If you have a fast-loading website with awesome content and it’s still not ranking, you ought to check on the off-page SEO.
Are you spending enough time on off-page optimisation? Or more importantly, are you performing off-page SEO techniques correctly?
While it’s true that content remains the fundamentals of SEO, off-page signals are crucial in a competitive industry.
Without a strong off-page strategy, you’ll find that it’s almost impossible to break into the top page of Google’s search result.
In this guide, we’ll go in-depth on what is off-page SEO all about, the strategies that it entails, and how to execute them correctly to benefit your website.
An Introduction to Off-Page SEO
Ahrefs recently did a case study by acquiring 36 backlinks for an article, which saw it rise to the #1 spot for the search term “SEO stat”. It proves that backlinks remain one of the most important SEO ranking signals.
Despite being a major ranking factor, off-page SEO isn’t just about link-building. Strategies like guest-blogging, PR marketing, social media engagement and brand building are some of the off-page techniques that are important in an SEO campaign.
Depending on your industry, you’ll want to invest in more than one of the strategies to create balanced off-page SEO signals to your website.
Focusing on backlinks alone and engaging in “black hat” techniques can be detrimental to SEO efforts.
Off-Page SEO: The three hat colours
You’ll often hear the terms white-hat, black-hat and grey-hat within the SEO community.
What do such terms mean? And more importantly, how does it affect your SEO results?
Black-hat SEO refer to techniques executed to manipulate the underlying search algorithm of Google.
Here are some examples of off-page Black-Hat techniques that could land you Google penalties or worse.
- Excessive link-exchanges – where you swap outbound links in huge numbers with other websites.
- Automated link creation – There are software programs that could automatically generate a link at various places on the web and it’s against Google’s policy.
- Paid link acquisition – Cash is, unfortunately, not king when it comes to link-building. If you’re paying for backlinks and caught by Google, your site will be penalized.
If you’re considering black-hat SEO strategies as shortcuts to ranking on Google, you’re taking a huge risk. While some black-hat tactics may slip through the cracks in Google’s algorithm now, it doesn’t mean that you’ll get scot-free forever.
Check out this article for black-hat SEO techniques to avoid at all cost.
Google continuously upgrades its algorithm to provide a better search experience. If you’re caught in its upgrades, it could mean undoing years of hard work and investment.
Grey is an overlap of black and white, and in SEO, grey-hat are practices that are not flouting Google’s policy and yet, aren’t aligned to Google’s vision of a search-friendly ecosystem.
In short, grey-hat doesn’t break the rules, nor does it add values to users.
Here are some common grey-hat strategies employed by some SEO marketers.
- Directory submissions – Submit website’s URL Hungary Phone Number List to web directories that provide high-quality backlinks.
- Create multiple social media accounts – Social media signals are probably ranking factors. This practice involved creating multiple social media accounts and engaging with your website.
- Get links from Web 2.0 properties – Sites like Wikipedia, Quora and Medium are considered Web 2.0. Create content and answer questions on these sites to build backlinks.
- Get positive reviews – This is a common tactic used by businesses, where they give freebies to bloggers and influencers for a review. The review often comes with a backlink to the site.
- Using expired domains – Some expired domains already have valuable backlinks. They can be turned into assets by building a site out of it and linking back to the primary domain.
The problem with grey-hat SEO strategies is that there aren’t proper guidelines and you’re relying on the experience of the SEO consultant to get them right.
When executed perfectly, grey-hat techniques could lead to better ranking. Yet, you can easily slip into black-hat areas if you’re not careful.
White-hat SEO is the safest approach as it’s strictly compliant to Google’s guideline and also commonly practised by SEO agencies in the present.
The fundamental of white-hat SEO lies in the principle of creating great content that helps users to achieve their purposes on Google.
Here are some legit white-hat SEO techniques that work:
- Keyword research – A user’s search journey starts by keying in the search phrase. Therefore, you’ll need to identify and target keywords that your audience are searching.
- Create great content – Without content, your SEO campaign isn’t going anywhere. Offer high-quality content that answers the user’s search intent and optimise it for the targeted keywords.
- Mobile optimisation – Considering that mobile traffic has overtaken desktop in 2017, Google has shifted to mobile-first indexing. Ensuring your site is mobile-friendly is crucial to secure favourable ranking on Google.
- Link-building – Backlinks are important, but they must be acquired via the promotion of high-quality content. The source of the backlinks matter. A link on an authoritative, relevant site that requires editorial review offers huge SEO value.
- Focus on UX – User experience (UX) is highly-related with SEO. A fast-loading site, navigation-friendly menu and a good site architecture contribute to ranking boost.
We strongly recommend using white-hat SEO to eliminate the risk of Google penalties. When you’re applying white-hat SEO, you’re building the site for the sake of users. Naturally, it will lead to better engagement, conversion and revenue for your business.
Google Updates over the years
There are good reasons for sticking with white-hat SEO with how Google has been releasing one update over another each year.
Some notable updates have wiped off sites that are utilising black hat techniques while rewarding those built using legit strategies.
These are the major Google algorithm updates that have shaken the web.
- Panda update – The Panda update released in 2011 is meant to target sites that publish thin or low-quality content. Content farms, which publishes copied or spun articles, are demoted as they do not add value to users.
- Penguin update – Google clamped down on link-buying and other dubious link building schemes with the Penguin update in 2012. Sites that turn to black-hat SEO to build links are greatly penalized with some deindexed from the search engine.
- Hummingbird update – This update which happened in 2013, is a major overhaul of Google’s core algorithm. It enables Google to understand search intent beyond the individual keywords and return more relevant results.
- Medic update – Health-related websites went through a tumultuous period when Google released the Medic update in 2018. Sites that offer low-quality content suffered while health sites that thoroughly answered the search intent are promoted in the update.
How To Do Off-Page SEO the right way
Now that we’ve got a good idea of what off-page SEO is all about and how it’s pivotal in ranking on Google, let’s explore the various techniques that work.
Use white-hat SEO only
Regardless of how tempting a technique could be, it is important that you’re sticking with white-hat SEO techniques only.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve come across a specific way of ranking quickly on Google. If it’s black-hat or grey-hat, your efforts could backfire and cause more harm than good.
There are often cases of how business owners spent months recovering from Google penalties just because they can’t resist the temptation of black-hat SEO.
Whether it’s off-page, on-page or technical SEO, stick with white-hat practices, and you’ll be safe from rude surprises of having your sites going off the chart.
Until Google has found a way to evaluate websites without backlinks, they remain one of the most important ranking signals.
However, it is a best practice to diversify your backlinks or risk creating an unnatural link profile. For example, if you’re building links only from a handful of authority sites, it could be flagged as unnatural by Google.
The same applies if you’re exclusively gaining links from guest posts or you’re targeting only ‘do-follow’ links.
An effective link-building campaign is about creating a natural link profile. This involves link acquisition from various sources and techniques.
Here are a few popular ones.
Be a data source
Articles that showcase statistics are highly popular amongst websites and blogs. Such articles tend to be shared around and are often cited in content.
Check out this article by Hubspot that ranks for ‘marketing statistics’. It has garnered 62,806 backlinks at the moment of writing.
Stats-based articles are also easy to create. You’ll need to scrape the website for statistics and compile the largest collection available on the web.
Present the statistics in easy to understand format. Hubspot categorises the type of statistics and uses short sentences for explaining the numbers.
If you offer the most comprehensive statistics compilation for a specific topic, it will eventually be found and cite.
You can more aggressive in promoting the article with an email outreach, which brings us to the next technique.
Broken Content Building
Pieces of content are shifte continuously or delete on the web, which gives rise to broken links. In a twist of the popular broken link building, Backlinko’s broken content building provides an efficient method of getting backlinks from broken links.
You’ll need the Ahrefs Content Explorer for this method. Use the tool to search for a specific topic, and filter out broken pages.
From the result, you’ll have a list of pages that are broke but were possibly linke to from other websites.
It’s an opportunity to reach out to the linking sites with the broken link-building technique and offer your resource, which is not only active but also more detailed.
Again, you’ll need to use Ahrefs Site Explorer to search for websites linking to the broken page.
From the list of websites, start an email outreach campaign where you mention how their sites are linking to a broken page. State that you’ve created a more comprehensive and relevant article.
Chances are, the webmasters will gladly link to yours.
Double Down On Long-Form Content
What is long-form content?
While there isn’t a precise definition, it is agreeable that long-form content is articles with more than 2,000 words.
There are many benefits in terms of SEO in creating long-form content. According to a study by Backlinko, long-form content gets 77.2% more backlinks than shorter articles.
Not only that, long-form content also tends to rank higher on Google, with the top 2 position averages beyond 2,450 words.
The problem is, it’s comparatively harder to create compared to short articles.
Here are some tips.
- Identify a topic that’s neither too broad nor narrow. Popular long-form content is usually in the form of definitive guides, tips and strategies.
- Create an outline for the content. When you’ve structured the content, fleshing it out becomes easier. It prevents overlapping and provides flow to the entire article.
- Use images and videos. It’s hard to retain the reader’s attention over thousands of words. Use visuals to sustain their focus and to make your points clearer in other formats.
- Create compelling meta titles and descriptions. You want to capture user’s attention on Google and social media. Numbers, years and power words are a good combination in drawing user’s attention.
Strategic Guest Posting
The keyword here is ‘authoritative’ and ‘relevant’. First of all, you don’t want to guest post on a spammy site as it is sure to hurt SEO.
Secondly, publishing on a relevant site is important in establishing your site’s authoritativeness.
For example, if you’re running an interior design business, you don’t want to guest post on a pest-control website. Instead, you’ll want to submit guest posts to real-estate, renovation, home-improvement or similar sites.
While guest-post can lead to gaining backlinks, your attention should fall beyond that. The process is an opportunity to get your brands out to new sections of readers.
By creating a wide digital footprint of your brands, your site stands a chance of getting high ranking on Google for brand searches. Even if some of the brand mentions are unlink, they could still improve SEO.
There is various evidence that suggests that unlinked brand mentions are as good as their linked counterparts in off-page SEO.
More often than not, webmasters allow a couple of self-directed ‘do-follow’ links on a guest post.
So, how do you find guest post opportunities?
The easiest way is to use Google and search for
- “Write for us”
- “Submit guest post”
- “Guest post guidelines”
Sometimes, the website may not explicitly state that it accepts guest post submission. But if it publishes guest posts in the past, it may do so in the present.
All you’ll need to do is to send an email pitching your idea. To have a greater chance of having your article publish, prioritise quality as if you’re publishing on your site.
Generate Brand Signals
For businesses, brand signals are often an overlooked part of off-page SEO. Brand signals tell Google that your business ‘exists’ within the digital world. Otherwise, your business is barely distinguishable from other generic blogs.
Try searching your business name or brand on Google. If it fails to show up on the top, you’re not doing enough to boost brand signals.
Here are some ways to work on brand signals.
Audit your branded searches
As a business, you’ll need to get the words out. The problem is, have the words got far enough in the digital community?
You’ll want to know if people are searching for your brand frequent enough on Google. You can do so easily by checking the impressions on queries from Google Search Console.