The first step towards SEO success is optimising the website itself, we call this the ‘on-site’ work. This involves technical and content updates in-line with the keywords being targeted. The second and more time consuming part of the SEO process is what we call the ‘off-site’ work. This involves a number of techniques that have evolved over the past 10 years as major search engines have smartened up.
The main aims of off-site work are to build:
a) High quality and relevant “links” back to the clients website
b) “citations” which are online placements of the client’s business name and contact details
c) “brand mentions” and “implied links”
So what exactly is a “link”?
A link or a ‘hyperlink’ is text or an image that you can click on which takes you to another web page or point on a point, i.e. www.britweb.co.uk.
If you work with a digital agency or SEO professional, you have probably heard of the phrase ‘link building’. Also known as outreach, this is when you attempt to get a link placed on an external website linking back to your own website.
Inbound links are one of Google’s methods of measuring the trust and authority of a website. They help the search engines understand where to rank a website in the search results. As straight forward as this may sound, this is Google, so nothing is ever straight forward!
Long gone are the days where you could pay for 100 spammy directory links and achieve SEO victory. Now it’s all about the quality of a link. Google works this out by looking at the following:
- Where the link is coming from – is the website high quality and does it get a lot of traffic?
- The domain authority of that website – how authoritative is the website in Google’s eyes?
- The anchor text used within the link – what does the link say?
- The relevance of the website – does the referring website relate to the business?
The best way to build links
Achieving SEO success requires strategic branding activities and online authority building to prove to Google you are worthy of those top spots.
A natural link occurs when you don’t actively seek it, you just provide great content that gets shared and linked to.
If you have amazing content on your website, such as a useful infographic or an in-depth blog post written by an industry expert or your staff, journalists may want to cite those resources to support claims within their content. This is a great way to build natural links and brand mentions. Natural links are Google’s favourite, but they aren’t always easy to achieve. That’s why it’s important to build natural looking links for search engines.
Press releases and features
By press releases, we do not mean throwing together a piece of content and submitting it to a press release syndication site. In fact, this would not work in your favour and could end badly for your search rankings.
Instead you should be producing content that is sought out by publications that your target audience will actually read. Once you have your high quality piece of content, you need to promote or “outreach” it to the editor or journalist of the website you are targeting. Once placed, check if the article has a link, and if not ask for one. Some websites won’t want to do this, but don’t fret as brand mentions are becoming increasingly powerful for SEO.
How do you know if you are doing it right?
- Would my target audience read this publication?
- Is this link actually going to provide relevant traffic back to my website?
- Am I proud to have a link on this website?
- Am I pleased with my content?
If the answer to these if yes then you are link building the right way!
What is a citation and why do you need them?
A citation is an online reference to your business’ name, address and phone number (NAP). Google uses NAP listings when assessing the online authority of your business.
Predominantly helpful for local businesses, but good for all businesses to show consistency, citation building shouldn’t be overlooked. Consistency is important with citations – the ones you build should match how you present your contact details on your website and on your Google+ local page.
How and where should you build citations?
Citations on reputable directories are still an important factor of SEO and a great way to build links, for example on, Yell, Yelp, Scoot and Thomson Local. However, the way you use them and which ones to use has changed dramatically.
Again you should ask yourself: would my target audience actually use this directory?
Don’t just submit details to a directory for the sake of it; only do so if the directory is trusted, has high domain authority and actually receives traffic. One way to check domain authority and backlinks is the Moz Open Site Explorer tool.
Brand mentions and implied links
Over the past couple of years, there has been a lot of speculation about whether unlinked brand mentions have SEO benefit. It has been rumoured that Google’s algorithm is now able to detect mentions of your brand name and associate the mention directly with your website. Read more about this here: searchenginewatch.com/sew/opinion/2420075/5-modern-day-alternatives-to-link-building.
If this is true it means that if a journalist publishes a piece of content that references a website, that website then receives credit in Google’s eyes. So it doesn’t matter as much if you outreach an article and it gets published without a link, the fact that the publication has mentioned you and is talking about you is enough. We are looking forward to testing this theory.
To conclude, a great off-site SEO strategy that includes all of these techniques should present positive results. It is important to stay up to date with the latest talk and research in the SEO world. We advise subscribing to these e-newsletters: Moz, Search Engine Watch, Distilled and Search Engine Land.