Off page SEO refers to techniques that can be used to improve the position of a web site in the search engine results page (SERPs). Many people associate off-page SEO with link building but it is not only that. In general, off Page SEO has to do with promotion methods – beyond website design –for the purpose of ranking a website higher in the search results.
Let’s take it from the beginning…
What is SEO?
Search engine optimization is the term used to describe a set of processes that aim in optimizing a website for search engines. SEO is important not only for getting high quality visitors from search, but it’s also a way to improve the user-friendliness of your website and increase its credibility.
Search engines are using complex algorithms to determine which pages to include in their index and the order they show these pages in the search results.
SEO is the way to ‘speak’ to search engines in a language they can understand and give them with more information about your website.
SEO has two major components, On Page and Off Page SEO.
On Page SEO
On Page SEO refers to settings you can apply on your website so that it is optimized for search engines. The most important On-Page SEO tips are:
Having optimized titles and descriptions
Proper URL Structures
User friendly navigation (breadcrumbs, user sitemaps)
Optimized internal links
Text Formatting (use of h1,h2,bold etc)
Image optimization (image size, proper image names, use of ALT tag)
User friendly 404 pages
Fast loading pages
Mobile Friendly pages
Top quality fresh content (This is always the most important SEO factor!)
External links (no broken links or links to ‘bad’ sites)
You can find out more details about all the above tips in the SEO Tips for beginners article.
Off Page SEO
Unlike On- page SEO, Off-page SEO refers to activities you can perform outside the boundaries of your website. The most important are:
Social Media Marketing
We will examine these in more details below, but first let me explain about the importance and benefits of off-page SEO.
Why is Off-Page SEO important?
Search engines have been trying for decades to find a way to return the best results to the searcher.
To achieve this, they take into account the on-site SEO factors (described above), some other quality factors and off-page SEO.
A web site that is high quality and useful is more likely to have references (links) from other websites; it is more likely to have mentions on social media (Facebook likes, tweets, Pins, +1’s etc.) and it is more likely to be bookmarked and shared among communities of like-minded users.
What are the benefits of ‘off-site SEO’ to website owners?
A successful off-site SEO strategy will generate the following benefits to website owners:
Increase in rankings – The website will rank higher in the SERPs and this also means more traffic.
Increase in PageRank – Page rank is a number between 0 and 10 which indicates the importance of a website in the eyes of Google. It is the system invented by Larry Page and Sergey Brin (Google founders) and one of the reasons that Google was so successful in showing the most relevant results to the searcher. Page rank today is only one out of the 250 factors that Google is using to rank websites.
More exposure – Higher rankings also means greater exposure because when a website ranks in the top positions: it gets more links, more visits and more social media mentions. It’s like a never ending sequence of events where one thing leads to another and then to another etc.
Link building is the most popular and effective off-Page SEO method. Basically by building external links to your website, you are trying to gather as many ‘votes’ as you can, so that you can bypass your competitors and rank higher.
For example, if someone likes this article and references it from his/her website or blog, then this is like telling search engines that this page has good information.
Over the years webmasters have been trying to build links to their websites to get higher rankings and they ‘invented’ a number of ways to increase link count. The most popular ways were:
Shared Content Directories
Link exchange schemes
Notice that I used the past tense to describe all the above methods because not only they do not work today, you should not even try them.
If you try to ‘trick’ search engines by building artificial links, you are more likely to get a penalty rather than an increase in rankings (especially when it comes to Google).
The birth of black hat SEO
Link building was an easy way to manipulate the search engine algorithms and many spammers tried to take advantage of this by building link networks which gradually lead to the creation of what is generally known as black hat SEO.
Google has become very intelligent in recognizing black hat techniques and with the introduction of Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird (that’s how the Google Algorithm releases are called), they have managed to solve the problem and protect their search engine results from spammers.
What is a good link?
So, if the above links are not useful, what is a good link?
First, you should understand that link building it’s not only a matter of quantity but it is a matter of quality as well.
In other words, it no longer matters how many links are pointing to your website but it is more important from where these links are coming.
The obvious question is, how to you get these links?
If you ask Google they will tell you that any links pointing to your website has to be natural links. Natural links are exactly what their name implies. A website owner or blogger likes another website or blog and naturally adds a link to his/her blog.
Does this happen in reality or is it another myth?
It certainly does but you have to try really hard to get to this point. Take for example this blog, there are many incoming links because other webmasters find the content interesting and I also link to other sites in my articles because I find their content interesting and want to inform my readers about it.
If natural links are what I have just described above, in which category do all other links belong?
They belong in the category of artificial links and by adopting such techniques you increase the risk for getting a manual or algorithmic penalty by Google.
Is guest blogging a valid way to build links?
Guest posting can be a valid way to get links back to your website provided that you don’t do it just for links and that you don’t overdo it. You can read these 2 articles to get a complete picture as to when to accept guest posts on your blog and when to guest post on other blogs.
Social media is part of ‘off-site SEO’ and if you think about it, it’s also a form of link building. It should be noted that almost all of the links you get from social media sites are “nofollow” but this does not mean that they do not have any value.
Social Media mentions are gaining ground as ranking factors and proper configuration of social media profiles can also boost SEO.
Social bookmarking is not as popular as it used to be in the past but it is still a good way to get traffic to your website. Depending on your niche you can find web sites like reddit.com, stumbleupon.com, scoop.it and delicious.com (to name a few) to promote your content.
Much like the world of search and the perpetually updated algorithms of Google, the landscape of non-Google marketing sees techniques, platforms and priorities change over time.
What hasn’t changed is the importance of understanding how to generate traffic without Google. Google is big, but it is not good to concentrate all your efforts into just one referrer.
The key to succeeding with the following 10 non-Google traffic sources is by honest participation and engagement, as opposed to spamming and dropping links to your website around the internet. It is a question we’ll return to throughout.
Perhaps, but I want to deal with blogs first because for me they are the first step to ‘participating in the conversation.’ And, today, there is more to blogging than simply having a part of your website dedicated to regularly updated posts.
Blog posts on your site are great for non-Google traffic of course. You can publish at will and with more authorial control than you might get from an of