For small business owners and managers striving to grow their company, search engine optimization (SEO) is key. This digital marketing tactic ensures your business’s products, services, and resources can be found online, which in turn generates more revenue for your business. However, despite these perks, very few small businesses practice SEO strategies, such as optimizing their website, creating quality content that earns links, and guest blogging on other reputable sites. In fact, 46 percent of small businesses in the US do not even have a website, and half of the 54 percent of small businesses that do have a website do not bother with SEO, according to a This article explores two forms of content creation that are positive additions to all SEO strategies. Background: The importance of links Google considers numerous factors when determining which websites and pages will show up high in its search engine. With recent updates to the PageRank algorithm, Penguin, high-quality links that point back to pages on a company’s website have become one of the most important factors. Backlinks show that your website is a good resource — an answer to a question — which signals Google to prioritize your website over others in search results. However, not all backlinks are equal. Links from websites with high domain authority (DA) are considered more valuable. With this in mind, besides populating your website with useful, unique, and quality content, how do you get popular sites to link back to your pages? #1. Guest Blogging Guest blogging is the process of contributing unique content to reputable, topic-relevant websites. Consider this scenario. There are numerous websites that attract hundreds of visitors on a daily basis. Often, these sites offer an opportunity for experts to publish articles on their blog. For example, Salesforce has a blog that covers topics spanning small business, marketing, sales, and the Cloud. If I write an article about the benefits of combining traditional and digital marketing tactics, and Salesforce publishes it on its blog, the links I include say that the sources I used are useful. Other examples of sites that accept guest posts and receive high numbers of visitors each month are Investopedia, Psychology Today, and SurveyMonkey. Another benefit of guest blogging is that it will improve the quality of the writing on your own site. When you’re writing for your own site, you’re writing in a bubble. No matter how many times you proofread a given piece of content, it’s still all from your perspective. Guest posting gives you another set of eyes to look over your work – sites with a high DA generally have high standards for the guest posts they accept. They might point out improvements you could make in terms of style and clarity that you never would have thought of on your own. It’s like having a professional editor help you hone your writing skills for free. When considering which sites to pitch, consider the following: The topics and industries they cover The writing style of previous articles published on the blog Linking, sourcing, and writing guidelines #2. Content Marketing In the past, SEO experts focused so much on keywords — selection, density, and placement — that they neglected to create valuable content that was worth reading. The scenario resembles high school students who put a lot of effort into cheating on tests. They sneak into the teacher’s office to steal an answer key or create a cheat sheet to bring to the test. In reality, the students could receive a passing grade and exert less effort, by simply studying for the test. The same logic holds true with a company website. If you produce high quality, interesting content in the first place, you will attract more organic attention than you could with keywords. Content marketing does, though, still help you game the system in some ways. One benefit of producing more on-site content, regardless of quality, is that it allows you to have more pages. Simply having more pages on your site enhances your search engine visibility, as it provides you more opportunities to rank for particular search queries. For example, a dentist that publishes a page about child-friendly dentistry may now show up in searches for child-friendly dentistry where they weren’t showing up before. Also, having high-quality content on your site and spreading it over social media is one of the most effective ways to increase your number of followers, which will drive more traffic to your site and thus greatly improve your standings in search rankings. But those benefits are eclipsed by the effect content marketing has on a business’s reputation. Without a good reputation, it’s difficult for a business to convince prospects to actually become customers, and it’s even more difficult to convince one-time customers to become loyal. Without loyal customers that can be depended on to patronize your business consistently, it’s all but impossible to thrive in the hyper-competitive business environment of the Internet age. Stellar content establishes you as an authority and leader in the industry. It makes your brand look like “the real thing”, and, even more importantly, it makes all of your competitors that don’t publish genuinely interesting content look like generic imitations of “the real thing”. Establishing a strong brand with high-quality content people actually want to read is sure to inspire loyalty, which in turn will improve conversion rates as well as sales figures. Takeaway When it comes to SEO, on-site optimization is important, but it is not enough. Focusing on on-site optimization at the expense of guest blogging and content creation is like eating fruit only. Although fruit is healthy, a balanced diet demands grains, vegetables, proteins, and fats. Similarly, both on- and off-site tactics are necessary to create an effective SEO strategy. Images: ”Link Building – letters on wooden desk with laptop computer and a notebook. 3d render illustration. /Shutterstock.com“ ____________________________________________________________________________ Tweak Your Biz is a thought leader global publication and online business community. Today, it is part of the Small Biz Trends stable of websites and receives over 300,000 unique views per month. Would you like to write for us? An outstanding title can increase tweets, Facebook Likes, and visitor traffic by 50% or more. Generate great titles for your articles and blog posts with the Tweak Your Biz Title Generator.