Written by Ryan Jones. Updated on 28, September 2023
To continue our new series covering various facets of SEO, we focus on one of the most crucial elements of a successful SEO campaign. Off-page SEO.
In this blog post, we will explain what off-page SEO is, why it's essential, and what the differences are between on-page and off-page SEO. We will also discuss different off-page SEO elements, including content marketing, link acquisition and E-E-A-T.
Off-page SEO refers to the various activities that take place outside your website but have a massive impact on your search engine rankings and overall online visibility. This umbrella term encompasses any work not done on your website that contributes to increasing your organic traffic and improving rankings.
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We do not discuss on-page SEO activities like title tag testing, meta information writing, or content writing. We are discussing things done off-site, including link building and acquisition, content marketing and more.
Off-page SEO is important because, even though it encompasses work that is not done on your website, it still directly impacts your search engine rankings and online reputation. Take the example of link building, which we will discuss in more detail later. When reputable websites link back to yours, search engines recognise your content (and therefore your website) as authoritative, generally leading to better rankings and more organic traffic.
Moreover, activities like social media engagement, online reviews and mentions in relevant online communities will contribute to your online reputation. This will instil trust in your brand and positively influence potential customers.
Off-page SEO also drives more diverse traffic sources to your website beyond search engines themselves. Exposure to a broader audience can lead to more engagement and conversions. Additionally, it proves a competitive advantage in the digital marketplace.
In essence, off-page SEO is essential to a comprehensive digital marketing strategy. It impacts rankings, reputation, traffic, and overall competitiveness in search.
Off-page and on-page SEO are two completely different yet essential aspects of SEO.
On-page SEO focuses on optimising content and elements of your website itself. This will include tasks like optimising your website's title tags, meta descriptions, headings and keyword usage within your content. On-page SEO also involves improving the user experience of your website, making loading times faster and ensuring your website is mobile-responsive.
Learn more about on-page SEO through our on-page SEO guide.
On the other hand, off-page SEO involves activities completely separate from your website. This includes tasks like link acquisition, managing your online reputation through positive brand mentions and reviews, and working to improve your content from an E-E-A-T perspective. We will talk more about this later. Off-page SEO is all about building credibility and authority for your website in the eyes of both users and search engines.
To give a quick summary. On-page SEO optimises your website's internal elements, whilst off-page SEO focuses exclusively on external factors that influence your website's performance in the SERPs. Both are crucial for a well-rounded SEO strategy.
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Now, we will look at some of the fundamental elements of off-page SEO and how you can use them to improve your website's standing in SERPs.
Content marketing is the strategic creation and, more importantly, in some cases, distribution of content to attract audiences to your platforms, whether your website, podcast or YouTube series.
In this section, we will discuss what you can do with your content marketing to improve your off-page SEO and bring more traffic to your website.
Improving your social media presence can have a significant positive impact on your off-site SEO in a few different ways.
Firstly, social media provides a platform, or multiple platforms, for sharing valuable content from your website. When your content is shared (and linked to) from reputable social media profiles, it can enhance your website's authority in the eyes of search engines like Google and Bing. This authority is a crucial factor in SEO, as it shows search engines that your website is a trusted source of information.
Bing (the second-largest search engine in the world) considers social signals as a part of its ranking algorithm. We do not know the weight it gives to social signals, but Bing officials have confirmed that their ranking algorithms do, indeed, take social presence into account.
Social signals include metrics like the number of shares, likes and comments on your social media posts, how many accounts you follow and the number of followers you have. Bing recognises that a solid social media presence can reflect a website's authority and relevance within its niche. Therefore, by actively engaging with your audience on social media and sharing well-written content, you can directly impact your website's ranking on Bing.
We also know that sharing your content on social media can lead to more eyes on your content overall. Not just from social media itself. When other reputable sources on social media share your content, it increases the likelihood that your content is picked up by other authoritative references on the web, which can then (in some cases) lead to backlinks being acquired for your website simply through sharing your content on social media.
We have an example of this. Following the publication of one of our blog posts, we picked up social shares from reputable people within our industry, including Aleyda Solis, who has 148,000 Twitter followers and 60,000 LinkedIn followers. From her claims, we were included in a post (with a backlink) from Search Engine Roundtable, an incredibly authoritative website within our niche.
From the Digital Marketing Institute:
"Digital PR is a strategy used to increase awareness of your brand using online methods. In many ways, it's similar to traditional PR, but it offers the opportunity to reach a much broader audience that can't be reached with only offline methods."
Digital PR, as a marketing discipline, has become so prominent in recent years that there is now a profession dedicated to it, and rightly so. Digital PR can also positively impact your off-page SEO in critical ways.
One of the most significant benefits of digital PR, when referring explicitly to off-page SEO, is the potential to earn high-quality backlinks from authoritative websites. When your PR campaigns result in coverage in news articles, guest posts or even mentions on reputable sites, you can gain hugely valuable inbound links to your website. These backlinks signal to search engines that your site is a trusted and authoritative source, which can boost your rankings.
Even without backlinks, brand mentions, and citations from PR coverage can positively impact your off-page SEO. When your brand is mentioned across the web, it reinforces your online presence and the authority of your brand. Search engines may recognise these mentions as signals of credibility and relevance, which could positively influence your rankings. We've bolded some words in that last sentence as none of this is explicitly confirmed. Still, a considerable amount of anecdotal evidence may potentially back it up.
It's also worth noting that successful digital PR campaigns will often result in a surge in online traffic, primarily if your campaign generates lots of media coverage or goes viral on social media. This influx of visitors to your website, even if only for a short time, can positively affect your off-page SEO. Search engines may interpret this increased traffic as a sign of relevance and user engagement, potentially leading to better rankings and more organic traffic.
Whilst email marketing, as a standalone activity, does not directly impact your off-page SEO positively or negatively, it plays a crucial role in a couple of critical ways which can help improve your off-page SEO, even if the benefits are indirect.
Firstly, successful email marketing campaigns will allow you to include links to your website's content, including blog posts and offer pages. If your content is high-quality and valuable to your audience, subscribers of your email list may use their initiative and share it on their website or social media, creating natural and organic backlinks to your website and its content. In our opinion, this is a highly underrated way of building backlinks to your website.
Sharing your content via your email list is also a good way of generating social shares, especially in specific communities (the digital marketing community is a great example), as these communities love to share emails that they find valuable on social media. These social signals can indirectly impact your SEO, as search engines may consider social engagement a ranking factor. When we look at Bing, the benefit becomes direct, as we know that Bing takes social signals into account when ranking pages, as we talked about earlier.
First, Let us get the obvious point: paid advertising is generally separated from SEO as it's an entirely separate discipline. This is correct; you need both of these to work in harmony for great overall marketing results.
That doesn't mean that ensuring your PPC is in check will not impact your off-page SEO.
One of the best indirect benefits a successful PPC campaign can have on your SEO (including your off-page SEO) is that some of the profits generated from PPC campaigns can be reinvested into your SEO. You can use this budget for additional content creation, SEO testing, or even link acquisition campaigns.
It's also worth noting that PPC campaigns can provide valuable data and insights into different keywords, copy and audience behaviour. This information can inform your SEO strategy, helping you optimise your website and content for the keywords performing well in PPC campaigns.
It's also worth discussing that being active in online communities like Reddit, Quora, and other communities that are relevant to your niche can also help positively impact your off-page SEO.
Thinking about a direct benefit, sharing your content (or having it shared) on these platforms can lead to more backlinks for your website. Yes, these backlinks are 'nofollow', but it is worth mentioning as there is growing evidence that nofollow backlinks can positively impact your search engine rankings and organic traffic. We love this study done by Sarah Fleming on nofollow backlinks vs. follow backlinks, which was presented at BrightonSEO in 2021!
There are a few indirect benefits as well, including content ideas. Engaging in discussions on these platforms can lead to content ideas for your business, which, when published, can help bring more backlinks to your site and improve your off-page SEO!
Discussions like this can give you ideas for your upcoming content! :D
On top of this, regular discussions in these communities will help you build relationships in your industry. Relationships like these can lead to guest posting opportunities, collaborations and other mentions of your website. All of which can benefit your off-page SEO if done correctly.
You may have noticed us discussing backlinks, link building and link acquisition within this blog post. That's because building/acquiring high-quality, relevant backlinks to your website is one of the fundamental activities when it comes to off-page SEO.
In this section, we'll explore different methods of backlink acquisition and how they can be done well!
First off, let us just mention this... Guest blogging receives a lot of 'hate' online, especially in digital marketing circles. Many people like to list it as a 'blackhat' method of acquiring backlinks to your site. We're here to disagree with this. When done correctly, guest blogging is one of the best ways to get backlinks to your site.
We need to remember that we want the sites we write for to be high-quality and authoritative, but we also want them to be relevant. This is where guest blogging becomes an excellent method of building backlinks!
It's often listed as not a safe way to build backlinks because people do it wrong. They either pay for a guest posting slot, write a lousy guest blog post on a site that is not relevant or high-quality, or combine all three. This is where we'd agree that guest blogging is a waste of time.
When crafting a high-quality blog post, have this published on a relevant and high-quality site and get a backlink from that website. That is a goldmine!
Here's an example. Our Marketing Manager, Ryan, recently wrote an article for Wix on how to start SEO testing for websites.
Wix is an incredibly authoritative site in the digital marketing and SEO niche, with Ahrefs giving it a Domain Rating of 95!
The guest article included a contextual link back to the SEOTesting website. This will pass tremendous authority via PageRank (sometimes known as link juice, although we hate this term) to the website and help us directly with our rankings and organic traffic.
Broken link-building is commonly used as part of a more comprehensive link-building strategy that involves finding broken or dead links on other websites with live, relevant links to your content.
You will start using an SEO platform like Semrush or Ahrefs to identify broken links on relevant websites and note these down. You can also use a web crawling tool like ScreamingFrog to find these broken links, and it will be more reliable, although it does take a lot more time.
Once you have found these broken links, you need to identify content on your website that could be used as a replacement or create content that can be used in its place. You can then, on a spreadsheet, map the broken links to the relevant content on your website.
Now that all this is done, you reach out to site owners, show them that a link is broken on their website and suggest your content as a replacement. Of course, they may notify the other site owners that their content link is broken, but the more accessible option is to replace it with your link. Hence, it is such a successful method.
This then links back to your off-page SEO as you'll get more backlinks to your content, your website will become more authoritative, and your website will rank higher in search engines.
Resource page link building is incredibly similar to broken link building but takes more time and effort.
You will start by identifying websites with resource pages on their website. These pages deliberately link to other websites that help explain specific topics. A good example is from Aleyda Solis' learningseo.io:
You will then create content that could be used as a resource. For example, if someone regularly writes about off-page SEO, has a resource page, and that resource page does not link to any resources on off-page SEO, you could write a guide on this topic and then reach out to the site owner and ask them to link to your new research.
Press request responses are being talked about widely now as a link-building method, and for good reason.
This involves contacting journalists who need expert quotes for articles through mediums like HARO, Help a B2B Writer, ResponseSource and Source Bottle. For example, if you are a website owner and an expert in SEO, you could write an expert comment on the topic of keyword research, which will be featured in an article about keyword research or a broader subject.
Here's an example of a link we recently acquired through completing a press request:
As you can see, this is a contextual link back to our website, which helps improve our website authority and gives us more standing when we talk about our topics of expertise on our website. This links to E-E-A-T, which we will talk about later.
Another great way of building backlinks to your website is through the "correction" of unlinked brand mentions.
This is the method of taking mentions that your website has on other sites that have yet to be linked and requesting for the web admins of these sites to link to your website. You can find unlinked brand mentions via Ahrefs, note down these sites and then reach out to the site owners, asking them to link to your site.
This is very successful as your websites have already been mentioned, so they should be more receptive to linking to your website as they have said it already. You are only asking for a link when your site has been mentioned.
It's worth noting that this is not an exhaustive list of link-building methods, but these are some of the most successful ones you can start using today.
E-E-A-T stands for Experience, Expertise, Authoritiveness and Trustworthiness. This is a method primarily used by Google to determine how high-quality a website and its content is. It's worth noting that the "experience" factor was added by Google in 2022.
E-E-A-T is not something you can directly "impact". Instead, there are certain things you can do to help improve the perception Google and other search engines have of your website when they are reviewing it with E-E-A-T in mind.
The first thing you can do to ensure you are writing content that demonstrates your experience, expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness is to write quality content. You can do this directly within your writing, making it easy for users to see.
Perhaps "experience" is the easiest to do here, as you can add case studies, screenshots and videos showing your experience with the topic. Here's how we've done it in recent blog posts:
As you can see, we prove via screenshots that the concepts we are discussing work. This helps us show our expertise and how it has worked for us.
Ensuring your content is relevant, up-to-date, and well-researched is a great way to demonstrate your expertise on a topic. When you think of expert content, what do you think of? You may think of well-cited content that shows research and believes the author is an expert. This is correct; you can do this within your content, too.
High-quality content will also establish your authority in your niche. By consistently producing authoritative content, you are slowly becoming a trusted source of information to your readers. Backing up your claims with data and showcasing your industry experience can also help you boost your authoritativeness.
Trust is also a critical element in E-E-A-T. Writing transparent, unbiased content without hidden agendas will help build trust with your audience. Mention your company's credentials, certifications and affiliations when relevant, as this will help you convey trust. Of course, you can mention your products and services, but don't use your content as an outright advertisement. Help users solve their problems.
Regularly auditing your content is a great way to show E-E-A-T for a few reasons better:
Regular content audits will involve reviewing and updating existing (and potentially outdated) content to ensure it remains accurate and relevant. This process helps maintain the 'expertise' aspect of E-E-A-T. Updating content will ensure it stays aligned with current industry trends, standards and best practices. Keeping your content up-to-date and factually sound reinforces your reputation as an authoritative source.
Secondly, content audits help evaluate content quality and authors' qualifications (or expert contributors). By assessing content against pre-established E-E-A-T guidelines, website owners can identify areas where expertise and authority may be lacking and take steps to improve them. This may involve tasks like updating author bios, showcasing relevant credentials, or even bringing in expert contributors and other subject matter experts to contribute to the content.
Lastly, regular content updates can uncover and rectify issues with user-generated content or comments that might negatively impact your website's trustworthiness. Ensuring that user-generated content aligns with E-E-A-T principles can enhance the overall perception of your website.
Content audits are an essential tool in improving E-E-A-T, helping websites maintain accurate, authoritative and trustworthy content that benefits both users and search engines.
It's vital to add author details to your content, on all pieces of content you publish, from an E-E-A-T perspective. There are a couple of reasons for this:
Including author details such as qualifications, certifications, and relevant experience demonstrates the expertise of the content creator. When users see that an article is authored by someone with knowledge of the subject matter, they are likelier to trust the information. This enhances the overall perception of the content's accuracy and authority, contributing to both E-E-A-T's 'experience' and 'authoritativeness'.
Transparency about the author's identity and background fosters trust among users. It shows that the content is not anonymous or produced by an unknown entity, like AI, which is becoming a big issue in many circles and can be a huge red flag for online credibility. Providing author details, such as professional bios and contact information, allows users to verify the source and reach out for further clarification if they need to.
Sometimes, you may wish to publish relevant content on your website but need qualified authors (at least from the perspective of E-E-A-T) to write the content. In this instance, collaborating with expert contributors can be extremely helpful!
Bringing in authors will ensure that the content published on your site has good standing, as they will be the ones who can show their experience, expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness. There is nothing wrong with doing this, so long as you are completely transparent about it and the content is still high-quality.
We talked about this a little bit when talking about press requests. Journalists may need to write articles on topics they have no expertise on, so they may have to bring in expert contributors to help with this. This will help those articles when it comes to online visibility.
In the context of SEO, brand signals refer to a few different factors and indicators that search engines use to assess a website's credibility, authority, and trustworthiness. These signals significantly affect a website's overall search ranking and online visibility. Brand signals are essential because search engines aim to provide users with high-quality and trustworthy content in their SERPs. Some key brand signals include brand name mentions, social media presence and online reputation.
Consistent branding is crucial for building a strong brand signal. It establishes trust and credibility by presenting your brand consistently across various elements like logos, colours, messaging, and design. This consistency conveys professionalism and reliability, making your brand more trustworthy in the eyes of your audience (and search engines). It also aids in recognition and memorability, helping people quickly identify and remember your brand, which is essential for brand awareness and recall.
Having a uniform brand identity also fosters positive user experiences. Users will find it easier to engage with your brand when they encounter a consistent look and feel across different touchpoints, whether it is your website, social media or your YouTube channel. This contributes to better user satisfaction and engagement. Moreover, it sets your brand apart from competitors, highlighting your unique value proposition and making you more memorable in a crowded marketplace!
Consistent branding not only benefits your audience but also has SEO advantages! Search engines prefer websites with a cohesive and consistent brand identity. This uniformity aids in accurate indexing and can improve your search engine rankings. Therefore, by maintaining consistent branding, you enhance your brand's trustworthiness and strengthen its online presence and authority. This will ultimately benefit both your audience and your search engine visibility.
Having a social media presence is an excellent brand signal! It significantly boosts brand visibility. With billions of users worldwide, social media platforms provide a vast audience for your brand, allowing you to enhance your overall brand recognition and familiarity.
A solid social media presence also helps you establish overall brand authority. Consistently sharing valuable content on these platforms will position your brand as an industry expert, fostering trust with your audience. This trust can translate into increased click-through rates as these users (who find you first on social) come across your website in the SERPs.
Social media also offers opportunities for backlinks and referral traffic. Sharing high-quality content may lead to mentions and shares by other influential users or websites, resulting in valuable backlinks to your site. These backlinks signal to search engines that your website is credible and potentially deserves higher rankings.
Gaining positive reviews and testimonials is a potent brand signal for your business because it serves as social proof of your product/service's quality and credibility. When potential customers see positive reviews from real people, they are more likely to trust your brand and make a purchase. This trust can increase customer loyalty and word-of-mouth referrals, which are invaluable for building a solid brand reputation! Positive reviews also differentiate your brand from competitors and can influence potential customers' decisions in your favour.
From an off-page SEO perspective, reviews and testimonials are crucial in improving your search engine rankings. Search engines, like Google, consider user-generated content, such as reviews, when determining the relevance and authority of your website. More reviews and testimonials provide fresh content for search engines to index and indicate that your brand is active and engaged with customers. Additionally, positive thoughts (when shown as a rich snippet) can lead to higher click-through rates in search results, indirectly boosting your SEO.
When a brand actively interacts with its community, it demonstrates a commitment to customer satisfaction and genuine interest in their opinions and needs. This builds customer trust and loyalty, making them more likely to choose your brand over competitors and recommend it to others.
Engaging with your community regularly also humanises your brand. It shows that real people behind the company persona care about their customers. This human touch resonates with customers and creates a more relatable and approachable brand image. Customers love buying from businesses that are approachable, personable and genuinely care about their customers.
Community engagement provides a valuable feedback loop! You can continually improve your products or services by listening to your community's feedback and addressing any concerns. This satisfies existing customers and helps attract new ones by showcasing your commitment to quality and responsiveness. This will indirectly improve your SEO as better services and content perform better in the SERPs.
In conclusion, off-page SEO is essential to a comprehensive digital marketing strategy. It encompasses various activities, from link building to content marketing and social media engagement to digital PR. Off-page SEO is crucial because it directly impacts your search engine rankings, online reputation, and overall competitiveness in the digital marketplace.
Want to improve your off-page SEO? SEOTesting can help! We make SEO testing simple, easy and low-cost for your business. We currently have a 14-day free trial, allowing you full use of the tool for two weeks to ensure it is right for you. Give it a try today.