Last week we investigated on-page SEO, comparing on-page optimization to the tip of an iceberg. Well, jump in your submarine because this time around, we’re going beneath the surface to the hidden part of the iceberg: off-page SEO. But what is off-page SEO and why is it so important?
What Is Off-Page SEO?
So what is off-page SEO? It is the process of optimizing your webpage outside of the page itself. These techniques improve your ranking on search engines and increase overall traffic.
Search engines know that they can’t trust webpages to vouch for their own value. Even the shoddiest, shadiest websites would call themselves #1. Instead, search engines use complicated algorithms that take into account both on-page and off-page factors, focusing on quality and relevance. The off-page information gives search engines an outsider’s view of the webpage. They want to know how other websites and users regard the site. So if, for example, there are many links pointing back to the webpage (especially if these links are on quality websites), this indicates to search engines that the webpage is popular and useful. And when a webpage is useful to outside users and has great on-page SEO (page title, meta description, interesting content, etc.), it can climb to the top of search engine results pages.
Elements of Off-Page SEO
- A low quantity of high quality backlinks. Making use of high-quality backlinks is one of the most efficient ways to improve your SEO. If you’re hoping to appear authoritative and trustworthy (two qualities of high-ranking webpages), you need to be linked in web neighborhoods with these qualities. Why do we suggest low quantity though? Surely, lots of high quality backlinks would be a good thing…right? Well of course it would. We are merely suggesting a mindset where one focuses on quality over quantity. If you can pull off both, that’s great!
- Blogging. When you write a blog post, you’re accomplishing three important things. First, each blog post expands the number of pages in your site index. Second, you’re creating content that can draw in traffic from the kind of complex searches that make up the “long-tail” of keyword traffic (for more information on the statistical concept of the “long tail”, click here). And third, you’re creating something of value (hopefully) that can be shared on social media channels. Getting people to share your content on social media websites can be a huge boost to off-page SEO efforts.
- Video marketing through YouTube. Setting up a channel, posting videos, and linking them back to your website in the video’s description can be an effective way to build backlinks (and get a second listing in search engines beyond your website).
- Implementing local SEO. This include setting up and optimizing a Google local account. Here’s an important tip: make sure that your NAP (name, address, and phone) information is correct…then go out to 50-100 “citation” sites like YP.com, superpages.com, and yelp.com and setup accounts with that same NAP information. This shows data aggregators like Google and Bing that your information is correct and reliable.
- Relevant and engaging comments on high authority blogs. As long as you take the time to make thoughtful comments, this is a useful way to add backlinks. But there is a reason it’s the last item on the list. It’s the least useful of the “good”.
- Press releases, when used to generate backlinks. Although they’re sometimes useful, press releases are overused and overrated. The backlinks tend to have very little authority, making them a waste of time, money, and resources. Unless there is a legitimate reason for the release, you should spend your time on other projects.
- Article marketing through article directories. Although some are worthy of your time, most article directories are too low quality to be useful. They generally have low levels of authority and trust.
- Guest posting on a website or blog. This seems like a great idea, but your post will be on an interior page of the website and have little authority. Remember that domain authority is different from page authority; even if a domain has high authority, interior pages within it may not.
- Using automated software to build large quantities of very low-quality backlinks. This is an especially bad idea if you don’t know what you are doing. Any tool is only as good as its user, yet most of the people using these tools have no idea what they are doing.
- Laziness, shortcuts, and high expectations for little money. Beware of companies that promise you a lot (10,000 backlinks, say) for very little ($5). The links are usually worthless and can actually harm your site because of their low authority and trust. “Bargains” like this are never worth the potential damage.
So there you have it. What is off-page SEO? It is the process and techniques used to increase a site’s traffic that are implemented outside the webpage being optimized. To learn more about optimization basics, keep following our SEO 101 series. So far we’ve discussed: