Off-Page Search Engine Optimization (Relevant Link Building)
Relevant Links for Google & Humans
Off-page seo is the building of links (for google & human traffic) in places relevant to your industry.
In light of steep competition, proper off-page search engine optimization is more important than ever, but doing so properly takes time and effort - sweat equity. There are no quick rich schemes (also known as black-hat seo) anymore as it is simply not tolerated by Google. No no, the safest way is the slow and sure way of natural relevant link building and writing unique valuable content and posting it where your target market is looking for you with some pay per click sprinkled in should the budget allow. This is known as "off-page seo".
Unique content - Content marketing (known to some as inbound marketing) is any marketing that involves the creation and sharing of media and publishing content in order to acquire and retain customers. In other words, it is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience - and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.
The idea is simple - generate unique valuable content (blog posts, guides, how-tos, tips/tricks, lists, infographics, faq, videos, audio podcasts, etc.) and place it in front of your target audience where they are looking for you. Be engaging but don’t be spammy or overly pushy. In other words write an engaging relevant informative valuable blog post and share it on social media and industry specific profiles, blogs written by others (comment as a guest) or industry specific forums. With a bit of luck others will find your valuable content and be compelled to share it themselves thus building additional links for you. This is the goal - to build links that are relevant and not spammy for Google will surely punish you otherwise. Google Panda. Google Penguin. Google Hummingbird.
Content syndication (Outbrain) and / or press release and / or social media sharing (Hootsuite) websites are also really good and helping you “spread the word” of your new blog post. You can also do a search for industry specific “content aggregator” or industry specific “buzz” websites. This is known as content amplification. As you build a following, you can also take the same post and send a mass email to your list of contacts you’ve accumulated. Email marketers use tools such as Mail Chimp or Constant Contact to help with this.
Again, be sure to post your content to various small business and (industry specific) blogs and forums. A simple Google search or such should find a few for you to become a part of. Be sure to only post on relevant blogs and forums, don’t use keyword rich anchor links (raises a red flag with Google), and don’t publish duplicate content over and over (keep each repost unique in its own right). As a guest, you won’t be able to link back to your website, but you could conceivably type out the url of your website where they can find you - or better yet place a link to your website in the profile of the person your posting as.
Outside of publishing your own content, the best thing you can do is to be in an many relevant places on the internet as possible. Instead of using a fancy dancy software to sniff out link prospects that may or may not be good for you, instead use sweat equity to make complete and accurate profiles with various local and industry specific directories. A simple google search for various keyword phrases such as local directories, small business directories, or (industry specific) directories, etc. should help you find the right websites to attach yourself to. Some of the more well-known directories are below: Link Prospecting Guide
Local & Small Business Directories: New ones come and go all the time. So rather than using a software, simply do a google search for “(city) (state) local directories”, “small business directories” and “(industry specific) directories”. Take your time and choose the ones that show up first, are of most relevance to you or might have the market you are targeting. Sign up for a profile, fill it out including a link back to your website as well as engaging unique content, and publish it. Use the profile to post and guest post content to that website’s forum if it has one. Each relevant link you post does 2 things: 1 - it puts you in front of your target customer, and 2 - it tells Google that you are for real and are here to stay. That is what they want to see. The more prominent local directories include:
Google Places / Maps, Bing / Microsoft Places, Yahoo Places (now Aabaco Small Business), The Better Business Bureau, The Local Chamber of Commerce, State Chamber of Commerce, National Chamber of Commerce, Yelp, FourSquare, Local.com, CitySearch, EZLocal, InfoUSA, MOJO Pages, HotFrog, ThumbTack, Houzz, MapQwest, CityTalk, USDirectory, Dex / Yellow Pages / Yellow Book / Super Pages / YellowBot, Merchant Circle, Manta, Angies List, HomeAdvisor and more.
There are also numerous local aggregators (a single place to manage multiple profiles to ensure consistency) such as Localize, InfoGroup, etc. Use Yext or better yet MozLocal to manage them.
Industry Specific Directories: Here’s where it gets really specific. Some of the directories above could arguably be categorized into an industry specific directory but they are also localized and specific to more than 1 industry which is why we put them into a more general small business directory. With that being said, be sure to do a separate Google search for your “(industry specific) directory”. Choose the ones that show up 1st, sign up for a profile, complete it with engaging unique content, and be sure to place a link back to your website. If the site has a forum, be sure to visit the forum as well.
Social Media: Do a simple search for “small business social media profiles”. Popular social media profiles include Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr, Vimeo, Vine, Pintrest, Instagram, Reddit, Digg, Tumblr, Wordpress.com. Each site has their own target market but some have groups within that you can join. Simply join and make an engaging profile and start posting. Here is another post about the importance of targeting a specific audience, engaging them effectively, and managing each profile as an individual network as opposed to mass postings.
Blogs / Forums: The same applies to industry specific blogs and forums. Do a keyword search, find it, make a profile, and start posting and answering questions in a way that is non-spammy or overly pushy. A lot of sites use Disqus as a way to comment on forums and blog posts. Simply sign up, complete your profile with your business branding and viola - you can comment as a business without the need to place a spammy link in every comment.
Networking: Other popular groups to get your in-person networking on (other than BBB networking, Chamber of Commerce networking, BNI networking groups) include Meetup. Simply make a profile, find a group by keyword research, find the next meeting and join. Viola - new friends. You can also do a google search for “(industry specific) networking groups”.
For the budget conscious - each of the above can be done before breakfast, over the lunch hour or in the evenings. Don't worry about doing too much at one time., Just 1 hour per day and over the course of the year and you'll be "out there" before you know it. Or if the budget allows, you can hire someone like me to do this for you for a nominal fee. Of course all of this depends on having a really great website to bring them to. Let me know if you'd like some help with either.