The world of SEO and content optimization is a tricky one. You think you’ve got everything figured out, and then something (or a lot of things) blindside you with some unanticipated new changes or “improvements” that knock your SEO strategies in the sand. Google’s Panda and Penguin updates definitely did that for a lot of business owners: they saw their rankings fall through the floor when these new content-oriented algorithm changes went live. One way to save yourself from future changes like Panda and Penguin is to have good off-page optimization working in your favor.
Good off-page optimization offsets the pains of adjusting to new on-site optimization standards so your rankings don’t take a major hit. Off-page optimization is harder to do, but the effort is well worth the investment—Google is rewarding sites that have better off-page results every day as they move away from keyword density-based rankings and towards authority and reader value.
Off-Page Optimization Strategies
Off-page optimization encompasses the following:
- Diverse link building campaigns, whether you’re reaching out to other bloggers or getting backlinks naturally,
- Content sharing strategies like syndication and guest posting, as long as there’s space for a bio and a link back to you,
- And using your good name (and your Google Plus profile) as a content author and contributor across multiple websites.
Essentially, the idea is to make your content appear regularly on other websites. That doesn’t mean you’re alright to just post your own content on Twitter and Facebook—you need to be seen on other like-minded professional blogs, cited in outside articles and represented well in press releases and relevant news. Adding new websites for your content to be published on puts more readers on your content, and the more readers on your content, the more authoritative you will be to a wider range of people.
Whenever a website, professional blog or other online outlet links to your website and your content, search engines take note of this citation. Their indexing programs take into account both your own website’s ranking authority and that of the website citing you. If they enjoy a higher page rank or level of authority than your website does, you earn a little of that influence on your own website.
If you have enough influential sites using your content as a reference, they’re vouching for your authority in search engine indexes. Search engines will reward you for that support by giving your content more visibility and better rankings. You have to be careful, though, because there is a negative side to off-page marketing.
Negative SEO: When Off-Page Optimization Goes Bad
Negative SEO is something that exists, and it’s the opposite of good, healthy off-page optimization. Negative SEO takes advantage of how search engines reward authority and trust-based rankings to websites by associating good content with bad links and unsavory websites. Negative SEO is a real threat, especially if you have a ruthless, web-savvy competitor hitting you with it all the time.
An unhappy customer might hop on a review website and say “This Company is absolutely terrible!” Search engines associate This Company’s name with “terrible,” and begin indexing all instances of the company’s name coupled with negative sentiments. A shady blog writer or blog network webmaster could link to you in a spam-driven link-stuffing content post, unfairly associating your website with dozens of other shady links. There are endless scenarios that range from sheer coincidence to nasty underhanded competition.
Luckily, the cure for negative SEO is the same solution for getting good off-page optimization in the first place: keep on producing good content that other bloggers and professionals want to refer back to. As long as you’re producing quality content, reaching out to legitimate SEO professionals for links and affiliations, and staying away from link buying and other black-hat techniques, your off-page optimizations will save your rankings and your reputation if minor search algorithm hiccups take a bite out of your search placement.
Good off-page optimization will make your websites rank higher in search more reliably, ensuring long-term success for your small business.