This article looks at off-site SEO – ways to get links to, and shares of, your website.
I wrote another post where I looked at the basic on-site SEO steps you need to put in place on your WordPress-based website.
But, as I stressed towards the end of that post, you need to place your primary focus on the quality of your content, not the search engines.
High quality content is the foundation of good search results performance.
Traditionally, off-site SEO was about getting incoming links to your site – the more the better. These days, however, the search engines are increasingly using activity on the social networks to evaluate what others think of your site.
So, today I’ll take a look at a few things you can do to build your off-site SEO, which is what the Internet ‘thinks’ of your site.
Incoming links to your site
Again, off-site SEO is about what the Internet at large thinks of your site. Is it an Authority site..? Does it have good information..? Do people like it or find it useful..?
Google has an acronym for this: E.A.T., which stands for Expertise, Authority and Trust.
As I said, prior to the growth of the social media sites, off-site SEO was traditionally about the number of incoming links to your site. And while social sharing is a growing part of off-site SEO, links are still important.
But beware: there are links and there are links!
The search engines long ago learned to identify and reduce the value of reciprocal links, links from link farms, link networks and links secured simply for the purpose of having links.
You must have high quality, incoming links to figure well with the search engines. In other words, links from respected sites in the same or a related niche and, better still, links that have relevant anchor text.
And there are no shortcuts – this takes work and time.
With on-site SEO you can get everything set up right and then let it run. You may need to make some tweaks or adjustments occasionally, but once it’s done, it’s basically done.
Off-site SEO, however, is a never-ending project.
Content is King – without it your website is nothing
So how do you go about getting good quality, incoming links to your site?
In the first place, by producing good content.
I make no apologies for labouring this point – it is the basis of everything and, without it, you won’t get quality links.
Here’s where two things become important:
- Selecting a topic for your site that you enjoy writing about, and that you can write about in detail
- The ability to write well
Despite the arrival of audio and video, which are both powerful media for webmasters to use, you still need to have good copywriting skills to get people to take that final conversion step: to click your link or opt in to your email list.
The search engines are constantly striving to improve their ability to present high quality sites in the search results. And high quality means sites that are well written, grammatically correct and free of spelling errors.
Yes – you read that right: the search engines have the ability to assess the quality of your writing, as well as how your page is laid out, and that will impact where your site shows up in the search results.
If you can’t write well, or don’t like writing, there are tools available (like Grammarly) that are a major help. A search for “Copywriting tools to improve your writing” will return a whole raft of results.
Alternatively you may want to consider whether to hire a Ghost Writer or an editor. However you do it, you’ll need to have well written content on your site.
Videos on YouTube or Vimeo
I mentioned video and audio earlier. . .
A glance at the search results will show you that, in many cases, if there are videos that cover the subject of the search they will appear in the top two or three search results.
There is no question that if you are good at creating videos and upload them to YouTube you will get a lot of views. And the more views you can get the better the chance of your video popping up in one of the top three positions in the search results.
If you don’t like writing this is a great alternative, and placing a link in the video description to a relevant article on your site that provides further information would be a great way to attract new visitors.
Again, though, the impact will be reduced if the content to which you link is of poor quality.
Blogging: quality, not quantity
Blogging is an easy way to add link-attracting content to your site, especially if you’re not technically inclined!
When I started blogging every bit of advice I saw included the exhortation to post something new every day ‘to keep the search engines happy’.
I still see that advice being bandied around today, but it’s awful advice: ignore it!
You’re far better off producing well-researched, well-written, well-structured articles once or twice a month than mass produced, shallow, filler articles every day.
People want quality information, so give it to them.
The exception to this is, of course, a news site. If you’re running one of these then you do need to be updating it frequently, possibly several times a day depending on what stories you’re covering.
Commenting and guest posting
Years ago both commenting and guest posting were effective ways to get links from other sites to yours.
No longer, I’m afraid. All links from comments and guest posts are ‘nofollow’, thereby making them useless for SEO purposes.
That’s not to say that commenting and guest posting are dead.
Instead, they are a way of putting your content in front of someone else’s audience and building followers that way.
As you find good blogs and follow them, you can get to know the blogger and other regular readers by adding comments to articles they write.
As always, go for quality!
Don’t trot out meaningless comments just to get your name out there – many bloggers don’t approve these types of comments (I don’t) so your effort, small though it is, will have been wasted.
Comment when an article grabs you and you have something worthwhile to add. A good, insightful comment will be approved and will start to attract readers to your site.
A WealthyDragon top tip: use the URL field (when filling in your details in the comment form) to add a link to a relevant article on your site rather than your home page.
If the article is relevant to the one you’re commenting on your chances of provoking a visit from readers of that post are greatly improved.
All that said, my experience has been that people comment less on blogs now than they used to, because they’re moving the conversation to the social media sites.
It’s a shame!
Guest posting is another way of building connections with sites that you know and respect.
Guest posting was greatly over-used some years ago and Google adopted a policy of treating links from guest posts as ‘nofollow’
As a result, you should not consider it as an SEO tactic, but rather a means of attracting readers from the host blog to yours.
And that, of course, means your post must be of sufficiently high quality to attract experienced, discerning readers!
I don’t do guest posting now, although there are plenty of webmasters and bloggers who do.
But always remember this: the over-riding principle has to be high quality!
With all that in mind, let’s take a look at guest posting.
In principle, it is just a longer form of commenting and, again, you should try to link (in the author bio box) to relevant articles on your site, rather than the home page.
Just as a good comment will attract readers, so will a good guest post.
As with commenting, a good strategy for guest posting is to follow the blog, get to know the types of articles it publishes and pitch something that will fit into the site’s subject area.
Most sites that accept guest posts will have a guest posting guidelines page. Making sure you submit something that meets the guidelines will greatly improve the chances of your post being accepted!
Again, remember that guest posting has to be high quality if the link from it is be successful at drawing readers to your site.
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Sometimes incoming links to your site will come from sites that you’d rather not be associated with, but you have very little control over this.
Getting an unwanted link removed is difficult unless you’re able to contact the webmaster and they agree to your request. Since, many times, those links come from ‘auto-blogging’ sites contacting the webmaster is unlikely to be easy.
Getting rid of unwanted links is best done using the ‘Disavow’ tool in Google Search Console (it used to be called Google Webmaster Tools).
I covered Google Search Console in this article.
Social media sharing
Over the past couple of years the search engines have all started incorporating social media sharing of articles and sites in their ranking algorithms.
The effort people used to put into link building is now swinging towards the social networks and getting your content shared there.
And here, again, you must focus on quality, not quantity.
Firstly, you need to identify the social network where your potential readers or customers hang out. Facebook? Twitter? Instagram? Pinterest?
Wherever it is, join that network and mingle!
If your customers are on more than one network, choose one and stick with it. Don’t try to join and work every social network because you’ll be spreading yourself too thin and you won’t be able to deliver the quality of participation you need to.
You will have to promote your articles on your chosen social media site in order for them to be shared, but do it selectively and promote at least as many items (videos, articles, audios) from other sites as you do your own.
When you link to your articles use the introduction area to explain who they would benefit and what the benefits would be, but do it in a low-key, factual way – don’t spam!
Finally, the objective is to get others to share your articles, so it’s worth asking people to share them if they like them.
OK – so the basis of making good connections with other sites and getting lots of social network shares is good content. I cannot emphasise that strongly enough.
Always go for quality, not quantity.
While links will always figure in the search engines’ ranking algorithms, the balance is changing as they incorporate social media sharing activity more and more.
So you need to constantly think about both.