In the first of my articles on Search Engine Optimisation, I wrote about on-site SEO. This is how modifying the content on your website can affect your search engine rankings. This second article is about off-site search engine optimisation: how getting links to your site from other sites can propel your web pages up the search engine listings. Backlinks from other sites affect search engine rankings more than anything else. The number and quality of links pointing to your site will, on the whole, determine what position your site ranks in Google and the other search engines. Sources of traffic and SEO links include social media sites, Google local search and other websites.
Your first port of call for getting links to your site is by using existing relationships. Your partners, customers and suppliers should link to your website if you ask them nicely. Next, look at your competitors websites. Who is linking to them? Will they link to you too? Is there an important website for your industry or a local directory that will include a link to your site? Remember to build links to all pages on your website, not just the home page.
Getting your name out there
Another way to build up offsite connections to your web pages is by writing press releases. These can get picked up by practically anyone and allows you to get relevant content onto many sites, including a link back to you. You can also ring people (on the telephone – remember those things!) to develop online relationships. Include links to your site in email communications too.
Setting up a Google Local listing is free and will increase your presence in local search results. Also, encourage customers to leave reviews on Google listings as these will help to give your results more prominence on Google.
Building links from social media sites is a no-brainer. These may not all directly impact your offsite SEO but will bring in traffic if done correctly. Set up a Linked In and Facebook profile, tweet about new content on your site on Twitter and add interesting content to Pinterest and similar sites. If you have video content, don’t just put it on YouTube – other sites such as Metacafe, Yahoo and other video sharing sites also appear in Google results.
You can buy backlinks from other sites but you may be penalised for doing so as Google may have blacklisted the IP address or domain that is selling them. Link networks shouldn’t be used for offsite SEO links as you will lose rankings and trust from this.
Slow and steady
Don’t rush to create your links and then think you’re done when you’ve hit a certain number. Backlinks should be built up slowly, over a period of time. Spend time every month identifying and adding relevant, high quality backlinks to all the pages across your site; links from high quality sites to your site let Google know that your web site is trustworthy. Please bear in mind that you wil have to work hard to obtain good backlinks – the quicker you get a link, the lest valuable it will probably be.
SEO is a long-term strategy and may take time to produce results, especially in a competitive sector. But if you put the time and effort in, you will get results. However, don’t just rely on search engine optimisation to promote your site. SEO should be used in conjunction with other channels too as part of a comprehensive marketing approach.