Boost Your Search Rankings with Off-Site SEO
A Great Website & Onsite SEO Aren't Always Enough
March 6, 2023 | Posted in: Search
Are you looking to improve your visibility in search results? Have you already done just about everything you can think of to your website’s written content, meta tags, and load speed? An often-neglected component of search engine optimization (SEO) is what happens offsite. Of the thousands of factors Google considers when someone searches for “[what you offer] near me,” a significant portion of those quality tests take place off your website.
Why Are There Off-Page Search Ranking Factors?
Quite frankly: Google doesn’t trust you! If all it took to rank #1 was a keyword-stuffed website, that would open the door to spammers as well as fly-by-night companies cheating their way into high volume search traffic. Google intentionally requires your business to be “well known” around the web before they will reward you with top positioning.
For example, a company like Home Depot has off-site credibility signals built over years upon years of doing business, so they are not going to get pushed down the page by a brand new hardware store who has more paragraphs of content about power tools.
How Much Off-Site SEO Do I Need to Be Competitive?
The amount of off-site SEO needed is relative. You only need as much or slightly more than your competitors. Google doesn’t expect a local roofing company to have the same number of links, mentions, reviews, social media followers, etc as Walmart or NASCAR, but having significantly less than other roofers in the same market tells them your company might be less worthy of the #1 spot.
Having too much off-site SEO can actually cause major problems. If you’ve ever heard about a site being penalized or blacklisted by Google, it is almost always in response to overzealous linkbuilding and spammy tactics that take place off site, like fake reviews.
Top 5 Types of Off-Site SEO
High-quality backlinks from reputable websites can greatly improve your website’s visibility on search engines. A backlink, also known as an “inbound link” or “incoming link” can be placed upon text, a button, or an image. A backlink is just a link from one website to another (as opposed to an internal link, which takes place within one website).
Backlinks are important because they signal to search engines like Google that other websites consider the content on your site to be valuable and worth linking to. A backlink is an endorsement of the quality and credibility of that content.
With backlinks, both quantity and quality are used as a ranking factor. Websites with a higher number of high-quality backlinks are generally viewed as more authoritative and relevant than sites with fewer backlinks or low-quality (spammy looking) backlinks. Building high-quality backlinks to your website can improve your rankings and drive more traffic to your site.
Ongoing linkbuilding is one of the most important parts of a successful SEO campaign.
Positive reviews from customers can increase trust and credibility, which will ultimately help to boost your visibility in local search results. Google prioritizes businesses with more reviews, higher ratings, and more recent reviews. When their algorithm sees positive feedback coming in from actual customers, it becomes more comfortable listing your business at the top of results. Even reviews that are not “five stars” can help because those users are still verifying your business is in operation and performing the services your website claims to offer. The keywords and phrases used in the text of each review are analyzed by Google to corroborate the terminology on your website. When your content and customer feedback both talk about the same things, that is a powerful signal that your business is trustworthy and therefore a good search result for anyone searching those types of phrases.
Online reviews can also influence another ranking factor: Your click-through rate (CTR) from search results. If your business has positive reviews, potential customers are more likely to click on your website link or visit your business location. More clicks tells Google “people like this result” and can help move you further up the page.
Asking for reviews should be standard component of your customer service processes!
Listing your business on local directories like Google My Business, Yelp, and Yellow Pages can increase your visibility in local search results by solidifying NAPW, another type of credibility signal. “NAPW” refers to the consistency of your business Name, Address, Phone number, and Website information across the web. This information is crucial for SEO because it helps search engines understand the location and service area of your business, plus it is the basis upon which they associate your various profiles, reviews, and advertisements with each other.
If your company has several hundred reviews on an industry-specific website, the only way Google can give you credit for that feedback is by finding matching NAPW information within that profile, your website, and your Google Business Profile.
Relevant Directory Listings
In addition to common citation sources, industry-specific or location-specific directories can demonstrate a high degree of relevance to your desired keywords. A cannabis dispensary appearing on WeedMaps or a home services contractor being listed on a local Chamber of Commerce website will help Google build their understanding of which search terms your website should rank for.
If your business participates in any industry or local organizations, be sure to ask them for a backlink to your website!
Building a strong presence on social media platforms can help improve your visibility in search results, but there is a surprisingly indirect connection between social and search. None of the links on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram are actually counted as backlinks. The only way those links help is if users are actually traveling through them and increasing your site’s traffic volume, which is a ranking factor.
Google and the major players in social media are all in competition with each other so they limit how much data can flow back and forth. Reviews, likes, and shares posted on social media sites have been confirmed by Google as being included in the algorithm as a “social signal” but that tends to have very little impact in the ranking algorithm. Even a few thousand likes is unlikely to move your website up a single spot.
Using social media as a way to build trust and awareness can eventually help SEO if those users start searching for your company by name or clicking through links they find on your profiles.