Editor’s note: This is the second of a two-part series on improving Search Engine Optimization for your website content.
In my last column, I described the three elements of Search Engine Optimization, including on-page, off-site and technical.
Today, I’ll focus on the off-site (also known as off-page) SEO checklist factors.
Once you’ve whipped all of your site content into shape following my guidelines for perfectly optimized pages, you can turn your attention to the important subjects of building site credibility, increasing meaningful inbound links (links to your site from other sites) and building social media influence.
Google has said that it uses more than 200 factors to rank a web page, but there is one thing virtually all experts agree upon: The number and quality of inbound links is near the top of the list in importance.
Buying inbound links from link spammers doesn’t work anymore. Google acted decisively to squelch this activity with its Panda and Penguin updates, and the game has changed.
The off-site SEO checklist:
• Measure your inbound links and their value. Plug your site URL into Open Site Explorer. This tool provides plenty of utility for no charge, but a paid subscription (Altitude Marketing is a pro subscriber) gives more depth.
• With Open Site Explorer, you can see all inbound links, see your top-linked pages, sort by linking domains, see the anchor text other sites use to link to you and compare your metrics with competitors. It’s an eye-opener for many who do it for the first time.
What to do with all of this data?
• Scan your highest-authority inbound links for opportunity to get other similar links.
• Scan your competitors’ highest-authority inbound links. Can you get those links, too? Do they provide ideas for getting similar links?
• Inbound links from nonprofit (.org) and education (.edu) sites are especially powerful. Should you have more from your friends and partners in these realms?
• Build your inbound links gradually. Google may penalize a quick accumulation of links.
• Get your staff on board with the idea of “thinking links.”
Ideas on where to get inbound links to improve off-site SEO:
• Business partners, clients, vendors.
• Online releases through paid press-release services.
• Legitimate directories, regional web listings.
• Your own site blog and other relevant blogs.
• Thought leadership articles and whitepapers.
• Useful interactive online tools that others will want to link to.
OFF-SITE SEO: SOCIAL MEDIA
Social media provides another way for businesses of all sizes to generate brand awareness, direct traffic to the site and to boost SEO.
Researchers now agree that Facebook likes and shares, Twitter follower counts and tweets linking to your site, LinkedIn shares and Google-plus circles and reviews all help contribute positive SEO power to your site.
• Have active business Facebook, Twitter, Google-plus and LinkedIn accounts and link to them with share buttons from your site.
• Promote your latest news and views in your social media presence and ask/invite others to like and share.
Review sites create valuable inbound links, and they carry their own SEO juice for your site.
• Know what people are saying about you on the leading review sites.
• Make a staff member responsible for responding diplomatically to negative reviews.
• Encourage customers who have had a positive experience to review you.
There is a lot more depth to any of these tactics if you drill down into them, but this checklist will serve as a great starting point for your off-site SEO efforts.
Fred Zahradnik is manager of digital marketing at Altitude Marketing, an integrated marketing firm based in Emmaus. For more information, visit www.altitudemarketing.com.