Along with conducting keyword research and ensuring website optimization, strengthening your backlink profile through off-site SEO is a critical way to boost your organic search rankings and traffic.
Just as you'd take a job candidate more seriously if a trusted coworker vouched for the applicant, Google views links from relevant, high-authority sites as "vouches" for the authoritativeness of a website. With that in mind, companies thirst after the acquisition of high-quality backlinks from trusted third-party websites. It's viewed as SEO gold.
The challenge is that it's hard. Really hard.
What's a marketer to do?
To successfully generate high-quality, organic links to your site through off-site SEO, execute the following three highly effective stratagems. By doubling down on these, you're often able to increase organic traffic to your site three-fold or more.
1. Write what you know
Authoring articles related to your industry is one of the most effective link-building strategies available to a brand. It not only accomplishes your practical goal of securing backlinks from relevant, high-authority sites but also boosts brand recognition by helping you become a thought leader in your industry.
First, select the person or people who will be the public thought leaders for the company. Selecting specific people will allow readers to get familiar with the same people, learning to trust their work and style and associating those trusted voices with your brand.
You'll likely have a few authors in individual categories of expertise. A bank, for example, might have different thought leaders in home ownership, investing, loans, retirement, and so on. The CEO, too, can produce articles related to the business and banking world at large.
Build your list of target publications per audience segment, and start producing the type of content that would thrill each publication's respective audience. Prior to making your pitches, do research to ensure the topic, style, and tone fit with each publication.
Your goals should be clearly aligned with those of the target publication. The entire effort should be centered on delivering as much value to the publication's audience as possible. The more you give, the more you'll get.
2. Conduct original research and atomize the results
As an off-site SEO strategy, original research rocks!
BuzzSumo confirms that out of all content, original research generates the most traffic, social engagement, and backlinks.
A company in the legal space was able to parlay one research study into a surge in blog traffic along with five unique appearances on national TV. And a study by Mantis Research found that 56% of marketers who perform original research say it exceeds expectations or meets the majority or all expectations. (Only 3% reported that the research hadn't worked out.)
Nevertheless, the same study points out, fewer than half of all companies use original research in their marketing. Why is that?
The tasks typically associated with original research, such as industrywide surveys, are time-consuming and far more difficult to produce than articles and blog posts.
And that's where some creativity is in order.
It can be well worth it to hire an outside company to conduct original research, especially on industrywide trends.
It's also worth building less-intensive research into your content process. One company successfully taking this route typically has 20 surveys running on its website concurrently, with each survey uniquely customized based on the specific content on the page. That's a lot of data that can be conducted efficiently and easily. Original research could also include tests and experiments that your team conducts independently and internally, freeing you from the restraint of external input.
Once you have survey data, look to content atomization to generate multiple formats of the results. You can then take the various pieces of output and offer them up to reporters. One reporter may prefer that you supply an article, while another is interested in an infographic, and yet another is interested in your video library. In this way, you can reliably and significantly expand the reach of your campaign, and in the process garner a large number of backlinks and survey-related traffic.
3. Carry out strategic outreach
As the third off-site strategy for greater SEO traffic, conduct strategic outreach to publishers, influencers, and partners at scale.
Conducting outreach to a few organizations is not going to get you very far. At least, not in terms of SEO results.
It's when you achieve scale with high-quality publications, authentic influencers, and real partners that your brand can truly break through and dominate the search results for targeted topics.
For example, by targeting the right people and organizations with the right audiences, Terakeet, the company where I work, collaborated with 1,120 publishers and influencers in content creation and getting the word out—in the form of a blog post or article or infographic or social media post... It was all 100% organic. No payments were involved. The collaboration did include strategic content recommendations of what these organizations/individuals could publish that would be of interest to their respective audiences.
The result was more than 55,500 engagement events: a social media or blog comment, or a social media like or share—i.e., the publishers'/influencers' audiences engaging with the content pieces (blog post, social post, etc.).
The key is to collaborate with those with passionate audiences. That way, when you activate hundreds of publications or influencers, you're also activating their audiences in consuming and sharing the content. The result is a veritable tsunami of visibility, engagement, sharing, and linking.
To make your strategic outreach even more effective, let your creative juices flow. Provide the publications, influencers, and partners with strategic content ideas that they could generate to excite their audiences. For example, for the 1,120 publishers mentioned above, dozens of unique ideas on the topic of improving one's sleep were presented to each. The recipients took the concept and ran with it in the production of new content, packaged in a way that made sense for their respective audiences.
When evaluating fit, confirm the size of the audience as well as engagement levels. When you target those who are genuine champions for your product or brand, you're more likely to see your efforts ripple out to other influencers, as well as the respective social network of each audience member.
* * *
Conducting off-site SEO initiatives for the acquisition of authentic, organic backlinks is hard work. But by following the three methods outlined above, your brand will secure more backlinks that, in turn, will translate into higher rankings and traffic for your brand.
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