What Is Off-Page SEO?
Off-page SEO, in short, covers all SEO tactics that take place outside of your own website.
It is often thought to just be link building, but in reality, there are far more off-page SEO tactics that you should be using if you want to gain a competitive advantage.
Tactics such as brand building, citation building, content marketing, social media, and more all play an important part in a comprehensive SEO strategy.
But as a simple explanation of off-page SEO, this covers any tactics that you use that don’t involve making changes to your own website or publishing content on your own site.
These signals help both search engines and users to gain a perception of your site’s authority and are also used as key trust and relevance factors.
Why does off-page SEO matter?
While search algorithms and ranking factors are constantly changing, the general consensus within the SEO community is that the relevance, trustworthiness, and authority that effective off-page SEO affords a website still play a major role in a page’s ability to rank.
While we don’t know the full algorithm Google uses to rank content, data from our Search Engine Ranking Factors study show that off-site SEO-related factors likely carry more than 50% of the ranking factor weight.
Links and off-page SEO
Building backlinks is at the heart of off-page SEO. Search engines use backlinks as indications of the linked-to content’s quality, so a site with many high value backlinks will usually rank better than an otherwise equal site with fewer backlinks.
There are three main types of links, defined by how they were earned: natural links, manually built links, or self-created links.
Natural links are editorially given without any action on the part of a page owner. For example, a food blogger adding a link to a post that points toward their favorite produce farms is a natural link.
Manually built links are acquired through deliberate link-building activities. This includes things like getting customers to link to your website or asking influencers to share your content.
Self-created links are created by practices such as adding a backlink in an online directory, forum, blog comment signature, or a press release with optimized anchor text. Some self-created link building tactics tend toward black hat SEO and are frowned upon by search engines, so tread lightly here.
Regardless of how links were obtained, those that offer the greatest contribution to SEO efforts are generally those that pass the most equity. There are many signals that positively contribute to the equity passed, such as:
The linking site’s popularity
How related the linking site’s topic is to the site being linked to
The “freshness” of the link
The anchor text used on the linking site
The trustworthiness of the linking site
The number of other links on the linking page
Authority of the linking domain and page
Non-link-related off-site SEO
While earning links from external websites is the most commonly practiced off-page SEO strategy, almost any activity that a) occurs outside of your own website and b) helps to improve your search ranking position could be thought of as “off-page SEO.” These include things like:
Social media marketing
Linked and unlinked brand mentions
It’s important to note, though, that the net result of each of these activities is to somehow create a reference to your site from elsewhere on the web — be that reference a link, a mention of your brand or website, or otherwise. So, the concept of truly “non-link-related” off-page SEO is actually a bit of a misnomer!
A note on local off-page SEO:
Off-page SEO relies on human behavior (namely, that people only reference and share content they like). As such, it applies to both organic and local SEO. Even in a brick-and-mortar business, high-quality products get a lot of word-of-mouth referrals from current customers — the in-person equivalent of off-page SEO. Local SEO is also off-page SEO
Local SEO is essential if you’re business is locally oriented. For local businesses, part of the off-page SEO is really in-person SEO. Word-of-mouth marketing plays a big role in getting people to your business. Not just that, happy customers can leave reviews online that Google – and other potential customers – can use to see how well you are doing.
Creating exposure, trust and brand awareness
When focusing on on-page SEO, you’re doing everything in your power to make your site awesome. You write great content, have a solid site structure and your mobile site loads in just a couple of seconds. All is well in the world. Off-page SEO on the other hand, helps you to bring in those hordes of visitors and potential customers. Both are important pieces of the puzzle.
By writing quality content you can rank in search engines, but by getting a few great, relevant sites to link to that content, you’re increasing the chance that you’ll end up a couple of spots higher. The same goes for building your brand and creating trust. This doesn’t just happen on your site, but mostly off-site. Take reviews, for instance, these can make or break your company. You need them, but they most often appear on external sites. These are all factors that contribute to your rankings.
It’s not only important for you to rank high for your search term, but also to create trust and a sense of authority. You must appear to be the best search result, not just in a technical and content sense, but also in reality. Popularity, quality, and relevance are everything.
Social media helps to a certain extent
By itself, social media is not essential for ranking well in search engines. It does, however, give you a unique opportunity to get in touch with customers and potential visitors.
As David Mhim wrote in his epic Ranking your local business post series: “”Being active” on social media isn’t really going to help with your local search visibility. And even if you’re wildly popular on social media, it’s unlikely that popularity will translate directly into higher local search rankings. You should primarily focus your social media efforts on engaging your customers with interesting content, promotions (if relevant), and polls and conversations that will increase their affinity for your brand. You can promote your website to a degree, but generally speaking, improvements in your local rankings will come from other factors.”
Off-page SEO is an integral part of your SEO strategy
As we’ve shown, off-page SEO supplements on-page SEO. Both go hand in hand. You need to focus on your link building, branding and appearance efforts to make the most of your SEO. You can optimize your site all you want, but if it isn’t perceived as a quality destination for people, you won’t do well.
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