Off-page SEO is the set of optimization strategies that you apply outside of your web pages. The intention is to show how other pages on the Internet see your website, which should preferably be as a reference in the market! Next, you will see how to plan and apply these strategies in your business.
Do you want to position your website among the first places in Google? So you need to show the search engine that you are a referral for other websites. And that is what off-page SEO is for, a branch of SEO!
Don’t think that working hard on on-page SEO is enough. Well-structured pages, relevant content and keywords are essential in optimization, but it is no use just focusing on your website.
Off-page SEO emerged so that your strategies also focus on the external part. And this is where you can search for links and mentions for your pages and show how they are relevant to the market, something that is decisive for the Google algorithm.
What is Off-page SEO?
Off-page SEO is a set of strategies applied outside your pages to demonstrate their relevance in the market and, thus, improve their positioning in search engines.
For Google, it is not valuable just to find your content, understand what it is about and notice how your pages are structured. In addition to that, the search engine also wants to know how the website relates to what is on the Internet.
If your website receives links and mentions from other pages, and if these are relevant and reliable, it will have more points with Google. At the end of the day, people only share and reference what really has quality and offers some value for them.
Think, for example, of a page with decorating tips on an architecture studio website. If several blogs on decoration, architecture and design cite that page, or better yet, if it receives links from large magazines in the sector, it must be a great reference, right? Well, that’s also how Google thinks.
Building that network of links that lead to your website (backlinks) is a practice known as link building.
Off-page SEO, however, is not limited to this practice. The strategy encompasses all actions taken outside the website, which means that all link building with other sites, even if they do not generate backlinks, is considered valid for optimization.
You know why? Because Google does not consider only the links for the page as a ranking factor. It also considers mentions of the website or brand to assess its relevance to the market.
Therefore, an off-page SEO strategy should not only focus on generating backlinks. A simple mention can also be valuable! However, links carry more weight for ranking and cannot be left out. You will soon understand why!
What is the importance of Off-page SEO?
Off-page SEO must be included in the optimization strategies to conquer the first places on the results page.
To the search engine, the links and mentions a website receives show what other sites think about it. That is a strong indication of its relevance to the market, which is decisive for the ranking in the Google ranking.
This chart shows the weight of off-page SEO in page rankings. According to a study carried out by Moz, off-page factors (which are highlighted in the graph) have a weight of more than 50% in Google’s positioning.
To understand why that link to other sites is necessary, it is important to also understand the value of links.
Links are the essence of the Internet. It was based on the interconnection between pages and documents that emerged in 1990 and works until today. They are the ones that take the user from one place to another until he finds what he is looking for. And Google searches also work based on this.
Google’s work begins with the crawling of Internet pages.
For this, follow the path that the hyperlinks indicate. Therefore, when the robot accesses a page, it indexes the contents, keywords and other useful information and then follows for the links that are referenced in it.
In this process, Google also notes the relationship between those pages through internal links.
If Google considers a website to be popular, trustworthy, and authoritative in its market, and that site has links to other pages, it conveys that value to them as well.
This transmission is known as link juice, an important concept for link building. Link juice represents each share of the ranking power that a page transmits to the destination pages of the links that are referenced in it. This concept is valid for both internal and external links.
Basically, link juice can be understood as a recommendation vote from one page to another. The graph below shows, for example, how link juice is passed on by page popularity (just one of the factors being passed on).
When crawling, Google notices these relationships between pages. So, when the user does a search, the algorithm considers – in addition to other factors – the transmission of link juice to rank the pages that appear in the results.
Therefore, off-page SEO strategies are essential for you to seek alliances with quality, trustworthy and authoritative websites that transmit a good link juice to your pages.
Furthermore, the referrals your website receives from other pages are also important sources of web traffic.
In the graph that you will see below, the result of an analysis of websites from different niches is shown and you can see that referral traffic is responsible for 3.64% of visits.
The percentage is not that high, when compared to direct traffic or search engine traffic. But we are talking about traffic that is not paid and visitors who come to your page from a recommendation.
Do you see how referral traffic has the potential to drive more results for your business?
What are the differences between Off-page SEO and On-page SEO?
Off-page SEO and On-page SEO are the two sides of the optimization strategy. Although they are different, they interact and must work together to improve your results.
But we can say that you can start with on-page SEO. These strategies are under your complete control and are applied within your pages, both in content and structure.
- Content publication.
- Keyword optimization.
- Edition of titles, subtitles, meta tags.
- Creation of links for internal pages.
- Edition of the codes of the page.
- Definition of structured data.
These measures are necessary for the Googlebot to understand your pages, what they are about and if you are offering a good experience to the visitor. Therefore, important positioning factors for your website are included there.
However, since these factors are under your control, Google needs other references to understand if your content is really good. In the end, SEO on page represents your website talking about itself, but what do other sites think about it?
And that is where off-page SEO strategies come in. With them you will build a link with other websites in the market to show that yours is a reference for them and you will also bring more traffic to your pages.
But you must bear in mind that off-page SEO includes factors that you do not control, since other sites are the ones that create the backlinks. You, at most, can create alliances or induce these referrals. And here is another important difference in relation to SEO on page.
Although they are different, these strategies are not totally separate: SEO on page is one of the pillars of SEO off page. After all, no one is going to recommend your pages if they offer average content, don’t work on mobile or are confusing to users.
In addition, the visitors that you attract to your pages with off-page SEO must find a well-structured site and quality content, if not, they can leave it right away. Only with a good SEO on page will you have effective results with that type of traffic.
Therefore, it must be clear to you that one strategy does not work without the other.
What are the positioning factors of Off-page SEO?
When it came out in 1998, Google came up with a great innovation for search engines: PageRank. That was the search engine’s initial algorithm, which until today has already gone through many updates to mature its way of classifying Internet sites.
Now, to understand the off-page SEO ranking factors, we are going to analyze how this algorithm evolved and what it considers today to evaluate backlinks.
The creators of PageRank realized that search engines could present the best results to users based on the popularity of pages, rather than placing them in alphabetical order or by subject.
The logic would be the same as for scientific articles: the more citations they receive, the more relevant they are for the academic world (without the author having to search for those citations).
Thus, the more links a page receives, the more relevant it will be for the search engine. It could then appear higher in the results and even transmit more link juice for the links included in its pages.
This logic, however, did not work for a long time, since it was very easy to create hundreds of links for a page. Therefore, today the search engine considers many other factors when evaluating backlinks, as we will see later.
However, the search for a greater number of references for your pages is still valid. It’s just not worth manipulating SEO off page, ok?
Creating backlinks on fake pages or receiving many links in a short period of time can cause your website to be black hatted and hurt your rankings.
To refine the algorithm it was necessary to add new criteria to the popularity of the pages.
Now think: what is worth more to determine your relevance, one person quoting you 100 times or 100 different people quoting you once?
For Google, the second option shows that you have gained the trust of several people (not just one), which is much more significant.
Based on this perception, PageRank began to also consider the diversity of domains with backlinks for the website.
This change already complicated the black hat a bit, since it was not enough to create many links, but they should be created in different places.
But still, it wasn’t enough. PageRank needed to evolve even more. After all, it was still easy to get backlinks from several different websites, even if they didn’t make sense to the user. Therefore, new factors were added to the algorithm to evaluate the relevance of a page.
What do you think is more relevant for a car page: receiving backlinks from portals in the automotive sector or from a fashion magazine?
For Google, a network of links within the same topic makes much more sense. When that does not happen, the search engine understands that there are great chances of being a manipulation.
And, even if it is not manipulated, an out-of-context link is probably not of much value to the user, since he is interested in fashion and not in cars.
For this reason, this evaluation of the context entered into the considerations of the algorithm, which began to understand that receiving a backlink from a page related to the area of action has more value for positioning.
To that end, Google had to evolve its understanding of context. Today, the algorithm already has a very advanced intelligence that is capable of understanding human language.
Therefore, it not only evaluates the topics and single words that are around the backlinks, but also the meanings of the terms and the relationships between the words. Therefore, it is no use doing something forced to generate those links, they must make sense within the text.
In addition, Google is able to notice the positioning of the links on the page. If they are in the main content area, they have more value than those in the columns, header, or footer.
After all, the main content links were included with editorial intent, and if they’re at the beginning of the text, they tend to be even more important.
Another factor added to the evaluation of Google links was the anchor text, that text in which the user clicks to enter the link. It should be related to the landing page and make sense to the reader.
For that page about cars, for example, anchor texts like “cars for sale” and “used cars” count positively and help rank for those terms as well.
On the other hand, if the anchor text is not related to the topic, the user can be directed to a page that they did not want to visit, something that Google does not see with good eyes.
Attentive to this algorithm update, many sites began to create several links with the exact correspondence to the keyword they wanted to position.
In this way, another black hat practice was adopted and once again Google needed to update.
Thus, another factor would enter the scene: the trustrank, that is, the positioning based on trust.
Google went on to rank the most trusted websites by security, domain age, content quality among other factors.
For the search engine, these sites help build a better and safer website and tend to create backlinks only for the pages they trust as well.
Therefore, pages with a higher level of trust from Google transmit more link juice. The pages that are referenced by them also gain confidence votes. Therefore, this means that backlinks from trusted sites help your website rank better.
With all these updates, Google’s algorithm is already robust enough to evaluate the backlinks for a page and offer a good list of results from this network of links. However, we already said that simple mentions of the website are also important for off-page SEO.
If the robot is able to read and understand the contents of a website, it can also identify how many times other websites mention a brand. If you are able to identify the context in which this mention is made, you can also know if that reference is positive or negative.
So, mentions of your website or brand on other pages, even if they don’t have links, count towards ranking, especially in positive contexts.
How to do Off-page SEO in practice?
Now that you know what really matters for positioning, let’s see how to put SEO off page into practice?
Check out our tips on how to apply the strategies and get relevant backlinks to your site below.
Get started with basic on-page SEO strategies
Do you remember that we said that SEO on page is a pillar of SEO off page? Without optimizing your pages, you probably won’t be referred to by other sites. If you were, the traffic generated by the backlinks may be lost, as visitors will become frustrated.
Therefore, start your optimization strategies for your own pages. Organize website categories, offer easy navigation, use friendly URLs, optimize titles and subtitles, write scannable texts, among other measures.
After doing the basics of SEO on page, you can start looking outside. And, while that, it continues to optimize the pages with more advanced techniques.
Produce content that deserves to be shared
One of the most important on-page SEO factors is content. Publishing relevant content on your website is the main way to show your authority on the subject, to attract and retain visitors and offer them the best answers for what they are looking for.
For off-page SEO, good content represents the opportunity to receive links naturally, without the need to search for them.
To increase the chances of this happening, think of your content as linkable assets. The intention is to create content so good that it deserves to be cited by other sites.
And this does not only consider blog posts. Market research, for example, are assets with a high potential to be shared. E-books, infographics and spreadsheets are also good materials that can generate backlinks.
Use guest posts and co-marketing
You can expect pages to receive links from other sites naturally, but they don’t always. Therefore, it is possible to adopt some strategies to create backlinks, without having to pay for them, without insisting too much and without harming the user experience.
But how to do it? With alliances! Guest post and co-marketing are alliance models between different websites or blogs that generate backlinks.
The guest post is the production, as a guest, of an article for a partner website. In this article, you must provide content that is relevant to your partner, offers value to their audience, and contains a link to your site, in the context of the article.
On the other hand, co-marketing is a marketing alliance to produce and promote a joint material that reaches the public of both.
Thus, for example, they can produce an ebook on a subject of common interest and promote that material with links to both websites. That way, a link to your website will appear on your business partner’s website.
Look for alliances of authority for link building
For guest post and co-marketing strategies to be more worthwhile, you should give priority to allies who have an audience with an affinity with yours or are in the same area of action. Thus, Google can notice the relevance of your content and the backlink for the user.
In addition, you must find reliable allies, whose website has authority and quality, so that it transmits more link juice to your pages.
This evaluation of the partners’ website can be done with a metric given by Moz: Domain Authority (DA).
This metric gives a score from 1 to 100 that shows the probability that a website appears well positioned in Google. The higher the score, the more chances you have to reach the top.
Thus, when looking for allies for off-page SEO strategies, prioritize those who have a higher Domain Authority than yours, so that they can transmit authority to you.
Apply redirects on broken links
We said that SEO off page encompasses factors that are not under your control. And this is true, as backlinks depend on other websites. But this is where a practice arises that depends on you to get more results with backlinks.
We are talking about the redirection of broken links, which indicate the correct page for which the users and the robot should be directed. Let’s explain it better.
It is natural that pages cease to be part of a website throughout its life. URLs change, content is updated and there are pages that are simply excluded. When this happens, they usually show the famous Error 404, a code that says that the page was not found.
With Error 404, the user is left without the content they were looking for, the robot ends the crawl and the relevance of the backlinks is lost.
But the good news is that you can correct that error, you just have to apply the 301 redirect. This is a code that is inserted in the page with the error saying which page should be shown to the user. Thus, you redirect both the user and the robot to the correct page, which then receives the link juice from the backlinks.
Reject dubious backlinks
Spam links are practically unavoidable. It is quite likely that you will receive backlinks from untrustworthy and spammy looking websites, right?
But do you remember that we said that Google analyzes the link network of your website and the votes of confidence that are transmitted? If you receive links from unreliable sites, Google will probably understand that they can’t trust you very much either.
The problem is that it seems like you have no control over it, but actually Google offers you a tool to reject unwanted backlinks.
It’s quite simple: you just have to make a list of the pages or domains that you want to reject and send them to Google through the tool. But you must have a little patience, since it can take until they disappear.
Google recommends that you do this only if it is truly necessary. In general, the algorithm can evaluate which links are spam and remove them without harming your website. You can also try talking directly to the website administrator to have that reference removed.
Still, if you prefer to ask Google, do it when there are a considerable number of unwanted backlinks and that could cause you a penalty.
Promote your content on social networks, communities and forums
Links in social networks, communities and forums do not count as a ranking factor. In general, they receive the nofollow tag, which tells the robot not to follow the path through that link.
That way, the link continues on the page and directs the user, but doesn’t pass link juice to the landing page.
Before, however, this label was not common. This is why many website admins filled blog, forum, and community comments with backlinks to their pages, even when they had nothing to do with the content. Many people think that this still works, but it only succeeds in damaging their reputation on the Internet.
So why did we bring that up as an off page SEO tip? Because promoting your content on different channels helps increase the traffic and visibility of your pages.
And, the more movement there is, the more likely they are to receive “dofollow” backlinks on other pages.
But for that to happen, you need to participate in forums and communities within your area of activity and contribute comments of value to the public.
On social networks, there is still a lot of controversy: is it possible that sharing links transmits link juice? Google itself has already explained that no.
Either way, getting your content out there on social media also helps drive traffic and visibility for your pages.
What should you not do in Off-page SEO?
Since PageRank was launched, off-page SEO has been marked by the black hat. Although Google constantly works to end these practices, they continue to exist and can seem to bring results. However, Google quickly notices the fraud and drops the website (or even removes it) from its results.
For this reason, it is worth pointing out the practices that are still applied in off-page SEO, but that only show us link building errors.
Link purchase or exchange schemes
Any type of buying or link exchange scheme that tries to manipulate the algorithm is condemned by Google. The search engine manages to notice when there is an excessive increase in backlinks in a short time and penalizes websites that adopt this type of practice.
Some examples of these schemes are “link farms” (or link farms), which consist of the creation of websites just to include links and PBN networks (Private Blog Network), which are blogs that mutually exchange links.
You may be wondering if it is possible for guest posts and sponsored posts on blogs to be penalized by Google. But that only happens if you over-adopt those strategies without thinking about the user.
On the other hand, if you make posts relevant to the visitors of that website and include the backlinks in the context, the mentions will grow naturally and Google will notice the value of your content.
Spam in blog comments
Commenting on blogs with your website link can be a good idea if you really provide valuable information. But, as we said, that link is “nofollow” and does not transmit link juice, it is just about building a link and generating traffic.
There are still many website administrators who insistently comment on blogs just to include their links. That has no effect for SEO and the worst thing is that it even harms your reputation.
Google can also notice this practice and penalize your pages. So don’t do that, okay?
Sitewide links decontextualized
Sitewide links are those links that are located in the header or footer and therefore appear throughout the website.
Many website admins believe that being on every page would be a way to gain multiple backlinks quickly.
Therefore, they include several links with keywords in the anchor text even from associated sites, to improve the ranking of the cited pages.
However, Google itself has already made it clear that sitewide links count only as one link. So, it is useless to insist on several links out there, even that practice can be seen as black hat by the search engine.
4 off-page SEO tools to boost your strategies
The tools are necessary to monitor backlinks, identify broken links, analyze potential link building partners, among other off-page SEO demands.
Discover, below, the main tools that will help you in these tasks!
1. Google Search Console
Google Search Console is your great ally in SEO. It is a free tool from Google that works as a bridge between your website and the search engine.
In general, it helps more with on-page optimizations, but it’s also useful for off-page optimizations.
By means of this tool you can, for example, reject unwanted links. That can be done with the help of SEMrush and Screaming Frog.
And through Google Search Console you also find out if you received any penalty or notification for any black hat practice.
Majestic is a tool focused on analyzing the backlinks of a website, quite well known in the market.
The free version already presents various interesting information. You only have to enter the URL you want to analyze to know the number of backlinks for the website, the number of domains that lead to it, the quality score of the backlinks, the main anchor text, among other valuable data.
To receive a more complete report, there are plans starting at USD 49.99 per month.
Ahrefs is also focused on off page SEO and is widely used in the market. You can get reports on keywords, comparisons with your competition, backlinks for your website and positioning in the SERPs.
One of the most interesting resources is the Content Explorer that allows you to explore websites featured in certain keywords to identify allied opportunities for link building.
However, this tool does not have a free version. To get that data, you need to purchase one of the plans starting at USD 99 per month.
4. Moz Link Explorer
Link Explorer is a free tool from Moz. It allows you to search for information on any URL and obtain data on backlinks, competition, broken links, anchor texts and link building opportunities.
In addition, it presents the exclusive metrics of Domain Authority and Page Authority, which calculate the authority of a domain or a page on a vision very close to that of Google.
Moz offers more comprehensive data in the Pro version (starting at $99 per month), which includes other SEO analytics, both on page and off page.
You already know that off-page SEO cannot be left out of your optimization strategies, right? Because they are more complex and not under the complete control of the websites, these strategies are often left aside. However, precisely for this reason, they can be the great differential of your website to stand out from the competition!