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5 off-page SEO tactics, from a do-it-yourself merchant

In “11 ecommerce SEO tips, from the trenches,” my post in August, I discussed how I manage on-page search engine optimization. But even the best on-page SEO may not be enough to get your ecommerce site ranked well in the search engines. Off-page SEO is also important to help you rank and drive traffic.

Think of off-page SEO as the promotion and marketing of your web pages. What I said in August is worth repeating: You don’t need to outsource SEO to do these tasks for you. With a little time, effort, and patience, you’ll be building your brand and off-page SEO in no time.

Here are five on-page SEO tactics that have helped my business.

1. Links

Don’t let the Google Penguin updates scare you from building high-quality backlinks. Links are still a major part of what drives a page’s popularity in the rankings and traffic. Avoid links from poor quality sites, paid links, and link schemes. How do you acquire these coveted high-quality links? Here are ideas that have worked for my business.

  • Join high quality directories. Not any old directory will do; I am referring to the top-of-the-line, well-established authority sites that actually get traffic and send referrals to you. Think Angie’s List for contractors, WeddingWire for the wedding industry and DMOZ, which is notoriously hard to get in to. Don’t submit to every directory; chances are there will only one or two for your niche that are worth considering.
  • Get noticed by the media. Think it’s hard to get noticed? In the old days it was. But with sites like HARO — Help A Reporter Out — and PitchRate (among others) you can receive emails of journalists and bloggers looking for quotes. Follow the sites’ directions, send in a short catchy pitch, and you’ll be able to fetch a few links to your website in no time, and gain some good publicity.
  • Network with bloggers in your niche. Sponsored posts, advertorials, reviews, and guest blogs still go on. But I have only done a few and I don’t recommend it, as it can be a grey area now. I prefer getting to know a handful of bloggers in my niche and pitching unique insider stories to them that their readers will really care about. I’ve also done informational interviews that have brought links, visitors, and traffic to my site.
  • Comment on blogs. Don’t comment on hundreds of blogs. Instead, visit a few complementary blogs that you truly like and make meaningful, heartfelt comments on recent posts. Use your name, not your website or URL. Occasionally, I have had bloggers return the favor by linking to my items within a future blog.
  • Write fabulous blog posts and link to other bloggers or websites. I once wrote a post on wedding dress trends and linked to a major wedding dress company. I reached out to the company and tweeted that I had blogged about it. I received not only a link to my site from the company’s Facebook page (with over 200,000 likes) but also received a link on its “In The Press” page to my website — for free and without asking.
  • Ask clients, associates, vendors to link to you. A few will be happy to do it because of your working relationship. It doesn’t hurt to ask.

Those are steps I’ve used to receive quality, authoritative links to my site for free. If in the course of your link building you are offered the opportunity to choose the text — i.e., anchor text — to link back to your website, vary that text. Use the keyword lists you built from your on-page SEO efforts to build links with these keywords.

2. Co-concurrence

The term “co-concurrence” has been floating around the SEO world for a while. It refers to the proximity of keywords to a link. For example, when an article about a certain topic includes your brand name, the search engines derive from the text that your site is associated with that topic, or keyword. I believe it works to some extent — you don’t necessarily need a link to make the connection with readers and the search engines.

3. Build Social Media Profiles

Not every social media site will work for your company. Know where your customers hang out and focus on those sites. Women, brides, crafters, and do-it-yourself moms seem to favor Pinterest over Twitter. Businesses seem to prefer LinkedIn, Google+, and Twitter. Know where your customers are and send links, articles, photos, and media to those networks. But don’t only share your content. Like and share other’s content too and they will return the favor. Not all of these links will carry the same weight in the search engines, but they do build brand awareness and others may share your link.

4. Get Local

Make sure your profile — including a link back to your site — is visible in Google My Business, Bing, Yahoo,, Yelp, local directories to your city, and reviews. Don’t forget to list your location on your website.

5. Affiliate and Email Marketing

While affiliate marketing and email marketing won’t directly influence your search rankings, they will help with brand recognition. As people begin to recognize your company’s name and search specifically for that name in the search engines, it signals to the engines that your site is important. A key to any off-page campaign is getting your name and your associated products and services into the hands of people who will talk, share, and search.

Erica Tevis
Erica Tevis
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