To gauge the importance of off-page SEO, let us go back to the beginning. The art of search engine optimization (SEO) revolves around any activity that optimizes a website for a search engine.
That can be Google, Bing, Yahoo or anywhere a digital search is conducted. These domains need to know how to find your site, judge its credibility and rank it accordingly for the end user. This is where the on-page vs. off-page scenario is relatively straightforward.
On-page SEO includes any additions, changes or techniques implemented within a website to meet this challenge. It relates to one question only – what is your site about?
This is inclusive of the following:
- Title tags
- Alt text
- Page load speed
- Internal linking
Off-page SEO speaks to that site’s popularity in the wider domain of the Internet. Who is recommending you to their consumer base? How genuine are they and are they credible themselves?
- Inbound links from trusted sources
- Anchor text
- Link speed
- Social media marketing
The reality is any SEO campaign worth their weight strikes a balance between both disciplines. Results will be poor if the internal or external optimizing indicators are ignored. What makes off-page SEO so critical in 2017 and beyond is the manner in which search engines view and determine a site’s quality.
In times gone by, a page could stuff their own content with keywords, links and multimedia and watch the rankings rise. Since the advent of Google’s algorithm changes, SEO specialists have recognized the need to gain credibility from other websites. Such tactics are not viewed kindly and can be relegated into the black hat SEO category.
So what actions are taken within off-page (or off-site as it is also known) SEO to boost the search engine results page (SERP)?
What Off-Page SEO Involves
Any method that promotes a page to drive traffic to that URL can be considered part of the off-page domain. Some of this power is taken away from the owner as it relies on popularity, but there are ways and means of earning references.
This is the most utilized tactic to garnering a strong off-page SEO presence. Link building is a means in which to score votes. The more votes that are generated, the greater the visibility of the site.
Backlinks can be broken down into three central categories, all varying on the spectrum of quality:
1.) Manually built links – This involves any link building activity that is deliberate and made with the purpose of boosting the bottom line. Should a third party end a working relationship or a satisfied customer is at the point of a transaction, you can request a favor. That can arrive in the form of a link back to your site or the sharing of content.
2.) Natural links – When a website publishes an exclusive article that includes a major announcement, then that site will automatically generate a multitude of natural links. This is the most organic and trusted means of building links, giving the greatest indication of online popularity.
3.) Self-created links – A black hat SEO tactic that is discarded by search engines. Should the domain owner become jaded by the process, they can go promoting their own site on other platforms artificially. By becoming their own spokesperson and self-promoter, they backlink across a variety of channels from forums to blogs and social media pages.
Natural links are head and shoulders the most effective off-page SEO accelerator. Manually built links are perfectly acceptable, but are less reliable. For self-created links, avoid them at all cost. Assuming that your site has enough natural links, the metric that boosts this category further is their quality.
Moz has conducted their own research, as they surveyed SEO specialists on what off-page features matter most. Links remain the dominant driver. Yet they must derive from authoritative locations and include sites that have a “.edu”, “.org” or arrive from a similar niche.
Any link that is created will be inclusive of a hyperlink to send across to another page. That text that is selected is what is known as “anchor text.” To maximize the benefits of off-page SEO, that text should revolve around your keywords that are most effective and search friendly.
Integrating Social Media
The 21st Century was swept with the advent of the Internet, dominating the entire commerce landscape from top to bottom. Then social media came along and our daily behavior shifted even further.
Research from We Are Social identifies our love and obsession for this platform has taken a global stranglehold. Yet it illustrates how popular it is with domestic users in America, sitting on a penetration rate of 60%. That is comfortably above the global average of 37% by January 2017.
A healthy portion of off-page traffic will be generated via social media hits. They will arrive from:
Blogs and forums can become social communities where content is regularly shared. Yet social media domains are packed with crowds of people who have a predisposition to spread information.
What Benefits Off-Page SEO Provides
There is no greater accolade for a website than being considered trustworthy, genuine and authoritative. In the eyes of Google, Bing and Yahoo, you have demonstrated that your site is respected in the online community.
That will be duly rewarded through the following metrics:
Off-Page SEO Benefit #1: Higher Rankings
Every off-page SEO activity will contribute to something titled a Google PageRank (PR). This is the measuring stick based from a complex algorithm that tells the user which sites are more important. Those that manage to use a combination of on-page and off-page SEO tactics will see their rankings head in the right direction.
The researchers at Digital Third Coast suggest that off-page SEO is more valuable than on-page when it comes to the competitiveness of keyword rankings. It is the combination that works best, but ensuring that traffic is flowing through external sources gives an injection that internal designs simply cannot match.
Off-Page SEO Benefit #2: Increase in Traffic
There is a direction relationship between search engine rankings and traffic. As research from SEObook suggests, the top result of search engine results generates no less than 34% of all traffic, dropping significantly to 17% for result number two.
This follows a specified formula where quality off-page SEO activity increases the search engine ranking. That higher ranking creates more traffic. That in turns creates more income and greater means to invest back in the enterprise.
Off-Page SEO Benefit #3: Residual Business
Should you generate more traffic through social media campaigns, an email listing or a blog post that goes viral, then you will have visitors who might very well hang around.
Off-page SEO centers on human behavior where domains are seen as go-to hotspots where activity is rife with debate, conversation and sharing. Having your brand promoted across the spectrum will see casual visitors transition into regulars and even subscribers if they are given the option.
Off-Page SEO Benefit #4: Stronger Social Media Presence
Articles or domain pages that are spread across Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn will include the account that generated the content. That will result in more likes and followers, giving your operation a stronger consumer base to market to.
An increase in social media followers might appear to be an arbitrary matter for traditional marketers, yet they hold significant value today. Sprout Social looked into how online users behave towards brands they follow on social media. According to their research from 2016, 57.5% of respondents were more inclined to purchase from a brand they follow.
If executed properly, a clever use of social media can be the bedrock of your off-page SEO strategy. Search engines love hits that derive from these platforms and should you engage enough of your followers with quality content, they will buy direct from the source.
Off-page SEO can be influenced to some degree internally, but once a webpage has been generated and manipulated, it is up to the public to respond. This is the beauty of search engine optimization because it cannot be determined purely by the owner.
Money will be an influencer, yet it will be the websites who work smarter and not harder that yield the greatest results. Sites like Google, Bing and Yahoo have made their algorithm changes to fall in the favor of off-page SEO techniques and that trends shows no signs of changing.
They are determined to give the advantage to domains that are recognized by their peers and competitors. The importance of mastering this craft is there for all to see. Should you engage in off-page SEO tactics like natural link building, social media integration and using specified keywords for anchor text, then the dividends will include:
- Higher rankings
- Increase in traffic
- Residual business
- Stronger social media presence
Each of these positives will contribute to a thriving enterprise by pointing to your site as a voice of authority and legitimacy.