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A few of my younger, more adventurous Blue Corona coworkers went on a mini vacation to Dewey Beach last weekend. Amidst the reports of hangovers, pretzel necklaces, “pagne,” and partial nudity, Lexie told us that she “met an older guy at a build-your-own-bloody-mary bar,” at which point we all rolled our eyes, thinking we knew what was coming next. But the joke was on us! We thought Lex was gonna zig but she zagged: “He told me he worked for a custom home builder in Delaware, and I said SHUT UP YOU ARE MY TARGET AUDIENCE. Then we talked about squeeze pages (dirty) and he told me about a direct mail campaign he did that got an eight percent response rate.” Why am I telling you this story, dear reader? To point out that my girl was networking on her vacation. If you’re a business owner, I’m sure you do the same thing.
Did you know that your website can also network like Lexie—i.e., like a boss? It all starts with offsite SEO.
What Is Offsite SEO?
Naturally, the goal of optimizing the pages on your site (i.e. onsite SEO) is to get them to rank higher in order to draw more visitors. Offsite SEO is a way to supplement that process while also attracting additional traffic to your site. And just like networking, you should always be doing it!
There are three basic types of offsite SEO: link building, social signals, and local listings and citations.
Link Building for Offsite SEO
In lay terms, link building is getting other sites to link to your site. These links not only increase traffic, they tell Google that your site has authority, which can help your rankings. There’s an easy way and a hard way to do link building.
The easy way is to pay a shady “SEO” service to create hundreds of spam links to your site. Don’t do this. It will eventually land you in hot water with Google—which you’ll discover when your rankings suddenly drop (or disappear altogether). That’s what happens when you get a penalty from Google.
The hard way (and the ethical way) to build links is to do it naturally. This involves some labor on your (or your non-shady SEO firm’s) part:
- Create linkable content – If you have relevant, authoritative content on your site, it’s more likely that other sites will want to link to it.
- Ask for links and be generous with your links – That’s right, just ask for them. Nicely, of course. When you come across other sites whose readers might benefit from your services or information, ask that site to link to yours. And you can also increase your link karma by linking to other sites whenever you can. For instance, if you are an HVAC contractor, you might link to an EPA page about indoor air quality. The more you link to other sites, the more likely they will be to link to you.
- Comment on blogs – This method can be tricky; some blogs don’t allow links in their comments, and you never want to come across as spammy. But if you have something relevant to say about a blog post on another site, commenting and adding a link to your site isn’t a bad idea.
Link building takes commitment and persistence, but the results are worth it—quality links and higher authority!
Social Signals for Offsite SEO
Social signals are shares and likes on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Houzz, Linkedin, and other social media sites. The more shared posts you have on these sites, the more inbound links you’ll generate. While getting social signals is a less labor-intensive process than that of traditional link building described above, it still takes time, thought, and commitment. There’s little point in having social media accounts for your business if you don’t use them to their fullest potential—always be optimizing! Make sure you’re maximizing your social media reach by:
- Optimizing your “about” info on every site – Make sure your contact info is consistent and correct, and create a description that uses words your potential clients would search for to find you. Customize your social media site URLs—this is also called creating a “vanity URL.” For example: facebook.com/bluecorona.
- Creating high-quality posts – Pay attention to grammar, tone, and content. Make sure what you’re sharing is relevant to your target market. And use high-quality photos when you have them. Remember, every post is a reflection of your business. Always put your best foot forward.
- Measuring your results – How do you know if your social media strategy is working? Track your reach, conversions, and sales! Find out what works, what doesn’t, and never stop fine-tuning your strategy.
Social signals don’t happen unless you make them happen. Consider your company’s social media presence as important as your website content.
Local Listings and Citations for Offsite SEO
Get customers in your service area to your site by submitting your information to every relevant business directory in your region, in addition to the big sites like Yelp, Yahoo, Google My Business, and others. When you’re doing this, remember: when it comes to local SEO, nothing matters more than making your information consistent across all the directories in which your company is listed. Monitor your listings and make sure your contact information is correct everywhere.
Citations are another critical part of offsite SEO. A citation is any mention of your business on the web. For example, if you are quoted in a local newspaper story online, and you are identified as the president of your company, that’s a citation. Even if the mention doesn’t include a link to your site, it’s still valuable. There are many ways to increase your citations. This is another ongoing strategy that you’ll have to devote some care and attention to, but it has a high return on investment!
Start the Offsite Conversation
So how did Lexie engage the guy at the bar who turned out to be a stellar marketer? She opened by telling him that he should put Queen of Farts hot sauce in his bloody mary. Hmm, think they’ll link back to us?
About The Author: Blue Corona is a data-driven online marketing company with offices in Gaithersburg, MD and Charlotte, N.C.
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