Plus 3 Off-Page SEO Techniques You Can Start Using Today to Drive More Traffic to Your Website
When most people think of SEO, they usually only consider all the various elements within their website that need to be optimised for search engines. Elements such as its speed, security, the user experience, adding meta tags and links, uploading fresh content, using keywords in the right places, etc.
And quite right too. SEO is the most cost-effective marketing strategy for any business owner of any size, but especially for a small business where budgets might be a constraint. Every website owner should make On-Page SEO part of their ongoing marketing strategy.
But how many business owners also consider Off-Page SEO too?
In this blog we’re going to explain what “Off-Page SEO” is, how it differs from “On-Page SEO”, and why business owners should also include Off-Page SEO in their marketing planning. We also list three recommended Off-Page SEO tactics that you can start using right away.
What is Off-Page SEO? And how does it differ to On-Page SEO?
If On-Page SEO is everything you do WITHIN your website to improve its visibility and page rankings, then likewise Off-Page SEO refers to all the activities you undertake OUTSIDE your website to do exactly the same: improve its visibility and page rankings.
To put it another way, Off-Page SEO refers to any marketing activity that takes place away from your website designed to drive traffic and visitors towards your website. Any Off-Page SEO activity you engage in should be designed to build your website’s authority. And the higher your site’s authority the more visible you will be in search results.
The types of Off-Page SEO techniques you use are crucial because search engines view them as ranking factors. This means they must be ethical and deployed through your own hard work, not outsourced in bulk (e.g. backlinks acquired via links farms etc). But whatever you use it should be designed to increase the number of times your website is referenced online elsewhere, whether that’s a link, a mention of your brand or products, or something else.
But – as any SEO practitioner knows – not all SEO ranking factors are created equal. And this is just as true with Off-Page SEO.
So here’s our list of three Off-Page SEO techniques you can start using today with minimal investment, just your time and energy. The important thing to remember is, just like On-Page SEO, Off-Page SEO is not a “one and done” tactic. Search engines are in a constant state of flux and change the way they evaluate web pages on a daily basis. So your Off-Page SEO activities need to be consistent and ongoing.
1. Build Backlinks
One of the most impactful Off-Page SEO techniques is to get other relevant and authoritative websites to link to your site: these are called “backlinks”. Search engines follow links around the web in their mission to seek out content that provides the best answer to their searchers’ queries, so getting a backlink from someone else is equivalent to a vote of confidence in your website. And a website with many high-value backlinks will usually rank better than an otherwise equal site with fewer backlinks.
So all you need to do is get other businesses to include your links in their content, right?
Sorry but search engines don’t want to make it too easy for you, so not all backlinks are created equal either.
Notice that we talked about “high value” links. There are three main types of links, and their SEO value is defined by how difficult they are to earn. In order of difficulty (and therefore value) the different types of backlinks are:-
- Natural links – hardest to obtain
- Manually built links – easier to obtain
- Self-created links – easiest to obtain
Let’s examine them in turn.
Natural links – or “earned” links – are given without any action on the part of a website owner. For example, a food nutritionist adding a link to a post or article that points toward their favourite produce supplier is a natural link. It signals that the food nutritionist believes that the produce supplier is a quality business with useful and relevant information on their website. Their readers will take note of this – and so will search engines, who will assign a high value to that backlink. And a high-value link is one of the strongest ranking signals.
Manual links are obtained through deliberate link-building activities. This is where you ask someone to add a link to your website, for example by asking a customer to add your link in their own online content or asking influencers to share your content. Manual links also include things like guest-blogging, where another website owner publishes a blog you’ve written for them that includes one or more links back to your own website.
Self-created links are where you add your website URL to an online directory, forum, blog comment signature, or press release. These are the most common type of backlinks and easiest to generate. So if you’re just embarking on your link-building journey, this is a good place to start. BUT even in these days hyper-vigilance from search engines there are still organisations out there that run so-called “link farms”. This is where they offer to add your URL to a webpage (for a price) that has thousands of unrelated links and ads. Backlinks like these are easily recognised by search engines for the spam that they are, so our advice is to treat any such requests or offers with caution and always do your homework.
How do search engines know the difference between the types of backlinks you have on your website?
We said earlier that not all backlinks are created equal. Search engines look for three main things when assessing the quality of a backlink:
- The domain authority of the referring website (all domains are scored on a scale of 1 – 100, 100 being the highest level of authority, 1 the lowest)
- Whether the link is coded as “Do Follow”, i.e. the referring website is telling search engines that they can safely follow that link
- Where the link is located on the referring website, e.g. a link included within the main body content of a page is given a higher value than one on its own (another reason to avoid link farms)
While building links from external websites is the most commonly practised Off-Page SEO strategy, almost any activity that a) occurs outside of your own website and b) helps to improve your search ranking position could be thought of as “Off-Page SEO.”
Here are our recommendations for two further Off-Page SEO tactics you can start using today.
2. Social Media Marketing
Love it or hate it, being active on social media while not directly contributing to your page rankings is still good for your SEO. If your website, company, brand or products are being mentioned and tagged frequently on social media, search engines will assume that they are worth talking about and count these mentions as a ranking signal.
Posting any content on social media that gets lots of engagement tells search engines that you have useful information to share, and the more shares, likes, and comments your posts receive the more search engines will take notice. Next time you Google something like a company name, product or brand, take note of how many search results are links to social media content or profiles – you may be surprised!
Plus, if you use your social media platforms to share links to your website content, although these do not count as backlinks (sadly!) they do show search engines that you are actively driving traffic to your website and increasing your brand exposure, both positive ranking signals.
What are the best social media platforms for SEO?
Research conducted by SEMRush in 2020 ranks the best social media platforms for SEO in order as follows:
Other useful social media platforms for SEO include Reddit, YouTube, GrowthHackers and Instagram. With all social media channels, if you’re serious about using them to improve your overall visibility and SEO, make sure you post regularly and consistently and optimise your profile and content according to each platform’s guidelines.
3. Posting on Forums
Everyone is an expert in something, and online forums such as Quora, Reddit, and ASKfm are growing in popularity because they allow people with similar views to share their thoughts and ideas. They often show up in search results due to the huge volume of fresh information posted hourly, generating high domain authority scores and useful keyword-driven content.
To get real SEO value from forums you must dedicate yourself to contributing regularly to the platform, adding value, discussing issues publicly and sharing your knowledge. Their sign-up processes are usually straightforward so to get started with a forum, just search for the topics which are related to your business. In a matter of minutes, you could be answering questions, posing questions of your own and publishing articles, all with the freedom to include links to your own content, including adding your links to your signature that gets included with every comment and posting you make.
With forums, your reputation and authority will depend on your active participation in the conversations and the number of visits you make per day. If you want to grow your profile as an expert in your field, we recommend that you keep updating your forum activity on a regular basis.
Success in SEO is all about your overall online presence. Search engines like Google take notice of many off-page factors when deciding if and where to rank web pages. Off-Page SEO is where you should focus at least some of your efforts to increase your online profile and visibility.
About the author: Helen Say in one half of CBL Copywriting & SEO, an award-winning marketing agency based in Hertfordshire. Helen is constantly researching new ways to share her SEO expertise with small business owners, helping them to raise their online profiles and overall visibility.