Off-page SEO: What measures can I take?
What is Off-Page SEO?
In daily business, we are often told from customers and partners that they understand off-page SEO, primarily the building of backlinks. However, off-page SEO is much more than just external links. It’s about all factors that have a positive impact on search engine rankings outside your website.
First, let’s find out why off-page SEO is important. Simply put, it is half of the equation to improving your sites overall SEO performance. The more frequently the search engine detects links or brand mentions and the older your domain, the better we rank your website. A so-called domain reputation is formed, depending on how good your rankings are.
To decide which websites will give the best user experience, search engines look at off-page SEO. The more often you are mentioned via links, the older your URL is or how often your brand is called, the more trustworthy and relevant your website will be. After all, if other websites, especially high authority ones, are linking to your site, then you must have some amazing content.
What is involved in off-page SEO?
Usually you start your SEO efforts with on-page measures. In order for your target group to find you better, you optimize your web content with matching keywords.
You publish more content and include these keywords. Your organic rankings are constantly improving. You may also compliment your content strategy with Google Ads campaigns or other PPC measures (pay per click).
At some point, however, you may or may not stumble upon off-page SEO measures to give your traffic the next boost. This often happens if you are already well optimized in the on-page area and want to expand the rankings further. Moz found that website owners distribute an average of 30% of their optimization efforts on off-page and 70% on-page.
At the same time, recent studies show that off-page factors still have more than 50% weight in the Google algorithm. This means that Off-Page SEO still has a lot of potential for many companies and it’s importance is often underestimated. This has various reasons, above all the results of off-page measures can often hardly be seen in the short term. It takes a solid content strategy, a lot of building work and goodwill to work with your community. This is the only way to get backlinks naturally.
Now to the actual question: Which factors influence your off-page SEO ranking? The following five categories are somewhat simplified:
For example, if you publish a guest article (guest post) on another website and link to your website or comment on articles on blogs and point to your website, you have arrived in the middle of off-page SEO optimization.
A few years ago, the recipe for good SEO rankings was relatively simple: link building, link building and even more link building. Service providers from low-wage countries specialized in hiring low-cost workers to distribute clients' links in blogs and forums. Google and other search engines quickly recognized this and began to distribute penalties and distinguish between do-follow and no-follow links. Anyone who had an interest in keeping their own domain reputation clean was eager to stop this link spamming. This is also why the importance of backlinks has fallen significantly.
Why are backlinks important?
Without links from third-party sites that link to your website, it is almost impossible for Google to rate your website. How trustworthy is the site? Is your brand relevant to users? The search engine simply needs clues, or the recommendation of the users, to determine this and derive a rating from it.
In addition to external links, internal links are also important. Why would you do that? Internal links are part of the on-page repertoire, but we would like to discuss them briefly to illustrate the difference. As a website operator, you should make sure that users never end up in a dead end. The reader should be able to consume additional content via internal links, for example in your blog in the form of «more popular articles on the topic» or through links built into the text. This without the user having to press the back button or calling the menu. Ideally, you should include these internal links in the text flow. Internal links that are on the page or at the end of a sentence have a lower impact than «naturally embedded links».
Practical example: Some weeks ago we wrote an article on the importance of social media for SEO, which you should definitely read
SEO-friendly website structure
Internal links are closely linked to your website structure and user navigation. Here there are various structure types, which you can implement on your website, in order to optimally shape the user flow. An example of internal linking can be found below. Further possibilities can be found here. A basic recipe is that you build a so-called pyramid structure in which sub-pages and topic pages are linked to each other, creating a relevant flow within a topic area. In this way you create a good user flow and at the same time create small theme worlds that are relevant for the user.
To understand the importance of off-page SEO, we should delve into the history of search engine optimization...
Short story about search engine optimization
Since its founding in 1996, Google has continuously developed its algorithm. There were various iterations and new releases such as Google Penguin or Panda.
The aim of this continuous development is to present the most relevant search results to the user at the top. But how do I find out if a page is relevant or not? In the past, the right keywords and a clean technical optimization of the website were sufficient.
Meanwhile, the SEO field has become significantly more competitive and intelligent. Today, Google takes a closer look at user behavior. Through free tools such as Google Analytics, which integrate into your website code, the search engine provider from Paolo Alto knows very well how the user behaves on your site. The longer they stay on a page, the more links they click, consume content or interact with you, the more relevant the website is and the better the ranking. You can find valuable information on how to optimally build a website in the Google Webmaster Guidelines.
Experts even say that Google is working on serving different search segments with different SERP’s (search engine result page). So it would be conceivable and probably also useful that in the future a 30- and a 60-year-old man will get different results with the same search term.
Now you know the most important off-page factors and the history of the search engines. So what is missing? Of course: How do you optimize your off-page SEO in the best possible way?
Start with the well-known recipe for building a backlink. You combine this approach with a content strategy that derives from your positioning and the most sought-after, relevant keywords. The content strategy will guide you on which partner websites you should build backlinks on. You are welcome to contact us here to create the competition and backlink analysis as well as the corresponding off-page planning.
You can build backlinks in four ways:
- Natural links: Shared by third parties voluntarily and without any incentives. These can be bloggers or your customers who share their experience with you and share it with the community. Natural links are also referred to as link earning, which means: you earn your links through good work.
- Manually built links: For example, if you ask your customers for comments or reviews, they fall under the category of manually built links. The same applies to building backlinks through influencers, suppliers or sales partners. In this context, we also speak of link building.
- Self-created links: This includes posting guest posts or commenting on third-party posts with links to your website (by the website owner himself). But beware: Some of the measures are considered black hat techniques and cause you to be ranked lower. We therefore recommend that you be careful here.
- Blog under other URL: If you decide to build a blog, you can do this under a new URL. From this URL you then link to the content and services of your website. This creates backlinks. At the same time, you’re impacting the organic traffic volumes of your main page, because you’re missing those keywords. Another challenge of this approach is that the domain reputation of the new URL has to be built up with difficulty, which costs time and money. They develop some backlinks, but their impact remains low because they are considered no-follow links.
An innovative approach is to spy on your competitors and see on which platforms they generate their backlinks. Then you create exciting, complementary content, which is missing on this website and write to the website operator, asking for a backlink. So you send them an infographic or a text example of your article and offer him to publish it on his web platform free of charge against a backlink.
As mentioned above, building a too extensive and unprofessional backlink can also hurt your website. As the saying goes, less is more, you should spend time identifying the right partner pages with high domain authority and then publish guest posts with high quality. This not only gives you links, but also additional traffic and good rankings. These so-called do-follow links often bring you significantly more than the extensive build-up of backlinks and the «pure planting» of links in thousands of blogs and forums.
So what should be considered when building backlinks? When choosing suitable backlink websites, we consider the following four parameters for customer projects:
The MozBar tool is ideal for identifying the website authority.
Further off-page measures
Outside of the classic backlink setup, there are many other measures that improve your off-page performance. For example, links on social media do not count directly as backlinks, but a strong social media presence can still have a positive impact. So a good social media presence leads to more reach and many page views, which positively influences your rankings.
You should therefore take care to create additional touchpoints outside of your website through which additional users reach your website. This includes the Google My Business entry or the usual local address directories such as Local.ch or Yellow, where the basic entry is often free. But don’t overdo it here.
A strong content marketing strategy is and remains the ultimate in off-page SEO. If the content is good, you will gain credibility and trust and the community will diligently share the content online.
Conclusion: The path to successful off-page SEO
Good off-page SEO can be very time-consuming and expensive. Invest money and sweat into your content strategy instead of empty promises and extensive backlink building by dubious providers. In the end, you won’t regret this sooner or later, because Google will uncover all the trickery sooner or later and maybe prosecute your domain for it.
Content takes time, money and human resources. At the same time, this path is significantly more sustainable, as you not only generate short-term traffic volumes, but also convince your target group with the right content and build trust.
We strongly recommend that you get more backlinks naturally and not buy them from third-party providers. This shot can quickly backfire and result in a Google penalty. Naturally, you get backlinks slower, but also more sustainable. Our team will be happy to help you build a successful content strategy and create relevant content that your community will be all too happy to share.
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