As digital marketers, we often think that once we are done with on-page SEO, our site rankings will automatically improve.
But sometimes, you still struggle to rank on Google even after ensuring your site has a proper structure, inculcating all the necessary keywords, and working on your internal linking strategy.
The reason — you’re missing out on off-page SEO.
One of the most important Google ranking factors is a part of off-page SEO. It’s backlinks from other websites that link to your site. Statistics prove the same. According to Ahrefs, the more backlinks a page has, the more organic traffic it gets from Google.
As a link-building agency, we work on off-page SEO daily. With some amazing results we have got for our clients, we thought, “Why not put our knowledge and discoveries in one simple guide for everyone?”
Let’s get started.
What We'll Cover:
What is off-page SEO?
Off-page SEO includes all the activities you and others do outside your website to impact your search engine rankings.
While search engines weigh many of your website factors like website content and performance to determine a page’s ranking, it also gathers an understanding of your website from other sources.
For example, the quality and quantity of backlinks for your page.
While the narrow definition of off-page SEO limits itself to link building, off-page SEO is much more than that. It also includes encouraging branded searches, being active on social media, and guest blogging.
Let’s take an example to understand. Suppose you have an email management tool called Email Manager. There’s a Quora thread for how to manage your email campaigns. You write down an answer and talk about using Email Manager to move campaigns seamlessly from start to finish.
This might encourage branded searches and, in the long term, influence search traffic as well.
In a nutshell, an off-page SEO strategy supports your website efforts (on-site SEO) and adds trustworthiness, authority, and credibility to your page/domain.
What is the difference between off-page SEO and on-page SEO?
On-page SEO is the optimizations you make on your website that help search engines crawl and understand your pages better.
This includes title tags, implementing relevant keywords, SEO-optimized URLs, perfecting the site structure, writing unique meta descriptions, etc.
On the other hand, off-page SEO consists of actions that take place outside of your website, like mentions of your brand or link-building initiatives.
You have more control over your on-page SEO efforts than off-page factors, as you can directly influence everything on your website.
The most important difference is that search engines like Google use on-page SEO efforts to measure your page’s relevancy, whereas they use off-page SEO to measure your page’s credibility.
In a competitive space surrounding almost all businesses today, a webpage will struggle to rank without both on-page and off-page SEO.
Why is off-page SEO important?
While search algorithms constantly keep changing, and ranking factors may go higher or lower based on these algorithms, the SEO community firmly believes that authority, relevance, and trustworthiness are some of the important factors that will keep playing a major role in a site’s rankings.
Google has gone on record confessing that they still use PageRank, which considers links an important part of off-page SEO along with other off-site SEO signals as well.
Even Google’s Quality Rater guidelines have been known to rely on a site’s off-site reputation to determine whether the site can be trusted.
This reputation research includes looking at expert recommendations, online reviews, mentions on authority news sites, etc.
According to Google, highly reputable websites tend to rank higher because they follow the E-A-T approach (more Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness)
What can be a better approach than to make your site one of them by working on off-page factors like link building, getting positive reviews, and recommendations from review sites or third-party sites?
Off-page strategy that works
Off-page strategy has many facets that can help you improve your rankings and even influence conversions. Here are seven of them.
#1 Link building
Link building refers to the practice of getting other websites to link back to your pages. Also known as backlinks in SEO, this can help your page rank higher on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
The more backlinks you have from authority sites, the higher you can rank on Google.
There are three types of links you can focus on:
- Natural links: These kinds of links come naturally. You do not perform any outreach or action to earn this link. The website that links back to your page may have found your content helpful or highlighted your brand because they discovered you.
- Built links: A built link comes from your team's effort to conduct outreach or promote the content with an ad campaign that leads to more people discovering and sharing the content. This can be done before creating the content with broken link building.
You can use a tool like Ahrefs’ Content Explorer and enter a broad topic. Next, filter the search for broken pages only. For example, here’s a result for “content marketing.”
You can approach these websites to insert your link.
- Created links: These off-page SEO links come to your website from self-submission on forums, press releases, or directories. Your team creates this link intentionally and without any outreach. If not performed strategically, this can be considered a black-hat SEO practice, and thus it’s better to focus on the above two kinds of links.
Before you set out on your link-building journey, consider these two factors:
- Authority: This is a measurement of the overall quality of your webpage. It depends heavily on how many “high-quality” backlinks you get from authoritative websites. You can see the authority of the website linking to you on Ahrefs.
- Unique domains: Getting links from as many relevant and quality domains as possible should be a key focus of your link-building strategy.
#2 Content Marketing
One way to get natural links is by creating great content. And that’s why content marketing is an important on-page and off-page SEO tactic.
Publishing great content can help you build backlinks, and finding ways to distribute this content to other channels can help boost off-page signals.
Let’s explore all these channels in detail.
- Social Media
While not a direct Google ranking factor, you can use social media to direct traffic to your web pages and get more attention.
The more people share this content, the more links you’ll get for that content and the more engagement.
This can lead to an increase in branded mentions and searches.
See how they have social media sharing buttons on each article that readers can click and share on their accounts.
Moreover, they also share each of their content pieces’ URLs on platforms like Twitter.
Who knew staying active on social media could influence your website’s rankings?
- Guest Posting
Guest posting helps your brand reach different audiences and leads to unlinked or linked brand mentions.
It also gives a signal to search engines and audiences that you hold authority in your niche.
But how do you find guest blogging opportunities for your business?
One simple way is by using Google. Try searching on Google with operators like “your target keyword” + “guest post” or “your target keyword” + “this is a guest post by.”
This will show you sites already accepting guest posts for your niche. Let’s try it out for the niche of email marketing.
Here are three best practices you can follow for guest blogging:
- Find relevant sites. This means that they should either be in your niche or your target audiences should have similarities. For example, look at how Writer Per Hour (an audience of freelance writers and other clients) put a guest post on a platform like Payoneer (a payment platform for freelance writers and other clients)
- Pitch topics that grab the audience’s attention and are relevant to your brand.
- Check for the domain authority of the site you’re approaching so that your content is received well.
Digital PR can help you earn authoritative links and increase your brand awareness.
A sample of 500 campaigns was taken, and it was found that an average digital PR campaign earns links from 10 to 24 referring domains.
You can even search for podcasts hosted by larger brands or personalities that would be a right fit for your business and its listeners and reach out to them.
Another well-known PR strategy is to break into the news cycle. For example, you hear a piece of breaking news about your niche, say email marketing. It could be that Gmail changed some of its functionalities. You can contact your press contacts and offer them informative insights on how this change will impact email marketers.
- Influencer Marketing
People have started trusting influencer content above branded content.
And data shows that businesses make $5.20 for every $1 spent on influencer marketing.
This shows that influencer marketing can not only help reach new audiences, amplify your content, and build links but also impact your bottom-line metrics.
Buffer is one company that got influencer marketing to hit the right mark. Instead of convincing influencers to write on their site, they created content that would appeal to these influencers.
They then relied on these influencers to spread the word. Combined with guest blogging, this strategy helped Buffer’s blog become popular and also increased their subscriber base to 100,000 new users in just one year.
Infographics are all the rage now, and for a good reason. They look visually appealing and can also give you key information if you just want a good summary.
With apps like Canva and Dribble, you can easily start creating one if you have a tight budget or time constraints.
Wondering if they can be an important link building tactic?
Ken Lyons shared a WordStream case study that contained a useful infographic that helped many people. Surprisingly, this infographic earned them a link from CNN and drove loads of traffic to their site.
In fact, their infographics have helped them earn close to 3500 links, 79 of which come from highly authoritative sites.
While linking to your website on forums like Quora or Reddit won’t influence your Google rankings, you can use them to better connect to your audience and address relevant queries of your prospects.
It also helps you have open discussions with prospects already asking questions about what your tool or product has to offer.
You can even use these forums to portray yourself as an authority leader in your niche and influence branded searches.
For example, one search on the keyword “email marketing” on Quora, and you will find hundreds of opportunities to talk about how your email marketing tool can help the audience.
#3 Local SEO
Local SEO is an important part of off-page SEO, and it includes activities you undertake to improve your online presence, so you get more business from local searches.
This is especially important for businesses with brick-and-mortar stores or those that cater to specific geographic locations like restaurants, supermarkets, hair salons, local agencies, cleaning companies, etc.
The two most important local SEO off-page tactics are:
- Google Business Profile (GBP)
A Google Business Profile (GBP) is a free listing tool that helps you manage how your local business shows up across Google products like Search and Maps.
Because this occurs outside of your website, it becomes an important off-page SEO tactic.
It also gives you a high chance of getting visibility on Google’s SERPs. For example, on the map pack, when we type “best Mexican restaurants near me”
Some of the best practices for this are:
- Be specific when setting your business category
- Be particular about your contact information
- Set your business hours
- Respond to reviews
- Add photos
- NAP Citations
NAP Citations usually appear on business directories, social media profiles, and review sites. A NAP citation is a place online that mentions your business’s key information: Name, Address, and Phone number.
These citations are important because Google uses them to confirm that all your business information is accurate.
They also help searchers discover you because directories often rank high on search results for local queries. If you’re a part of these directories, the people who click on them in the search result will find you.
Some best practices for NAP citations are:
- Ensure your citations are consistent everywhere
- Submit your information to big players like Apple Maps, Bing Places, Facebook, etc.
- Get listed with big data aggregators
- Run monthly NAP audits
We know now that reviews are an important part of local SEO.
But Google also considers it one of the most important factors when evaluating your site’s E-A-T.
It makes sense. Why would Google want to show your page when it’s getting a lot of bad reviews?
But what if you run a business that people don’t generally review? For example, a blog. In this case, it considers any awards you might have won or what experts feel about your website.
Here are some best practices you can implement to get more reviews for your site:
- Identify the right moments to ask for a review. For example, if a person has just subscribed to your tool and you ask for a review just one day later, that won’t make a good impression. For example, Etsy asks for a review one month later when they know the customer has had time to use the product.
On the other hand, Uber asks you for a review right after your ride.
- Have a simple process for getting reviews. 30% of customers don’t leave reviews because they find the process confusing.
- Leverage moments of customer happiness. For example, if they send you an email praising your tool or your client made a major breakthrough, you can use that to generate reviews for your business.
- Don’t accept or offer money to get reviews.
While we’re on the topic of reviews, Google also suggests replying to all reviews (good or bad). Doing so shows your customer that you value their feedback, and it also gives you an opportunity to appease customers/prospects who have left negative reviews.
While not a popular strategy, events are making a comeback when it comes to off-page SEO.
You might be thinking, “How are events and SEO related?”
The answer is simple. Events can not only engage your audience, but they can create a buzz in your community.
This buzz encourages branded searches, mentions, social engagement, links, and other promotional activities.
Not only that, you can even attract links through your event’s landing page. This can be done in many ways. For example, the speaker may promote the page on their social media or website, a person may be attending your event and sharing the link, or influencers may share it with their audiences.
You can even encourage attendees to write summary articles afterward and link to your landing page or website.
While this may be a costly strategy, if you’re already running annual events or seminars, finding ways to link it with your off-page SEO strategy is worth the time. You can even gain some great PR coverage for these events.
#6 YouTube Marketing
According to a recent study, as many as 91% of consumers want to see more online video content from brands.
YouTube marketing is one of the most important types of video marketing, as people spend a significant amount of time on YouTube. In fact, people watch 1 billion hours of YouTube videos every day.
Creating good content on YouTube can boost your branded searches.
YouTube can help you get your videos in front of a lot of people.
For example, this YouTube video by HubSpot managed to reach over 276,000 people.
This leads to more people talking about HubSpot. If these videos give out a lot of useful information, many people will likely go on to Google to find more HubSpot content.
A couple of viral videos can start a torrent of branded searches.
On top of that, gaining more popularity on platforms such as YouTube may be a good brand signal itself.
Here are some best practices you can implement for creating these videos:
- Find out topics that your target audience is likely to search or engage with
- Develop a unique look and feel for your videos that match your brand
- Incorporate these videos into your text-based content
- Share them on your social profiles
- Look through the analytics of your videos and gather feedback to find out the strategies you should implement
#7 Participate in roundup posts
Roundup posts are a great way to earn links and mentions for your brand.
But what exactly are these posts?
If you have authority in your niche, you likely might be getting requests for delivering a quote in someone’s article.
For example, suppose you have a great email marketing tool. A high-quality website is going to publish a post called, “10 experts share how to create unique email campaigns that convert.” They might reach out to you and ask for your advice.
When you submit your quote, you also get a link to your website and possibly a mention of your brand.
Let’s take Buffer’s roundup post as an example.
See how Rachel Pederson got a feature in this article and a link back to her social media agency. Since their target audience is quite similar, this link can win her agency a lot of authority.
If you think you have unique advice/quote that could make the article even better, don’t hesitate to email the editor or manager.
The worst they can say is, “No!”
Off-page SEO factors for link building
We know how important link building is. But since Google mentioned that they consider building links an important ranking factor, marketers started using all kinds of tips and tricks like paying or posting the links on different forums to increase the number of backlinks for their business.
This resulted in search engines getting stricter in the actions they reward and penalize. That’s when black hat SEO practices were discovered, and search engines penalized unnatural or unethical link placements.
Below are the four important factors you should consider while developing your link-building strategy.
Number of referring domains
The number of referring domains indicates the number of websites that link to your site. Google and other search engines take each referring domain as a vote of confidence in your website.
The more domains that refer to you, the higher your vote of confidence level and the more likely that you will rank higher in SERPs.
When people started manipulating backlinks, that’s when Google started talking about link authority.
It’s not important to just have a high number of backlinks. It’s as much important to have these links coming from quality websites. This partly means domains having a higher ranking. Other factors considered are the age of a website, popularity, and the number of inbound links.
Just having a link coming from any site won’t make sense. You need to have links coming from relevant sites or relevant pages. For example, if you have a social media tool, a link from an article on social media campaigns would hold more importance than one from a lifestyle blogger.
This is because Google prefers seeing links from websites relevant to your website’s content. This also helps them determine whether your website will add value to searchers.
Anchor text means those word(s) or phrases hyperlinked on the webpage. It gives search engines an idea of what the linked website is about. Using relevant words for these anchor texts can help you improve your ranking for these keywords.
For example, if you have a social media tool, using the anchor text “social media tool” in links can help you get higher search rankings for that keyword.
Off-page SEO is something businesses can’t miss out on, especially when customers have hundreds of options today.
Instead of debating which is better between off-page SEO and on-page SEO, the key is finding the balance between the two and implementing strategies that work to improve your overall SEO efforts.
If you’re too busy with your company or don’t want to waste time on experimentation, reach out to our experts at MADX, our SaaS SEO Agency, who know exactly what to do to get you the exceptional results you want.