How To Do Off-page SEO Right
Off-page SEO is a branch of search engine optimisation. It covers things you can do online, but not on your own website, to raise your website’s profile.
If you’ve read through our on-page SEO guide you should have a broad understanding of the main on-page SEO techniques. But that’s only half the battle! Now, it’s time to look at off-page SEO.
Backlinks are the Backbone of Off-page SEO
What are backlinks? A backlink is a link from one webpage to another.
Backlinks are an important part of how search engines work. In an earlier guide, we discussed the fact that search engines are essentially pattern-matching machines. On the simplest level, they match keywords with websites that contain those keywords.
But how does a search engine know which website to display when a keyword is a good match for hundreds or even thousands of websites?
Search engines need to be able to rank potential fits in order, from the best fit to worst fit. If you Google any keyword — let’s take “blueberry recipes” as an example, you’ll get a list of results:
By default, you’ll get ten blue links. These are the ten best results (as determined by Google). The one at the top of the page is the very best fit. This is known as “position one”. It feels good to be in position one!
Important note: nowadays it’s rare to get the ten blue links and nothing else. Much of the Search Engine Results Page is taken up with new features, such as PPC ads, product listing ads, images, videos, featured snippets and much more. These features take up valuable real estate on the SERPs!
Search engines decide how to rank websites based on ranking factors. There are hundreds of different ranking factors and the exact details are kept secret by Google. One of the reasons that Google emerged as the best search engine in the early days of the website is because it was the first to use backlinks as a ranking factor.
Google sees backlinks as a “vote of confidence”. Websites that have lots of backlinks are probably high quality. So Google (and other search engines) carefully examines each website’s backlink profile when deciding how to rank them.
Not all Backlinks are Created Equal
Back in the old, wild days of SEO, off-page SEO was just about getting as many links pointing to your website as possible. The result was an outbreak of link farms — literally just websites filled with nothing but links to other websites — generating spammy links.
However, as soon as Google, Bing and other platforms discovered how to figure out which backlinks were spammy and which were genuine, everything changed. Overnight, all those websites that invested time and money in spammy practices became invisible.
These days, search engines have very sophisticated ways of telling which backlinks are genuine and which ones are not. As search engines’ attitudes towards backlinks have become more nuanced, backlink building strategies have become more nuanced as well.
In summary, off-page SEO is not just about building backlinks. It’s about building backlinks which are natural, trustworthy, and relevant. Search engines only care about the kind of backlinks which genuinely signify trust and authority.
Still, why bother with all that hard work?
After all, you might have heard that you can buy backlinks. You might have even heard that you can generate backlinks for free…
…Except it’s not that simple.
Backlink Building Strategies Which Sound too Good to be True Usually Are
If you directly pay for backlinks, you are probably indulging in a black hat SEO practice.
“Black hat SEO” is the term used for SEO practices which try and cheat or deceive Google.
If you are paying for a service which helps to promote your website (such as through a press release, content marketing outreach, or a social media campaign) and if these services generate natural, genuine, trustworthy backlinks, you are probably indulging in a white hat SEO practice.
Some of the best backlinks are free, but they are not free from work. To get a genuine, unpaid backlink from the BBC, the Guardian, the Telegraph, Forbes, Entrepreneur, or the Mirror is hard.
Yet, it can be done, and we know this because we have done it.
The best way to earn quality backlinks is to earn them by creating genuine, high-quality content that people want to link to. At Exposure Ninja, we have a whole department dedicated to doing exactly that (our Content Marketing department). If you want to learn more about Content Marketing, check out our Content Marketing guide.
Off-page SEO That’s not Link Building
Off-site SEO is more than just link building. It’s thought that search engines are now attuned to non-linked mentions, particularly in places where links aren’t as common (such as social media channels). This is why search marketers also pay attention to the following techniques when running an SEO campaign:
Social media optimisation
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