4 Indirect Ways to Improve Your Search Rankings
I know you want it…
More organic search traffic.
Who doesn’t want free, high quality traffic, that comes in month after month?
That’s why SEO is such a big deal and one of the main topics I focus on—here, on Quick Sprout.
I believe that most marketers should be dedicating a significant portion of their time and resources towards SEO.
There are many things you can do that have a direct impact on your search traffic.
However, there is more to marketing than just SEO, and you probably know that.
The thing is, they don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
Just because some of your marketing isn’t specifically done to improve search traffic, that doesn’t mean that it can’t.
And this type of situation is more common than you might think.
In this post, I’ll go over four ways that can indirectly improve your search rankings.
This means that the primary benefit of these marketing techniques is not to improve search traffic, but there’s a good chance that, if done right, they might help you with your search traffic too.
1. Following up with customers leads to extra benefits
This is a great place to start because there doesn’t seem to be an obvious connection to SEO.
But I assure you there is.
Getting feedback from your customers is always a great idea, but it can eat up a lot of time.
Some businesses figure they don’t have the resources to follow up continuously with customers and would rather dedicate them all to sales/marketing channels such as SEO.
However, if you get customer feedback and use it correctly, it can lead to some great backlinks in a few different ways.
Here’s the simple 2-step process you’ll need to follow:
Step #1 – Contact customers immediately after the sale: You have very few opportunities to open up communication with customers without annoying them.
After the sale is one of them.
Once someone purchases something from you, they’re usually excited to hear from you and possibly want reassurance that everything went well.
Send them an email that confirms their order and lets them know whom to contact if they need help.
Step #2 – Follow up after they’ve had time to use your product: The more important part, when it comes to potential SEO benefits, is to follow up with customers again.
Once they’ve used the product, they can tell you if they’ve had any problems or complaints. This is the main reason why you’d want to follow up—these issues are important to address if you want to retain happy customers.
In addition, ask for their feedback on their experience.
If someone says that they’re thrilled, that’s great. Then you should ask them to share their experience with others. Since they enjoyed your product or service so much, you’ll get a high percentage of these customers willing to help you out.
You have a few options that can help with SEO.
If you’d like to ask for a simple favor, ask them to leave a review on a big review site in your niche. For most niches, this will include sites such as Yelp and Yellow Pages.
Let’s look at an example of a search for a carpenter in New York:
The top result is a Yelp business page, while the second result is Yelp’s internal search results for carpenters (another search listings page).
The second is most interesting here:
This page orders businesses based on several factors, e.g., the number of reviews they have and how positive the reviews are (in addition to price).
As long as you fall into the default filters, the more good reviews you have, the higher your profile will appear.
Why does this matter for SEO?
Because the more prominent (higher) a link is on a page, the more weight it has.
This page has a lot of search engine authority (that’s why it can rank at #2), and it passes that authority mostly to the top profiles that it links to.
Those profiles all have links back to their corresponding websites, which, of course, improves those websites’ search authority.
Not only will reviews get you more direct business on these review sites, but that extra link power can help your rankings in search engines. Not by a ton, but by enough that you will notice it after a while.
The second option, which is best for high priced products, is to create a case study of the results your customer got.
Brian Dean at Backlinko does it all the time, both for his readers and actual customers:
Case studies are typically really easy to promote, and they can get a ton of traffic and links.
I’ve created an extensive guide to creating effective case studies that you should read if you take this approach.
2. Get out of your shell and go to events
Just about every industry has several conferences throughout the year. No doubt you can find a few local events to attend if you wanted to.
Now, conferences can be a huge waste of time, but they can also be incredibly valuable.
Obviously, you go primarily to learn, but a huge secondary result can be the relationships you come back with.
Events are a great way to meet other people in your industry and explore opportunities to work together.
But guess what else happens?
When you email them down the line, asking them to check out your latest piece of content, most will be happy to read it and give feedback.
What’s even better is that if they have a chance to link to it within their own content, they usually do. These links can have a big impact on your search rankings if you make several connections per event.
Finally, even if your connections don’t manage their content, they can introduce you to the content manager for their business. You can explore collaboration opportunities or offer to create guest posts for them (which will give you more links to your site).
All of these potential benefits are important if you have to convince your boss that it’s worth sending you to conferences.
Finding conferences is easy: I won’t spend much time on this, but I’ll show you quickly how to find conferences.
Start by Googling:
(industry) conferences (year)
You could also try “events” instead of conferences:
Typically, you’ll find a roundup of all the best events, often multiple.
Each of these results will give you a listing of events, separated by date, location, and audience:
I recommend going through more than one list so that you don’t miss any good ones.
Remember that conferences can be either worthless or extremely valuable. The difference depends on how you spend your time at them.
That’s why I wrote the Beginner’s Guide to Conferences in the past. Give it a quick read.
3. Hire the best help you can get
If you’re truly creating “epic” content, chances are that you’re not doing everything on your own.
In most cases, you’re hiring freelance writers and designers to help fill in any gaps in your skillset.
Obviously, if you’re hiring the best freelancers you can afford, it’s because you primarily want to create great content.
That kind of content is the easiest to get to rank.
However, the very act of hiring freelancers will make it easier.
Let me explain…
Type #1 – Writers: Whether you hire a freelancer or offer them an attractive opportunity to collaborate, these relationships will often get you some extra high-quality backlinks.
A good set of examples are my ultimate guides (sidebar of Quick Sprout). For these guides, I teamed up with experts in each of the subjects.
I had some help from Kathryn Aragon writing The Advanced Guide to Content Marketing, for example:
When someone helps create a piece of content of that quality, they, of course, want to show it off.
By talking about it and linking to it.
It makes them look great to say they wrote or co-wrote an amazing piece of content.
Because of this, I didn’t have to ask Kathryn to link to the guide; she’s mentioned it dozens of times in her posts on other sites and social media (linking to it most of the time):
Essentially, your writer will help you with the content promotion.
Type #2 – Designers: More commonly, marketers hire freelance designers to help create images for content.
The exact same principle applies here:
If you hire a freelancer to create something great, they will want to show it off in their portfolio, leading to great backlinks for your content.
Continuing with the example of my guides, I needed professional help to design them.
Of course, they shared the images with links to those guides:
Those links are the indirect benefit of working with great freelancers.
4. User experience optimization is a great use of your time
Creating a great user experience on your site and with your products is valuable for many reasons.
Typically, the main motivation for working on improving your users’ experience has to do with the conversion rate. It’s a good reason.
What most don’t consider is that this often inadvertently plays a big role in improving search rankings.
There are a few reasons why, but most applicable here is the concept of pogo sticking.
Basically, if a Google user clicks on your page but then goes right back to the search results for another, it indicates to Google that your content didn’t satisfy the user.
Conversely, if most users stop on your page, you did a good job and are rewarded with better search rankings.
If you improve the user experience of your website, you’ll usually end up increasing the number of visitors that you fully satisfy, decreasing pogo sticking. This can indirectly improve your rankings.
User experience is extremely complicated, but there are three common factors we can focus on and look at the ways they affect pogo sticking.
Factor #1 – page load speed: Studies have shown that people will not wait for pages to load.
Even a fraction of a second can affect 5-10% of people who will leave before they even see your content.
Ideally, you want your pages to load in less than 2 seconds.
Improving page load speed will have a huge effect on pogo sticking, but it’s also a direct ranking factor confirmed by Google.
It’s not a huge one, but factoring both of these aspects together, speed can make a big difference in rankings.
Searchmetrics found a huge correlation between a quick load time and the top Google positions:
Factor #2 – clutter: One thing that makes a big difference in user experience is the amount of clutter on the page.
Most people are looking for one specific thing, so everything that’s unrelated on the page only serves as a distraction.
Compare that to a site like Medium, where the content is essentially the only thing on the page:
It’s no surprise that Medium posts rank well in Google. When a user clicks through, they easily find exactly what they’re looking for, leading to less pogo sticking.
Try to declutter your layouts as much as possible, taking out anything that your visitors don’t need to see.
Factor #3 – site architecture: Site architecture refers to the way all the different pages of your website are organized in relation to each other.
For our purposes, good site architecture essentially means you have organized internal linking.
Here’s what a good structure looks like:
Everything is organized into topical silos.
When search engines crawl the site, it will be easier for them to determine the relevancy of your pages, which often leads to better rankings.
By all means, you should spend a lot of time and resources directly on SEO.
However, you can still focus on other areas of your business while also getting SEO benefits.
I’ve shown you four great business practices that accomplish valuable things plus give you indirect improvements to your search rankings.
I encourage you to incorporate as many of these as you can, without fearing that you’re neglecting your SEO work.
If you have any questions about the subject of this post, let me know in a comment below.