Off-Page SEO – A Beginner’s Guide
In the previous article we looked at the various areas of On-Page SEO, such as the headlines, page structure, and the content on your site, and now it's time to focus on what you need to do in order to get your Off-Page SEO on point.
Below are some of the factors that you should consider:
Factor #1: Trust
PageRank is a formula that the Google founders invented. While it's important, it's not the only measure that they consider when ranking pages.
Another factor that is gaining in importance when trying to rank in Google's top ten search results is Trust. That's why the search engine's most recent updates have hit obscure and spammy websites hard.
TrustRank is Google's way of seeing if your website is legit, and if it looks like a big brand then Google will likely have more trust in you. It also helps to have high-quality back-links from authority sites such as .gov or .edu domains.
Building trust can be broken down into four parts:
1. Domain Authority
This has a lot to do with how widespread a domain name is.
For instance, Colgate.com is a very authoritative domain because everyone has heard of it.
2. Page Authority
This relates to how authoritative the content of each page is (this could be a blog post or a core page on the site. The best way to improve your page authority is by getting editorial links from high-quality sites.
For instance, you should do whatever you can to get mainstream media websites to feature you. No, it's not easy, and yes, it takes lots of time and effort, but it's definitely worth it because the links that you get will be virtually algorithm-proof.
In a recent post, I spoke about black, white, and gray hat SEO techniques and how Google's view of guest blogging could easily fall into any of those depending on how you use it.
Getting this type of third-party validation from top-rated publications is about as white-hat as it gets.
3. Bounce Rate
This is simply the percentage of visitors to your site who leave after viewing only one page.
There are many ways of reducing your bounce rate including high quality content, reducing loading times, improving usability, and attracting the right audience for your blog.
It just makes sense that the readers are going to spend a lot more time on a website that has awesome, relevant content, looks good and loads fast.
4. Domain Age
Domain age isn't as significant as the other factors listed here, but it still matters.
If you have not yet got a site that's up and running, you may want to consider getting an expired domain that is affordable and using that instead.
Domain trust, age, and authority all have yet another thing in common, and that is your Brand.
A personal identity or brand online is a massive trust signal for Google and other search engines, but it does take some time to build. You don't necessarily have to have a brand name as a personal brand will work equally well.
Also, when you build a brand, it helps to prevent penalties from future Google updates.
This is part of the explanation as to why the search giant gives preference to big brands. More often than not, users prefer brands that they recognize over the ones they don't.
Studies actually show that the majority of consumers in the US look for known retailers when deciding which results to click on. So, ultimately, having a brand name that is recognizable is important to your overall SEO efforts and your business's bottom line.
Factor #2: Links
Most marketers are under the impression that back-links are everything when it comes to SEO, but that is just not true. They're only a small part of it, as are all the other areas that we've covered in the previous article and the beginning of this one.
And there are just so many ways of getting back-links that it will likely happen anyway during the course of all your other SEO activities. But remember, it's never a good idea to just sit back and wait for people to link to you.
Be proactive and ask them for the links.
When trying to get back-links, there are three things to consider:
1. The quality of the links
While it's true that links aren't everything, it's still important to make sure that the links you're getting are from high-quality sites.
The quality of the links matters more than the quantity you have.
Reach out to all the right sources when building back-links and offer value in exchange for a solid link. There's a post on our blog that talks about how to do this in detail.
Looking at only the number of links that you have would be a big mistake for the following reasons:
The search engines might not even look at the majority of your links if they appear spammy or low quality
Repeat links that you get from existing sites are worth a lot less than links from brand new sites
The links you get from other websites are worth a lot more than a whole bunch of links that you get from your own website (internal linking between pages)
2. Anchor text
This is the text that the other websites use when linking to you, and it matters – a lot!
There are various ways of differentiating between many types of anchor text, but as a rule of thumb, the more natural that anchor text sounds, the better it is for your SEO.
3. Number of links
Last on the list is the total number of links that you have. You need to scale your back-link building over time.
While it's not just about the number of links that you have, a site with the highest number of high-quality links will typically have a better edge.
An important note on back-links:
It's also important which pages are getting the links.
For instance, links to your home page may be alright, but that's not where most of the natural links go, really, unless they mention your brand name specifically.
People most often link to posts or pages on your site and whenever possible, try to make sure that the right sources link to the right posts or pages on your site.
What this basically means is that you need to consider how and where links come from and make sure that there's something to buy, subscribe to on that linked page (or some other action that visitors can complete).
Factor #3: Personal
The third area of off-page SEO has to do with personal factors, most of which are out of your control, but there are still a few things that you can do to boost your odds of reaching your audience.
Searchers online see results that are relevant to whichever country that they are in. Things like the open times of the recommended restaurants and stores will be different depending on the time zone.
Search engines also interpret some words differently in different countries.
For instance, if someone conducts a search for a 'comforter' in the United States, they will be presented with blankets for the bed in the search results, while someone searching the same thing in the UK will see pacifiers in the search results because that's what the term means there.
Geotargeting goes further down into city level.
That is why you typically see the results from right near you when you search for a fast food chain. You can use city names as keywords to help you rank your content, but this is dangerous as it could end up making you look like you're only an authority locally.
If that particular user has been on that specific page before, or if they visited your website in general, then your results are more likely to show up for them because Google is going to think that your content is relevant to them.
If you have a YouTube channel for your brand then the more that people out there like you, the better it's going to be for your SEO. Whenever Google sees that a brand is well liked on social networks, it's more likely to show results from that brand to those people.
When it comes to the social factors associated with off-page SEO, there are two main factors that influence your ranking (aside from the social signals that are obtained directly from the searchers).
1. Quality of shares
Just as it is with the quality of back-links, the quality of shares is also more important than the frequency.
Google knows who the influencers are in your industry, and whenever they share any of your content, their shares have more SEO power than your neighbor's.
Give influencers in your niche a heads up before you publish the content to increase your chances of them sharing your content.
You can even go a step further by interviewing or quoting them.
2. Number of Shares
This is the second social metric that you should consider.
Viral hits are every marketer's dream, but they are entirely overrated. The simple truth is that all you need to do is to make your content awesome, and people will naturally want to share it.
However, that statement means something different to each person hearing it.
For instance, to those in the online marketing arena, long-form content almost always outperforms short-form pieces.
But if you run a celeb gossip site, then your audience may not want to spend hours reading a massive article, which means that here the opposite will be true.
On-Page and Off-Page SEO - The Bottom Line
As you've seen in this and the previous article, SEO comes in two different parts, and it's vital to understand the differences between on-page SEO and off-page SEO as well as to implement both on your site in order to get the most benefits from your search engine optimization efforts.
It isn't about choosing between one or the other.
Both are equally important.
One is like the foundation of your house while the other is like the roof. They work together and complement each other to improve your rankings in the search engines.
But, you should always try to get your on-page SEO in order before focusing too much on your off-page SEO (to use our house example, you'll have a much easier time putting the roof up if you've built a strong foundation...).
From time to time, you can always go back and do some maintenance to improve your on-page SEO, but a balance between the two is vital to make your site appealing to both users and the search engines.
It doesn't take much to get the basics of SEO right, even if you're a total newbie, but it can absolutely kill your online presence if you don't, so it's worth taking the time to ensure that you do it properly from the get-go.
Don't worry if you think that some of the SEO decisions that you've already made on your site in the past may not be what's best for your business or blog right now. The main thing is to commit to doing things the right way starting today.
Implement what you have learned in these two articles on your site one tactic at a time.
For instance, start doing your keyword before writing blog posts and then use the keyword data that you collect to optimize all the basics on your blog posts such as your title tags and the meta descriptions, and before you know it, your posts will stand out and rank higher.
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Updated: Originally published December 11th 2018