A lot of people think that SEO is really just about keyword research, and optimizing the web content on the page to target those same keywords – in the meta tag and descriptions, image and URLs. Realistically, that is only one piece of the total game. It’s also important to focus on optimizing your SEO outside the webpage itself. This is what we have collectively named “off-site SEO.” Did you know that 70% of the link searchers click on are organic? In fact, 60% of organic clicks are from the top three organic search results, making SEO a fundamental strategy for small businesses trying to appear in search engine results.

We all know that a key component of any small business’ marketing strategy is to effectively position its brand in search engine results. Off-site search engine optimization takes a lot of effort over time. It indicates how users or searchers perceive a website. When we find a site full of unique and useful information, it is more likely that we will share it with our contacts on social media – we follow it, share it, bookmark it or mention it in forums or discussions. So how can your small business reach the top of SERPs for your targeted keywords? It can be a confusing and difficult process, but here is a compiled list that will help improve your business’ SEO!

Properly Optimize Information on Your Business’ Website: Your website is your most important and valuable online asset, so ensuring that it is properly optimized to appear high within search results is key.

Secure, Build out and Update Your Business Listings on Local Websites: Perhaps one of the most effective ways to boost local SEO is to ensure the availability and consistency of your business’ listing information across a myriad of third-party sources. Google and other search engines constantly scan these sites to develop a stronger understanding of the local web and your business.

Ensure An Appropriate Link Strategy: Links from your website to other related websites, and vice versa, play a role in your business’ SEO visibility, because they help to establish the authenticity and credibility of your business. But trying to game system by leveraging unrelated links will damage visibility over time.

Encourage And Respond To Online User Reviews: User reviews help to build your business’ visibility in local search results, and so does your engagement in responding to them — whether they are positive or negative. However, small businesses need to ensure the reviews themselves always come from the outside.

Engage Regularly Via Social Media: Social media pages play a notable role in local business’ visibility in search results. The more proactive your social media strategy, the higher likelihood your pages will attract followers — and in turn, appear within search.

Drive Media Coverage: Media coverage of your local business — especially from highly credible news websites — can result in a long-term positive impact on your business’ search results.

An offsite SEO recap:

  • Think content
  • Start a blog
  • Put the customer or reader first
  • Set up pages on social sites
  • Don’t trust agencies that promise guaranteed results
  • Keep an eye on your agency’s methods
  • Use a simple, clear URL structure
  • Write content with a longer shelf life
  • Look at your competitors
  • Use Google’s Keyword Planner
  • Have a strategy for internal linking
  • Careful with those keywords
  • Use your site search data for target keywords
  • Set up a Google Local listing
  • Encourage customers to leave reviews on Google listings
  • Don’t expect quick results
  • Optimise for mobile
  • Images
  • Set up Google analytics
  • Use Webmaster tools
  • Use Schema markup
  • Add useful information to you local pages
  • Think about UX
  • Optimise local pages for target local keywords
  • Find out who is linking to you
  • Ensure that citations, NAP listings and on-page address references are consistent
  • Write your own product descriptions
  • Track your keywords
  • Don’t obsess over rankings
  • User reviews
  • Keep an eye on SEO trends
  • Don’t rely on search traffic

After your initial enthusiasm for offsite SEO has worn off, make some time every week to add a comment, or try find a quality website or directory you can get listed on. If you do it right, you’ll slowly start to see your site get better rankings in the search engines.