Tag Archive for: seo strategy

building a growth marketing strategy for a business on a computer

Little-Known Ways to Leverage SEMrush

At Tuff, we use SEMrush every day. If you aren’t familiar with SEMrush, it is a powerful tool to conduct marketing research. 

You can run technical SEO audits, keyword research, competitive analysis, and much more. 

With SEMrush, you get a lot of data at your fingertips. However, the challenge with comprehensive tools like SEMrush is figuring out how to use them effectively. 

How can you leverage SEMrush to get better marketing results? Sit tight, and read on. 

  1. Identify your search competitors.
  2. Compare your competitors’ traffic (and where it comes from). 
  3. See how much competitors spend on paid traffic.
  4. Prioritize keyword opportunities with the Keyword Gap Tool and filters.
  5. Outline content with the SEO Content Template. 
  6. Track keyword movement.
  7. View your share of search. 
  8. Get SEO ideas from the On-Page SEO Checker.

1. Identify your search competitors.

Each company has market competitors and search competitors. Market competitors are the companies you directly compete with–you have similar target audiences and products. Some examples of market competitors are: 

  • Samsung and Apple 
  • Peloton and NordicTrack
  • Nike and Adidas
  • McDonald’s and Burger King

Search competitors, also known as organic competitors, are the sites that show up in search results for the same queries or keywords that you are targeting. 

For instance, if you are a company selling indoor house plants online, you might be trying to rank for queries like “indoor succulents”. When you search “indoor succulents”, you will be competing against blogs about plant care as well as direct competitors. 

Sometimes the two buckets overlap, but not always. When we do a competitive analysis, we look at both. 

Here’s how to find your search competitors in SEMrush: 

  • Go to Organic Research, add your site, and search by Root Domain. 
  • Click on the Competitor tab inside organic research to see your results. 

You’ll see a graph called “competitive positioning map”. This shows your top five search competitors based on your current content rankings. You can also see a full list of organic competitors. Note that your market competitors might also be search competitors, but again, not always. 

For fun, let’s see what a competitive positioning map looks like if we use Webflow as an example. 

looking at competitors in semrush

As a website builder, Webflow has a lot of market competitors like WordPress, Shopify, and Squarespace, but currently, Wix is their biggest search competitor. 

Once you have a clear picture of who you are competing with, you can learn how to beat them–with a little help from SEMrush. 

2. Compare your competitors’ traffic (and where it comes from). 

The amount of competitive data that you can pull from SEMrush goes beyond just identifying competitors. In fact, you can learn exactly what marketing strategies competitors use to get traffic within SEMrush. 

Take your top competitors–these can be a combination of search and market competitors–and compare them. 

Here’s how:

  1. Go to SEMrush’s Domain Overview and enter your site domain. 
  2. Click on Compare Domains and add up to four competitors. 
  3. Hit compare.

Let’s take the house plants example that we used earlier. If we use The Sill as an example,  SEMrush will generate a competitive report that looks like this: 

reviewing search competitors in semrush

There’s a lot in this table, but for our purposes, we’re going to look at these columns: 

  • Organic traffic – how much traffic comes from organic search monthly
  • Organic keywords – how many keywords a site ranks for 
  • Paid traffic – the average monthly spend on paid traffic 

As you can see, The Sill is beating Bloomscape and Urbanstems at organic search. Over 1.3 million in traffic each month comes from organic search alone. 

If you look at the non-branded/branded section, you can also get a sense of where that traffic is coming from. 

With this, you can view the percent of non-branded and branded traffic. If a company has significantly more branded traffic than non-branded, it usually signals that most of their organic traffic is direct, meaning it comes from people that already knew the company. They likely don’t have a strong SEO content strategy yet.

3. See how much competitors spend on paid traffic. 

As a holistic growth marketing agency, we know that some of the best and most sustainable results happen when paid and organic marketing efforts work together. 

If a company only focuses on paid traffic, it could end up spending a lot on short-term wins and miss out on the long-term growth opportunities from SEO. Knowing how much your competitors spend on paid can help you determine your own ad budgets, but it can also tell you why competitors are beating you. 

For example, Urbanstems has a large ad budget ($460K+ according to SEMrush), but lower organic traffic than The Sill. On the other hand, the majority of The Sill’s traffic is from organic search, and they are able to have lower ad costs in comparison ($35K). 

4. Prioritize keyword opportunities with the Keyword Gap Tool and filters. 

There are many ways to conduct keyword research. One way to get started is to learn from your competitors. 

The idea isn’t that you should copy your competitors. Rather, by knowing what keywords your competitors rank for, you can identify your strengths and weaknesses. This will help you to identify growth opportunities for keywords and content. 

Here’s how: 

  • Go to the Keyword Gap tool. 
  • Enter your domain and your top competitor. You can technically enter up to four competitors, but we recommend one at a time.

You’ll see a report like this one. 

how to use semrush to find keyword opportunities

As you can see, there are thousands of keyword results. If you’re just starting out, it can be hard to identify which opportunities you should prioritize first. 

Here’s an insider tip for using SEMrush: filters are your friend. These are some of my favorite filters to use to help prioritize keyword research: 

  • Position – Go to the position filter dropdown and competitor domain. Then, depending on the number of results you have, filter by top 10 or top 20. 

This tells you that you or your competitors rank in the top 10 or 20 search results. These are usually the most relevant terms for your business, and the top traffic drivers.

  • KD – In the SEO world, we look for keywords that hit the sweet spot of high search volume and low difficulty to rank (keyword difficulty or KD). Most companies will want to stay below 70 keyword difficulty. 

To filter this, go to the KD and set a custom range between 0 to 70. 

  • Intent – Great SEO content has the potential to also lead to conversions. The key is figuring out which queries are high-intent. 

High-intent keywords are my personal favorite because when someone searches for them, it is a strong indicator that they are looking to buy. If you can rank for high intent keywords, you could bring in more organic conversions

To filter in SEMrush, go to Intent and choose commercial.

Now, with the Keyword Gap and some filtering, you’ll have a solid list of keywords that you can prioritize even further based on relevancy for your business. 

5. Outline content with the SEO Content Template. 

Once you have identified a target keyword for a piece of content, then drop it into the SEO Content Template. Choose the country, region, or city that you are targeting, and hit create SEO Template. 

This tool helps you structure SEO content so that it performs better. For example, a fintech company might be trying to rank for a keyword like “best starter credit card“. When you put the keyword into the SEO Content Template, it will generate a template like this one. 

SEMrush seo content template

We can use this to start a SEO outline, but we don’t want everything here. These are the most important sections to get you started: 

  • Semantically related keywords – Copy and paste the semantically related keywords. These are the words that the top-ranking results use when talking about “best starter credit card”.

Your target keyword is the priority, but try incorporating these words throughout your content at least once to outrank the existing search competitors.

  • Text length – This indicates about how many words you will need to write. For this one, the suggested word count is over 4,000, which is pretty lengthy. With a length like that, this post is likely going to be pillar content.  
  • Competitors – To beat your search competitors, the quality of the content you create has to be greater than their content. Inside the SEO Content Template, you can see the top organic results and how they use your keyword to structure content.

6. Track keyword movement.

SEMrush also makes it easier to track your keyword movement with the Position Tracking tool, but there’s much more to it than that. 

To use position tracking, you first must set up a Project in SEMrush. You can do this by going to Projects, clicking the Create Project button, and entering your website details. 

Now, you can go to the position tracking tool. Here’s how: 

  • Select your project, and hit set up. 
  • Set your targeting parameters. You can set the search engine, device, location, and language.
  • Add your keywords. You can copy and paste them in or import a file of your target keywords list. 
  • Click Start Tracking and SEMrush will gather the data. 

SEMrush’s position tracking is powerful because you can track: 

  • Visibility – This score shows the percent of visibility, or what percent of your keywords appear in the top 100 results in Google. 
  • Positive and negative movement – See what positions you have gained and which you’ve lost by looking at positive and negative impact. Your wins will be in green up arrows and losses are red down arrows. 

Maintaining a top position once you’ve moved up in search results can be a challenge. Position tracking gives you real-time keyword monitoring, so you can identify a drop in position and refresh content when you need to. 

7. View your share of search. 

There are many ways that you can view competitors inside Position Tracking. If you have a business plan, you can track your share of voice, also called share of search.

Share of voice measures brand awareness by comparing how many mentions your brand has in a channel compared to your industry competitors. It usually is used for branded terms, but SEMrush can measure it by all keywords in search, non-branded and branded.

The Share of Voice feature counts the ratio of organic traffic that all of your keywords get from search. Then, it compares that to your organic competitors’ share of search inside a line graph. 

With it, you get a clear picture of the competitive landscape. You can see which brands are dominating organic search, and how you stack up against them. 

8. Get SEO ideas from the On-Page SEO Checker.

Last but not least, if you are still searching for opportunities to improve your SEO, SEMrush’s On Page SEO Checker can help. 

It compiles many different on-page SEO elements from title tags and meta descriptions to readability and even some technical SEO and off-page SEO items like backlinks into one dashboard. 

Here’s what it looks like in SEMrush. 

on page SEO checker in semrush

It breaks the information down into individual landing pages, so you can click on the ideas and see exact recommendations for content, backlinks, technical SEO, and user experience. 

However, to view user experience ideas, you have to connect SEMrush to Google Analytics. 

Like any tool, SEMrush can be used to make smarter decisions but it can’t implement the suggested fixes. It can also take some time to learn how to best leverage SEMrush to level up your SEO strategy. These tips can help you get started. 

A person reviewing data on google search console

How to Increase Your Organic Traffic by 117% in 90 Days: The Inside Story of Salam’s SEO Strategy

A person reviewing data on google search console

When it comes to driving traffic and revenue from organic search, it’s typically a long-term solution and not a quick fix. Organic traffic, in general, is high-quality, intent-driven with higher conversion rates than direct or paid, making it incredibly valuable to almost any acquisition strategy. It’s why, even though it can take longer than a Facebook campaign or YouTube ad, as a growth marketing agency, we almost always recommend it as a core growth tactic.  

In October of 2021, Salams reached out to Tuff, asking our team to run a quick SEO audit and see what the organic growth potential was like for their market. Salams is an online dating app for Muslims that dominates the US market and is growing in the UK and other countries. Their growth, to date, has primarily relied on mobile install campaigns, meaning their website had very little content and their SEO strategy had never been a focal point for growth. 

After working on an organic acquisition strategy with Salams in November and then implementing SEO tactics in December and January, the results were staggering and immediate. Here’s the data from the last three months compared to the previous three months: 

  • Impressions are up 130% 
  • Organic traffic is up 117%

google search console results

And when it comes to keyword movement, here’s what we are looking at today: 

  • From #12 to #1 for Muslim dating (Our #1 target keyword)
  • NEW: Ranking #2 for Muslim man
  • From #68 to #1 for Muslim dating rules
  • NEW: Ranking #2 for walima
  • NEW: Ranking #1 for dating a Muslim girl
  • NEW: Ranking #1 for dating a Muslim man
  • From #20 to #4 for Muslim dating site
  • From #35 to #1 for dating a Muslim
  • NEW: Ranking #1 for Islam dating rules
  • NEW: Ranking #1 for dating a Muslim guy
  • NEW: Ranking #3 for what is Nikah

In this blog post, we’re going to outline the steps we took to get these results and explain how you can replicate this strategy. While your results will vary depending on the competition, search volume, your existing traction, and the search landscape, there are elements of this process that can be applied to drive organic traffic and revenue for almost any business. 

  1. Start with foundational research and let this inform your strategy 
  2. Fix any and all technical SEO issues 
  3. Identify your list of focus keywords in a spreadsheet 
  4. Leverage on-page SEO to optimize all current pages for target keywords
  5. Use your focus keywords to build an SEO content plan that includes blog posts, landing pages, programmatic efforts, and onsite remediation 
  6. Publish new content that maps back to your focus keywords 
  7. Ensure all SEO updates are amplified with strong UX 

Foundational Research 

First things first, you have to know where you are starting from and what the search landscape is for your market. This will help you set realistic organic growth projections, as well as outline the right strategy to get there. 

For Salams, we wanted to answer two questions with our foundational research: 

  • Are people searching for a Muslim dating app? 
  • If so, how do we make sure Salams shows up when they are searching so we can capture that demand and grow our organic traffic and revenue? 

In order to understand the answer to the above, we conducted initial foundational research in three ways: 

  • We ran a technical SEO audit using SEMRush (What’s the foundation like now?) 
  • We audited the primary search competitors (Who is the big player and can we compete?) 
  • We reviewed Salam’s existing rankings and current performance (Where are we starting from and how far do we need to go?) 

The combination of the information and data above, helped us identify where the biggest opportunities were, how competitive the space was going to be, and what realistic organic traffic and revenue predictions could look like for Salams. If you’re going to invest time and resources into something, you want to know how it might impact your growth so you can prioritize it accordingly. 

Technical SEO Fixes 

When we ran our SEO audit, the Salams site had the issues and warnings found below, with an overall site health ranking of 75%. 

Errors

  • 52 issues with duplicate title tags
  • 8 pages had duplicate content issues
  • 2 pages had duplicate meta descriptions
  • 1 pages returned a 4XX status code

Warnings

  • 63 pages had no hreflang and lang attributes
  • 63 issues with unminified JavaScript and CSS files
  • 59 pages didn’t have meta descriptions
  • 56 pages didn’t have enough text within the title tags
  • 53 external links were broken
  • 17 pages had low text-HTML ratio
  • 15 pages had a low word count
  • 5 links on HTTPS pages led to HTTP page
  • 5 pages didn’t have an h1 heading

technical seo audit in SEMrush

Technical SEO is often the “tiebreaker” for sites aiming for Google’s first page so the first thing we did in October was fix as many of these 63 errors as possible. Implementing technical SEO basics is essential if you want to ensure that your web pages are structured for both humans and crawlers – and is something you need to fix before producing more content. 

Focus Keyword List 

Once the technical SEO audit was done and the issues were fixed (site health increased to 96%), we built a focus keyword list –  these were terms we wanted to rank for because they were relevant to Salams and would bring us more quality organic traffic. For Salams, we identified 15 focus keywords using the below criteria: 

  • Does it get enough search volume while still being relevant and intent-driven? You don’t want to pick a search term that only gets 10 searches a month because the volume isn’t large enough to have an impact. You also don’t want to pick a search term with a million searches a month either, because it’s likely so generic that even if you could rank for it, you’d get a bunch of low-quality traffic. For Salams, the average search volume for our keyword list was 1,238 search per month per term. 
  • What’s the competition like? We reviewed the competition on each search term we were evaluating. We wanted to know how likely we could rank for that term if we focused on it for 1-3 months. You should know, the more competition, the harder it is going to be – but it’s likely competitive because it’s a lucrative term. For Salams, we wanted a mix. We wanted search terms that we had an actual chance of ranking for that were also relevant to the business. 
  • Is it relevant for the audience? There is no point in ranking for a search term your audience isn’t actively searching for. 
  • Are there any pages that are currently ranking for that search term? This helped us understand if we could gain traction more quickly for terms that we were already ranking for but just weren’t on page one yet. We wanted to know where we stood and if there were any we could give a quick “boost” to. We wanted to move from page 2 to page 1 in a shorter amount of time than it would have taken to get something that wasn’t ranking at all yet, to rank. For example, Salams was ranking on page two already for “Muslim dating” — a key search term. We knew that if we focused on this term initially, it would be easier to get it on page one than a term that wasn’t ranking at all. 

On-page SEO

After analyzing the existing content on Salams’ website, we built a keyword mapping spreadsheet to tie every single page to a target keyword and sift out pages that should be removed from SERPs. 

Salams had several pages indexed in Google that didn’t provide an optimal user experience for organic visitors if they landed on that page.  A few of these pages were their Privacy Policy and T&C pages as well as their blog category pages. You should understand that Google considers a blog category page a SERP and a poor user experience so it’s best to no-index those pages. 

After no-indexing several pages, we mapped every landing page and blog post to a target keyword and then optimized the SEO title and meta description to perform for that target keyword. 

We also noticed that Salams broke up a few of their blog posts into multiple and different URLs. We combined them into more lengthy blog posts to give us a better chance of ranking.  

SEO Content Plan 

Using our focus keyword list, we put together a comprehensive SEO content strategy. Too often, companies produce content (and a lot of it) but never see any significant traction because their strategy doesn’t map back to a list of focus keywords.  When you have a focus keyword list, you can cluster your content and keep it focused on ranking for a select set of terms, increasing your chances of ranking more quickly. 

For this SEO Content plan, we had three core components: 

  • Programmatic pages: These were local-specific pages we could replicate at scale for very specific keywords like “Muslim dating Chicago” or “Muslim dating Houston”. We published 18 different pages on Webflow in the first 30 days and anchored each one to the footer. 
  • Glossary/terms pages: We created landing pages with rich content that focused exclusively on a focus keyword and topic. These were more in-depth than a blog post and typically 2x the length. 

SEO + UX 

SEO design example

In addition to writing new SEO content and optimizing existing pages and content, SEO design played a big role in helping us achieve our results and actually execute on the strategy. For this partnership, we tapped the Tuff creative team to help us mockup and execute SEO landing pages, footer optimizations, and category pages. When doing this for your own company, it’s important to remember that not only do you need copy that is relevant, high-quality, and focused on a select group of keywords, but you also need the user experience to deliver. 

Here are some examples of how we took SEO content and then leveraged strong UX design for the actual implementation: 

We have to admit that there was a time when we thought SEO was all about keywords and link building. Even though these are core components to any organic strategy, SEO goes far beyond them and definitely includes User Experience. It’s now very common for our SEO and Design teams to work closely together to make the site website architecture more streamlined and to elevate the overall user experience with design. 

Disclaimer: 

These results happened FAST – this isn’t often the case with organic acquisition. 

While we’re proud of Salams’ results and the contribution organic traffic is now having in the overall traffic mix, I can’t say the timeline is typical or repeatable for more websites. Organic acquisition is a long-term, compounding solution (6-9 months), not a quick fix. Salams had a trusted brand and a strong reputation. Even though they weren’t optimizing the website or prioritizing organic growth before engaging Tuff, they had a credible brand that Google (and people!) trusted. This existing reputation was definitely a factor that allowed these results to surface so quickly. 

Whether it takes a few months or a full year, you’ll find the Tuff team invested in organic growth for almost all our partners. It’s a true game-changer when it comes together and drives real revenue growth for businesses at nearly any stage. 

using google search console to measure impressions

How Do You Evaluate the Efficacy of Your SEO Efforts?

using google search console to measure impressions

As a growth marketing agency, we spend a lot of time thinking about how to increase traffic volume to a website, product, or app for our clients. Because acquisition is 50% of the growth model, right? So, we ask ourselves on the daily: how do you get the right message to the right audience at the right time? The golden ticket to growth is to nail this and then convince that traffic to take it a step further and complete an action on your website. Acquisition + conversion = 🚀. 

With that in mind, if you jump into Google Analytics right now and take a peek at the data of any of our 30 clients, you’re going to see traffic coming from these five core traffic sources: 

  • Paid 
  • Organic 
  • Direct 
  • Email 
  • Referral 

While they all play a critical role in acquisition, organic traffic is often the second largest (if not largest) traffic driver for companies in established industries. It also happens to be my personal favorite. Organic traffic is the hardest to grow, but it’s typically the highest quality. 

Take a step back and it all makes sense. If someone has a problem or need, they’ll oftentimes take their query to Google. If they naturally find your website and you give them valuable information, they’ll trust you. Here’s an example from the Tuff blog—this is a lead that came through our form fill earlier this month after finding this blog post about the differences between performance and growth marketing

question about SEO performance

At Tuff, to help drive organic traffic and results, we’ve broken down the core components of what it takes to make a SEO strategy and built a team around them. Including: 

  • SEO Growth Strategist
  • Technical SEO Expert 
  • Content SEO Specialist
  • SEO Writers 

In short, this high-level combination is truly the only way to get serious results when it comes to your search ranking. But it’s not just about the components and the people tasked with executing it. We also get extremely specific and clear as a team when measuring the success and impact of the SEO strategy we implement. Here’s how we measure success: 

  1. Traffic 
  2. Traffic Quality 
  3. Keyword Movement
  4. Revenue 

In this post, I’m going to take a closer look at the four organic growth metrics we use to answer: “How do you evaluate the efficacy of your SEO efforts?” 

Traffic 

The first metric is easy. Is your organic traffic increasing or decreasing? 

If you’re a newer startup or company, finding initial traction with organic traffic is going to take some time. For our clients, we typically start seeing results after about 3 to 6 months of consistently posting SEO content. It’s super important to monitor organic traffic growth because it helps you understand the role that organic traffic is playing in your overall traffic mix. 

To measure organic traffic growth, we use both Google Search Console and Google Analytics

Google Search Console helps us understand impressions and the search terms our clients are showing up for. And if it’s increasing: 

google search console results

We can also look at Google Analytics to see how this is trending MoM or YoY: 

Organic Traffic results in Google Analytics

If we are putting time and resources into SEO, we want this number to go up. 

Traffic Quality 

If organic traffic is increasing, you need to ask: Is it high quality? 

It’s one thing to increase organic traffic but if the new visitors to your site aren’t sticking around or taking a desired action, it’s just traffic for traffic’s sake. 

So, we like to look at three core quality traffic metrics using Google Analytics: 

  • Time on Site: Average time on site is how long a user spent on your site in total. It’s the total time of all sessions divided by your number of sessions. According to Klipfolio, the Average Time on Page across industries is 52 seconds, with B2B leading with 82 seconds, based on 20 billion user sessions.
  • Bounce Rate: A ‘bounce’ (often called a single-page session) happens when a user lands on a website page and exits without triggering another request to the Google Analytics server. This article has industry benchmarks as well as bounce rate benchmarks by source for 2021. 
  • Pages Per Session: The average number of website pages visited during a session. Seeing a greater number of pages per session typically means that users are more engaged with your website and the traffic quality is high. 

Organic Traffic Quality

In Google Analytics, we’ll filter the view to only show organic traffic (60-second video here on how to do this) and compare these quality metrics to the rest of the site. 

If the traffic is high quality, great, go get more of it. If the quality is low, dig into the pages your organic traffic is coming from and how they found your site. More often than not, when this happens, it means you are ranking for search terms that aren’t super related to your business. 

For example, if our website ‘Tuff’ ranked highly for ‘Tuff Shed’ we might be getting a bunch of traffic from people looking for sheds. We might see that organic traffic is increasing MoM but that the bounce rate is 95% and the time on site is less than 3 seconds. We don’t want this type of traffic to our website because it’s useless to us. 

Keyword Movement 

So far, the traffic increase and traffic quality are metrics we track for all sources. Keyword movement though, is specific to our SEO efforts. 

When working on an SEO Content Strategy, here’s how we tackle it: 

  1. Research the audience 
  2. Do a search competitor analysis 
  3. Identify a list of 10-15 focus keywords 
  4. Select the type of SEO content — blog posts, landing pages, long-form, etc 
  5. Write SEO outlines 
  6. Assign deadlines and build a calendar 
  7. Write content 
  8. Publish with all the right SEO components and links 

With step 3, we hone in and identify the list of target keywords we want to see traffic from. Here’s an example of a list for one of the Tuff clients: 

focus keyword list in spreadsheet

You might already be ranking for some of the keywords in your list (always a pleasant surprise!) and you are just trying to improve positions. For others, you might not be ranking at all and you’re slowly trying to make it to page one. 

For us, it’s incredibly important to track keyword movement (did it go up or down in rankings) for our keyword list because it helps us understand if we’re making any progress. The SEO content we produce will focus almost exclusively on ranking for those search terms so tracking movement on those terms is an easy way of knowing if what you set out to do is actually working. 

For this, we use SEMRush and set up a dashboard like the one below for each client that includes our focus keyword list. 

keyword list in SEMRush

Revenue 

Last but not least, is it having an impact on revenue? Whether your business plays in the B2B, Tech, SaaS, DTC, or eCommerce spaces, you want to know if the hours of work you are putting into technical SEO and SEO content is having real, measurable business impact. 

For eCommerce, it’s easy to pull organic revenue directly from Google Analytics: 

eCommerce revenue organic

For other industries, and for more granular information, you’ll need to rely more on your CRM or Customer Analytics platforms. In a perfect world, the software and attribution all work together nicely. In reality, that almost never happens. More often than not, we’re pulling spreadsheets from Google Analytics and a CRM and merging the data manually to get a clear idea on return. While this is sometimes the trickiest organic metric to track, it’s ultimately the most important! 

Tools & Tracking Resources 

The tools we use to track these metrics include Google Analytics, Google Search Console, SEMRush, and various Customer Analytics platforms (Amplitude, Mixpanel, Hubspot, Salesforce). 

  • Traffic = Google Search Console
  • Traffic Quality = Google Analytics
  • Keyword Movement = SEMRush
  • Revenue = Customer Analytics / CRM 

The thing about organic traffic though (we’ve said it once and we’ll say it again and again) is that it’s going to take some time to see traction. When you do, though, the results will be compounding and rewarding, but you’ve got to work your way there. It takes time. It’s worth it, but you’re in it for the long haul. 

One way to help stay motivated? Know exactly how to track the effectiveness of your efforts by using traffic, traffic quality, keyword movement, and revenue as your core success metrics.

search rankings on google on mobile

How to Use Off-Page SEO to Supplement Your Growth Content

search rankings on google on mobile

SEO can be a confusing topic for marketers who typically focus on paid strategies for acquiring customers. If you split SEO into on-page and off-page, it’s even easier to get confused about what you should focus on. At Tuff, we primarily help companies with developing on-page SEO content strategies and fixing technical SEO issues. Once you’re up and running with on-page SEO and you’re starting to see some traction, you can supplement your efforts by focusing on off-page SEO.

What is off-page SEO?

Off-page SEO is anything done outside of your website that can influence your search engine rankings. One misconception about off-page SEO is that all you can do off of your website to improve your rankings is to build backlinks to your site. There are actually many more strategies that you can use to improve your search engine rankings and organic traffic to your website.

The key to doing off-page SEO well is figuring out where potential customers are researching your industry or your business and making sure that you are represented in as many of those places as possible. 

What is included in off-page SEO?

Backlinks

Backlinks, while not the only aspect of off-page SEO, play an important role in showing Google that your site is trustworthy and valuable. It’s important to focus on acquiring high-quality backlinks from trusted websites, rather than getting a ton of low quality links from shady websites. Backlinks are one of the most important ranking factors for getting your content to rank highly on Google.

search console top linking sites

Backlinks from highly reputable sites like Yahoo, The Wall Street Journal, or Wikipedia will provide the most benefit to your search engine rankings, while links from spammy sites can actually hurt your ability to rank.

As you acquire more backlinks and establish more domain authority for your site you can begin targeting more competitive, high-value keywords and start driving more organic traffic from those keywords as you start to rank. 

If you want to start building backlinks for your website, we put together this guide to SEO link building that includes an email template for reaching out to sites for backlinks and guest post opportunities.

backlink example

Guest Posts

Guest posts are incredibly valuable, especially for newer startups or businesses that are having trouble getting their website to rank for their target keywords. You can create content targeting these keywords for other sites to capture the same search traffic that you’re struggling to rank for. 

Guest posting can be a long process as you’ll likely have to go through a submission process, and or build relationships with the site’s editors to even be able to submit a post. However, even if the process is difficult, the backlinks you can acquire from these posts are typically high-quality, and can provide consistent referral traffic to your site.

Business Listing & Review Sites

Business listing and review sites like YelpExpertise.com or CNET are important for making sure your business is represented when someone is doing research before making a purchasing decision. Whether you are an ecommerce business or a restaurant, people are likely to look at different listing sites to determine if your business is the right fit for them. The more active you are on these sites, the more control you have over the first impression that people will get when looking for more information.

business listing and review sites example

In the same way that testimonials on your website are a powerful marketing tool, having positive reviews and testimonials on third-party websites is another way to build trust with potential customers and ultimately drive more revenue for your business.

Off-Page SEO vs. On-Page SEO

Both on-page and off-page SEO play a key role in a complete SEO strategy. They are related because your site needs to be optimized (on-page) so that when someone finds you on another website and clicks a link to your site (off-page) they don’t run into slow load times or other technical SEO issues.

On-page SEO

On-page SEO is about making your content and your website’s structure easy for search engines to understand. When search engines can clearly interpret what your website is talking about they are more likely to rank your content higher and start sending organic traffic your way. 

It’s important to do an on-page SEO analysis to fix any issues your site may have before focusing on off-page SEO, otherwise new visitors to your site may find broken pages or other issues that cause them to bounce from your website. If you find that your site is running slowly or some pages are broken, a technical SEO agency can help fix these issues and set you up for success when you start publishing content.

Off-page SEO

Off-page SEO is everything that you’re doing away from your website to try to improve your site’s ranking and traffic. This could be building backlinks on other websites, getting your business mentioned in list posts, or responding to people talking about your brand in forums or on social media.

Both on-page and off-page SEO are useful for gaining traction for your website, so neither is inherently better than the other. They both play an important role in attracting visitors to your website.

Read More: The Difference Between On-Page, Off-Page, and Technical SEO

How Off-Page SEO Supplements Your On-Page SEO Efforts

It’s important to focus on-page SEO to ensure that when people find your website they aren’t running into technical issues like broken links or slow pages. Before focusing on off-page SEO to drive traffic to your site, it’s important to build a solid on-page foundation so that people are able to easily find the information they are looking for on your site. After getting your site optimized for the best user experience possible, you can start looking at off-page SEO to bring more visitors to your site.

Off-page SEO allows you to expand your footprint on the internet beyond your website. The most important aspect of off-page SEO is putting your brand/business in all the places that your customers could potentially find out about you. This could be industry blogs and authority sites, product review sites, or even social media. You can have the best website in the world, but if people aren’t finding it or searching for your brand, your SEO efforts won’t be successful.

Why is off-page SEO important?

Off-page SEO can provide huge benefits for your business, by showing Google and potential customers that your company is an authority in your industry.

Domain Authority

Off-Page SEO is especially valuable for young companies that haven’t established a high domain authority for their websites. If your website is relatively new and hasn’t acquired valuable backlinks, it’s unlikely that your content will rank for competitive keywords. Off-page SEO allows you to gain awareness for your brand without having to put in the months of work to develop your website’s domain authority.

For example, if you have a software as a service (SaaS) business and you’re trying to outrank your competitors you can publish blog posts and landing pages on your website, but they aren’t going to outrank established websites in your niche. If you get listed in articles like this one from HubSpot – people searching for your product will see that an established, respected brand has mentioned yours and might click through to your website.

Off-Page SEO Allows You To Own More Search Engine Real Estate

Take a look at the results page for a given keyword. You will likely see a list of webpages all from different websites. If you’re only focusing on on-page SEO, you could be leaving valuable space on the search engine results page open to your competitors. 

When you publish content on other websites besides your own, you can occupy more space on the front page of Google and capture more of the attention share for a given keyword.

One way to understand the impact this can have is to look at branded searches. When you search for a major brand name on Google — McDonald’s for example — you’ll see more than just their website. You’ll see the company’s Twitter and Facebook pages, you might see a news story about the company, and maybe a Wikipedia page. These are all examples of off-page SEO. 

Authority Hacking

Not only can you indicate to Google that your business is reputable and a solid choice for your target audience — off-page SEO allows you to build awareness and authority simply by showing up in more places that potential customers are looking. If someone is searching for a solution to their problem and they see that your business is mentioned in the top 5 articles on

Google, they will be more likely to trust that you are the right choice for their needs.You can gain awareness from inclusion in listicles, reviews on listing sites, guest posts, and roundup posts. Because these types of mentions are from third parties, they often appear more trustworthy than content you post on your own website. You can build trust by getting your brand to show up in lists of the best companies in your industry. 

Domain authority is a metric that estimates how trustworthy and reputable your website is. Google rewards sites with higher domain authority because the content on these sites is more likely to be high quality and valuable.

Use Off-Page SEO for Referral Traffic

One use of off-page SEO that often gets overlooked is using strategically placed off-page links to drive traffic back to your site. Let’s say you’re having trouble ranking for a keyword that is valuable for your business, you can use off-page SEO to target that keyword from another site.

If you’re able to get a guest post published on a site with high domain authority and a large readership, you can rank for more difficult, higher competition keywords. If you can place valuable backlinks to your site within the guest post, as the post starts to rank, you will likely see some referral traffic start coming in from the article. The great thing about this type of traffic is that even though it may take some time to get working, once the post is ranking and people start clicking through to your site the traffic can be really consistent (and free)!

How do you make an off-page SEO strategy?

If you’re new to off-page SEO, it can be overwhelming to decide how you will go about creating and implementing a strategy. Choosing the best off-page SEO tactics for your business depends a lot on what industry you’re in and what type of traffic is most valuable for you.

Figure Out Where Your Customers Spend Time Online

It’s important to understand which websites your target audience spends the most time on if you want your off-page SEO strategy to be effective. For example, if you’re a software company that targets ecommerce businesses, you need to figure out what sites ecommerce business owners and employees read to learn more about their industry.

Determine the best way to capture their attention.

After you’ve identified a few places you could reach your customers, you can decide which type of content they are most likely to find valuable and interact with. It’s important to consider the questions that they may be asking and the problems that they need help solving.

Create content that provides value and encourages clickthrough to your website.

From there you can decide what type of content is most valuable to them and you can reach them by getting guest posts published on the sites they read. One important part of the content is that it should have a clear call to action that directs readers to your website. Linking to the content on your own website will provide a backlink and will make it easy for readers to learn how your business can help them.