SEO Checklist: A Handy Guide for Any SEO Campaign Part 2

Off-Page SEO

In Part One of our SEO checklist, we focused on on-site aspects of SEO, like preparing it for crawling. We dealt with various aspects of website optimization that would be considered good practices by search engines, and therefore, improve the website’s ranking. If you haven’t read the first one yet, you can find it here.

In this part of our SEO checklist, we are going to focus on the aspects of optimization that need to be done off-site, hence the name Off-Site SEO. Basically, the goal of this aspect of SEO is to improve the image of the website in the eyes of search engines, therefore improving its status and, through that, its rankings.

According to Search Engine Rankings Factors conducted by SEMRush, off-site SEO factors account for around 50% of all ranking factors search engines take into account. Furthermore, off-site factors are far more dynamic and proactive when impacting your rankings – it’s something you can consistently work on to improve and do so in continuity.

The parameters to focus on:

  • popularity
  • relevance
  • trust
  • authority

Now, we could focus on each of these parameters individually but that would be impractical since each and every off-page SEO technique will always impact more than one of these – if done properly, of course.

We’re going to split these off-site factors into two parts, links and social signals, but it should be obvious that these two aspects of off-page SEO are inseparable. How, you ask? Well, we’re going to give an example so that we can make the situation 100% clear.

When you create a quality link coming from, let’s say, an authority blog from your niche, you are actually getting more than just relevant link juice. Part of the traffic that lands on that page has a chance to, through the backlink you got, land on your website.

Furthermore, the article you published will most probably be shared by the blog in question on their social media pages. Some natural shares may occur as well. This means that you didn’t create just a static link but a PR “signal” that will have some kind of reverberation in the online environment.

The example above perfectly explains why SEO isn’t a precise discipline. A lot of things depend on other people. In some situations, the “viral potential” of your content may get you amazing results with practically no extra effort, while in others, the result ends up being minuscule despite your efforts.

Before we dive into how to actually work on your off-site SEO, we need to stress the importance of preparing your website for this kind of effort. Investing time and money into off-site aspects of SEO while your domain is a mess is basically like putting lipstick on a pig. The pig is still going to stink.

Now let’s dive into the link building aspect of SEO.

Links

When we talk about off-page SEO, we have to mention backlinks. They are still very powerful and impactful, but a lot of marketing “experts” used them in a spammy fashion, and Google doesn’t like spam. So, what is the white hat approach to this?

Well, there are a couple of things you can do we will start with the most common one.

a) Guest blogging – First thing’s first! If you wish to ensure that you don’t get punished for getting links, you should absolutely avoid paying for them. Guest blogging can be approached from a few angles.

You can approach websites that accept guest posts and get a link to your website from the bio or even from the content if you have a way to link to it naturally. The most common way to get a link from the article itself is to create relevant, well-researched, and well-written content on your domain so you can link it as further reading.

This takes some forethought and planning. To create this type of content for your blog, you need to have at least a general idea of where the content will be linked and the subject matter you are going to be dealing with in your guest posting campaign.

b) Link roundups – Being that content creation is a constant in the online environment, not all content will be 100% original in terms of subject matter. A lot of publications diversify their content by adding weekly or monthly roundups of the best content from their respective niche. If you want to be included in these kinds of roundups here is what you need to do.

First, you need to find the people doing these roundups. You can do this in a few ways. Prospecting potential roundups can be done by using Twitter and Google search without having to invest in a specialized tool. Just focus on the keywords that you are interested in and search for people who do roundups on a regular basis. Build up a list and see what kind of roundups they do. After that, you should focus on creating content that will be a good fit for the roundups you want to be a part of.

Being in a roundup can be very beneficial for a number of reasons. First, you get a link from a relevant source. Second, they share the roundup on their social media profiles. Third, the people who are also in the roundup will share the piece because they were mentioned. So, get ready for traffic.

c) Broken links – Another way to get links back to your website is to do broken link building. The web is constantly in motion, links grow old and, after a while, they are removed. This happens for numerous reasons.

Sometimes, the content is removed, other times the entire domain gets shut down. Regardless, old links often turn into 404 messages and, by using some simple tools like Broken Link Builder and Check My Links to search relevant websites for broken links, you can create link building opportunities.

Once you find relevant broken links, you should prompt the website with a heads-up about the link and a suggestion for a replacement – that replacement link should lead to your domain.

Of course, this technique also requires you to have relevant content on your domain so that you can actually offer it as a viable replacement. Links that are not optimal or barely fit the bill will have a smaller chance of being accepted as a replacement so be careful with this.

d) Brand mentions – If your brand has already made some progress when it comes to mentions in the online environment, you might want to look into that. In a lot of situations, mentions in the online environment go by unlinked.

Sometimes, it will be a direct brand mention, sometimes the mention will focus on one of your services or products. Regardless, a good idea to generate links is to approach the people who mentioned you in the first place and ask them, very politely, if they would be willing to add a link to that mention.

Your success rate here should be very high since there is absolutely no reason not to link to a brand once you’ve already mentioned it – it simply fits naturally and makes the content better.

e) Competitive analysis – This is probably one of the oldest tricks in the book, but it still works. If you are unsure about the direction you should take your link building campaign, you might want to take a peek into what the competition is doing. Being that you are in the same niche, there is a huge chance that you are doing a similar content strategy.

You can use tools like Moz’s Link Explorer to do this kind of analysis. You don’t have to copy your competitions’ work to the letter. It might be a bit wiser to avoid focusing on just one competitor altogether. Instead, pick and choose the ones that fit your goals best. You can analyze the steps they took to get those links and do something similar.

Social signals

While social signals are, in most cases, not a straightforward ranking factor which can boost your rankings directly, it can have quite an impact on your SEO campaign passivly.

Let’s see how.

As a business, you are trying to establish your brand as an authority in a certain field or as a good manufacturer of a certain kind of product.

If your brand name gets a lot of searches along with a particular product name and the users are not abandoning your website, then Google (or any other search engine) will assume that you are a good option for people searching for this product.

This may lead to them boosting your website’s rankings for queries that don’t include your brand name but just the keyword. This way, the brand can position itself as an authority in the niche and a trustworthy product provider.

We still haven’t talked about how you can get these social signals to help you position your brand better. Let’s do this now.

a) Influencer marketing

Influencers are people who have large followings and can impact buyer opinions in the online environment. They usually achieve this kind of influence through creating good content that provides value to people and through cultivating their social media following.

The good ones also strive to keep their reputation pristine and their reviews, advice, and opinions as unbiased as possible.

Due to the reasons cited above, brands tend to approach influencers with offers of collaboration hoping to improve their brand presence. The goal is to improve the brand’s reach, convert new leads, and even possibly gain some links in the process.

We would like to stress that, even here, like with any other stage of an SEO campaign, relevance is very important. You could always reach out to influencers that have the largest network of followers in what we like to call “the spray and pray” method.

Our suggestion is to attempt to reach out to influencers from your niche who can reach people that are actually interested in your subject matter.

Sure, you can pay a person with a following that counts millions of people to promote your brand, but if their post about your brand doesn’t do well, you’ve pretty much wasted your budget.

Here are the most popular types of influencers, so that you can get a general idea of where you should start.

Podcasts – These long-form online radio shows tend to attract a large audience. This is because they are not encumbered by time restrictions and can actually go in-depth when covering a particular subject.

YouTube – Vloggers have become extremely popular in the last decade, especially since they can monetize their efforts through built-in YouTube ads. Cisco predicts that video content will account for 82% of all consumer traffic.

Celebrities – These extraordinary individuals naturally gain the attention of vast crowds of people. They have immense followings and hiring them to promote your services or products will cost you an arm and a leg (in most cases), but it will pay off. They have a huge reach and they will promote you on social media.

Entrepreneurs – When it comes to B2B (Business to business) advertising, things are a bit trickier. The fact is that most executives and CEOs won’t be influenced by random advertisers, but they will check what other entrepreneurs suggest, especially if they operate in the same niche.

These are just some examples and you should do a lot more research before you decide in which direction you want to go.

c) Social media

Now, since you are going to be creating content as part of your SEO campaign, you should focus on creating a social media presence for your brand so that you have somewhere to share it. Keep in mind that these profiles will be off to an unimpressive start, but consistent work and cultivation of your following will give you an outlet for your content and a place where those who are loyal to your brand can keep up with the latest news.

There are really a lot of decisions to be made here, both related to the networks you plan on targetting and the approach to building your follower base.

d) Discussion boards, Q&A, Forums

While it may seem that every other form of online community has dwindled, aside from social media networks, this really couldn’t be farther from the truth. Forums are still very much alive, various question and answer websites like Quora as well, and other forms of discussion boards are still filled with people who are looking for a civil and troll-free online space for public discussions.

These places are perfect for improving brand awareness and building a reputation as experts in the niche. One of the few genuine ways to establish your brand’s presence online and turn your employees into brand ambassadors is to actually make an effort to answer questions outside your support inbox.

Now, you might want to ask: “What has this got to do with SEO?” Well, the thing is, search engine crawlers won’t only identify when your brand has been mentioned with a link leading back to your site, but linkless mentions count as well. Comment sections, forum threads, replies, and so on are a great way to boost your brand presence.

Furthermore, through this method, you can also increase traffic to your website. This is especially true if you have created a blog populated with in-depth posts that answer industry-related questions because you can actually link to these posts when you answer questions.

The way to do this efficiently though is not to just jam a link in the reply and carry on. You have to make an effort to give an answer to the question that is being asked but refer them to your post as a source for a more comprehensive answer.

The way to think about this is that you are not answering a privately asked question to just one person, you are answering a question for anyone who searches for it in the future.

SEO is a long-term investment, there is no questioning this, but it is also one of the ways to ensure passive traffic that matters. Keeping your rankings healthy for queries that are relevant to your niche is a great way to create leads. Consistent traffic also opens up the possibility to put up ads on your website and generate some passive income.

We do advise you to stay away from Black Hat SEO techniques, not because they won’t work (people wouldn’t even try them if the didn’t) but because if search engines find you doing these, then your website is going to get penalized, your hard-earned (and paid for) rankings are going to drop, and you might even get deindexed.

We hope that we were able to help you understand just how effective SEO can be as a way to improve your brand’s online presence. All the best from the Podroom Creative team!

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Aleksandar Ilic
aleksandar@podroomcreative.com

Aleksandar Ilic is an experienced blogger who has tackled various content types and subjects throughout the course of his career. As a former student of the English Language and Literature Department, at the University of Nis, Serbia with a particular interest in literature he can adapt his writing to any style while making the content seem natural to native speakers. His love for music led him to start playing in a band when he was in high school and he plays the guitar to this day. He is also an enthusiast for online PvP games and a great fan of epic fiction.



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