming a contributor on Medium.
  • Save your really good stuff for those big opportunities, not the easy ones.

Tip #5: Vary your content types

There are two parts to this. 

Number one - People react to different types of content differently. If all your “eggs” are in one blogging “basket,” you’ll miss out on the millions of folks who are browsing Pinterest for content. Or YouTube. Or Facebook. Experiment with imagery, video, infographics, short-form and long-form content to see what sticks. (It’ll likely be a combination of things!)

Number two – If you take a blog post and turn it into a video, and then an infographic, you now not only have different ways for people to consume content…you also have created three pieces of content from one idea. Experiment with this to see what your team rocks at, and what you can produce most regularly. 

What Works:

  • What works for one business might not work for another and will depend greatly on your content
  • In general, varying your content between multiple delivery modes will reach the most people on the most off-site platforms 

Try This:

  • Make your life easier by producing three pieces of content from one idea (video, blog post and social posts for example).
  • Because you’ll be tracking what works in Analytics, check out what content types resonate best with your audiences—then do more of that.

Tip #6: Think holistically about SEO

Okay – this isn’t a “trick” or a tactic. But in 2019, search engine optimization isn’t about stuffing keywords on your pages and calling it a day. It’s not just organizing your URLs and creating a blog. It’s not paying a company to “place” your link on a thousand sites. Today, “SEO” is the whole thing. 

That’s not meant to seem daunting. Consider this – search engines’ goal is to help searchers find what’s most relevant to them. When they’re able to do that, we all succeed. So, how do search engines deem something “relevant”? Well, through all of the markers and indicators listed above:

  • Site is optimized for mobile
  • Site passes basic accessibility requirements
  • Company has an accurate address and contact info
  • Business is active and responsive in reviews
  • Regular updates to on-site content
  • …and so forth

In short, by looking at all of these indicators cohesively and building them into your digital marketing strategy, you’re giving search engines more and more and more opportunities to view your business as relevant to those searches. It’s not easy and it won’t happen overnight. But it’s the lasting way to show Google your relevance and value.

You know ignoring off-site SEO isn’t an option anymore for those in business services. Have you tried any of these off-site SEO tips? What’s worked for you? Let us know which of these 6 authentic off-site SEO tactics you plan to try next!