When considering where to start your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts, on-page SEO is typically the starting point for most marketers. Our focus tends to shift towards how to optimize web page elements—such as internal links, meta descript ions or including our primary keywords within our content.
However, some of the most impactful ranking factors happen off the page. In an annual survey conducted by Whitespark, local search experts identified some off-page elements among the top 20 local pack/finder ranking factors:
- The primary Google Business Profile category selected
- Keywords in the Google Business Profile business title
- High Google ratings
- Keywords in Google native reviews
- Quality/authority of inbound links to domain
If your business doesn’t have an off-page SEO strategy in place, you’re not improving search engine trust or improving consumers’ perception of your brand. In this post, we’ll share what off-page SEO entails, why it matters, and how to effectively use it to boost your site’s visibility.
How does off-page SEO differ from on-page SEO?
Off-page SEO, as the name implies, refers to optimizations that take place “off” your web pages.
On-page SEO, on the other hand, refers to optimizing elements on web pages. For example, some of these on-page elements may include creating valuable content on your landing page, internal linking, and keyword optimization.
Each of these on-page elements helps search engines better understand your content. With proper optimization, it can help improve your page’s search engine ranking.
There are a multitude of SEO factors to consider off the web page too. Off-page SEO includes activities from or “behind the scenes” of your website. Instead of focusing on creating high-quality on-page content, popular off-page tactics may include:
- Building backlinks
- Google Business Profile (formerly known as Google My Business) optimization
- Social media marketing
- Influencer marketing
- Content promotion
- Online reviews, including customer and product reviews
- Guest posts
Why do marketers focus on on-page SEO rather than off-page?
Off-page SEO presents more challenges than on-page, as much of it is outside of your control. You can’t choose if a site with high domain authority chooses to accept external links, where and when you appear on social media sites, and if customers leave negative reviews about your business.
Conversely, you can control if your site has high-quality content, if you include external links to high-quality sites, or updating a broken link on your landing page. This is why many digital marketers focus on on-page SEO first before considering off-site SEO. But both on- and off-page require equal attention and effort to drive organic search traffic, leads, and sales.
Why off-page SEO matters
Discerning what search engine algorithms favor can be an arduous task for even the most seasoned SEO professional. Search engine algorithms and ranking signals are complex, and the fact that they’re constantly changing often causes confusion among the SEO community.
What we know for fact, as explicitly stated by Google itself, is expertise, authority, and trustworthiness (E-A-T) matter. Therefore, being seen as a trusted resource in your industry can help improve your search engine rank. E-A-T can be built through a variety of methods. Some of these may include:
- Crafting link-worthy content
- Building your presence on popular social media networks
- Leveraging digital PR to share important or interesting news about your business
- Achieving a guest publishing on a high authority blog
- Creating a strong backlink profile
- Improving the quality of links on your site
- Forging strong relationships with influencers in your space
Marketers, too, are seeing that off-page SEO is an effective tactic for boosting search engine ranking. A recent study found that nearly two-thirds of marketers (62%) devote more time to off-page SEO, while 38% devote more time to on-page SEO. The difference between the two figures is clear and proves the importance of having an off-page SEO strategy in place.
What are some effective off-page SEO techniques?
Now that you’re well-versed in how on-page SEO differs from off-page SEO and why it’s key to your marketing strategy, it’s time to see what off-page SEO tactics are driving tangible results.
A link building strategy is an integral component of good off-page SEO. Links from authoritative sites can help bolster your online reputation, proving to search engines that you’re a trusted resource.
The more backlinks a web page receives from quality external sites, the more likely it is to show search engines that you’re producing engaging, high-quality content. In turn, this can help your content rank higher in search when compared to other sites with a similar piece of content.
There are three different types of links: natural links, manually built links, or self-created links.
Natural links: Natural link building, as you can gauge from the name, requires no outreach from the website owner and isn’t built through guest blog posts or link networks (which can be detrimental to your SEO efforts). For example, a fashion blog might link to a retailer’s winter coat product page to share seasonal apparel inspiration.
Manually built links: These link types differ entirely from natural link building as they’re acquired through deliberate link building activities. For example, in this case the same retailer used in the example above would reach out to the fashion blog owner to see if they’ll include a link to their winter coat product page.
Self-created links: This type of link is created by the site owner. This method of building links is meant to deceive search engines to appear more relevant. These are typically low-quality links found on comments on blog posts or forums.
As you can see, with link building it’s a matter of quality rather than a matter of quantity. If your site has an abundance of low-quality links from sites like forums, it won’t help your content rank any higher. Instead, focus your attention on reaching out to credible sources, such as popular publications in your industry to build authority links.
Broken link building
An SEMrush study found 42.5% of websites have broken internal links, 40.5% have broken external links, and 32.2% have temporary redirects. This study proves backlink opportunities are abundant, seeing as a little less than half of all websites contain broken links. You can use this to your benefit by asking websites with broken links to swap the broken link with a link to your site.
Unlike guest posting, which takes an extensive amount of time and research to draft compelling content, broken link building is much quicker. It also requires little effort for the site with the dead link, and helps them improve their user experience.
No-follow vs do-follow links
Most links on the web are do-follow links which pass on authority to a website. No-follow links do not pass on authority and have no SEO benefit. For link building purposes, ensure the sites you reach out to allow their outbound links to be do-follow links.
Google Business Profile
Having an accurate, up-to-date Google Business Profile is a crucial component of creating positive customer experiences from the moment a searcher finds your brand. Many elements of a Google Business Profile also impact your ability to rank well in search, such as your primary category selected, keywords in your business title, and the sentiment in your Google Reviews.
Additionally, when consumers are in need of a product or service, they most frequently turn to Google.
A study conducted by Rio SEO found nearly three-quarters of consumers frequently use Google Search or Google Maps to find information about businesses in their area.
While it’s important to have accurate information anywhere potential customers can find you, Google deserves extra attention with its 92.37% market share.
Social media engagement
Social media networks offer brands a trove of information about how customers perceive your business. Are there any thematic keywords that surface consistently when someone mentions your brand on a social platform? Does your business receive mostly negative or positive mentions? How often are people engaging with your social media content?
Search engines rely on both negative and positive mentions of your brand on social media platforms. This tells these search engines that you have content users find interesting, a known positive ranking signal.
Reviews offer potential customers an unbiased perspective of how your business operates, and also play a critical role in most consumers’ purchasing decisions. Studies have found that 60% of customers read between 4 and 10 reviews before even visiting a business. Search engines look at reviews to determine if the business provides high-quality products and services.
Online reputation management should be an integral part of your marketing strategy. Monitor your reviews, both customer and product reviews, frequently. Respond to all negative and positive reviews if your team has the capacity to do so. Search engines also look to see which brands are responding to reviews and which are ignoring their customers.
Partnering with prominent, relevant influencers in your niche can help you more effectively reach your target audience. It can also help provide a relevant backlink to help you build your expertise, trust, and authority with search engines.
Influencers have already built a strong following, whether on a blog or on their social media sites. Their followers trust their recommendations and are more likely to trust your business too when the influencer gives your products or services their stamp of approval.
Additionally, when an influencer shares a link to your site, it increases the opportunity for others to share the link with their networks. This helps build your brand’s online presence and may prompt other publications to share your link as well.
Off-page SEO checklist
Both on- and off-page SEO present an abundance of opportunities to improve your search rankings. Your business can foster a better overall experience with current and potential customers.
How do you make sure you’re taking advantage of every off-page opportunity for your business? Here is a helpful off-page SEO checklist to ensure you’re taking advantage of every strategy possible to appear higher in the search rankings.
- Ask your customers to leave reviews for your business post-purchase.
- Build influencer relationships within your niche.
- Seek out opportunities for quality backlinks to build your link profile.
- Publish guest blog posts on sites with good domain authority.
- Optimize your Google Business Profile and fill out every available field.
- Grow your social media presence and respond to your followers when/if applicable.
- Find broken links on other sites and ask them to replace these links with your relevant links.