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What does Indirect SEO mean in SEO?

Building backlinks from other websites, getting other webmasters to link to you, is often seen as the only off-Page activity that can have any major impact on your rankings. Everything else is discarded as 'not really SEO' but are they over simplifying things and could something I call 'Indirect SEO' actually make a big difference? I'll show you how.

How most search engine optimizers think


Well they start with doing all the on-Page SEO they can. Optimizing page titles, meta descriptions, headings, content. Using features like Structured Markup. Basically everything within their control to make their websites more relevant for certain keywords and phrases that they want to rank for.

Nothing wrong with that but where to go next?

Relevancy will only get you so far up the search results but if your competitors have got good quality backlinks and are just as relevant then you are going to need even better backlinks. So is it time to scrum down and build links using techniques like the Skyscraper Method or Broken Link searching?

Its one way forward but its also a blinkered way forward because you are thinking in SEO terms, not in what the goals of the website actually are.

What are your actual goals?


To understand and use indirect SEO you have to stand back or you won't be able to see the forest for the trees. A website's real goal is to get the right visitors who will do what you want them to - buy a product, sign up for a service, etc.

The right visitors are also those who will ultimately create links to you. Not all of them but some of them and they will create links from highly relevant websites. In other words good quality backlinks rich in link juice.

The right visitors are those who will brand mention you around the web - more ticks in the box.

This is what I mean by indirect SEO. Doing activities that don't directly affect your rankings (e.g. trying to persuade a blogger to link to your site) but ultimately will boost you up the search results (e.g. getting visitors who will create links to you without even being asked).

If I want a bunch of people in a room to take their coats off I can ask them. If they refuse I could physically force them. Or I could do none of that and simply turn up the temperature in the room. They would all take off their coats of their own free will. I would have achieved my goal by taking indirect action!

"But", I hear you say. "How can I get the right visitors without better rankings?"

Getting the right visitors


There are buckets of ways to do this because only 50% of people who discover websites do so via search engines. This is the field of Online Marketing which is more about getting visitors to your site than simply staying focused on your rankings in Google or Bing.

Those who ignore it miss golden opportunities because they only think in SEO terms. I'm not going to cover the entire field of Online Marketing in this article, you can read more about SEO Alternatives here. But I'll give you a couple of examples.

I'm the author of a book, How to Really Buy a Property. with its website howtoreallybuyaproperty.co.uk. When I launched the site on-Page SEO got me a trickle of traffic but I never went link building. My thinking was if the book was good enough the readers would make the links.

One example was a reader who then went on to make a blog comment on the website of a national newspaper in the UK. It was one of the first comments on the blog and that particular blog post ranked very highly for a search term I was after. After making the comment the reader wrote "According to this website" and included a link to a page deep within my site.

The link was marked 'nofollow' as most blog comments are. So despite being a link from a high quality website it counted for nothing in Google's eyes.

However the link delivered me a steady flow of visitors who were three times more likely to buy my book than visitors who came via Google search - and that was my goal, to sell books.

I have no doubt that some of those visitors went on to create links with link juice so indirectly I got what I wanted.

The SEO attitude that can hold you back


Now if you talk to many search engine optimizers about blog commenting they'll huff and puff that it is a pointless exercise. "It's not really SEO" they will say because blog comments rarely pass link juice so their not going to change your rankings.

Technically true but commercially wrong. Social media activity counting for nothing in pure SEO is also technically true but commercially wrong.

There is just so much you can do, often with very little effort involved, that will bring you the right visitors. If you are a local business just making sure you have optimized listings in the major directories could be it.

Then if your content or your product is up to it they will build your backlinks for you. Indirectly you have achieved backlinks and indirectly you will then achieve higher rankings.

So indirect SEO is about activities that won't make Google see your website any differently but will bring in visitors that could take actions which will boost your rankings.

It can be much less time consuming and less costly than direct SEO and once the ball is rolling it's difficult to stop.

It's also a key reason why people, or agencies, that just do SEO can be their own worst enemies.

I'm Tim Hill, a Search Engine Optimization and Online Marketing specialist. I created this site to help others understand that SEO is not a mysterious black art!.

If your a newbie try the Getting Started in SEO page, otherwise feel free to dig around and learn more.

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