Off Page SEO (aka "off-site seo", "off site optimization" "offpage optimization", etc.) refers to all of the actions & activities you must perform that do NOT take place on your website.
A huge part of SEO is the off page portion - optimizing OTHER websites (along with a variety of other activities) that give Google positive signals about your website, and eventually translate in better website authority & better SERP rankings for you.
It seems kind of weird that you need to go around the internet and do stuff for other people's websites in order to make yours better, but just think of it like digital karma (even though that is like the opposite of what it actually is).
Google relies heavily on what other websites "think" about your website when determining if they should trust you and display your website favorbly (rank you high) in the SERPs. The way you manipulate, I mean IMPROVE, this is through Off Page SEO.
Off-page SEO is accomplished by:
Off Page SEO is one of the strongest things you can do to get your rankings skyrocketing - and in this article, we cover everything you need to know.
Backlinks are hyperlinks that are not located on your website, but that do point to your website.
For example, if another website is talking about your brand and puts those clickable words that take a user to your website, that would be a backlink.
If the link is located on a website and goes to another page on that same website, like this one pointing to our homepage, that would be an interlink.
Not all backlinks are created equal. In order to maximum your SEO impact, you need to keep these factors top of mind when acquiring backlinks:
Links pass trust.
The more links you have from other unique websites (aka, number of referring domains) the more trust your website will accumulate.
There is a direct correlation between number of referring domains & how well your website performs in search.
Authority is sometimes called "power" or "link juice", and not all links pack the same punch when it comes to authority.
Backlinks from websites with a higher overall domain authority (DR), and pages with a higher page authority (UR) will push more power/authority to your website than backlinks from weaker domains and/or weaker pages.
A common misconception I see all the time (seriously almost daily) in SEO is people preaching to avoid links from websites with Low DR. This is terrible advice.
Just because a website has a low DR doesn't mean you don't want a link from them.
Why not? The answer is Relevance.
When it comes to backlinks the term Relevance (aka "topical relevance", or as we like to say "incoming relevance") refers to how related the asset pointing to your website is.
If you have been following along with SERP University in order you have gone through the On Page SEO sections by now, and you know that one great way to improve your SEO is to improve the relevance of your on-page work.
Make your website as topically relevant & comprehensive for a single topic as possible, and Google will reward you for ranking within that niche.
The same is true for relevance from your Off Page efforts.
Get links from the most relevant places, and your rankings will skyrocket.
Incoming relevance can be found in the Anchor Text, Page Title, Root Domain, and Inner URL of an asset linking to you. The more keywords you have in these places, the more push you will get from the backlink.
Take a look at this example. We are a website about Marketing & SEO - which backlink do you think is giving us more SEO power, based on its RELEVANCE?
Definitely #2. Why? Because we have topically relevant keywords in the Referring Domain's: Root Domain, Page Title & Anchor Text.
The anchor text of a link is simply that "clickable" part of the text that when you click on it, it takes you off to another page.
For the user, its the clickable words.SERP Co
For a search engine, its the part below between the > < signs. I also made it bold for you to see more easily:
<a href="https://serp.co">SERP Co</a>
Knowing how to control & plan your links by Anchor Text is one of the most powerful ways to outrank competitors, and should be a primary focus of yours for off-page seo.
Read more about Anchor Text.
The link "rel" attribute plays a huge part in the quality of a link.
"rel", short for "relationship", specifics the relationship between two linked documents.
The thing to take away from this is there are different rel attributes, and the links you generally want are the ones with rel="dofollow".
This is a form of HTML that basically tells search engines "we trust the person we are linking to, and you should too".
Read more about dofollow links here.
The converse of the is rel="nofollow", and that basically tells the search engines the opposite.
Read more about nofollow links here.
Pro Tip: Focus most of your efforts on getting DO FOLLOW links.
The final property that makes links powerful (or less powerful) is the amount (or lack) of traffic that passes through it.
Getting a link from a high authority website is awesome.
If that website gets traffic, and people are clicking through from the Referring Domain to your website (via that hyperlink) Google sees that and it helps provide additional trust.
You can use Ahrefs to see how much traffic a website is getting to help you determine the quality of getting a link from that website/page.
Pro Tip: If you are prospecting specific websites for links, look at their "Top Pages" to see what is getting alot of traffic, and focus your efforts on getting links there
Unlinked mentions are quite literally "mentions" of your website or brand name on other websites, where the creator did not actually make it a hyperlink.
Here is an example of a paragraph I pulled off a Forbes article with a bunch of unlinked brand mentions, can you spot them all?
Technically, for personal brands, all of those people could be considered brand mentions as well.
This particular Google patent talks about unlinked mentions. In this patent, Google states:
An express link, e.g., a hyperlink, is a link that is included in a source resource that a user can follow to navigate to a target resource. An implied link is a reference to a target resource, e.g., a citation to the target resource, which is included in a source resource but is not an express link to the target resource.
NAP is an acronym for Name, Address, Phone Number.
Whenever your business's Name, Address & Phone Number appear somewhere on the web, that is considered a "citation".
Clearly, there was no mention of a link here - but having your NAP appear on various business-related web properties & directories is a great off page SEO signal.
Read more about NAP, citation consistency, and ranking in the maps in our Local SEO section.
Directories (aka "business directory", "web directory", etc.) is a website with the primary purpose of listing businesses & their contact information based on categories.
Directories are typically categorized by location or industry, but there are also a lot of "everything" directories. Like the Amazon for directories, they just list every business (example: Yelp).
Google is well aware of these popular and authoritative business directories and it is a big trust factor (especially for Local SEO) to have your site listed on them.
Reviews are something we are probably all familiar with at this point.
Google scans popular directories and looks for reviews of your business.
Not just the stars/rating - but also the review text. Google reads the keywords in these reviews to understand more about your business.
In this image you can see Google pulling reviews from Facebook & Foursquare and putting them into their knowledge panel.
Pro Tip: Get reviews with local & industry based keywords in them.
Brand search volume is an awesome (but rarely discussed) off page seo metric.
Brand search volume is quite literally the number of searches per month (on average) that your brand name gets in Google.
If people are actually searching for your brand name - that is a huge trust factor to Google that your business is real.
In fact, a lot of major companies get a majority of their search volume from people looking up their brand term.
Social signals are the likes, follows, comments, click-throughs, that are driven from social media.
Google says this is not a ranking factor they consider (but let's be honest, half the sh!t they say is BS).
Personally, I do believe social signals help with legitimacy.
I also believe, however, that Google can easily tell between fake & legit social signals (patterns & statistics is a hell of a thing).
After reading this article you should have a good grasp on the overview of Off Page SEO activities that influence your website's ranking, but we are just scratching the surface.
Continue following along with SERP University and dive into details with each off-page optimization factor. If you follow along and take action while you go through this content your rankings will start blasting off.
If you have any questions about what you read in this article or if you just want help getting it done please join us, and hundreds of world-class marketers, who are helping themselves & their clients make more money with online marketing - JOIN FREE: SERP University
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