Off-page SEO remains the deciding ranking factor in SEO success. As a recent study showed, the number of domains linking to a page from different domains was the most important factor in attaining high rankings.
Because of that, even though you should definitely spend the time implementing the best practices of on-page SEO, understanding the most effective white-hat link-building techniques should be a top priority as well.
And the good news is that if you take the time to understand the fundamental principles, ranking for even the most competitive keywords will become a realistic goal.
With that in mind, let’s go over everything you need to know about what is off page SEO, including how SEO off page practices work, how to build backlinks, and how to create a comprehensive off-page SEO strategy that will match your goals.
What is SEO?
Before we dig into the specifics of building backlinks through guest posts and other strategies, it’s important to gain a better understanding of what SEO is and the different aspects that influence your rankings’ potential.
To start with the very basics, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, and it’s the process of obtaining organic traffic through Google and other search engines. Since Google wants to provide its users with the best experience, websites are judged on their relevance, convenience, and trustworthiness when deciding what order they will be displayed in.
With search engine optimization, you can utilize a set of on-site and off-site best practices to get your site ranked higher for specific keywords that are relevant to your industry and goals.
Over time, this can result in you gaining top positions for various keywords and winning a steady stream of highly-targeted organic traffic from prospective customers who are actively searching for what you have to offer.
How SEO Works
Search engines use crawling to identify websites and pages to collect information, indexing the pages according to various criteria and then ranking them based on the key factors.
When people type in a query into Google or another search engine, they are presented with the most relevant results to help them or answer their question.
To determine what results to show, Google uses a complex algorithm that takes into account a variety of factors. And many of those factors can be influenced by website owners, either by improving the on-site experience or utilizing SEO signals such as backlinks to show Google that a website is worthy of being ranked higher.
Whenever you publish a new piece of content or add a page, the crawlers will seek it out and collect the most important information about its contents, main themes, media, and other aspects that play a role in your rankings potential.
Then, the website is indexed and evaluated accordingly, which provides you with the initial ranking. As your pages become more established and start being linked to, your ranking will be updated accordingly. Depending on the competition you are facing for various keywords, it can take very little or a lot of effort to outcompete some of the leading results right now.
Your goal should be to get as many of your pages indexed and ranked, as that increases your website’s authority in the eyes of Google, which means more rankings potential as well.
Therefore, your primary goals when trying to improve rankings should be to create a website that’s user-friendly and well-structured, add new content regularly to encourage crawling and indexing, and get high-quality backlinks from relevant websites to show Google your website adds value and should be ranked higher.
Off-page SEO is an integral part of any SEO strategy. As the name implies, it encompasses everything you do outside of your website to attain higher rankings. And because of the way that Google’s algorithm is set up, it’s almost impossible to achieve significant gains on Google without having at least a basic understanding of how to make off-site SEO work in your situation.
In essence, off-page SEO aims to show the search engines that your website is trusted by others, provides valuable and relevant information, and is an authority on the subject.
The main way to accomplish this is to have other websites link to your pages, ideally with relevant anchor text that’s closely related to the main theme of the page.
As a strategy, off-page SEO can encompass not just link building, but also content marketing, social media marketing, and even branding efforts aimed at creating a more comprehensive online presence you can leverage into higher rankings for your website.
However, as you’ll soon learn, off-page SEO is much more than just getting as many links to point back to your site. Because of the complexities that are involved in modern search engine algorithms, it’s no longer possible (or at least not sustainable) to game the system with low-quality or dishonest backlink strategies.
Instead, today’s white-hat off-page SEO strategies revolve around adding value and getting links to your site featured on relevant, trustworthy, and established sites that prospective customers are likely to frequent.
How Does Off-Page SEO Work
Even though off-page SEO has become more complex, the main driving force behind success remains getting backlinks.
Attaining a backlink, by definition, is the process of getting another website to link back to your site with an anchor text. Therefore, to get backlinks, you will need to get others to willingly add your links to articles, pages, or other parts of a website.
These links must also be “dofollow”, which are links that allow Google and other search engines to count them towards your search engine ranks. In contrast, nofollow links are links that are marked so that it doesn’t count for ranking the page on the SERPs or boosting its PageRank.
Therefore, the first step of off-page SEO will usually involve finding websites that are willing to publish your content. The websites you’ll usually work with will accept guest posting and provide authority links back to your site.
To get published, you will also need to create high-quality content that is useful for the readers and relevant in your field. Otherwise, getting the article published will become much more difficult. For instance, if you have a website where you sell sunglasses, it will be tough to insert a relevant backlink on a website that’s centered around car insurance.
As you get more of your content and backlinks published on various high-quality websites, Google will recognize that your site is receiving powerful links that aim to enhance the user experience, and will start ranking your site higher for the relevant keywords.
By getting more content published across the web, you will eventually have thousands of links that will not just provide a massive boost to your rankings but will also help you gain a lot of traffic from organic search, as well as the blogs themselves.
Why is Off-Page SEO Important
The main reason why companies invest in off-page SEO is to improve SEO rankings. But in doing so, off-page SEO can create a range of additional benefits that help grow your online business in the long term.
Let’s look over some of the ways that off-page SEO can impact your business positively below.
Improve Your Search Engine Rankings
As mentioned throughout this article, having high-quality websites link back to your site’s pages is one of the main deciding factors in your SERP rankings potential.
As you collect more backlinks from a variety of sources, you will start gaining a significant advantage over your competitors and will be well on your way to reaching the top result spots for the keywords you are targeting.
Improve Brand Authority
Having a strong online presence is not just about ranking on Google. You also need to have credibility in the eyes of your audience, at least if you want to ensure that they trust your claims and seek out information from your blogs and social media.
And having your site be linked to from other authoritative pages reinforces the fact that your website is trustworthy and endorsed by other industry experts.
More Overall Traffic
As you utilize off-page strategies for gaining better rankings, you will start seeing traffic coming in from a variety of sources.
Whether it’s Google search, other search engines, other websites, or even social media, having your links spread across the web will create a broad network of traffic options you can rely on to bring you targeted leads who are likely to be interested in what you have to offer.
One of the best things about actively building backlinks as part of your off-page SEO strategy is that it will create momentum that will encourage natural backlinks as well.
Eventually, the page you’re trying to rank will truly become the number one resource on the topic, which means many websites will link to it not because of an agreement with you but because they want to provide the best possible experience for their readers. And these types of backlinks will further reinforce your rankings, allowing you to maximize the momentum that your off-page SEO efforts have created.
Take Control of What Keywords You Rank For
Finally, mastering off-page SEO will allow you to take control of the quality of links you get and the goals you accomplish by adhering to the search algorithms. Instead of leaving the SEO performance of your pages to chance, you can decide what keywords you want to target and gain organic search traffic that’s relevant to your brand, products, and goals.
There are many ways a link-building agency can skyrocket your rankings, but perhaps the biggest advantage of working with professionals is that they can help focus and systemize your efforts so that every keyword you pursue brings you the biggest returns possible.
Understanding that link building is an integral part of a successful SEO strategy is a solid first step in achieving the top rankings for your desired keywords. But while it’s clear that link building matters, you may be unclear of what it is or how it should look in practice.
For someone without prior experience, gaining links that will actually have a positive impact on search engine rankings can be an overwhelming task. Even if you can create quality content and get another website to publish, how do you decide on the anchor text and what should your landing page look like?
These are just a couple of the questions you probably have, so to clarify the process of link building, let’s dive deep into how it works and how it can positively influence your SEO performance.
How Does Link Building Work
To better understand link building and how it works, it’s a good idea to first go through the exact process by which links can benefit your rankings potential.
As mentioned throughout this article, not all links are created equal, and the types of backlinks you’re able to get will have a deciding impact on the results you can achieve.
Some of the main ways backlinks can differ in quality include:
- Global Link Popularity. Global link popularity, or GLP for short, is a broad measure that tells you how many links are pointing to a website. In general, more links mean more authority, which gives the link to your site more “link juice” as well.
- Local Link Popularity. Local link popularity is a narrower measurement of a site’s authority that focuses on backlinks from websites in the same niche or field. This relevance can be important since Google tends to prioritize backlinks from relevant sources rather than random websites.
- Context. Linking from related websites is only going to matter if the topics match up with the themes of the sites and the themes of the articles. You need to make sure that the context in which the link is inserted makes sense and enhances the experience of the reader.
- Anchor Text. The anchor text is the final component that plays a role in how much added value a link back to your site can offer. In short, you want the anchor text to reflect what the landing page is about and never use generic and useless anchor text like “click here” or “learn more”.
Internal Link Building
Another important thing to understand about link building is that internal linking can be just as important as external link building.
As you build and expand your site’s content and create valuable resources, you need to create a web of links that connect the various pages on your website, allowing readers to dig deeper into different topics and easily navigate through your content and pages.
To achieve this, you need to be strategic about how you map out your content, taking a structured approach and creating pillar posts that encompass everything, as well as smaller articles that expand on smaller parts of the topics you want to cover.
A good rule of thumb to follow regarding internal links is to have at least one text link for every single page on your website.
But what about external links? Let’s look at the process of building links on other websites below.
External Link Building
When it comes to external link building, the main thing to understand is that it starts with having high-quality content. If you want to achieve and sustain SEO rankings gains, you will need to create content that is genuinely helpful and enhances the experience of the readers.
When you create top-quality content, you will have a much easier time getting other websites to link to it as a helpful resource. You can even utilize simple but highly-effective strategies such as obtaining backlinks by searching for broken links and offering to replace them.
Alternatively, you can look for pages you would like to get a link from and ask if you could write an informative guest post that would link to an article on your website. Even though the process can be painstaking, it’s probably the most effective way of building quality backlinks manually.
As your website gains more traction, you can even expect some high-quality backlinks to occur without you needing to do anything. Most reputable bloggers want to provide the best experience for their readers, and that includes adding links to helpful external resources that build and expand on the topic they are covering.
Secondary Advantages of Link Building
Earlier in the article, we looked at some of the main reasons why off-page SEO is important. But when it comes to link building, there are a few secondary benefits that can be valuable on top of the traffic and rankings that ranking on the top page of Google can offer.
Build Strategic Relationships
The rate at which you grow your business will largely depend on the relationships you can create and nurture. To accelerate growth, you need partners in your industry who can provide vital resources, help you reach new markets, and collaborate to develop new ideas that help you gain an advantage.
And by getting published on the leading websites in your field, you will establish relationships with some of the brightest minds in your industry. These people can help you improve your branding, result in valuable collaborations, or even end up being partnerships that take your business to the next level.
Gain Insights Into Your Audience
Getting high-quality backlinks from leading websites in your niche isn’t easy. In fact, most of these websites are usually very picky about the guest posts and backlinks they accept, which means you will have to do in-depth research about what the readership of those websites is interested in to get webmasters interested in what you have to offer.
And by analyzing the most popular websites in your field and their audiences, you will discover valuable insights about the most pressing questions and problems the readers are facing, as well as the types of solutions they are looking for.
As you get better at getting your content published and linked to, you will also get better at providing better solutions to your target customer, which can have an even bigger effect on the long-term results your business can achieve.
More Clicks from Different Websites
As you get more of your links published on various websites and blogs, you will start getting traffic from the sites in addition to the organic traffic you get from the SERPs.
With more people reading your guest posts and other articles where your links are published, many will decide to click on the links and learn more about the topic your website’s page covers. And since these people are already interested in the topic, they are likely interested in what you have to offer as well, which can lead to many additional sales you wouldn’t get otherwise.
At this point, it’s not hard to see that backlinks are at the heart of successful off-page SEO. But many novice marketers don’t realize that there are actually multiple types of external links you could get and not all of them provide the same level of value.
Understanding all of these methods will help you develop a more rounded off-page SEO strategy that will produce more consistent results across all the pages you want to rank higher for.
Let’s look at the most common types of backlinks below.
Perhaps the most common type of backlink that can impact your search engine rankings might get linked without you knowing about it. When you create valuable content, people that read it will be much more likely to share it, and each share will result in a natural link that can provide an immense boost to your link-building strategy and SEO rankings.
Whenever you write a blog post and share it with your audience, you will likely get a lot of social shares and inbound links, at least if the content promotes discussion and adds value. These links are tracked by Google and other search engines, and they eventually provide your post with more authority and perceived value, moving you up the ladder in the search rankings.
Even though natural links are very valuable as ranking factors, their biggest drawback is that you can’t always rely on them consistently. Some posts simply won’t generate as much traction with your target audience as you’d like, leaving you with inconsistent results that may be hard to replicate with each post.
Back in the days when Google wasn’t as good at distinguishing between different backlinks and their quality, unscrupulous SEO service providers used automated link-building techniques that flooded the web with virtually worthless backlinks, which sometimes helped the website rank despite it offering little to no value.
This method utilized software that posted “spun” content on hundreds of websites, creating slightly varied copies of the same piece of content to create the illusion of many websites linking back to the original content.
Unsurprisingly, Google hates automated link building that’s done illegitimately and is continually updating its algorithm in a way that helps it recognize which links are fraudulent and penalize the sites that use these tactics.
In the past decade, as the Google algorithm received significant upgrades that made the system much more sophisticated, most software solutions that might have worked at some point became mostly obsolete.
And while there are still providers trying to game the system and attain rankings for poor-quality and low-value sites, they’re facing an increasingly uphill battle while trying to keep up with the changes in the way that Google evaluates and ranks websites.
Because building high-quality links naturally isn’t always a sustainable strategy and using low-quality automated link services is no longer working, you need to consider how to revamp your SEO efforts by taking initiative in how many backlinks your posts and pages can acquire.
Today, a growing number of companies and SEO agencies utilize manual link-building strategies to boost rankings performance. But, just as you might expect, the quality and effectiveness of manual link-building strategies can vary greatly depending on the provider, their practices, and their experience.
First off, that means identifying the relevant websites in your industry and getting them to publish your backlinks along with the content you create. And while it seems straightforward enough, without a network of blogs and the relationships you must form with webmasters and editors, you’ll be facing a steep challenge trying to get your work accepted. The leading websites in your field have such strong readerships for a reason; they have spent years providing their readers with top-quality content, and they won’t risk disappointing their audience just so you can get a backlink.
Another important consideration is that when you want to build genuine links from relevant high-quality websites, you can’t expect to do that with plagiarized, low-quality, or outdated content. In fact, you will usually need to bring new insights and valuable information for the readers if you want quality blogs and websites to even consider accepting your article and adding a backlink.
Local SEO is a relatively recent development in search engine history. In fact, as recently as a decade ago, if you were looking for local restaurants, you would often get search results with more nationwide websites.
But all of that changed in 2013 when Google revamped local search and reshaped its history. The Pigeon update, released in 2014, cemented the new age of Google search, with tailored local search results that sought to provide people with a useful, relevant, and informative search for local businesses.
Today, most businesses operating in a specific area can’t imagine success without being visible on Google’s local search. If your company can’t be found on Google Maps and through Google search, it might as well be invisible online because most people who use online search use it to look for local businesses.
Some of the main factors that influence your Local SEO efforts include:
- Optimizing your Google My Business listing to ensure it contains all the information about your business, working hours, contact info, a description, and anything else your customers might find useful when looking up your services online.
- Making your website more geared towards local audiences and highlighting the information they will find useful, such as your working hours, address, map with exact location, and contact information.
- Taking control of the ratings your business has on various websites, tracking what people are saying, responding to reviews, and ensuring that you take into account the feedback you receive.
- Encouraging customers to leave a review for your business, since that’s a big factor that tells Google your business is one of the best options in the area.
On top of the factors listed above, there are off-page SEO strategies you can take to ensure your website ranks as high as possible for the key local searches your ideal customer might be typing in.
When you create your Google My Business listing, that in itself will allow you to link back to your website, which means you get a top-quality backlink to your site from Google.
Another great way to gain relevant backlinks to your local business website is to utilize the online press and news bulletins in your area. You could reach out and ask if they have a page where they could add your local business page, or offer to write an article about something that the local readership might find useful. For instance, a car dealership might create an article listing tips that would help to maintain a vehicle’s value.
At the same time, creating backlinks using content marketing and guest posting (as we discussed earlier) for Local Search is just as viable as for other types of SEO.
In fact, because the competition for some local search queries might be lower, you can achieve incredible results even with just a few quality backlinks from authority blogs in your niche.
Since most off-page SEO efforts revolve around creating high-quality articles, this guide would not be complete without discussing the main principles and considerations that you should know when writing articles, guides, and other types of content.
And an important aspect many people fail to consider when creating content for SEO is that it’s not a groundbreaking concept and was actually present way before the internet or SEO even existed.
Content marketing in the form of PR articles, advertorials, and sponsored articles has been used by companies to educate their audiences and get people aware of their brand for many decades. And today, the same principles can be applied to the digital world, just with the added benefit of getting your website ranking for relevant keywords and securing an additional stream of high-quality traffic.
Therefore, when creating content for getting backlinks, consider that it’s also an excellent opportunity to frame the conversations and ideas around your products and services. It’s also a great way to introduce people to your brand, your products, and your philosophy when it comes to solving the problems your audience is facing.
That being said, you should have a solid grasp of how modern digital content should look if you want it to be properly recognized by Google and other search engines, earning you not just direct traffic but also improving your SERP positions for a search term you’re pursuing.
Here are some of the main principles you should keep in mind when creating your content marketing strategy together with your off-page efforts.
Set Up a Clear Hierarchical Structure
One of the most important principles of a high-ranking website is its clear and logical structure. Google prioritizes the user experience, and a big part of it is being able to quickly find the information a user is looking for, getting either a broader look at a topic or digging down into specific aspects with ease.
To provide such an experience, you need to create a comprehensive content marketing plan that includes both pillar pages and content clusters that are made up of smaller articles around the same topic.
That way, you will have a much better sense of what your internal linking should look like and will also cover all the bases regarding the information your readers are likely to need.
Keep It Relevant
When developing content ideas in your niche, there’s probably a virtually endless number of paths you could take. But since you don’t have infinite resources, you need to make the most of every article (or other types of content) you create so that your users get the most value while you get the biggest returns in terms of rankings potential.
The best way to determine what to create content around is to look at 1) what your audience’s most pressing needs are and 2) what solutions you can eventually offer to those problems. Bridging the gap between these two ideas will help you develop content that’s not only relevant but also seamlessly fits into your funnel.
Make It Readable
Readability is a top priority when creating effective content that will get published and help your website pages rank higher. For one thing, Google prioritizes well-written content, but webmasters for blogs you’ll be reaching out to can be just as strict about only accepting content that’s well written.
To increase your chances of success, utilize a clear structure based on H2, H3, and H4 headings, break the text up into shorter paragraphs and utilize plenty of visuals, such as images, graphs, videos, or even memes.
Off-Page SEO: Should You Do It On Your Own?
By now, you probably have a solid grasp of what it takes to create an effective off-page SEO strategy. And you probably have a much better understanding of just how much work it can take to build momentum and start seeing actual results.
But even though off-page SEO is definitely manageable on your own, building the necessary relationships and gaining an edge over the competition is a process that will take a lot of time and resources.
Because of that, you may want to consider opting for the help of professional link builders who can share their expertise and vast range of connections that make the process much easier. In fact, you’d be surprised to learn that many of the leading marketing agencies utilize the services of white-label SEO providers because of the unique advantages they offer.
When you work with a white-hat backlink building services provider, you won’t have to look for relevant blogs from scratch and then try to convince them to work with you. Instead, you can leverage the vast network of blogs and websites in your niche that the company can offer, helping your content (and links) get created and published much faster.
What’s more, a professional company can help you avoid costly mistakes and zero in on the most promising keywords, guest posting opportunities, and backlink-building strategies that will yield the best results in the shortest amount of time possible.
The Bottom Line
Search engine optimization is one of the best ways to generate an unlimited stream of highly-targeted traffic to your website. But to achieve good results with SEO, you will need to master off-page SEO, especially when the search term you want to rank for is already competitive.
In this guide, we explored some of the most important principles of off-page SEO, including what it includes, why it matters, and how to build relevant and quality backlinks that will steadily improve your SEO results.