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Off Page SEO Checklist – The Secret to Small Business Success

In this post, I’m going to talk about off page SEO and provide you with a complete off page SEO checklist. I like to think of this as the secret to small business success because lots of people are terrified of backlinking and there’s a ton of misinformation out there that makes it seem SO much more complicated than it really is.

Trust me, this post WILL NOT be overwhelming but it WILL BE actionable and the techniques are just simple ways for you to get more backlinks right now without spending 1 cent of your money.

For off page SEO, it’s not so much a checklist like with on page SEO because it’s more of an ongoing process once you publish your posts. But to find the small checklist to really clarify things, you can scroll to the bottom of this post.

Don’t forget to check out my other posts related to SEO for a complete package of SEO resources:

Off Page SEO Checklist - The Secret to Small Business Success

As you know, I’m a big believer in keeping things simple and never doing more than you absolutely need to. If I ever include things that are extraneous, I will clearly state that it’s extra and may help you do something faster but is by no means necessary.

So, as you may have already read, I published the on page SEO checklist a few weeks ago. I’m a little bit late in publishing this one so I apologize.

You can consider this your go to article that’s going to make off page SEO less overwhelming for you.

Overview of Off Page SEO – Backlinking Basics

First, I’m going to talk about all of the different things that constitute off Page SEO and then, as I mentioned earlier, I’m going to end off the article with a little to make it a little bit less overwhelming.

As you may already know, the whole point of off page SEO is to get backlinks or “link juice” to your website. There’s a lot of different ways to create backlinks since backlinks are literally just links from anywhere on the internet back to your website that Google can see.

Keep in mind that if Google can’t see the backlink, then it might as well not exist.

So anywhere on the internet can include Facebook, Pinterest, other blogs, other websites, forums, comments on websites, twitter, etc.

Off Page SEO Checklist - Backlinking Basics

More recently, Google has said that social media may be less valuable than other blogs and other websites because there’s so much volume being created on social media every day that Google cannot actually crawl every single post, tweet and pin. It will, however, crawl those that are the most popular and visible.

This goes back to the face that Google actually has to be able to see the backlink for it to matter in terms of your Google rankings.

That being said, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use social media to your advantage because although Google won’t necessarily crawl it, your visitors can still use those links to go to your website so that will increase visitors to your site via direct traffic, which Google will take into account if you have Google Analytics setup.

Definitely set this up as well as Google Webmaster if you haven’t already! You can use All in One SEO to make the process even simpler. Here’s a link to some training in my hosting and domain plaform that I love using:

Here’s a through review of this platform and it’s 100% free to sign up by the way. I generally find the training there clearer and less convoluted than stuff you find on Youtube but you can always just search it on there if you don’t want to create a profile.

I’ll also be publishing an article soon about a technique that uses social media to get you very good engagement and fast rankings. I’ve also already published some articles about how to build your social media very quickly and as I mentioned, if you’re a big account, you will get crawled.

So if you’re just starting your brand, you’re at the stage where you have probably less than 1k followers on your social media accounts. Don’t worry at all – you will build it up to the point where Google sees you if you follow my steps.

The Secret to Small Business Success following this off page SEO checklist

I will teach you how to build your accounts, get a ton of engagement on the right channels and do it fast. These articles will be published soon so stay tuned!

The Secret to Small Business Success:

Backlinks with Social Media

Now, let’s get into the nitty gritty details of off page SEO.

First thing that I want to talk to you about is in fact social media and which accounts on social media are actually important.

There are six main accounts that you want to set up for SEO.

Off Page SEO Checklist - Social Media Setup and Branding

I’ll be listing them below in the orders of importance for different aspects of your business. Think of 1 as the easiest network to excel in that category i.e. Instagram is the easiest platform to get really high engagement rates on your posts.

Engagement:

  1. Instagram
  2. Pinterest
  3. Twitter
  4. Facebook
  5. Google plus
  6. Tumblr

Traffic:

  1. Pinterest
  2. Google Plus
  3. Instagram
  4. Twitter
  5. Facebook
  6. Tumblr

SEO link juice:

  1. Google Plus
  2. Pinterest
  3. Tumblr
  4. Facebook
  5. Instagram
  6. Twitter

Ad Networks:

  1. Pinterest
  2. Google – expensive
  3. Facebook – I think they use fake likes, shares, leads etc.
  4. Twitter – don’t work
  5. Instagram – don’t work
  6. Tumblr – N/A

Those are the six main accounts that you always want to set up when you’re first starting a brand. There are some caveats here. You can’t just sit these up any which way you have to set them up properly.

You set them up properly by choosing usernames that are as close to and ideally equivalent to your brand name.

Let’s say your brand name is “Don’t Want A Boss.” You want to create all your accounts with the username or handle to be “dontwantaboss” so that it shows up in the URL of your account link.

Be careful because usernames and names are usually two different things. On Instagram, for instance, you have the place where you put your name but that’s not your handle (@dontwantaboss) or what’s in your URL.

Your name doesn’t matter as much although I suggest unless you have a specific face of your brand or figure head that you just use the name of your company like “Don’t Want A Boss.” An alternative option would be for me to use my own name there but that’s totally your choice which one you prefer.

What is crucial is that you get your brand name as your username/handle on all six accounts that you set up. The reason is because since the name is in your profile URL, Google will see that and associate it with your website as your account gets bigger, especially if you include that link in your Google Plus page (which I’ll talk about a bit later).

If you cannot get exactly the name of your brand, try and get at least the first part of the name of your brand or you can add some numbers or letters at the end of it.

Once you have set up your social media profiles, you also want to make sure that you have a logo you can use as the profile picture for all your accounts.

Overall, your brand needs to have two logos: a small logo and a bigger logo. The bigger logo should include the name of your brand whereas the smaller one can either be just symbolic or include letters.

Here’s our big logo:

Off Page SEO Checklist - Bigger Logo and Smaller Logo for Dont Want a Boss

As you can see, our small logo is champagne glasses and our big logo is the same thing with the name of the company. You can see the champagne glasses in the tab above on your browser. I use Canva for all logos and I highly recommend using it too. They have an app now so you can even play with designs on your phone when you’re waiting for something or bored at work.

Here’s our small logo:

Off Page SEO Checklist - Getting the Right Logo

You definitely want the same logo image for all your profile pictures across your social media but your cover photo can change if you feel like you want to get creative. Personally, I always try to keep it as consistent as possible because I want visitors to immediately recognize me but as long as your profile photo is the same you should be covered for that.

Your cover photo should be really high quality and captivating. You can have words on it if you want but you don’t need to as long as it’s obvious by your cover photo and your logo together which niche you’re in and what you’re brand is about.

If you don’t have access to a nice image or the capacity to pay for images, go on Pixabay.

I’ve started to find that Pixabay has a limited selection (you won’t have this problem unless you’ve been using it for a while) so I refer to my here’s an article where I talk much more about finding good images both for posts and that you can use for cover photos..

I would also encourage you to standardize your descriptions across all your accounts. I know the word counts are different but at least make them somewhat similar again so you retain that branding across your channels.

I know this article is mainly focused on SEO so I don’t want to go too far down the branding rabit hole so I will also be publishing a post on branding soon.

Although it sounds straight forward, I would honestly take a day to set all these up and then keep track of all your handles, names, images, passwords and descriptions in a spreadsheet. This will save you tons of time if you want to do some editing or take stock of what your account set up is like, especially if you have multiple brands.

I have setup spreadsheets of all my brands although I do track my passwords in Lastpass as I don’t like leaving all of them lying around in spreadsheets I generally keep on clouds like Dropbox.

Off Page SEO Checklist - Keep Track of your Social Media

Here’s one last tip about branding before I move on that you want to keep in mind with social media. I just mention it here because it has actually shown me a drastic improvement in terms of my user engagement, website visitors and conversions and thus SEO.

You want to make sure that you have your brand colors. Initially, with Don’t Want A Boss, for instance, I did everything in black, white and gold. I didn’t really have brand colors as I figured those tones were way classier and more luxurious. This was actually not a good idea.

Since those tones are so generic, visitors don’t associate them with my account. Rather, my account just seems generic – just another lifestyle brand, what else is new, right?

You need a group of colors that you will use throughout your logos, website, images, text coloring, etc. in order to brand yourself in the eyes of visitors with something other than just your name. Colors are very visual and thus put together with your logo, they really associate with your website and your look. When you think of Amazon or Google or Instagram, you can probably immediately tell me what their logo is and what their colors are.

Off Page SEO Checklist - Branding and Colors

Choose like 3-4 brand colors and include those everywhere. 

The way to track those colors is to copy paste the color codes into a word document or spreadsheet so you have them whenever you need to create something for your brand like maybe an infographic.

The next thing with social media is to make sure you’ve linked back to your main website URL on the profile of your social media account. Of course, as your website and social media grow, you may want to do specific promotions but as a default, you should have your website as the main link.

You can’t do this with Instagram but for all your other social media accounts, you want to make sure that you backlink to each article your write often. I used to say to backlink to it on one post right after you’ve published it but that’s not enough, you have to keep backlinking to it using different images and text in different posts overtime as you’re updating your website. I actually wrote a specific SEO targeted keyword strategy that talks more about this.

With Instagram, you can only do this once you’re at 10k followers and you can post stories and then include URLs for each of your stories if your followers want to swipe up.

I know this can be a lot sometimes to think of after you publish a post, but you can also use Zapier to automate a bunch of the steps for you by pulling information off either the first social media account that you post to or directly off the RSS feed of your website.

Note that there is a special way to post on Google Plus. If you put your title in asterics as shown here, it will appear bolded:

Off Page SEO Checklist - Posting on Google plus

And you can see it here once it’s published:

Off Page SEO Checklist - Posting on Google Plus the Right Way

 

Again, the reason you want your main URL to be your website and to keep backlinking from your social media is that eventually Google will get the memo that all those accounts are linked and then as your social media improves in search presence, so will your website.

Now I will tell you another trick that very few people know about.

The reason why Google Plus is so important to set up besides the fact that it’s by far the best in terms of link juice when you backlink to your posts is because of the account setup.

For brick and mortar stores, also MAKE SURE you use Google Business and get all of that setup because that does wonders for your local SEO and makes sure that you’re appearing on Maps, etc.

Personally, I don’t do that because I’m worldwide with all my brands but for those of you that are working with a physical location, it’s definitely something you should do. For everyone else, you need to set up a Google Brand Page and get the Google Plus profile on that page setup.

That’s what I meant by Google Plus above. In order to do this, you will need your own Google account to start with but this won’t be publicly associated with your brand page. It’s like having a Facebook Page, which is also one of the big 6.

When you set up your Google Plus Brand Page, you want to see your account information. There, it will give you a bunch of different options to add things to your profile that are either public or private.

What you want to do is:

  1. Your business email and if you don’t already have one, please create a business email with the domain of your website
  2. Your website URL
  3. The URLs to the profile page of all your other social media accounts

Off Page SEO Checklist - Setting up your google plus brand page

Don’t mind my links to yourbizassistant here, I just integrate those two brands so I want them to be integrated in Google’s eyes as well – for you, they should all be for your 1 brand. 

This works like a short cut to get Google to notice what all this stuff is online that’s associated with your brand. I guarantee you this will jump start your rankings.

The Secret to Small Business Success:

Backlinks with Blogs and Other Websites

The second thing is other blogs and other websites online.

Other ranked blogs and websites online are great places to have backlinks from because if they are getting ranked, then Google is crawling them regularly and it will see your backlinks.

The question is how do you get your backlinks onto these sites in an efficient manner. First, I just want to put out there that you do not want to pay for bundles of links or software services online for SEO purposes. This type of linking is generally very bad for your SEO and your website will get punished for it by Google.

On Page SEO Checklist Item 1: Guest Posting

There’s a few ways of getting legitimate backlinks. One is via guests posting but let me warn you that this is the longest way albeit still efficient because the backlinks can be very useful if you get posts on high authority website.

You also can create really good relationships with other blogs this way. I do know a lot of people don’t do this though because it is so time consuming and sometimes it can be hard to keep up with good content on your own website, let alone other websites as well.

I would strongly encourage you to try guest posting at least once or twice before you decide either way. Sometimes its just the idea of it that people don’t like and then when you actually do it a few times you realize it’s not that bad and it really boosts your rankings.

You also really want to create those good relationships with other blogs out there in your niche because that creates opportunities like backlink exchange, list advertising via email, etc.

Off Page SEO Checklist - Forming Business Relationships for Guest Posting

What I would suggest for this method is you reach out to like 10 to 20 authority blogs in your niche and try and choose them so they’re not doing exactly what you’re doing. Sometimes if you’re too close together in terms of your target audience and brand mission, your direct competitors and it’s unlikely that they’ll want to help you.

Try to make sure they aren’t ranked in the very top of Google either for high competition keywords because you’re unlikely to get a response from those blogs. You want blogs that have someone visible who runs them with a nice About Me or About Us page and an email that you can easily contact.

Your email:

Hey _______,

My name is Martina. I just came across your blog where I notice that you talk about the current status of cryptocurrency and where you think the market is going and I love it!

I do some writing about crypto myself on my website dontwantaboss.com, especially in terms of Alt Coins. I would love to write a “top 10 alt coins to invest in” guest post for your blog? Also, since I’m just starting out, it would mean a lot if I could include some backlinks if you wouldn’t mind?

Sincerely,

Martina

Send out your message, wait a few days and hopefully you hear back. Be prepared not to a fair bit of the time though because some blogs may be older or the owners may just not be interested. That’s why you want to send out 10-20 of these.

If they say okay, they’ll usually tell you their requirements for guests posting. These usually include: no vulgar language, make sure it’s relevant, a list of acceptable topics, no link stuffing, minimum or maximum word counts, etc.

Again, try and form a long-term relationship with like six or seven of those blogs so you can post a few guest posts a month or something.

A side note is that if you get good at this, you can also add a page on your site offering your guest posting services for a fee and then start charging websites in your niche for your writing! Pretty cool, right?

Try to link back to more than one article in each guest post because that kind of shortcuts the process because backlinking for each article is just too much. If you’re consistent, soon you’ll start having multiple posts linking back to the same post. Also if people start commenting, sharing and referencing your work, other people will start building link juice for you and your rankings will improve exponentially.

On Page SEO Checklist Item 2: Legitamate Commenting

Method number two of getting legitimate links off social media involves putting the links in the comments.

There are a few ways you can do this. One way is to research blogs online through Google and the second way is to create an alert via Google Alerts to articles published related to certain keywords.

Once you have the relevant article, you want to comment on the article with backlinks to relevant posts on your website. This has to be done strategically though. You can’t just post anything. You have to be sincere, post something that shows you’ve read the article and include your link in a helpful, rather than spammy way. Also, a lot of websites won’t have comments sections which can be super annoying.

This method is a lot easier and more straight forward than the guest posting method. It is tedious but you can end up getting a lot more done in the same amount of time because you aren’t worrying about reaching out to people, hearing back and writing useful content all the time.

The one thing with this method is that you have to count on some of your comments getting rejected. Don’t get discouraged by this because it happens to everyone. It’s much less likely if you really personalize your comments though because blog owners want really good comments added to their posts that add value. That actually improves their rankings!

Off Page SEO Checklist - Valuable Commenting with Backlinks

Also I’ve heard from some that they’re afraid that the blog owners will get annoyed and think that they’re being spammed but this is not true as long as your comments aren’t spammy.

As I mentioned above, you can use Google Alerts to find these articles to comment on. This is a short cut compared to researching via Google because you’ll get an email with all relevant articles published recently (week, day, month, etc.) relevant to the keyword you’ve entered.

So if you set this up, you can send alerts for instance once a week to your email address from Google whenever new posts in a certain niche are written rather than you having to find them.

This is also a plus because you get recent posts that aren’t necessarily ranking yet so you might miss them if you just look on Google.

Getting comments on authority sites before the articles are ranked are great because you get all the initial crawling and you’ll be there when more and more start to see the comment so you might even get some direct traffic depending on how informative or valuable your comment is.

On Page SEO Checklist Item 3: Diversified Link Swapping

The third method of getting legitimate backlinks that I already alluded to above is link swapping. All you do is swap links posted on each other’s websites with blogs that you have a good relationship with. You can also cold email blogs but it’s a lot easier if you already have a relationship with blogs so don’t just ask for this once. Keep in contact and follow up so that you can have an ongoing arrangement with other blogs.

If you are cold emailing them, start by offering them a backlink on your website for something that would be relevant if they do the same for you. You could even offer 2-3 if they do 2-3.

If you develop a good long term relationships with like five or six other blogs, then you can all lift each other up in terms of rankings this way with continuous backlink swapping.

Make sure you vary the anchor text with this method otherwise Google will become suspicious so just try and integrate it naturally, don’t necessarily target keywords – at least not for this strategy.

On Page SEO Checklist Item 4: Forums (Optional)

The last method is posting in forums.

I don’t particularly like this method because I find that forums are very hit and miss in terms of the comments you’ll get back and may create some negative presence if your comments are in any way shape or form controversial or not agreed with. Fruthermore, you usually have to make accounts to post on forums and it’s really just a hassle.

I would only recommend this if you regularly post on forums in your niche now and you’re super comfortable with them.

So those are the main four methods for getting links from blogs and websites, there is one thing.

Side Note – My Take on PBNs

The third thing I want to talk about is private blog networks. Personally, I think these are so much work to do on your own and you have to be so careful so I don’t really trust anyone else to do it for me unless I trained them myself which I’ve never had time to do.

That’s why I don’t recommend them, especially to anyone who is just starting out. It’s not necessary to do it, it’s stressful and it’s a TON of work.

If you are interested in them, you can send me an email and we can talk more but generally, my stance is to steer clear.

Off Page SEO Checklist - Thinking about PBNs

Your Personal Off Page SEO Checklist

As a recap, your primary focus for backlinking should be the following strategies:

  • Setting up your social media to boost your SEO and provide a platform for ongoing backlinking
  • Getting non-social media backlinks:
    • 1: Get links through guest posting and/or
    • 2: Get links through comments and/or
    • 3: Get links through link swaps and/or
    • 4: Get links through forums (optional)

Think of these as your bread and butter. Anything more complicated that you really want to do has to be in addition to this rather than instead of this.

Keep in mind that you ONLY NEED TO DO THIS.

So I don’t want to hear any more about stress for On Page SEO 🙂

If you have any questions or concerns about the methods outlined above, please don’t hesitate to email me or comment below!

Don’t forget to check out my other posts related to SEO for a complete package of SEO resources: 

 

Martina

10 Comments

  1. hi, thanks for post. I’ve recently started a website myself and i’m on a steep seo learning curve. I’m quite a proficient writer and I see you mentioned guest blogging in your article. Could you tell me how I would find the top, most popular blogs in m y industry. Thanks in advance.

  2. Great article about backlinking and off page SEO. I really liked your idea about the guest posts.

    While I am not a fan of backlinks, I understand their importance. I just prefer to focus on other parts of my site.

    However, when you are active on social media, forums, and Q&A sites, there are many SEO benefits. I have tested different platforms before.

    In my opinion, everything must look natural. This is what Google wants. I do not be active on social media to get backlinks but to connect with people in my niche.

    When you connect with people, you get more traffic, backlinks from other blogs and better rankings.

    • Hey Illias, 

      I definitely agree that backlinks are the most annoying part of your site. I also think that once your site is big enough with enough quality content, you don’t need to do them yourself “on purpose” but for a site that’s just starting out, they are important. 

      I personally also don’t like forums and such as I mentioned. My favourite way to get links is to comment on other blogs in my niche because – as you said – it helps to connect with the owners and also you learn a ton of stuff when you read all the best posts on your niche

  3. Hey i really enjoyed this article, i am getting better with my traffic by using PPC campaigns and ive been getting referrals. I know how important social media is and i keep trying to grow my accounts. I did mess up with my handle names though but im dealing with it. I also made me my logo off of canva as well, im wanting to keep going and hopefully keep using PPC campaigns as long as they start bringing in revenue.

    • Hey Justin, 

      Oh wow that’s pretty cool! Personally I do not use PPC for my blogs so I would love to know how that’s working out for you. I’ve always found that I don’t even break even with them so I’ve abandoned the concept at least for now! 

  4. Hey Martina:

    There is such a wealth of information in this post that I am bookmarking it for further study. I do appreciate your checklist and all of the actionable steps you’ve included in this post.

    The checklist is invaluable because it’s something you can incorporate into all of the other things you have to do to get your posts up and running so each one is more effective.

    Thank you!

    • Hey Netta! 

      Glad you like it – I agree. I love checklists because I like thinking as little as possible so I have more energy when I actually do need to use my brain to solve something and when you have a checklist, you just do each item in order and move on till you’re done – no thinking involved haha 🙂 

  5. Hi Martina!
    I am new to affiliate marketing, and I never find clear information about off page SEO. Your post is very clear. Thank you very much for that!. Personally, at the stage that I am with my site, I don’t feel comfortable guest posting in other blogs related to my niche so I will following the other 3 recommendations.
    I will be checking your site and this post more often!
    Keep the good work!

    • Hey Ben, 

      Yes I find most people tend to overcomplicate things a lot – and there’s also a ton of misinformation about SEO as well. It can be infuriating for marketers at any stage who want to learn. The key is just to keep it simple and do what makes sense over and over again. Before you know it, you’ll be a pro! 

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