GUEST POST: SEO Without a Website

November 20, 2020

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This guest article graciously contributed by Rob Delory, Founder of Mercury Marketing.

Would you be able to do search engine optimization if you did not have a website?

I’d like to go through a mental exercise (or you can actually do this if you’d like). Let’s pretend that you did not have a website. No WordPress, Wix or Magento. You have no domain to call your own. Now, here is the question.

Would you still be able to do SEO?

If you take a step back and really look at the search results page, you start to realize there is more than just organic rankings of yours or your competitor’s websites. In fact, the SERP is abuzz with all sorts of results depending upon your query.

Maps, Google My Business listings, Images, Knowledge Graphs and more. These all appear because they were relevant results. Because of this, the algorithm had to attribute value to them. This means they can be optimized.

The only trouble is you do not have the full control that you would if you were working on your own website. For me, this is the exact point of the exercise. What you end up with are the two most important elements to search engines.

What Really Matters To Google

When you break down all of the ranking signals that many in our industry have determined and Google themselves provide as its own ranking guidelines, you can drop them into these two very big buckets. Backlinks and Content.

Now, when you are doing SEO on anything other than your website, it really is all that you have control over, and sometimes not even that.

Search Engine Optimization Without a Plugin

As much as I love Yoast for WordPress and Caching for most any site, this is one of the first things you will have to learn to live without.

You are now at the mercy of the other platforms speed, custom title tags and more. Since you have no control over these attributes, you can pretty much ignore them.

Why would you do SEO on any site but your own?

The reason most marketers do not focus on optimizing other website pages is because you do not actually own those sites. So putting in all of that effort, does not guarantee that they might not make a change or close their doors tomorrow or sell to another company and update policies.

All of your hard efforts are subject to their prerogatives and because of this, the SEO community will usually default to what they manage and own.

Other websites can bring qualified traffic to your website. There is value in having certain pages from other websites rank so that they can drive more traffic for you. If you have a Pinterest page that can rank in the search results, it could be the source of all sorts of quality leads or direct sales.

What a lot of people do not realize is that Pinterest is a high authority website and merely requires content and backlinks to get their pages to rank.

But even if they did not drive direct traffic, there is still value. So many new ecommerce sites struggle with SEO and end up setting up their Amazon store to sell products. They focus on trying to rank within Amazon search, which is a wise strategy.

But Amazon too is a High authority website and oftentimes their pages rank high in Google. This is no accident. Well written and optimized content along with some backlinks can be a small amount of effort that search engines can’t ignore because of the high authority of that website.

You can drive people to your product pages from both Amazon’s internal search functionality and from Google directly.

Business profiles on directory types of website, Facebook pages, Chamber of Commerce profile pages are all examples of utilizing another website’s authority to rank high in results.

Videos Can Rank On Google

You have probably heard the “how to” videos and articles are a great way to rank. Here is an example of one that was not well optimized, a moderate amount of engagement on YouTube with a handful of backlinks (about 4) pointing to the URL.

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The first organic website result that came after it was from a DR 85 website. This simple video outranked a high authority University website.

These are tactics. Ways of being able to show up in the SERPs for more than just your domain.

They are often hard to track because you don’t always have the analytics reporting you are used to working with or allow you to make content updates on the fly to improve keyword optimization. In the case of YouTube, you do. But others you do not.

The idea though is to be able to utilize the authority, niche industry specificity and sometimes the hyper local focus of another website or platform.

Some Things To Keep In Mind

If you are going to build links to a website, have a reasonable amount of certainty that there will be some level of permanence for your content. If for example it is a PR Release or a monthly event, these types of content can be taken down after a short period of time. Try to research the site for longevity of past publications.

Don’t try to take the same content and put it on multiple sites. If you are trying to get five different domains to rank your content, search engines will identify that duplicate content and probably only rank one, if any at all.

Summation Of The Exercise

Now that I have turned your digital world upside down, let’s add one last piece back into the mix – your domain.

Now that we have all of these online entities performing well in the SERPs, think of the value they can bring to your own website. With all of the traffic that these platforms can now drive to your website with an additional click, the opportunities are now increased.

Not only that, but all of these other websites are in actuality backlinks to your site. Backlinks with increased value because of their own page signals within the algorithm.

Your website is benefiting now from the increased direct traffic and the ranking signals to improve your own Domain Rating.


Rob Delory - Mercury MarketingRob Delory is the owner of Mercury Marketing. He has over ten years of experience in digital marketing and worked with small to medium-sized businesses to develop online strategies that deliver results for his clients.