- The majority of marketers report their SEO tactics as extremely effective in achieving their goals.
- SEO tactics consist of either on-page, off-page, and technical SEO.
- Off-page SEO focuses on the external factors that improve or degrade its ranking.
- Google penalizes sites with lower quality backlinks or that artificially inflate backlinks.
- Google Search Console provides crucial insights into page indexing, site performance, and mobile usability
“Come for the on-page SEO, stay for the off-page SEO.”
Each year, global investments in SEO increase for the simple reason that these tactics are proven to work. The vast majority of marketers surveyed in 2021 report their SEO tactics are ‘extremely’ or ‘very effective’ in helping achieve their marketing goals.
Achieving your brand visibility and search ranking goals requires a balanced SEO strategy. Balancing a good SEO strategy depends on a variety of tactics that impact your on-page and off-page qualities. A fundamental understanding of how these basic components of SEO produce ranking signals and drive growth for your site helps to hone your investment and capitalize on factors most relevant to search engines.
These tactics may be universally defined as one of three types. On-page, off-page, and technical SEO. Off-page SEO methodologies like social media, content marketing, brand and citation building among others are essential for an effective SEO roadmap.
In this article we’ll break down how off-page SEO fits into a good digital marketing strategy and how Google weighs the resulting metrics. Then we’ll examine some popular techniques of effective off-page SEO to get you started in adopting your own strategy. If you have questions, or want to share your own results, the Redefine Marketing Group team is always accessible to trade knowledge.
What Is off-page SEO and why do I need it?
Quite simply put, SEO is a three-headed serpent… and Google is the Mother of Dragons. One of these heads encompasses factors that most impact your website’s expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness — otherwise known as your E-A-T score.
Before we explore off-page SEO, let’s have a closer look at the other heads of this three-headed beast.
On-page SEO is essential for enabling Google and other search engines to produce search engine results relevant to specific keyword queries. On-page SEO means precisely what it sounds like: it is the full set of code and content intrinsic to a website (or “on the page”) from which Google interprets a variety of markers that help determine a page’s search relevance compared to others. These markers include the very code elements that describe a webpage’s content (meta tags), how the page is organized (headers), and the very keywords present on-page.
Since search engines aren’t people, they scour the Internet differently than we do. Search engines use their googly (Google-y?) eyes to scan a website’s HTML code. It’s in this language that your site may or may not be optimized to deliver those signals Google requires to rank your page highly for certain search parameters.
Naturally, your site’s on-page quality has a polar opposite. To best understand how off-page SEO affects search ranking and relevance, we should first take a moment to understand technical SEO — the aspect of optimization that involves the functional programming of a website. While users interact directly with text and images defined by a site’s HTML code, the website itself relies on under-the-hood mechanics to drive performance factors like site speed, site structure, XML sitemaps, and Robots.txt.
Though these factors may be invisible to the user, for the most part, they play a large role in the way a website delivers its code across the Internet and to the user’s display. Google now and forever evaluates websites with faster site loading speed, more efficiency in page grouping and structure, and rich in non-duplicative content as more relevant and therefore more highly ranked.
This technical optimization is… technically… a part of on-page SEO. But its resulting metrics furnish Google with a unique set of markers separate from on-page quality.
This brings us to the final serpent head. Off-page SEO is an equally critical component that departs from a website’s local SEO control and focuses on external factors that improve or degrade its ranking. Just as the term implies, off-page SEO deals with content featured on sites off of your page or website. Instances where external sites mention your brand or link back to your site help to build domain authority.
Off-page SEO is in a sense earned by a brand’s reputation, its domain authority, and the strategic efforts by a business or its SEO consultants to create opportunities for quality backlinks. The full spectrum of opportunity for off-page SEO is always evolving and growing. Today it can include anything from backlinks and unlinked brand mentions to guest blogs, influencer partnerships, and social media content marketing, among other channels.
It has never been a matter of on-page vs off-page SEO. Rather, all three heads of this beast work together to supply Google with vital metrics. A brand’s SEO strategy, whether in-house or developed by an agency consultant, must be designed to balance labor and cost allocations to yield the best site performance while eliminating deficiencies both on and off-page.
Is link building all there is to off-page SEO?
A brand website with limited authority or lacking good off-page SEO strategy will always be left behind by the Googlebot as it crawls pages and determines rankings..
Many brands, and even a surprising number of SEO consultants, believe link building to be the only ingredient in off-page SEO. After all, it’s well-known that links are arguably the most important ranking factor to Google’s algorithm.
But this type of simplistic approach misses the nuance in Google’s determination to improve its algorithm and judge quality over quantity. The Penguin 4.0 update made this incredibly clear to anyone who missed the memo, penalizing sites with lower quality backlinks and those who employed black hat techniques to artificially inflate its backlink profile.
Prepare your site for linking
As we discussed previously, the balanced impact made by your on-page, off-page, and technical SEO positions your site for ranking preference, provided you have strong domain authority. Use backlink analytics to inspect the authority of your links, and leverage this data to refine your off-page SEO strategy. Similarly, you can use this tool to prospect for links on other sites, focusing on high-scoring domain authority. Link building may be key to building authority, but it will also be constantly challenged for ranking by sites possessing higher authority.
For this very reason, a brand seeking to fulfill ambitious ranking goals must focus on more than just the link building campaign. A foundation must be built on the aforementioned on-page and technical optimization techniques to ensure your page is prepared for link building.
A logical site structure that interlinks each page and emphasizes your brand name creates seamless integration. Not only will your site user experience benefit from a flat linking structure, search engines will more efficiently crawl your site. It follows that thoughtfully laid out pages will improve your site’s searchability and ensure link equity between all pages on your site.
Factors that impact link value
Once your site is properly prepared for linking, you’ll reap the full benefits from link building provided you concentrate on attaining backlinks from websites with established domain authority of their own. Cheaply bought links are no match for those which produce a higher impact based on a number of factors. Some factors that impact your link values may include:
- Number of Linked Pages/Domains – The quantity of domains linking to you, and the quantity of links within those domains
- Page Rank/Authority – Links from pages with higher page rank and authority scores inherently produce a higher impact
- Link Relevancy – Pages linking to you that provide similar content may be deemed more relevant to user searches
- Link Diversity – It’s critical that you avoid concentrating too many links of a single type, which prevents Google from flagging these as spam
- Link Location – Links appearing in less conspicuous sections of a site page (headers, footers, sidebars) may produce less impact than those within the main piece of content featured on a page
- DoFollow/NoFollow – HTML code assigns DoFollow status to a link intended for search engines to crawl, potentially offering more value than NoFollow links
- Anchor Text – Keyword based anchor text plays a lesser role now than in previous years, but remains a key indicator of link relevancy
So how does one go about producing backlinks? You’d be surprised how truly simple the process of link building can be. Much can be said about the power of networking and communication. Reaching out to brands and website administrators may prove to be the quickest path at creating links. Even committing to your own blog by publishing a steady roll of rich and relevant pieces of content may soon find an audience, produce backlinks, and earn authority.
Sophisticated = valuable
While simplicity works, sophisticated efforts may yield even more valuable links. A coordinated effort to research your competitors backlinks, and identifying those sites with high authority in your sector, can provide you with the ammunition to build a focused strategy and target the most impactful links.
Broken link building is one example of a targeted strategy. By researching sites relevant to your sector and harvesting dead links that were once routed to competitors or other sites with high authority, you can produce opportunities for high-value backlinks. You can infer the subject matter of a dead piece of content, or even employ the wayback machine to examine and reproduce a new version of what was once actively linked.
With a new piece of content in hand, outreach to the original linking domain is more likely to be successful. Not only will they thank you for identifying outdated content on their page, you may earn an invaluable backlink, and in the process expand your network of influence.
But while building links is by far one of the most known and practiced strategies to build off-page SEO, backlinks are not the only off-page markers that make an impact on your ranking.
Off-page SEO strategies
If you’re looking for current methodologies other than link building to refine and enhance your off-page SEO, consider the following essential tactics, as well as some key considerations our team advises should you plan to incorporate these into your strategy.
A staple of off-page SEO tactics, guest blogging refers to collaboration with companies or other online entities sharing an established audience within your sector. The mutual benefit of writing a piece of content for another website, or inviting guest bloggers to write content for your site make this one of the best inbound marketing strategies.
The net result of effective guest blogging can be an increase in domain authority, the acquisition of high-impact links, and a boost in traffic.
Effective as it may be, any initial foray into guest blogging will quickly reveal the time investment necessary to produce a solid piece of content. It requires careful research to identify potential partners, develop the right subject matter, then write and submit the post before waiting to see your content published (this is, after all, off-page SEO and inherently outside of your control).
Investing in strategies that enhance the online visibility of a local brand can mean the difference between a costly SEO investment that looks great on paper and one that produces ranking.
Google My Business (GMB) is one of the most reputable indexes to build off-page presence and directly reach your target customer. As early as 10 years ago, a Google Mobile Movement study determined that 88% of consumers seeking information on a local business online take action within 24 hours. That number and speed of conversion continues to grow to this day.
Ensuring you are properly represented and taking the time to manage your GMB profile passively yields positive results from the most cost-effective investment.
We can imagine most brands are well aware of the necessity for an intelligent social media component to their digital marketing campaign. What may be lost on some is how far social media platforms have come in playing a similar role to search engines. The larger and more influential a platform becomes, the more effectively it delivers discovery information to the user/consumer.
While social media sites may share your content and produce organic traffic, they aren’t considered by Google as an explicit ranking signal. However, the role they play in giving your brand visibility and eliciting engagement makes them a critical extension of your customer service infrastructure. Not only can you establish new brand mentions and build reputation through a piece of content, you can communicate directly with information-hungry consumers seeking to engage with your brand. In this way, a mindful approach to social media tactics can be a meaningful part of your off-page SEO.
The landscape of influencer marketing grows exponentially with the maturation of social media platforms and the ability of brands to cultivate potentially lucrative collaborations with the right partnerships.
But be advised that Google’s guidelines loom large over even the most creative of collaborations. You should be wary of DoFollow links within a piece of content since this may violate Google’s recommended methods for flagging advertising-related or sponsored links.
Now, with giants like YouTube and Facebook long-serving the behemoth share of the audience market, the growth of Instagram and explosive popularity of TikTok expands the playing field. Businesses seeking to foster targeted brand mentions, build their audience, and expand the reach of an existing piece of content have a novel set of creative opportunities beyond old-fashioned guest blogging.
Like local SEO, online reviews can have a measurable impact on your potential customers, and as a result can help or harm your brand. Not only can reviews have an immediate impact on the customer journey, negative reviews can and will sway consumer decisions in the wrong direction, and potentially create a reputation management nightmare.
All websites that aggregate reviews which may feature your brand or product should be squarely in your sights when developing an off-page SEO strategy. Not only will negative brand mentions require your attention and perhaps even direct communication with customers, positive brand mentions provide yet another set of signals for Google to understand your online presence and calculate domain authority.
Positive brand mentions are incremental but invaluable steps toward brand building, establishing trust with the consumer, and yielding customer conversions.
Remember the iPod? We don’t, either. Yet the podcast’s namesake was an integral part of propping this medium up to become the massively popular channel it is today. The convenience of downloading pre-recorded audio broadcasts to your mobile device allowed creators of all types to deliver a steady stream of content directly to their audience, and earn potential ad revenue in the process.
Today, podcasts are no longer bound by the capacity of your iPod, and are delivered seamlessly to your mobile device, in your car, or virtually any Internet connected device. As such, the audience for podcasts sees no slowdown in growth. The number of podcast listeners in the U.S. is estimated to increase from 75.9 million in 2020 to over 100 million in 2024.
Like YouTube, podcast feed aggregators are yet another set of search engines that have the potential to deliver your content directly to interested customers. If you choose to invest the time and energy required to develop and produce regular podcast programming, your SEO efforts should be aimed at ensuring that your audience can locate your content regardless of their choice of platform.
What’s more, despite the enormous popularity of podcasts, this particular channel is still a minority player. With few, if any, of your competitors likely incorporating this into their SEO roadmap, you may find the tactic brings you a competitive edge in brand building and domain authority.
How will I know when my off-page SEO pays off?
The first step in verifying the results of your on-page, off-page, and technical SEO tactics is establishing a disciplined approach to monitoring your Google Analytics and Google Search Console.
The data yielded from having these resources integrated on your website provide crucial insights into your page’s indexing, site performance, and mobile usability. With this in hand, you or your SEO consultant can stay ahead of deficiencies before they negatively impact your rankings, and employ fixes as quickly as issues arise.
A well-conceived SEO strategy that maintains balanced optimization will build trust with users, establish domain authority for your brand, and inform search engines how to rank you for relevant searches. Fortify your investments with a proper roadmap and proactive monitoring efforts.
Redefine Marketing Group delivers precisely the right balanced campaign for a diverse set of sectors, and provides clients with a clear understanding of proposed tactics before engagement. Like the trust customers demand of your brand, so too should you seek trust and authority from your chosen SEO partner. Reach out to an RMG team member today and discover what new opportunities might be in store to build your brand.