Table of Contents
- What is off-page SEO?
- The importance of off-page SEO
- Off-page SEO vs. on-page SEO
- Off-page SEO factors
- Off-page SEO techniques
- Useful tools to measure off-page SEO results
- Off-page SEO – summary
However, while on-page SEO optimizations have undeniable significance, the secret to beating your competition often lies in off-page SEO. But what exactly is off-page SEO, and why is it so pivotal in the grand scheme of search engine optimization?
Join us as we delve deep into off-site optimizations in this comprehensive guide – learn how to build a strong backlink profile, utilize external content to boost your visibility, track the results of your off-page SEO efforts, and more.
What is off-page SEO?
Off-Page SEO or Off-Site SEO is a term that describes a wide collection of strategies and actions taken outside your own website, with the overarching aim of boosting your site’s position on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). It’s one of the fundamental elements of Search Engine Optimization as a whole, and is typically instrumental in how Google and other search engines perceive the authority and trustworthiness of your site.
Unlike on-page SEO – which, let’s remember, deals with the content and structure of your site – off-page SEO strategy is all about strong, beneficial relationships with other websites and internet users. It’s a complex process that extends beyond your website and is often outside your full control, and it involves earning credibility with hard work and high-quality content.
The importance of off-page SEO
Every holistic SEO strategy must include robust off-page optimizations. They contribute significantly to the way search engines evaluate and rank websites, which makes understanding their mechanisms crucial for anyone or any business looking to boost their visibility.
When planned with care, a comprehensive off-page SEO strategy can enhance the authority of your website – a measure of how credible your site appears to search engines. That is a key factor in search engine rankings, boosting your online presence and driving both organic and referral traffic from backlinks.
Some might lead you to think off-page SEO is fully outside your control – that is not true. While you may not always have direct influence over everything that goes on externally, you can build your strategy with outside factors in mind. Networking, guest posting outreach, broken link building, reputation management, public relations: these are all aspects you can control.
Off-page SEO vs. on-page SEO
Both off-site and on-site SEO are essential components of any comprehensive SEO strategy, but they each focus on vastly different aspects of website optimization:
- Focus: On-page SEO is focused primarily on optimizing your own individual web pages to rank higher and earn more relevant organic traffic. It often involves optimizing your on-site content, HTML source code structure, internal linking, and various other elements within the website itself.
In contrast, off-page SEO strategy revolves around influencing the external factors that dictate a website’s position in search results, often indirectly. It includes strategies like link building, managing your reviews, building a Google Business Profile, and so on – we’ll cover them all later.
- Control: Website owners have direct control over all on-page SEO elements, allowing them to optimize it freely, in whatever way they see fit. Unfortunately, off-page SEO typically involves factors outside direct control, like generating social signals. Sure, website owners can influence these aspects through outreach and networking, but they do not have the same level of control as with on-page SEO.
- Impact on SEO: Both on-page and off-page SEO elements are crucial for a website’s search engine visibility, even if they contribute to it in different ways. On-page elements help search engines understand the content of your website, making sure that it is relevant and of high quality.
Off-page elements, on the other hand, help engines understand how other websites and users perceive your site. You’ll need both high-quality content and a strong backlink profile, combining both SEO approaches, to achieve the highest SERP rankings.
Off-page SEO factors
Now that you know what off-page SEO is, we can break it down into smaller, more manageable factors that are easier to track and prioritize in your overall SEO strategy. These are the components of a well-rounded off-page SEO approach, so keep them in mind when crafting your own.
Number of Referring Domains
The number of referring domains is a metric used to quantify the total number of unique domains that link back to your pages. It’s an important off-page factor because search engines, especially Google, use backlinks as a significant ranking signal.
Unique links are more significant than just any backlinks – search engines view a diverse backlink profile as a sign of a website’s credibility and authority. Having links from a range of high link authority websites will have a more beneficial effect than having multiple links from a single domain.
Speaking of link authority…
Link Authority (Domain Rating and URL Rating)
Link authority is a measure of the strength and trustworthiness of a backlink. This strength is determined based on a range of factors itself, including the quality, relevance, and reliability of the linking site. While link authority is more of a general, descriptive factor, tools developed more measurable metrics. In the case of Ahrefs, they are DR (Domain Rating) and UR (URL Rating).
Domain Rating (DR) represents the strength of a website’s backlink profile compared to others in Ahrefs’ database on a scale from 0 to 100. It is not directly used by search engines, but is a helpful SEO indicator nonetheless.
URL Rating (UR) is a similar metric, also on a scale from 0 to 100, representing the strength of a specific page’s link profile, including the number of internal and external links, both the UR and DR of the linking pages and domains, and the relevancy of the linking content.
Anchor text is the clickable text of a hyperlink – best SEO practices suggest these texts should be relevant to the page it’s linking to, rather than generic text. The right anchor text in a backlink can boost a page’s ranking for specific keywords, but over-optimized anchor text can lead to penalties. Everything in moderation, but definitely keep anchor texts in mind when preparing content for external publication that contains backlinks.
The relevance of a backlink plays a significant role in its value. It’s even one of the deciding factors in determining DR and UR. A backlink from a site that is in the same niche as yours is considered more relevant and, therefore, more beneficial than a link from an unrelated site. This is usually established based on keywords and other data that search engine crawlers gather from websites as they scour the web.
Back in 2014, Google stated that social shares are not a direct ranking factor in search engines, but many SEO experts disagree with this notion, observing a correlation between social signals and organic traffic. Whatever the case here is, having your content shared on social media can definitely amplify its reach and drive traffic to your website, and as such can also organically boost your SERP rankings as people passively talk more about your brand.
Online reviews from trusted platforms like Google, Yelp, GoWork, or TripAdvisor can contribute to your company’s reputation and general credibility – but they can also affect your SEO efforts, especially in local search results. For example, having good reviews on your Google Business Profile will help your business be presented in local searches as one of the first options for users to select when searching for related phrases.
Brand mentions refer to instances where your brand or product is talked about or referred to on various online platforms, regardless of whether there is a direct link to the brand’s website. Brand mentions, even without a direct link to your site, can be a powerful off-page SEO factor. Search engines can recognize and evaluate unlinked brand mentions as a sign of authority and popularity in your niche.
Google Business Profile
Local searches are important for many types of businesses, especially those with physical locations. A well-optimized Google Business Profile (formerly known as Google My Business) can help immensely boost your positioning in local search results and Google Maps searches, guiding customers to crucial information at a glance and leading them directly to specific landing pages.
Citations are online mentions of your business’s name, address, phone number, and similar information on external websites, such as online directories for businesses. These citations from well-established, highly ranked portals like Yelp, TripAdvisor, or Yellowpages can contribute a lot to your local SEO efforts; however, it’s generally advised to avoid shady, low-quality online directories, since their low credibility might also transfer through backlinks to your website. In response, search engines might penalize your SERP positioning.
The acronym E-E-A-T stands for Expertise, Experience, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness, and comes from Google’s guidelines for evaluating online content for SERP positioning purposes. It’s primarily applied to on-site content, but these principles can also extend to off-page SEO efforts in terms of quality and trustworthiness of backlinks and the reputation of the website.
Your brand search volume, the use of branded anchor text, a well-established social media presence, and customer reviews and ratings are some of the most important (out of many) brand signals for search engines. They help determine how reputable your brand is, which can significantly impact your visibility.
Off-page SEO techniques
Your off-page SEO will require a strategic approach – consider these tried and tested techniques that will help you optimize your website effectively.
A Link building strategy remains one of the most effective Off-Page SEO techniques, aiming to acquire high-quality backlinks from authoritative websites. There are many approaches to link building, the most popular of which include:
- Guest blogging: Providing content to other blogs in your niche can help you earn valuable backlinks and expose your brand to a broader audience. You deliver high-quality, informative content to website owners, helping them drive traffic to their website, and they in turn will usually include links to yours. This helps direct some of that traffic to you and improve off-page SEO results.
- Sponsored articles: Similar to guest blogging, sponsored articles are written by an external copywriter or editor, usually in return for an established payment.
- Broken link building: Identifying and offering replacements for broken links on other websites can help you find additional backlink opportunities.
- Claiming unlinked brand mentions: If your brand is mentioned online without a link, why not reach out to the website owner and ask whether it’d be possible to add it?
- Skyscraper technique: An advanced technique that involves deep research to identify a niche in which you can create content that’s significantly better than existing high-ranking content, and then sharing it with website owners, bloggers, or influencers to earn backlinks.
Link building platforms like WhitePress can help businesses facilitate their off-page SEO efforts by connecting website owners with publishers, guaranteeing relevant, high-authority opportunities for brands and high-quality content for publishers.
Link baiting is a great way to increase the number of inbound links to your site, and involves creating high-quality content that naturally attracts backlinks from other websites in your niche. Infographics, comprehensive guides, and other content that provides a lot of value can positively affect your website authority.
Press releases and sponsored content written as part of your public relations strategy can help promote your brand, increasing overall brand awareness, but also potentially attracting new backlinks for high-authority sites.
Connecting with your audience can help naturally promote your content and promote brand mentions in external sources, some of which will include backlinks and will contribute to your DR.
Providing financial support or resources for an event in exchange for promotional benefits can gain you additional brand exposure – especially on events close to your industry, niche, or local community.
Speaking of local communities, SEO strategies focused on optimizing your online presence for local search results can help you attract local customers and increase both online and foot traffic to physical locations. These include optimizing your GMB profile, local keywords, and encouraging happy clients to leave positive reviews.
Useful tools to measure off-page SEO results
To make sure your off-page optimization efforts are effective, you’ll need a proper way of measuring the results. There are quite a few tools that make it much easier than browsing through raw data on your own, offering unique insights and features to help analyze your strategy and provide actionable feedback.
Google Search Console
One of the most commonly used tools by SEO professionals is Google Search Console – and for a good reason, too! It can show you the websites linking to your domain and the most linked content on your site, providing useful insights. A links report can help you evaluate your backlink profile, identifying which external domains are most valuable to your site.
Ahrefs offers a suite of SEO tools, with strong emphasis on link building and backlink profile analysis. Some of the features are available for free, but extended functionality is reserved to paid accounts. The Site Explorer feature, for example, allows you to investigate the backlink profile of your website, or your competitors’ sites.
Another comprehensive link analysis tool, Majestic SEO offers some unique metrics like Trust Flow and Citation Flow that can help you better evaluate the quality and quantity of your backlinks. With this information, you can better decide which websites are worth the effort of obtaining backlinks, and which are not.
With a range of off-page and on-page features, SEMrush is a very versatile tool with a wide range of features. It’s highly customizable and makes backlink tracking easy. SEMrush can also perform competitor analysis and has a Backlink Audit tool that helps identify and remove potentially harmful backlinks automatically.
Moz Link Explorer
Moz Link Explorer offers free backlink insights and competitor research, including Moz’s own proprietary metrics like Domain Authority or Page Authority. They act similar to DR and UR, estimating how well a website or page is likely to perform in search results. Most features, however, are available only for paid accounts.
Off-page SEO – summary
A comprehensive SEO strategy cannot exist without well-optimized off-page elements – it’s a core part of SEO as a whole. Off-site SEO’s effects are multifaceted, potentially improving not only your SERP positioning, but also your brand presence, authority, and credibility.
Through careful cultivation of backlinks and implementation of proven off-page SEO techniques, brands can create a strong online – and offline – presence. By investing time and resources into off-page SEO now, you can lay the foundations for long-term success and help your website stand out from the crowd and reach its full potential.