SEO—search engine optimization—is usually thought of as a series of steps to make your website favorable in Google’s eyes. Because of Google’s user base, it’s vital to any online business to make sure the company site gets found in search, but SEO isn’t a one-and-done process. And SEO goes well beyond what happens just on your website. Off-site SEO must also be on your radar, and a part of your optimization efforts.
On-site SEO includes on-page content, platform and technical factors, and meta content. All of this is part of setting up a solid home base that is valuable for site visitors and deemed high quality by Google. A digital version of your physical location (if your business has one), it’s where people come to find all about you and complete your calls-to-action. But outside of your website (just like it is outside of your store or office), there are conversations going on. Off-site SEO addresses reputation and brand authority, and it’s critical that you are part of those conversations on and ongoing basis.
Elements of Off-Site SEO
The black-hat practice of building backlinks in link farms and other unnatural connections has long been denounced (and punished by Google with automated or manual penalties). However, inbound links to websites is still a very significant part of SEO and PageRank. The types of links that have positive impact on SEO are natural and earned links cultivated through sharing valuable content and building solid relationships with your customers and prospects. Quality backlinks are evidence to search engines of a site’s popularity, trustworthiness, relevance, authority, and how current the content is.
Social Media Marketing
Organic and paid social media interaction and marketing have an impact on your site’s SEO because they naturally signify some of the same elements that backlinks do: popularity, relevance, authority, etc. Social media is also a natural generator of backlinks through self-publishing as well as social sharing.
You are an authority and expert in your field. Guest blogging—writing content for another site that can be linked back to your site and brand—is an effective way to grow your own site’s SEO.
Brand Mentions, Reviews, and Influencer Marketing
Discussions about your brand from 3rdparties have a powerful effect upon how customers and prospects perceive your brand. From dispassionate mentions to the reviews of actual customers or product users to promotion by those influential in your marketplace, this content can have as much—if not more—impact on your search engine optimization (and presence) than your own content.
Businesses with a physical presence (such as a store or office) and a dedicated area of service must also optimize for local search. Off-site map and directory listings, claimed review site profiles, booking services, and more, combine with on-page integrations (such as social links, maps/directions, customer review feeds) to optimize for local search results.
Search engine optimization isn’t a task to be completed one time on a website, but is an ongoing process of maintaining site quality and usability combined with managing off-site assets and reputation. Falling for the myth of one-and-done SEO can at best cause a site to get left behind, though worse business consequences can arise from inaction and stale content.