Off-Page SEO: The Ultimate Beginners Guide

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Written by: Tom Donohoe
Last updated: July 1, 2018

Off-page SEO, you’ve heard about it. And I bet you know it’s important for search engine optimisation.

But you might be wondering:

“What the hell it is?” Don’t worry; you’re not alone I get asked this question a lot!

In this guide, I’ll cover everything you need to know about off-page SEO. And share some actionable strategies for you to try out today.





Chapter 1

What is Off-Page SEO?

Off-page SEO involves strategies implemented off your website to influence your search engine rankings positively.

Most off-page SEO focuses on building links from other websites to your own. But, it also involves creating brand awareness of your website through tactics such as social media, community building, online networking, etc.

In a nutshell, off-page SEO is all things that happen externally to your website.





Why is off-page SEO important?

Off-page SEO is like word of mouth in a way. Every link or mention of your website on the internet acts as a recommendation to search engines.

For example, you’re competing against ten other websites for the top spot on Google. Like how a person would be more likely to choose a brand that their friend recommended. If all else is equal, search engines would likely rank the website with the most links or mentions on the web.

On the other hand, Search engines change their algorithms all the time. But three things always seem to remain relevance, trust, and authority. Off-page SEO can help you improve on these three factors for your website.

A search engine ranking factors study by Moz shows that off-page SEO-related factors likely carry more than 50% of the ranking factor weight. So, It’s critical that your website has off-page SEO as a part of your SEO strategy.




Chapter 2

On-Page vs. Off-Page SEO

On-page SEO is everything that you can control on your website to influence search engine rankings.

On the flip side, off-page SEO is everything external that you can (or can’t) control on your website to influence search engine rankings.

Below I will outline some of the key strategies used in both on and off page SEO.





On-Page vs Off-Page SEO: What’s the Difference?

On-page SEO techniquesOff-Page SEO techniques
Write optimised page titlesLink building
Write optimised meta descriptionsActively Contributing to niche communities
Write optimised heading tagsGuest Blogging
Define smart URL StructureBuilding Mutually Beneficial Relationships via Outreach
Write optimised image alt textCitations, NAP, Reviews
Internal Links and Anchor textCo-Citations + Co-Occurrence
Top quality fresh contentSocial media

Read my guide On-Page SEO: a Dead-Simple Guide (With Examples) for more details about on-page SEO.




Chapter 3

Off-Page SEO Strategies

Now that you’re up to speed with off-page SEO let’s jump into the most common strategies.

Most people consider off-page SEO to be strictly link building, but as I’ve mentioned there is much more to it.

In this chapter, I’ll share everything you need to start developing your off-page SEO strategy.





Link building

Link building is at the heart of off-page SEO, and there are many different link building strategies you can try.

Andrey Lipattsev, a Search Quality Senior Strategist at Google, said in an interview:

I can tell you what they are [top ranking factors]. It is content and links pointing to your site.

So we know that links from another website to yours are in Google’s top ranking factors. Let’s take a look at how you can build links.

How to get links to your site

There are many ways to build links to your website, but some of the most popular include:

  • Guest blogging: writing an article for another website that links to your website.
  • Linkbait: creating an asset on your website that people want to link to.
  • Expert roundup: first ask a large group of experts to comment on a topic. Next, compile their answers in a blog post, then promote it asking for them to link to and share it.
  • Broken Link Building: find broken links on the web and suggest to the website owner to replace them with a link to your website.
  • Link reclamation: monitor the web for unlinked mentions of your brand. Then reach out to the website owner and ask them to link to you.
  • Newsjacking: creating content that adds value to a trending topic. Then promote it to news publications to acquire links.
  • Infographics: creating a visually compelling infographic and make it easier for people to share it on their website.
  • Directory Submission: submit your website to relevant, trustworthy business directories.
  • Sponsorships: sponsor a charity, event, organisation or team to acquire a link from their website.

Want a more in-depth summary of these strategies? Check out my article: Link Building: The Complete Guide.




Participating in conversations in communities within your niche

When thinking about SEO people often forget there is more to it than content and links. Marketing is all about finding and engaging with your target audience. SEO is no different.

You need to find the places online where your target audience is active. Then take part in the conversations.

Community participation can lead to SEO benefits like:

  • Backlinks
  • Referral traffic
  • Citations
  • Relationships
  • Direct brand searches

There are online communities that have almost every niche on them like Reddit and Quora. But with a little research, you can find even more tailored websites that are focused on a specific niche.

Tactics to engage with communities within your niche:

  • Comment on blog articles
  • Take part in forums
  • Answers questions
  • Engage on social media

For example, I focus on targeting small-medium businesses for my digital consulting services. I try to engage on websites where these business owners hang out, like Flying Solo a small business community with over 100,000 members:

flying solo homepage




Building Mutually Beneficial Relationships

Relationships are vital to successful off-page SEO, and you shouldn’t stand idle waiting for them to happen. Identify the key people in your niche that you want to share your content, link to you and recommend you to others.

Build a list of these people and create a plan for building a relationship with them. Don’t blatantly go and ask them for something. Try to help them first.

Tactics to build mutually beneficial relationships:

  • Share their content on your social media channels and mention them
  • Quote them in your content
  • Try to reach out to them with a common interest but don’t ask for anything.

The goal here is to build a genuine relationship that down the track will get you results. For example, getting links to your website or shares on social media.

The relationships might not sound worth the effort. But, think how much would a link from their website or a share to their following do for your business?




Content Promotion and outreach

A fundamental off-page SEO strategy is content promotion and outreach. You can get backlinks by doing nothing and letting them come naturally. But, you can get a hell of a lot more by actively prospecting and promoting your content to the right people.

Content promotion ideas:

  • Send article to your newsletter subscriber list
  • Email your article to people who have linked to you before

Outreach tools:

  • Hunter.io – find anyone’s email address

The goal of content promotion and outreach is to build buzz around your content. With the hope that it will lead to some links to help it rank on search engines.




Social Media

The topic of Google using social media as a ranking factor is heavily debated, but as far as we know, they don’t.

A webmaster trends analyst at Google, Gary Illyes said on Twitter:

“The short version is, no; we don’t [use social media as a ranking factor]”

But, that’s not to say it’s not an indirect ranking factor that should be in your off-page SEO strategy.

Why Social Media matters in off-page SEO:

  • When content gets shared on social media with thousands of shares and lots of engagement, it will likely receive backlinks. Compare that to an article that doesn’t get shared on social media it may gain fewer backlinks.
    Social Media generates brand awareness, which in turn can lead to more branded organic searches.
  • Social media growth in popularity isn’t slowing down, and it would be stupid to ignore it as a brand. It’s likely that one day it will become a ranking factor in Google.

In fact, Bing state in their Webmaster guidelines that social media “can have an impact on how you rank organically in the long run.”




Over to you

I hope this guide help you get an understanding of off-page SEO!

Let me know, which strategy you will try out first?