When you think about improving your SEO, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?
Maybe you think of rewriting your web copy to rank better for certain keywords, churning out new posts for your blog, or making sure your website is structured in a logical way.
All of these are important aspects of ranking well in search engines, but they aren’t the only ways you can optimize your web presence. If you want to rank better and get more traffic, you need to improve your off-page SEO, too. This guide will help you get started.
So, what exactly is off-page SEO?
In the simplest terms, off-page SEO encompasses all the aspects of SEO that occur outside your website (yes, it’s true). You can think of it as your reputation. Off-page SEO includes the things you do as well as the things other people say about you. Your social media activity, your customer service practices, and the online reviews customers leave for you on other sites are all examples of off-page SEO. Below is an example of reviews for realtors on Redfin:
Many people think that off-page SEO is just about link-building. It’s true that, at its core, the objective of good off-page SEO is to drive traffic to your site by earning plenty of high-quality links.
But if you just think of your strategy as a way to get more link juice, you’ll be missing a lot of the potential nuance of this topic.
Getting started with off-page SEO
Instead of focusing solely on links, it’s better to improve your off-page SEO by working on your reputation, your authority, and your popularity. In a nutshell, your objective should be to provide excellent value and connect with as many people as possible.
This is a long-term strategy, but your patience will pay off down the road – your business will gain recognition, you’ll establish your expertise in your field, and eventually you’ll start earning links from respected sites.
With that said, there are two main ways you can start improving your off-page SEO: connecting with your target audience and networking with influencers.
#1: Connecting with your target audience
Interacting with the people who might need or want your product or service is smart, both in terms of making more sales and thus improving your SEO because of the traffic that comes with it. However, it’s important to connect with people the right way.
Consumers are savvy, and they don’t like feeling pressured to buy things. Instead of focusing on what you’re selling, which can come across as spammy, grow your following by finding ways to help other people without asking for anything in return. A few ideas include:
Stay active on social media the right way
It goes without saying, but social media is one of the best ways you can connect personally with people who might need or want your service. Figure out where your target audience spends time online (this article covers how to do so in more detail), and make sure you have accounts on those platforms.
In general, the more accounts you have, the better, but keep ROI in mind – there is obviously no point wasting time on an obscure platform most people don’t use.
Furthermore, if you don’t have the resources to manage a lot of social pages, that can end up hurting your reputation, so start with the ones that matter most, post regular updates about your business, product, or service, and engage with your customers every chance you get.
Always remember, people like to know there’s a human behind their favorite business.
Share your knowledge on forums and message boards
If your target audience spends time on sites like Quora or Reddit, create accounts there and start posting. Join interesting conversations and answer other people’s questions. Aim to provide value instead of just increasing your post count.
It’s okay to mention your business if it’s pertinent to a question – for instance, you might tell a story about how you solved a problem with a customer. Just don’t push your product or service.
Your strategy on forums should just be to build up your reputation as an authority in your field. Over time, people will start to recognize you and come to you for advice.
There are tons of people online doing a great job of this. The example below from a personal trainer is just one example of someone who answers a lot of questions, has gained followers because of it, yet doesn’t focus on self-promotion but rather just making those connections:
Be on the lookout for opportunities to create useful off-site content
You might already do content marketing with your on-site blog, but why stop there? Consider incorporating various types of content, like videos, images, and infographics, into your social media marketing and your forum posts.
It’s rare these days to see an infographic on a forum (except for maybe something like Reddit or Tumblr), but when you do, it stands out. Guest posting is also, of course, another great way to do off-site content marketing, but more on this later.
#2: Building relationships
Connecting with your target audience is essential for good off-page SEO, but it will only take you so far. To become a recognized authority, and to start earning valuable links from experts in your field, you’ll have to network, too. Here are some tips for building strong relationships.
Guest post on other people’s blogs
Guest posting is a tried-and-true strategy for getting links back to your site. But while it’s a useful way to build your link profile, that’s not the main reason you should offer a guest post.
Instead, think of guest posting as a way to forge new relationships and help people who aren’t in your circle of regular blog readers.
The problem with guest posting for links is that you might be tempted to go for quantity over quality. But writing a lot of low-quality posts on blogs that don’t get much traffic won’t actually help you that much, and depending on where you’re published, it could even damage your reputation.
Instead, pitch guest posts only when you think you have something useful to say. Choose blogs you’d be proud to appear on, and make sure your idea is a good fit by studying the style and content of the blogs you’re pitching to.
Of course, not every blog you write for has to be a household name. In fact, if you’re just starting to guest post, they almost certainly won’t be. Still, you’ll get better results (and you’ll be able to publish on the big-name blogs sooner) if you focus on making genuine connections with other bloggers and saying something of value every time you write a guest post.
Leave comments on the blogs you read regularly
If you find certain bloggers helpful or inspiring, let them know! Bloggers love it when readers leave them thoughtful comments, and commenting on a blog post is one of the easiest ways to connect with someone you admire.
Keep in mind that there’s a right way and a wrong way to comment on blogs. Take the same approach here as you would for a guest post – focus on connecting, not just on commenting for its own sake. Don’t leave generic comments, don’t link to your website or blog, and don’t comment on a post if you didn’t actually read it.
Instead, say something relevant to the post itself. Greet the blogger by name and tell them why you liked this post. Was it helpful? Thought-provoking? Tell them how you implemented their ideas, or ask a question inspired by the post.
When you interact with bloggers this way on a regular basis, they’ll start to notice and remember you. The Wired.com community seems to do this well:
Look for avenues to connect with thought leaders in your field
Leaving comments on blogs is a great way to build relationships, but it’s far from the only way. Remember those social media accounts you made? Use them to follow thought leaders and experts in your field.
Twitter, in particular, is a great way to reach out to others – it’s simple, professional, and brief enough that you don’t have to worry about bothering anyone.
Don’t forget to take advantage of offline networking opportunities, too. That’s right – your off-page SEO efforts don’t even have to involve the internet. Cyberspace makes it easy to reach out to people, but in-person networking events can be far more useful since you’re more likely to be remembered if you connect with someone in real life.
Put yourself out there by looking for some interesting conferences and meetups to attend. Start hanging out where your target audience hangs out and see how far it can take you.
On-page SEO is important, but it’s only half the battle if you want to maximize your success. Off-page SEO plays a huge role in building your reputation, bringing in traffic, and encouraging your target audience to choose you over your competitors.
Improving your off-page SEO is an ongoing task. Whether you’ve been working on your reputation for years or you’re just getting started, there are plenty of things you can do to connect with more people and expand your brand’s reach.
Focus on helping people out, providing useful information, and cultivating a strong network of peers and mentors. Along with a great reputation, you’ll build a profile of high-quality links that will drive more traffic to your site than ever before.
What are your favorite off-page SEO strategies? Let us know in the comment section below.
Amanda DiSilvestro is a writer for NoRiskSEO, a full service SEO agency, and a contributor to SEW. You can connect with Amanda on Twitter and LinkedIn.