Get Your Citations Straight: Optimizing Off Page SEO
What is off page SEO?
Effective SEO strategy involves more than having a website with all the right things. It also requires making efforts elsewhere on the internet. The major search engines are programmed to think that the more other sites link back to your site, the better your content is. There are things you can do off-site to get the right type of notice and acknowledgement from the right places.
Is social media important for off page SEO?
Yes. But a company doesn’t need to post to social media outlets a certain numbers of time a day to reap SEO benefits from social media. What’s the minimum for social media engagement for off page SEO? You must have a business page or account on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Google+ for Business, as well as a professional personal page on LinkedIn. There’s a good chance if you’re on LinkedIn you have a professional personal page but not a business page. Get one and make sure all your pages are accurate and optimized. Do all of your pages have the exact same business info? Make sure they do and make sure it matches exactly what’s in Google My Business. Yes, you must be listed with Google My Business. Yes, it used to be Google Places. If you’re a social media fan and have the time to invest there are more ways to use these and other accounts to further improve your off page SEO. Pinterest has really gained business traction and is great for the visual businesses like photographers, interior decorators, etc.
DO NOT IGNORE Bing and Yahoo!
Along with creating a business listing and optimizing it on Google+ (aka Google Places) you MUST also do it on Yahoo Local! and Bing Local. As a matter of fact Google expects to find your listing there!
Are online directories a waste of time?
No! Not only do they create more of the all important high quality backlinks, they also let Google see you all over the internet, which it really likes. As a matter of fact if your business isn’t on a ton of directories your off page SEO will take a hit. Through manual creation and data aggregators your business can get into 400+ directories! On the flip side, the majority of businesses have misinformation about them on the internet and that can harm your search result standing. Never assume your info is not part of a particular directory or that the info about you is accurate.
How do I make the most of online directories?
Start by establishing the social media pages listed above if you haven’t. Next, check the main directories like SuperPages, MerchantCircle, Yelp, Manta, HotFrog and CityGrid (CitySearch), etc. Make sure your listings are accurate and identical. Then do the same with secondary and tertiary directories like JudysBook, Yellowbot, Yellowee, and MyHuckleberry. If your city has a hyperlocal directory, make sure you’re listed and listed accurately.
When searching for your listings, start with business name, then phone number. Don’t forget to check for any old phone numbers or business names. Make sure the info matches your Google My Business listing (aka Google Places). Correct any errors you find. If you don’t find a listing for your business then create one.
Optimize the directory listing by adding photos, video(s), payment types accepted, hours, description, email, website address, services, brands, categories, etc. By filling out your directory listing completely you can end up ranking higher within the local directory.
By the way, when you create these directory listings, use a “trash” email account. You will receive a bunch of garbage emails afterwards. Also use the same password for every account. If your business ever moves then you will need to go back to every listing and make the appropriate changes. If you don’t with time your off page SEO will most definitely suffer!
Also, expect directories to call your business. Do verify the business information, but as soon as they try to upsell you, shut them off by telling them you are sticking with the free listing and to take you off their solicitation list!
So, why start with making sure you have the right social media pages? When creating directory listings, or updating them, you’ll be asked where people can find you on social media. Be sure to include your social media business page links.
What is guest blogging and how can I use it to draw traffic to my website?
Many blogs welcome guest posts from industry experts, for single gigs here and there or as ongoing contributors. Are you familiar with the popular blogs of your industry? Your target audience is already hanging out there. You can reach out to them through people they already listen to, and bring in your audience. It’s part of the beauty of guest blogging. If everyone has worthwhile content, everyone wins. Make sure to include links back to your site in the text of your post or in the author bio.
Should I ask satisfied customers for reviews?
Why not? A testimonials page on your website is great to let prospects know you’re good at what you do. Make sure to try and have a keyword phrase within the review and the person’s city and state at the end of the review. This can help with local search results.
Reviews elsewhere on the internet are also great for your off-site SEO. Customers or clients should post their review in only one place. G+ is great for those with gmail accounts. Be very careful though when asking for reviews to be posted on a review site. Considering the industry you are in too many reviews and or too many reviews in a short time frame tells the sites like Google and Yelp that you “solicited” the review. If they get a whiff of that then those reviews will disappear!
How will I know if my SEO efforts are working?
An effective local SEO campaign will yield more phone calls and foot traffic. We highly encourage you and your staff to ask every new visitor or caller how they heard of you. For almost all service oriented local businesses just keeping track of how new customers discovered your business will provide all the confirmation needed.
You can also look for an increase in visits to your website and increased engagement with your content. Are people spending time on pages they land on, or bouncing? Do they click links? SEO isn’t just about getting people to your website, it’s about getting people there who will find it useful, informative and contact the business.
Off page SEO is only part of the local SEO program and strategy. There is also on page SEO. When both of them are properly created and maintained it can make for a powerful result. If only one of two is optimized, then the local SEO results will be weak. As Helen Keller said “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much”.