You have surely heard about the off-page strategies. I am even sure that it wasn’t once… But do you know what off-page SEO really means, how your website can benefit from it, and what does it take to do it right?
Good news, we will discuss all the above things in this article. If you have already researched this matter, you could hardly find a straightforward definition of the term. Most of the people would say that off-page SEO and link building are the same things. Is that true or are there some more aspects it includes?
Where do we go for definitions first of all? We turn to Google, don’t we? Why should we act some other way this time? So, here’s what Google says about off-page SEO.
What’s clear from this definition, the off-page SEO includes “link building”. All the rest is extremely vague.
Let’s take a look at what Reddit community has to say on the topic. Here is the answer with the most upvotes:
“For local business, it can be things like citations, NAP listing, getting reviews, etc.”
Most of the others suggested that “off-page SEO” pretty much comes down to link building.
Therefore, anything not defined as on-page SEO can be considered the off-page SEO.
Similar to the on-page SEO, there are two main off-page subdivisions:
They are links and exposure.
There are plenty of link-building guides out there, so we won’t waste your time repeating the truisms. Let’s forget about links and focus on the off-page SEO expects connected to exposure.
Why do we offer this approach? Because content exposure affects quite a number of factors, which in their turn could potentially influence rankings (e.g. mentions, links, citations, etc.).
For example, suppose you wrote an article and got it posted to a resource like inbound.org and it got tons of exposure there. Then, the blog post got talked about, which means citations, on plenty of blogs, such as UpCity and even got linked to a few times too.
At the moment your imaginary post ranks #3 for the phrase “off-page SEO”.
I don’t want to say that all of these links/citations are the result publication on inbound.org.
However, it’s clear enough that if people hadn’t been exposed to the article there, they wouldn’t have referred or linked to it and it probably wouldn’t be ranking for that keyword at the moment.
The takeaway is that exposure often plays the role of a catalyst for more links, mentions, citations, etc. and of course higher rankings.
Taking into account everything said above I can give you one more definition of the.
“Off-page SEO” includes all marketing techniques taking place outside of a website (that is, off-page) and having the potential to positively impact search engine rankings. “Link building” and exposure of your product or brand to relevant audiences are the two main building blocks of off-page SEO.”
Are you ready to talk about the off-page strategies? We are going to highlight 6 of them that can be considered major ones.
1. Know where your audience likes to hang out and contribute/participate actively
Knowing your target audience favorite online “hang out” places and regularly contributing to discussions will give you many long-term benefits.
These may include:
• More brand mentions
• More “natural” links
• Increase of trust/awareness amongst your target audience, which will likely bring an increase in branded searches
• Diversification of your link profile
Please don’t get me wrong. This point is not about promotion, it’s about finding your target audience, engaging with them, and helping to solve their problems.
It’s ok if your reply requires mentioning your product/service, but your primary goal is to add value to the community/discussion.
This will not do you much in the short-term. Maybe a low-quality (probably nofollowed) forum link, which will have a very little impact on “SEO”.
But let’s see what will happen in the long-term (the benefits are obvious):
• People will naturally start linking to you because you’ll be perceived as an authority, plus they will be more aware of you and your product
• Branded searches are likely to grow because of the increased awareness
• You’ll notice a higher CTR in the SERPs again thanks to increased awareness and trust
• You can dedicate more of your resources to producing mid-funnel content as people will already be aware of your brand and product
Commenting on blogs is another tactic that can bring you many of these benefits.
But your comments shouldn’t be for links. Opt for useful, value-adding ones. Blog comments that are genuine, insightful, and relevant to the post expose your name/brand to your target audience. This can have a positive effect when it comes to SEO.
2. Write guest posts, contribute to other sites
Guest blogging is not a new technique in the world of SEO. But here you should remember that you don’t do guest blogging for links only as this has become extremely spammy over the years.
If guest posting for links doesn’t make sense, how is it still useful for SEO?
• It helps you build authority/awareness for yourself and your brand
• It increases brand mentions
• It has a knock-on effect on other aspects of SEO
• It has the potential to bring referral traffic
• It’s good for building links (I remember that I said guest blogging is not for link building, just read on and you’ll understand what I mean)
Don’t limit yourself to guest posting, contribute to other sites via other means, including:
(Help A Reporter Out)
(similar to HARO)
And get more benefits.
Well, the bottom-line is:
If you’re contributing to worthy sites, you’ll experience a pile of SEO benefits without having to stuff your author bio full of anchored links.
3. Use outreach to build mutually beneficial relationships
Let’s utter the following before we start. When I’m talking about using outreach for building mutually beneficial relationships with other bloggers/webmasters, I’m not talking about stuff that resembles spam rather than “outreach”.
Stock “outreach” will almost always result in a poor response rate and low-quality links if any at all.
Well, what do mutually beneficial relationships via outreach involve?
• Monitoring what’s happening in your industry and how the situation affects your own site
• Reaching out and trying to build genuine relationships with other bloggers where it is appropriate
Outreach is also about giving/helping others before asking for anything in return.
It can be time-consuming, but the game is worth the candles:
• Outreach is a good way of building links, but as I have already mentioned above, this shouldn’t be your primary motivation here
• You’ll build relationships with other people in your industry and they may mention or link to you in future
• Your mutually beneficial relationships can make all aspects of “SEO” much easier for you in future as people are usually willing to help you if you can return the favour.
You can’t establish a friendly relationship with everyone you ever reach out to and I don’t call you to. But, in any case, your messages should be personalised at the very least.
Personalisation is not just changing “Hi” to “Hi Tom”. It demands time to learn about the person you’re reaching out to: their interests/hobbies, what’s happening in their life right now, etc. Then you can use this information in your message.
As I said before, you don’t need to make friends with each and every person you are reaching out. For instance, you can simply monitor brand mentions and reach out with a simple “thank you” message to the person who mentioned you.
Most people don’t take the time to do things like this, so you will stand out from the crowd, which can often lead to great things.
Here follow a few other ideas for building mutually beneficial relationships via outreach:
• Tell people about issues on their site like broken links, spelling mistakes, etc.
• Reach out and tell people how they helped you
• Reach out and ask questions, but keep away from pointless stuff. Ask genuine questions that a person may be able to help you with).
But that’s not all, remember that you mustn’t ask for anything until the initial relationship has been built.
4. Citations, NAP, Reviews, etc. for “Local SEO”
Monitoring brand mentions and guest posting works well for big industry sites. Many small businesses simply can’t afford this. Here is where simple things like citations, reputation management, and “NAP” become useful.
Google considers NAP (Name, Address, and Phone) to determine this couple of things:
• Is this a legitimate business?
• Where should they rank in the organic search results?
Most legitimate businesses have their NAP on their websites.
But Google does not unconditionally “believe” that if a website shows its NAP, it is a legitimate business.
What will they do to verify it? They scan the web for other instances, like citations, of that businesses NAP details.
It’s quite obvious that if the NAP details are consistent across many records, the resource is probably genuine.
Then Google matches the number of NAP instances and the consistency of said instances to determine where to rank a business in geo-targeted results.
All in all, the more consistent NAP instances you have, the better.
But, NAP is just one part of the equation.
Most of the potential customers read reviews before doing business with somebody.
The reputation management comes into play.
For example, suppose you are searching for a good insurance company. What will be your reaction if you see “Don’t do business with Company Name Insurance” in #2 position?
Most likely this will be enough for you to decide that you will never deal with a company like this.
What you need to do is ensure that this result will disappear from the search results. You can do this by:
• Contacting the reviewer and persuading him/her to remove it
• Removing the review from the first page of results using various SEO methods
It won’t be an easy task, but leaving the review where it is will harm all your hard SEO work.
5. Co-citations and co-occurrence
It’s generally believed that co-citations and co-occurrence make somewhat effect on rankings.
Let’s start with the definition of co-citation:
If site A mentions site B and site C in the same article, then site B and C are related to one another. This happens because they were cited together in the same article, i.e. co-cited).
For example, let’s assume that someone mentions your site and your competitor in the same article.
Even if there’s no link, Google can induce that there is a link between the two words.
If there was only one instance of such co-citation, it probably wouldn’t mean much.
But if there were many instances of mentioning these two words together in the same place, Google will confidently conclude that there is some connection between these two things.
How do they know what the link is? Thanks to co-occurrence. Here’s the definition for you:
When a link or citation occurs (e.g. a mention of your site), Google will look at the surrounding words on the page. This helps them to figure out what that page is all about.
Furthermore, if the same words are mentioned in close proximity to a link/citation across a number of instances Google can confidently elicit that said page must be somehow related to those keywords.
For example, if your site is mentioned in close proximity to the phrase “SEO tool”, “tools for SEO”, “SEO intelligence tool”, and so on, it’s understandable. Because, in fact, your app is an SEO tool.
Lots of people will mention the name of your app in very close proximity to the words “SEO” and “tool”.
Should Google be using co-occurrence in their algorithm, they could easily infer that your app is a popular SEO tool by looking at the articles it is being mentioned at.
It’s likely that they will decide that your app should rank for the phrase “SEO tool”, even though none of these articles link to your app.
How can you use co-citation and co-occurrence for your own/clients sites?
• Include keywords you want to rank for in close proximity to your author bio link when guest posting (e.g. “Helga Moreno writes for Ahrefs and can explain what keyword difficulty
SEO tool metric is to a 6-year old”)
• Work on building a brand rather than just a website. This will increase the chance that people will mention your brand name
• Create great content because when you are able to create content that gets shared and linked to a lot, you’ll naturally get people mentioning your brand in relation to your content
In a nutshell, if you’re actively marketing your business/website and “doing SEO”, co-occurrence and co-citations will occur naturally.
Yes, you got it right, “ads” are a core component of off-page SEO.
If you can put your content in front of the right people, those who have the possibility to share, mention and link to your content in future, things will become much easier.
But your content needs to be really outstanding, only then it has the chance to work.
Most platforms allow targeting your content, which is even better.
For example, Twitter’s “tailored audiences” feature has the option to display ads to a very specific group of users/prospects. Their Twitter handles (e.g. @helgammoreno) are all you need.
How to define your prospects? They could include anyone who shared or linked to similar content before. They could be active bloggers in your field you know about.
The technique can be really powerful, by the way.
The great news is that Twitter isn’t the only option here.
Most of the popular platforms like Facebook, Stumbleupon, Quuu, etc. have similar capabilities.
For example, you could use Facebook’s geotargeting capabilities
to bring your content in front of local people/journalists/bloggers/etc.
If your content is good enough you could potentially attract a number of shares, mentions, and links without any manual outreach.
It’s just the tip of the iceberg when we are talking about ads. You just need to get inventive and creative.
Why off-page doesn’t work without proper on-page SEO
Most of the SEOs spend a lot their energy working on the off-page SEO and there’s nothing wrong with this. The stumbling block is that if your on-page SEO is not in order, off-page SEO isn’t going to work.
It’s my strong belief that nobody is going to link to a website that either has an ugly design or doesn’t look credible.
If your design is outdated, it’s probably time to refresh it.
Similarly, if there are spelling/grammatical errors or out-of-date info there, you’re not going to get a link from Forbes. Your efforts don’t matter.
It’s also unlikely that anyone is going to share your content and if people aren’t sharing it, nobody will be reading it.
This is not good because you lose the possibility to get any of the other good stuff (i.e. links, citations, etc.).
But the issue may be not so obvious.
This will sound crazy, but it happens more frequently than you can imagine. You may accidentally block indexing via robots.txt or prevent search engines from viewing content with on-site scripts.
Remember that proper on-page SEO will have a direct effect on rankings. The explanation is simple. If you rank higher, more people see/read your content.
If more people see/read your content, more people may potentially link to or cite you in an article.
The more people cite or link to you in an article, the better your off-page SEO is.
Here is the bottom line: don’t even think about off-page SEO before putting your on-page SEO in order.
It’s clear that off-page SEO is extremely important. It does not matter what kind of site you’re running. However, not all of it is about link building.
Links are still pretty much the #1 ranking factor but they’re only one factor out of 200+ in Google’s algorithm.
(Co-)citations, co-occurrence, NAP, reviews, etc. can often be equally (sometimes even more) important than links.
Moreover, today the process of building links is not necessarily linear: “build one link, build another, build another…” etc. Successful link building is more about creating a well-defined strategy for attracting links “naturally”. This means writing great content, care about UX and good on-page SEO.
Do this and you will be playing on the safe side.
About the author
is a passionate content creator and marketer at Ahrefs
bold enough to believe that if there's a book that she wants to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then she must write it herself.
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