Once you build your site to foster solid on-site SEO — faster loading times, improved keyword usage, frequently updated content and well designed landing pages — your attention should turn to another detail that will boost your domain up the search engine rankings: off-page SEO.
What follows are the three off-page SEO tactics that the highest ranking pages in terms of local and widespread search results use to ensure their competitive edge in their individual markets while still remaining practical for busy business owners to achieve.
This is the process of writing blog articles that are then published on a website (other than your own) in your industry. Typically, that website will then link back to your website in the article you wrote as a way of saying thanks for providing the content. Many websites out there are desperate for fresh, quality content and you can use that opportunity to help build links to your website.
To start off, you need find websites in your industry that will accept guest authors. I'd recommend starting by reaching out to the blogs that you usually turn to for industry news and ask whether you can contribute to their website.
Beyond that, you can search in Google for something like: "write for us" [Industry]. Many of the websites listed in the results will have published guidelines about what you need to do to submit a guest post for their site.
Then, if you don't already have an article prepared, start writing one that is informative, helpful and is tailored to the audience of the website you're writing for. Make sure you include an Author Bio at the end with a link back to your website.
Once your guest post has been published, make sure you help promote it on your social media profiles or in an upcoming email newsletter.
Don't just disappear after you post has been published. One of the best parts about guest posting is that it not only help with your search performance, but it also helps expose your brand to a new audience. Try to maintain your relationship with the website manager so you can come back and post again the future.
One of the best things you can do for building links to your website is leveraging your existing relationships. This can be done by reaching out to companies you've partnered with or have certifications through, as well as vendors whose services you use.
By offering to do a case study about how helpful these companies have been to your business, you can often get something published on their website with a link back to your site.
Here's how it works:
1. Make a spreadsheet of every vendor you work with and I mean EVERY vendor. This includes all the SaaS tools you work, the tools you use for billing, any companies you have partnerships with or certifications through, even vendors related to office management.
2. Research contact information for each vendor. Do you have a primary point of contact that you’ve spoken with before? If so, put their contact info on the list. If not, dig through the company’s website to find the best contact information. In some cases, this might be just a contact form on their site. We also had luck sending messages through our vendors’ Facebook pages as this will typically connect you with someone on their marketing team.
3. Write a template offering to do a case study, but make sure you leave room to make each message unique when you send them out. Here’s the template we use:
Subject: We'd love to be in a [Vendor Name] case study!
Body: Hi [First Name],
We are happy [Vendor Name] customers over here at [Your Company Name]. [1-2 sentences about how you use their service/product and the benefits you get from it. If you use their product in a unique way, mentioning it here will help you stand out from their other customers].
I'm reaching out to offer [Your Company Name] as a potential case study or customer story for [Vendor Name]. We'd be happy to answer any interview questions to provide more insight into how we're using your product. Whatever helps share your story better.
Feel free to put me in contact with the appropriate team member on your end.
4. Send your template to each of the vendors on your list. Make each one as personal and unique as possible.
5. Be ready for responses. If the vendor already has a few case studies on their site, then they probably have a standard process for handling new case studies. They'll likely send you a questionnaire to help them get started. Have information on how you use their services prepared and be as specific as possible when it comes to detailing the benefits you get from their product.
6. Don't be disappointed when things don't work out. Not every vendor will respond to your request for a case study, and not everyone who responds will end up writing a case study about you, but opening conversations with your vendors can lead to some unexpected beneficial places.
7. Share the love. When your new case studies get published, make sure you share them on your social media profiles.
Depending on the process your vendors have, some case studies can be quite a bit of work. You might have to go through revisions or a phone interview in order to get the final draft prepared, but all the work is worth it as this method can lead to some seriously powerful links.
Specialized Directories & Industry Associations
There are countless directories out there that are essentially just spam. They scrape whatever data they can find and throw it together on a page with hundreds of other links and then cover the page in advertising. These are the directories you want to avoid; however, there are still plenty of directories that can provide quality links to your site.
Here are a few:
Submit your company to the local Chamber of Commerce. Most Chambers of Commerce websites contain a directory of all the businesses in the local area with links to the websites of those businesses.
Become a member of the Better Business Bureau. Similar to the Chamber of Commerce, the BBB keeps a directory of all members with links to their sites.
Get listed in Partner/Industry directories. Nearly every industry out there has an association that you can join. And in most cases, the association's website will have a directory listing all of its members with links to their website. If you're a color consultant, there's an international organization for that. If you're a manufacturer, join the National Association of Manufacturers.
These organizations sometimes also have annual awards as well that can earn you a powerful link as well as something to brag about on your website. If you an IT services company, you might try to make it into the MSPmentor 501.
Lastly, many large corporations have directories listing the companies they've partnered with. For example, Microsoft Pinpoint or VMware Partner Database. Make sure you reach out to your partnership contacts and see if there are any areas of their website that you should be included in.
On-site SEO is the best way to establish yourself as a player in your market initially; create a user-friendly web platform with fast loading times and landing pages that promote conversions.
Once you've established your site, however, off-page SEO strategies can make your site and your business stand out from the rest by using tried and true tactics to garner a high ranking in searches for keywords relevant to your target audience.