Off-Page and Off Site SEO
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We offer a comprehensive Off Page SEO Service covering link acquisition, ORM (Online Reputation Management), Brand Development, Review Building and more.
What is Off Page SEO?
Off Page SEO is the term used that refers to the techniques associated with increasing a websites rankings in organic search results (SERPS). Link building, acquisition or outreach are the terms affiliated with Off Page SEO, however these are only some of the processes involved.
Off Page search engine optimisation isn’t just about links or the practice of link building, it goes far beyond that.
Google and other search engines alike use a number of different algorithmic factors in establishing a brand/websites strength off site. Different algorithmic aspects are sometimes referred to as “Signals” which give search engines more of an understanding to the value of the domain/brand.
Typically when people hear about off page optimisation the first thoughts that come to mind are link building, domain metrics, anchor texts, trust flow, citation flow etc. But actually, most of it should start from building a brands reputation.
Off-Page SEO is a way for Google to understand the value in your website. Naturally a website with good content and something useful to offer is more likely to attract links, much in the same way that voting works. If a candidate has more votes they are more likely to be elected, it is this principle that Google semi-relies on when evaluating your websites link profile.
If a website has something useful to offer from a funny video to a really in-depth engaging article then it’ll also attract with it citation, links, brand references which all count towards the signal spectrum.
In a nutshell, Off Page SEO is a culmination of link building, link baiting via high quality content, brand development, content marketing, social media marketing and PR. Although processes such as social media marketing are in effect their own channel, they still count towards a websites Off Site SEO profile.
A good SEO company will usually start with On Page SEO before embarking on an Off Page SEO Service. On Page tends to be a process that is only required once whilst Off Page tends to be an ongoing process month by month.
Q. What is On Page SEO?On Page SEO is the practice of optimising a websites infrastructure from improving a websites URL structure and semantic layout through to navigation, content, internal linking, site loading speed, title & description tag creation and more.
On Page is exactly what it says it is, it’s on page, so everything that comes together to form a website is considered on page.
Q. What is the Difference between On Page SEO and Off Page SEO?On Page SEO refers to all of the activities carried out on the actual website itself, off page refers to all of the activities that are carried out away from the website.
Here we look at some of the channels involved in Off Page
Link BuildingLink building is the process of finding link opportunities and acting on them in order to create or acquire a link from another website back to the target website (be it your own website or a client website). Link building can also be referred to as Link Acquisition or Link Development, but they are essentially the same thing.
Link building can be a tedious process of finding suitable websites, contacting the webmaster/editor and negotiating a link.
In the early – late 2000’s most links were earned via “reciprocal linking” which involved sharing links between the target site and your own website / client website. As Google’s algorithm evolved, the perceived value in reciprocal linking fell dramatically as poor quality sites simply leveraged reciprocal linking to achieve good organic results regardless of quality.
As reciprocal linking died out, the only over ways of leveraging links were with paid exchanges or guest posting/content sharing which is touched on below.
Link EarningLink earning or “Link Baiting” is the process of creating content / media which would naturally interest other website owners/editors/contributors enough to get them to link back to the originating website.
Link earning can be done in a number of different ways, some of these ways include creating infographics, viral media, youtube/vimeo videos, sharing a useful tool, writing a useful guide or creating content and referencing other figureheads within a niche.
Link earning tends to involve a lot more work and is slower for link contribution, but the quality of the links tends to be higher overall as they were “earned”.
Paid LinkingPaid linking is technically a violation of Google’s TOS. Simply because paying for links allows website owners to increase their websites rankings without earning links naturally. This kind of short-cut has lead to website owners receiving Google penalties (either manual or automated penalties). Paid linking is seen as a shortcut which is technically unethical.
Over the last 5 years, bloggers had seen the biggest hit with paid linking as many offered paid advertisements / paid sidebar links as a stream of revenue.
Another form of in-direct paid linking is paid influence. Typically paying for a website editor to write about your website or a topical article related to your website with a link inclusive.
Reciprocal LinkingAlthough depreciated, reciprocal linking can offer minimal value from the aspect of providing useful resources for website visitors. The SEO value in reciprocal linking is almost non-existent.
Content MarketingContent marketing is the process of creating relevant content that has some form of affiliation with the target website and distributing it. With content marketing, you are essentially pushing high quality content out across different networks and platforms in order to earn links. Good quality content doesn’t market itself, and often good quality content can go unnoticed unless it reaches the right people. Content that is picked up can often lead to returned links and brand mentions which counts towards brand citation.
Instead of linking, some website owners / editors may reference the article via the brand name which Google also counts as a signal.
Content marketing is about attracting attention and leveraging article copy to get that attention.
Social Media MarketingSocial media marketing is an independent channel from off page SEO, however, it contributes towards brand signals / brand strength. If Google and search engines alike can see that a brand has strong social media following and interaction it can count that as a reputation signal.
Brands with stronger profiles, more interactions and attribution offer more trust signals. These trust signals contribute towards Off Page SEO as a whole.
Social media activity can also give an insight into a brands own activity and content sharing.
Brand Reputation / CitationBrand reputation is important, a brand with good trust signals will typically have a good reputation. Brand reputation can be leveraged via a number of different platforms, particularly review platforms. Brands that are mentioned in news articles, forums, discussion websites like Quora and other locations will be seen as more popular, the content associated with the brand mention may also be taken into consideration (good or bad).
ReviewsFrom 2016/2017 into the foreseeable future, review platforms will also offer some form of off page SEO weight. Reviews platforms and plugins provide another way for Google to understand more about a brand, it’s products/services and how the public perceive that brand. Good reviews are a good indicator of how a business conducts itself. Given that Google wants to return good quality, reputable websites, reviews provide an additional metric for Google to evaluate.
How are off page SEO factors weighted?
Most Heavily Weighted: Link BuildingLink building is still one of the most crucial aspects of off page SEO. How link building is conducted will depend on how successful an off site campaign is. Typically link earning and baiting are Google compliant methods for accruing backlinks.
Heavily Weighted: Social Media PerformanceSocial media performance is a weighted factor growing in strength. Social media performance indicates a brands weight in the marketplace away from search engines.
Fairly Weighted: Brand Citation, Mentions, Trust and Reviews
A brand being mentioned from good sites with good opinions/feedback will count towards some off page weight. Typically, you would look to combine off site brand citation with reviews to maximise brand trust.
What are the SEO factors for Link Building / Earning?
The SEO Factors behind Backlinks EvaluationBacklinking (getting backlinks) via link building / link development or link earning has a whole array of metrics that need to be taken into consideration. Given that a websites / domains link profile is a crucial part of off page SEO there are a few things that should be considered:
- The target domains trust metrics
- The target domains theme / content profile
- The target domains reputation
- The target domains historic performance
It’s no good earning backlinks from websites which have unrelated content or a bad reputation for selling links or violating Google’s TOS.
The quality of a link will be the be all and end all for the success of an off site campaign.
High quality links are classed as links that are relative, on-topic from a reputable website that has not violated any Google TOS.
High quality links are natural and link back to your/client website with the correct link anchor.
High quality links can be evaluated by looking in Majestic (majestic.com), AHREFS (ahrefs.com), Moz OpenSiteExplorer (Moz.com), Link Research Tools / LinkDex, SEMRUSH or SpyFu.
When you embark on any link building / development campaign there are many factors to look at, some of these include:
Domain Authority / Page AuthorityDomain authority / page authority is proprietary to MOZ. Moz offered one of the first link evaluation platforms (https://moz.com/researchtools/ose/) which offered domain authority / page authority scores. Like most evaluation factors the scoring system is on a 0 – 100 scale with 0 being the poorest and 100 being the highest. The scale is progressive which means that scores become harder to increase as the overall authority increases (exponential) I.e. to increase a domain authority score from 0 to 20 is easier than from 20 to 30 and so on.
As time went on, MOZ has incorporated more features and metrics into their evaluation including SPAM SCORE which is a good indicator of how spammy a domain is perceived to be based on its link profile.
When link building, these tools can provide insight into the value of the domain you are looking to acquire a link from.
Higher domain authority and page authority combined with a lower spam score makes for a good opportunity.
You’ll also want to get an idea of the domains authority based on the number of established root domains. Typically the formula you would want to work with would be:
Higher Domain Authority + Higher Page Authority + Lower Spam Score + Higher Volume of Root Domains + Lower Volume of Total Links.
You’ll want a lower proportion of root domains to total links, a higher number of total links and low volume of root domains infers that the link equity is more likely to come from a side bar or footer link.
Domain Trust Flow / Citation FlowDomain trust flow / citation flow are proprietary to majestic SEO (www.majestic.com). Majestic is a specialist link tool which is a favourite in the industry. Like domain authority, trust flow is a quality based score that evaluates link and link quality to produce a figure.
Trust flow works in a similar way to domain authority.
Typically you’ll want to strive for higher trust flow values and higher citation flow values.
You’ll want to also take note of the useful topical trust flow which separates link themes. You’ll want to ensure that the link theme is relative to your website, although some diversity won’t harm.
Again, like the MOZ example, you’ll want a higher volume of referring domains and a lower volume of external backlinks (proportionally). The graph that Majestic produces is pretty snazzy and makes for a good visual representation of the link volume and quality.
Majestic also has a keyword cloud for anchor text views, here you can see the proportion of anchor texts for any given URL, great for balancing out those anchor texts during the link development stage in your off site endeavours.
URL Rank / Domain Rank
These metrics are proprietary to AHREFS which is a fantastic link evaluation tool. Again, URL and Domain rank work in a similar fashion to Domain Authority / Page Authority / Domain Trust Flow and Citation Flow. AHREFS is one of the most visual platforms for link metric evaluation. AHREFS offers those looking to build their Off Page SEO strategy some really good insights into domain performance over time from not only a link aspect but also from an organic search aspect.
Reverse engineering a competitor domains link profile using this tool is easy to do and makes for good opportunities during the link sourcing / scouting stage. AHREFS also has its own AHREFS rank which effectively scores your website against its total link index of over 1 billion pages.
The visuals offered by AHREFS are fantastic and make for easy reading / interpretation.
You’ll also be able to use this for competitor evaluation to see how their link profile appears over time.
For AHREFS you’ll want to aim for a higher Domain Rank which is a relatively accurate metric when it comes to link evaluation.
Off Page SEO Strategies
Preparing your Strategy
When embarking on an off page SEO campaign, there are many things to consider from budget to timescales, KPI’s and more. There are lots of different ways of bolstering a websites off page signals from manual link sourcing to broken link building, below are some of the most commonly used off page strategies:
- Manual link sourcing
- Competitor link evaluation and opportunity scouting
- Link earning via copywriting
- Link earning via figurehead references (writing quality content and mentioning others)
- Social Media Marketing (pushing quality content / media)
- Viral Marketing
- Broken Link Building
- Guest Blogging / Guest Posting
- Paid influence (Prompting editors / bloggers to write about your business/service/product on their website)
- Domain drop catching (leveraging expired domains with links)
Keeping it naturalMany years ago, link building was effective merely on the volume of links a website had. Step forward to 2017 and link evaluation has become a completely different ball-game. Google does and will scrutinise links during the discovery phase. It’ll be looking specifically at
- Where are backlinks coming from?
- What is theme / nature of the linking page
- What is the theme / nature of the domain itself
- What is the quality of the page / domain
- What anchor is used
- How fresh is the link
- Does the link look like it is natural (is it using a variant anchor text)
Google will also evaluate your whole linking domain profile as part of a pattern evaluation exercise, it is here that excessive keyword utilisation as part of the anchor text profile becomes obvious. For example if you had been link building and every link pointed back to your domain with the same anchor text it’d look suspicious and would scream that the profile has been built up without being earnt.
Anchor text diversity is critical for the success of a link building campaign during your off page SEO endeavours.
Keeping it natural also applies to other aspects of off page SEO such as
- Your social performance, are your social profiles built on genuine followers or followers from cheap fiverr gigs?
- Your website reviews (whether you have Google+ / Google My Business reviews) or another review platform, genuine reviews count, having the perfect review profile can look suspicious (we’re not saying that having 5/5 is bad, but if you’ve paid or influenced reviews that are not genuine and they are picked up it could be detrimental)
- Where do your brand mentions come from? Forums? Forum spam is notorious however the odd mention in relevant discussions is actually beneficial. Being mentioned on 100 different forums with suspicious looking placements and irrelevant content is likely to be a negative signal
Things to avoidThere are many things you should do but more things that you shouldn’t do, especially when it comes to “white-hat techniques”. Breaking the rules is often referred to as black-hat or grey-hat. Black hat off page SEO includes buying spammy / cheap links from online communities, mass link farming, comment spam links and other forms of odious link placements. Black hat techniques will likely lead you down the path to a Google penalty (either a manual or automated one).
When building a strong off page SEO profile keep it clean and ethical.
- Avoid any form of cheap link souring or mass link buying
- Avoid using duplicate or poor quality content to leverage links
- Avoid using any forms of old link building tactics around forum links, FFA, link farms etc.
- Avoid using the same anchor text for links over and over again
- Avoid building links from irrelevant, poor quality websites
- Avoid building up fake social media channels / profiles or using face likes / bots
- Avoid fake reviews
White hat SEO strategies are the best, they provide long term success and will ensure you stay free of any ranking fluctuation during minor and major Google algorithm updates. Many updates including Penguin, Panda and Hummingbird have struck down on businesses taking short cuts both on site and off site.
Things to doThere are lots of positive ways you can leverage an effective off page strategy. Just be prepared to invest time and have patience. Off Page Signal development should be a long term plan and not a 5 minute fix.
- Plan out an off page roadmap separating each proposed task
- Prepare an off page SEO checklist
- Review the off page seo techniques that you intend to use
- Identify the off page signals required by evaluating competitors (from link profiles to reviews, social standing to brand mentions)
- Set criteria for link quality and quality related metrics
- Integrate your content marketing strategy and look at how you can leverage quality content for link earning
- Look for viral content opportunities / media opportunities
- Write content and mention other related website / figureheads, massaging the ego of popular figureheads works a treat, especially if you want to earn a link back from their website
- Encourage positive brand mentions
- Become an authority on your target domains theme, answer questions, join question boards like Quora
- Keep your anchor text as brand orientated as possible with marginal keyword and Latent Semantic Keywords inclusive
ConclusionOff Page SEO should be an investment over time. Building up strong brand signals via white hat ethical practices will set your domain/brand in good standing for the future. Leverage links over time and keep everything natural/organic. If you want to know the best off page SEO techniques for 2017 and 2018 why not get up to speed with the SEO news on Moz or Search Engine Watch. Or read our blog for a whole host of off page SEO tips and tricks which will help catapult your business towards a page 1 spot in Google.
Influence growth with positive legwork.