In my previous post about on-site SEO, I discussed what you can do on your site to make it more attractive to search engines, but that is only half the story.

The other key factor for SEO is what you can do off your website to get noticed by search engines.

Currently, the main currency in off-site search engine optimization are links from other sites to your site. These are known as backlinks. A site with a lot of backlinks will typically rank higher than a site that has fewer links. Convenient places to create backlinks to your site include social media profiles, social bookmarking sites (StumbleUpon, Delicious, Diigo), forum posts, and website comments (where allowed).

However, not all links are the same. The search engines weight the quality of the link as well. A link’s quality is based on whether the site is “respectable” or not. For example,  a link from CNN, an a well known and highly linked site that’s been around years, is seen as a lot more important than a link from a site that was just set up a few months ago.

Anchor text or what text you use within the link is also important. You should put the keywords that you’re trying to optimize for in the underlined text that make up the link. Here is an example of how to use anchor text.

Use “Find out more about my keyword“, not “click here to learn more about my keyword.”

The first example includes the keyword within the underlined link while the second example hyperlinks unrelated words.

One of the new factors affecting search rankings are social media shares. If a search engine sees links on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, they think that these links are more important than normal and gives them a bump in the rankings.

Make sure that you have social sharing buttons like the ones below on your site to make it easy for visitors to share your content.

This article first appeared on Blue Zoo Creative’s website.