Off-Page SEO is all about improving your SEO rankings from other sources other than your website. It’s basically a popularity contest.
Google know you think that you’re amazing, but they want to know that other people think that you’re amazing too.
As we’ve previously discussed, there are three main pillars of SEO. We have On-Page SEO that deals with content, Technical SEO which deals with the technical side of things, and we have Off-Page SEO which deals with what other people are saying about you.
Off-Page SEO, as its name might suggest, is SEO activity that isn’t actually on your website. It covers things like:
- Other websites linking to yours
- Social Media Management and Marketing
- Public Relations (PR)
- Guest Blogging
- Google My Business listing
- Reviews and Ratings
- as well as other Off-Page SEO techniques
Why is Off-Page SEO important?
Let’s think about your customer and forget about SEO, just for a minute.
What would help your customers know that your brand is reliable and will deliver what’s promised? What would help them to hit the ‘buy’ button on your site, and most importantly, what will help them choose you over your competitors?
Trust. Trust is what helps so many decisions in business.
Off-Page SEO builds trust because these trust signals we’ve just listed are coming from other people and businesses, not you.
When someone else links to your site, it’s called a backlink. These can be very valuable, depending on who links to your site, and how they do it. If you’ve had anything to do with SEO before, you’ve probably heard the term before.
Backlinks used to hold a lot of power. Many website owners would pay to have random and unsavoury websites link to them. Search engines would see those signals and rank the site higher in search results because it seemed as though the site was revered. This was known as ‘link-farming’ and was a large part of what is called ‘black-hat SEO’.
In 2012, Google released the Penguin algorithm update to combat this. The aim of the update was to penalise websites that used spammy link building tactics to improve their search engine rankings.
Why are links good for SEO?
Great links are great for your SEO, as they garner trust and authority. Bad links are bad for your SEO. If Google sees that a website is linking to you and also linking to a bunch of websites selling unsavoury products, then it’s going to assume a bit of link-farming has been going on. And yes, your rankings will suffer.
In short, when it comes to backlinks, quality is far more desirable than quantity.
So, if you see an offer on fiverr or similar where someone is selling backlinks, close your browser and walk swiftly in the opposite direction.
A good link is a link from an authoritative site. Publications like The New York Times or Forbes would be counted as authoritative links. Links from publications like that are hard to get, and that’s the point. Forbes won’t link to just anyone. They’ll only link to you if they think you can offer their readers value. They have authority, and by linking to you, they pass some of that authority to you.
As you receive more authoritative links, the perceived value of your brand increases.
Social media engagement
Posting regularly to social media does have positive effects on your SEO. While there is debate as to how much of an SEO bump will come from posting to social channels such as LinkedIn and Facebook, it will increase people’s engagement. The art of social media management is a whole topic unto itself, so we won’t delve too far into it here.
The more people who click to your content, are therefore seeing your content. If people are seeing your content (and liking it) they’re more likely to share it and maybe even link to it.
Google has been cagey in the past about how much credence they give to social shares, although Bing outwardly states that your business’ social profile makes a difference.
One of the big things to remember with social media is that you’re on someone else’s property, so don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
- Post regularly to your social networks.
- Don’t post the same thing to every network – see which one/s work best for certain content.
- Add share buttons to your website content to make it easier for your readers to share your content.
- Whenever possible, link back to your site.
Don’t build your castle on someone else’s land
That last point about linking back to your site is the most critical. While posting content to socials that doesn’t ask the user to ‘click away’ from that network will absolutely get you more engagement and coverage, you can’t do it all the time.
A good way to do it is to summarise your article in a few paragraphs with a link back to your site.
If you publish absolutely everything to Facebook, and then Facebook closes down (like Google Plus did), loses popularity (like MySpace did) or they change their algorithm (as Facebook has done many times in the recent past), you are powerless to do anything.
PR PR PR
Public Relations (PR) is an important part of any business. Getting your content and products in front of potential customers is a huge advantage for all businesses. If you’re a wedding photographer and you get featured in a wedding magazine, then this is a very good thing.
To demonstrate, let’s use the example of a guitar shop.
The management team at the guitar shop have put their heads together and decided to offer free guitar lessons to kids on Saturday mornings.
The theory being that the promotion will get some kids to come in and have a go. If they enjoy it, they’ll stick around and pay for more lessons, and may even buy a guitar. If they don’t like it, at least they’ve had a go.
Great. But how to let everyone know?
Write an article and a press release
Well, first of all, they write an article and post to their social media as well as let their mailing list know.
AND. They also write an awesome press release. They find a hook that a local journalist might be into. They also discover some stats that show what they’re doing is great for the community. They call the journalist and pitch them the story. Maybe they won’t bite straight away, or maybe they’ll ignore them entirely.
The more they do it, the better they get at it.
If you can get some great articles about you and your business in relevant publications, then search engines will notice these backlinks and your rankings will increase.
And guess what? You’ll also be getting publicity out to a new potential audience, and isn’t that the whole point?
Working with a PR agency can be very rewarding too. As with anything, always be sure to get references. We’ve worked with some fabulous PR people in our time, as well as some pretty shady characters. Do your research.
Guest blogging or guest posting is where you write an article on someone else’s blog.
Let’s say you’re a landscape gardener. If your local hardware store publishes articles, you could offer to write one for them. Maybe put together some interesting content on the best time of year to lay new turf.
What will guest blogging do for you?
- People who are looking for this information will be appreciative of it and will discover your website in the process.
- The article will link back to your site. Search engines will see that the hardware store trusts you.
How will my blog help the blog owner?
In this case – what will my article about turf do for the hardware store?
- They don’t have to think about what to write their next article about, because you’re doing it
- It shows they care about their customers and their website can answer questions they may not necessarily be experts in.
A great example of guest-blogging in the real world is Smashing Magazine. Smashing are a very popular publisher in the web development world. They take submissions from independent writers who can publish on their website. The approval and editing process can be rigorous, and all sides are rewarded.
- The writers get great publicity (and backlinks)
- Smashing Magazine always has a steady stream of relevant and well-written content
- The readers are getting a myriad of articles from diverse and experienced developers.
Our tip: Find a publication in your niche who may be keen to publish some relevant articles.
Wedding photographer? Write a piece on the top 10 wedding venues in your city and get in touch with a wedding magazine to see if they’ll publish it. If they won’t, try the next one on your list.
Google My Business
Google My Business (GMB) is a simple and effective way to make sure that Google knows all there is to know about your business.
If you don’t have a Google My Business listing, you can create one at https://business.google.com/
Add all your information in your profile, such as address and opening hours.
Just like Facebook and Twitter, you can also add posts to your Google My Business feed. As we discussed with your social profiles, add the first few paragraphs of the latest article you’ve written and be sure to link back to your website.
You also can add events to a GMB listing. If your business runs events, make sure to add them here.
Reviews and ratings
Every customer has a megaphone in today’s online world. Give them a truly amazing experience and then ask them to leave a review.
Social proof is one of the best things you can give to a potential customer. Nothing convinces a prospective customer than hearing from a happy existing customer.
Google My Business is a great place for reviews, as is Facebook.
Depending on your niche, you may also be able to receive reviews through other sites and portals, such as Yelp, Amazon, Trustpilot, TripAdvisor and more.
Make sure to ask your customers for reviews. A friendly email or link on your website pointing them in the right direction will often end up serving you well. In the case of Google My Business, your reviews will display on your listing once you have more than five. When someone does leave a review on any platform, make sure you respond to it and say thanks.
There’s never any harm in asking.
Other Off-Page SEO techniques
Some other Off-Page SEO ideas include:
- Be a guest on a podcast that is in your niche
- Start a podcast!
- Register on websites such as SourceBottle to be a asked your opinion on topical matters
- Engage the services of an influencer in your niche.
As we said at the top of the article – it’s all about getting your message out there in any way you can. It doesn’t always need to be a backlink either (although they do help a lot).