SEO can be a confusing topic for marketers who typically focus on paid strategies for acquiring customers. If you split SEO into on-page and off-page, it’s even easier to get confused about what you should focus on. At Tuff, we primarily help companies with developing on-page SEO content strategies and fixing technical SEO issues. Once you’re up and running with on-page SEO and you’re starting to see some traction, you can supplement your efforts by focusing on off-page SEO.
What is off-page SEO?
Off-page SEO is anything done outside of your website that can influence your search engine rankings. One misconception about off-page SEO is that all you can do off of your website to improve your rankings is to build backlinks to your site. There are actually many more strategies that you can use to improve your search engine rankings and organic traffic to your website.
The key to doing off-page SEO well is figuring out where potential customers are researching your industry or your business and making sure that you are represented in as many of those places as possible.
What is included in off-page SEO?
Backlinks, while not the only aspect of off-page SEO, play an important role in showing Google that your site is trustworthy and valuable. It’s important to focus on acquiring high-quality backlinks from trusted websites, rather than getting a ton of low quality links from shady websites. Backlinks are one of the most important ranking factors for getting your content to rank highly on Google.
Backlinks from highly reputable sites like Yahoo, The Wall Street Journal, or Wikipedia will provide the most benefit to your search engine rankings, while links from spammy sites can actually hurt your ability to rank.
As you acquire more backlinks and establish more domain authority for your site you can begin targeting more competitive, high-value keywords and start driving more organic traffic from those keywords as you start to rank.
If you want to start building backlinks for your website, we put together this guide to SEO link building that includes an email template for reaching out to sites for backlinks and guest post opportunities.
Guest posts are incredibly valuable, especially for newer startups or businesses that are having trouble getting their website to rank for their target keywords. You can create content targeting these keywords for other sites to capture the same search traffic that you’re struggling to rank for.
Guest posting can be a long process as you’ll likely have to go through a submission process, and or build relationships with the site’s editors to even be able to submit a post. However, even if the process is difficult, the backlinks you can acquire from these posts are typically high-quality, and can provide consistent referral traffic to your site.
Business Listing & Review Sites
Business listing and review sites like Yelp, Expertise.com or CNET are important for making sure your business is represented when someone is doing research before making a purchasing decision. Whether you are an ecommerce business or a restaurant, people are likely to look at different listing sites to determine if your business is the right fit for them. The more active you are on these sites, the more control you have over the first impression that people will get when looking for more information.
In the same way that testimonials on your website are a powerful marketing tool, having positive reviews and testimonials on third-party websites is another way to build trust with potential customers and ultimately drive more revenue for your business.
Off-Page SEO vs. On-Page SEO
Both on-page and off-page SEO play a key role in a complete SEO strategy. They are related because your site needs to be optimized (on-page) so that when someone finds you on another website and clicks a link to your site (off-page) they don’t run into slow load times or other technical SEO issues.
On-page SEO is about making your content and your website’s structure easy for search engines to understand. When search engines can clearly interpret what your website is talking about they are more likely to rank your content higher and start sending organic traffic your way.
It’s important to do an on-page SEO analysis to fix any issues your site may have before focusing on off-page SEO, otherwise new visitors to your site may find broken pages or other issues that cause them to bounce from your website. If you find that your site is running slowly or some pages are broken, a technical SEO agency can help fix these issues and set you up for success when you start publishing content.
Off-page SEO is everything that you’re doing away from your website to try to improve your site’s ranking and traffic. This could be building backlinks on other websites, getting your business mentioned in list posts, or responding to people talking about your brand in forums or on social media.
Both on-page and off-page SEO are useful for gaining traction for your website, so neither is inherently better than the other. They both play an important role in attracting visitors to your website.
How Off-Page SEO Supplements Your On-Page SEO Efforts
It’s important to focus on-page SEO to ensure that when people find your website they aren’t running into technical issues like broken links or slow pages. Before focusing on off-page SEO to drive traffic to your site, it’s important to build a solid on-page foundation so that people are able to easily find the information they are looking for on your site. After getting your site optimized for the best user experience possible, you can start looking at off-page SEO to bring more visitors to your site.
Off-page SEO allows you to expand your footprint on the internet beyond your website. The most important aspect of off-page SEO is putting your brand/business in all the places that your customers could potentially find out about you. This could be industry blogs and authority sites, product review sites, or even social media. You can have the best website in the world, but if people aren’t finding it or searching for your brand, your SEO efforts won’t be successful.
Why is off-page SEO important?
Off-page SEO can provide huge benefits for your business, by showing Google and potential customers that your company is an authority in your industry.
Off-Page SEO is especially valuable for young companies that haven’t established a high domain authority for their websites. If your website is relatively new and hasn’t acquired valuable backlinks, it’s unlikely that your content will rank for competitive keywords. Off-page SEO allows you to gain awareness for your brand without having to put in the months of work to develop your website’s domain authority.
For example, if you have a software as a service (SaaS) business and you’re trying to outrank your competitors you can publish blog posts and landing pages on your website, but they aren’t going to outrank established websites in your niche. If you get listed in articles like this one from HubSpot – people searching for your product will see that an established, respected brand has mentioned yours and might click through to your website.
Off-Page SEO Allows You To Own More Search Engine Real Estate
Take a look at the results page for a given keyword. You will likely see a list of webpages all from different websites. If you’re only focusing on on-page SEO, you could be leaving valuable space on the search engine results page open to your competitors.
When you publish content on other websites besides your own, you can occupy more space on the front page of Google and capture more of the attention share for a given keyword.
One way to understand the impact this can have is to look at branded searches. When you search for a major brand name on Google — McDonald’s for example — you’ll see more than just their website. You’ll see the company’s Twitter and Facebook pages, you might see a news story about the company, and maybe a Wikipedia page. These are all examples of off-page SEO.
Not only can you indicate to Google that your business is reputable and a solid choice for your target audience — off-page SEO allows you to build awareness and authority simply by showing up in more places that potential customers are looking. If someone is searching for a solution to their problem and they see that your business is mentioned in the top 5 articles on
Google, they will be more likely to trust that you are the right choice for their needs.You can gain awareness from inclusion in listicles, reviews on listing sites, guest posts, and roundup posts. Because these types of mentions are from third parties, they often appear more trustworthy than content you post on your own website. You can build trust by getting your brand to show up in lists of the best companies in your industry.
Domain authority is a metric that estimates how trustworthy and reputable your website is. Google rewards sites with higher domain authority because the content on these sites is more likely to be high quality and valuable.
Use Off-Page SEO for Referral Traffic
One use of off-page SEO that often gets overlooked is using strategically placed off-page links to drive traffic back to your site. Let’s say you’re having trouble ranking for a keyword that is valuable for your business, you can use off-page SEO to target that keyword from another site.
If you’re able to get a guest post published on a site with high domain authority and a large readership, you can rank for more difficult, higher competition keywords. If you can place valuable backlinks to your site within the guest post, as the post starts to rank, you will likely see some referral traffic start coming in from the article. The great thing about this type of traffic is that even though it may take some time to get working, once the post is ranking and people start clicking through to your site the traffic can be really consistent (and free)!
How do you make an off-page SEO strategy?
If you’re new to off-page SEO, it can be overwhelming to decide how you will go about creating and implementing a strategy. Choosing the best off-page SEO tactics for your business depends a lot on what industry you’re in and what type of traffic is most valuable for you.
Figure Out Where Your Customers Spend Time Online
It’s important to understand which websites your target audience spends the most time on if you want your off-page SEO strategy to be effective. For example, if you’re a software company that targets ecommerce businesses, you need to figure out what sites ecommerce business owners and employees read to learn more about their industry.
Determine the best way to capture their attention.
After you’ve identified a few places you could reach your customers, you can decide which type of content they are most likely to find valuable and interact with. It’s important to consider the questions that they may be asking and the problems that they need help solving.
Create content that provides value and encourages clickthrough to your website.
From there you can decide what type of content is most valuable to them and you can reach them by getting guest posts published on the sites they read. One important part of the content is that it should have a clear call to action that directs readers to your website. Linking to the content on your own website will provide a backlink and will make it easy for readers to learn how your business can help them.
Hello, I’m Christian! I’m a Search and Content Marketing Manager based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I’ve spent the past seven years creating content for software, financial, and hospitality companies. If I’m not combing through keyword lists and coming up with SEO strategies, I’m probably working out, hiking in the mountains, or planning a trip somewhere cool.