A successful off-site search engine optimization campaign must be robust and comprehensive. It needs to incorporate many different techniques, so that when search engines change their algorithms the campaign is not significantly affected. Many SEO gurus’ greatest plans have fallen apart when Google has released major updates. Here is a step-by-step SEO strategy that draws on various methods, with an explanation for each step. While no one can absolutely guarantee results in SEO, this strategy positions websites for solid, long-term rankings in Google’s and other search engines’ results.
Step 1: Charitable Donations
Many charities list their donors on their websites, often with a link to donors’ web pages. All that is required to be included on these lists is a donation, which may be as little as $5.00 or as much as $100.00. Although these links cost money, they require little time to obtain.
Critics of this strategy will point out that yours will be only one of many links on these websites, so your link will pass very little link juice and page rank. The purpose of these links is not to earn page rank, though. These links are meant to build trust. A handful of links from established charities will show Google and the other search engines that your site is a respectable resource.
Depending on the scale of your SEO campaign, you may want anywhere from two to 10 links from charities’ websites. Usually only a handful of these links are needed to establish the reliability of a new site.
Step 2: Paid Directories
Web directories are as old as the internet; gathering links from them was one of the first SEO tactics. Directories do not carry the weight they once did, but links from a few high-ranking ones provide an instant boost to a site’s authority. Whether authority is measured by page rank (PR) or another metric, there is no faster way to establish the authority of a new site. Just as purchasing links from charities creates trust, buying links from select directories builds authority.
Some people in the SEO community avoid directories, because many are filled with spam. By focusing on paid directories, you will be able to find several that have only legitimate sites in their listings. These are the directories that search engines trust; they are the ones to seek links from. Since a link from a reputable directory may cost anywhere from $30.00 to $600.00, you will want to apply to just a few directories, perhaps two to five.
Step 3: Free Niche Directories
Niche directories rarely carry the same authority as paid directories, but they serve a different purpose in an SEO campaign. Links from niche directories help search engines determine your site’s subject matter. Of course, it is important to check each directory for inappropriate content prior to submitting your site.
As long as the directory is related to your site’s subject matter and does not have anything illicit on it, why not include your site? Most of these directories are free, and their applications take only a few minutes to complete. In a few hours, someone experienced in SEO should be able to find 20 to 50 niche directories.
Step 4: Web 2.0s
Web 2.0s are platforms that users are free to publish their own content on. This content may be written, visual or both. Some examples include WordPress.com (not your own, privately hosted WordPress site), YouTube, Tumblr and eHow. Starting a web 2.0 usually requires creating an account and then uploading content.
Initially, these sites will have little impact on your main site. Web 2.0s serve three important purposes, though. First, they diversify your link profile, which helps it look natural. Second, they give you complete control over anchor text, because you generate the content. Third, they will gain authority over time, eventually having a more significant impact on your main site’s rankings than they do at first.
A dozen web 2.0s may suffice for most campaigns. Startups that have little cash, however, may want to use more, since they are usually free to set up.
Step 5; Guest Posts
Even after Google’s crackdown on guest blog networks, guest posting can have a significant, positive impact on a site’s rankings–when it is done properly. Posting on sites designed specifically for guest posting will provide little help for your site, but getting guest posts published on other sites that rank in the SERPs for your targeted terms will be highly beneficial.
Search through the first 10 pages of Google’s results for your key terms and see what blogs might let you guest post on their site. Even if you only land two or three guest posting opportunities, the quality of these links will have a greater effect than links coming from dozens of low-quality or off-topic blogs.
Step 6: Social Media Profiles
Social media’s current effect on search engine rankings is debated, but it will certainly be a key factor in the future. Profiles on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ may help your site now, and they will certainly position it for the future of SEO. Profiles should at least be set up on these three platforms; some sites may also want to use other platforms, such as Instagram or Pinterest.
Step 7: Blog Comments
Blog comments were a mainstay of SEO campaigns a decade ago. Today, they have little impact on a site’s ranking. Nevertheless, blog comments are an important component of a long-term SEO strategy. Occasionally placing a comment with a link to your site will diversify your site’s link profile.
Because comments have minimal benefit, if any, little time should be devoted specifically to them. Whenever you come across a post that relates to something on your site, though, leave a comment with a link. Overtime, you will build up a decent number of comments that will give your strategy balance.
These seven steps are designed to position sites for long-term rankings in Google’s and other search engines’ SERPs. They do not include every SEO strategy used today, but they will be enough to rank most sites. Even in competitive niches, these seven tactics are often all that is needed to rank a site. Implement them and see how they influence your site’s rankings.