Off-Page SEO: The Beginner’s Guide to Off-Page SEO Basics
Off-page SEO grows your website’s visibility through strategies like building quality backlinks, optimizing local listings, promoting online reviews, and tracking brand mentions. Learn how to get started now!
Written by WebFX Marketing Experts
Last Updated November 14, 2023
Meet off-page SEO, one of the most important (and challenging) areas of search engine optimization (SEO). In this beginner’s guide to off-page SEO basics, you’ll learn everything you need to start optimizing your website, from off-page SEO’s meaning to proven off-site optimization techniques. Get started now!
What is off-page SEO?
Off-page SEO describes the off-site optimizations for improving a website’s visibility in organic search results on Google and other search engines. Common off-site optimizations include:
- Building reputable backlinks
- Claiming and optimizing local listings
- Growing online brand mentions
Why is off-page SEO important?
Off-page SEO is important because it’s home to one of the most important ranking factors in SEO: Backlinks. Like citations in a research paper, search engines use backlinks (or a link from one site to another) to understand a website’s authority, trust, and expertise.
If you’re familiar with how search engines work, you’ll know that search engines want to deliver the most relevant and trustworthy content to users. By using a site’s backlinks to gauge trustworthiness, search engines can ensure they provide users with reputable and relevant answers to their questions.
What is the difference between off-page SEO and on-page SEO?
The difference between off-page SEO and on-page SEO is where their optimizations happen:
- On-page SEO happens on a website, like by writing title tags and meta descriptions.
- Off-page SEO happens off a website, like by reaching out to publishers for backlinks.
While different, both are critical to growing your organic search visibility.
Which off-site elements get optimized for off-page SEO?
When it comes to off-page SEO, there are several off-site elements you’ll optimize, including:
- Website directory listings
- Online reviews and ratings
- Social signals
- Brand signals
Learn more about how to optimize these off-page SEO factors below:
How to do off-page SEO
When it comes to how to do off-page SEO, you’ll focus your efforts on the following areas:
|Off-page optimization||The basics||Learn more|
|Backlinks||Increase your links from other reputable websites through outreach, original content, and more.||Learn more|
|Online directory listings||Build your online authority by claiming, optimizing, and maintaining online listings like Google Business Profile, Bing Places, and more.||Learn more|
|Online reviews and ratings||Grow your reputation by attracting, monitoring, and responding to online and third-party reviews on your site.||Learn more|
|Social signals||Improve your social signals through social media marketing, influencer marketing, and follower engagement.|
|Brand signals||Establish your brand’s online reputation through partnerships, interviews, online forums, and other activities.|
Keep reading to learn how to approach these off-site optimizations.
Definition: A backlink is a hyperlink from another website to your site.
Importance in off-page SEO: Backlinks are important in off-page search engine optimization because they provide search engines context on the receiving site’s reputation, authority, and trustworthiness on the Internet — that’s why backlinks are one of the biggest ranking factors in SEO.
🚀 How to optimize
Learn how to optimize for backlinks in off-page SEO below:
- Focus on quality backlinks: While quantity matters in link building, quality is more important. Target your link-building strategy towards backlinks from reputable, authoritative sites in your industry since those websites will send a stronger positive signal to search engines.
- Emphasize E-E-A-T: Creating a website and producing content demonstrating your experience, expertise, authority, and trustworthiness can make your site more linkable, so highlight your years of experience, certifications, and more in your design and content.
- Publish research-based content: Earning backlinks isn’t easy, but you can make it easier with original, research-based content. For example, survey a topic relevant to your industry and audience, then share the results to attract links passively. If you work for a CBD company, you might publish an article on the benefits of CBD in medicine. Or if you work work for a dental office, you might write ablog post on how to clean your retainer.
- Create interactive content: While more time-intensive to produce, interactive content (think quizzes, calculators, and other tools) effectively attracts backlinks from reputable, well-known sites. Think about your audience to brainstorm valuable interactive content.
- Research competitor backlinks: Outreach is a part of building links to your site. Get ideas for where to outreach by reviewing your competitor’s backlinks in a tool like Ahrefs. For a well-rounded link-building strategy, spend some time discovering other websites.
- Guest post on authoritative sites: Many websites, especially news-based sites, rely on guest posting to create content. Research your industry’s trusted websites and see if they accept guest posts. If they do, apply with a compelling topic idea that aligns with their target market.
- Target broken links: You can also build authoritative links to your site by targeting broken links. Use a paid SEO tool like Ahrefs or Semrush to find broken links (including to competitor sites) and then reach out to the publisher with an appropriate link from your website to fix the error.
- Target seed sites: Find authoritative industry-specific websites with links from larger, more reputable sites and target them (if relevant) in your link-building strategy. Earning a link from these sites can benefit yours by passing along the authority from the larger, more reputable site.
- Aim for relevant anchor text: While you can’t always control the anchor text that describes the backlink to your site, you can sometimes, like when guest posting. In those instances, aim for relevant but not keyword-heavy anchor text, which can harm your off-page SEO efforts.
Learn more about this off-site optimization with our guide to backlinks!
Online directory listings
Definition: An online directory listing is a profile on a third-party website where a user (like a business owner) can manage to share information about their company, like its hours, services, and prices. Google Business Profile is an example of an online directory listing.
Importance in off-page SEO: Online directory listings are important in off-page SEO because they build your brand and website’s online credibility by sharing your name, address, and phone number (NAP) and creating a backlink to your site.
🚀 How to optimize
Learn how to optimize for this off-page SEO basic below:
- Claim local listings: Start your adventure with directory listings by claiming (or creating) your profile on reputable sites like Google Business Profile, Bing Places, Angi, Yelp, and others. If your industry has more specific websites, claim your profiles there, too.
- Target niche and broad directories: For a well-rounded listings strategy, aim for niche and broad directories. For example, Google Business Profile is considered a general directory while American Dental Association (ADA) is considered more niche since it’s for dentists.
- Optimize local listings: Add substance to your local listings by adding your name, address, and phone number. Upload additional information, if possible, like your website, services, pricing, images, and more, to provide as much information as possible to search engines and users. For example, a dermatologist might list all the skincare treatments they provide while an education provider might list all the courses they offer.
- Maintain NAP consistency: Across your local listings, sync your name, address, and phone number. If you operate multiple locations, each location should have a local listing and maintain NAP consistency for each location. Local listing management tools can automate this process.
- Update listings regularly: Whether your hours change for a holiday or your product lineup grows, update your local listings to maintain their accuracy and relevancy. Consider investing in local listing management software if you have dozens of local listings.
- Post regularly on directory sites: Some directory sites, like Google Business Profile, allow you to create posts — similar to social media posts. Posts show that you’re active and allow you to engage with users by announcing a promotion, holiday well-wishes, and more.
- Respond to questions, feedback, and reviews: Maintain an active role in your directory listings by engaging with users. Directory sites will vary, but the most notable ones (like Google Business Profile) will allow users to ask questions and post reviews, which you can then respond to.
Learn more about this off-page optimization with our guide to website directories!
Online reviews and ratings
Definition: Online reviews and ratings describe user feedback posted on third-party or owned websites, like on Facebook or a business’s product page. Reviews and ratings influence brand and product perception, which can influence purchases from other users.
Importance in off-page SEO: Online reviews and ratings are important in off-page search engine optimization because they provide insight into a website’s credibility by highlighting what users like and dislike and how an organization responds to these comments.
🚀 How to optimize
Learn how to optimize for online reviews and ratings in off-page SEO below:
- Promote local listings: While Google prohibits incentivizing reviews, you can make users aware they can leave reviews online, like through your Google Business Profile. For example, an energy company may encourage more online reviews through email while a food and beverage company may hand out cards to customers asking for a review after providing a service.
- Monitor reviews: Use a review monitoring tool or check in throughout the day to catch new reviews, questions, or feedback. The sooner you catch user engagement, the sooner you can respond, which signals that you’re active and engaged with your community.
- Respond to reviews: Invest the time to respond to online reviews, even if they’re negative. Responses can vary from thanking users for their kind thoughts or helping someone resolve a poor experience.
Learn more about this off-page optimization with our guide to online reviews!
Definition: Social signals describe online engagement on social media networks like Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), Instagram, TikTok, and LinkedIn. Online engagement can range from follows and likes to comments and brand mentions.
Importance in off-page SEO: Social signals are important in off-site search engine optimization because they provide search engines context for a brand, like its existence, authority, and trustworthiness, and overlap with other off-page SEO signals, like online reviews and brand signals.
🚀 How to optimize
Learn how to optimize for social signals in off-page SEO below:
- Develop a social media strategy: For the best results with this off-site optimization, build a strategy for social media. For example, determine which networks to use, what content to post, how often to post, and who will do what. Focus your efforts on the most relevant networks.
- Add social proof: Bring social proof to your profile by completing your profile information (like your name, about you, website, and more) and emphasizing your experience, certifications, and expertise in your profile photos.
- Post regularly: Demonstrate to search engines and users that you’re active by posting regularly, like once a week or once a month. While you can share your latest blog post, tailor its caption to the network and your audience.
- Engage with users: Create positive social signals by engaging with your followers. For example, ask questions in your posts to get followers talking, and then respond to them in the comments. You can even interact with them on their content.
- Partner with social media influencers: Scale your social media presence by partnering with reputable influencers in your industry. Focus on micro-influencers to achieve a higher return on investment (ROI). For example, a finance business may partner with an influencer who has a podcast about investing while a healthcare practice might partner with a doctor who shares medical advice on YouTube.
Definition: Brand signals refer to online mentions of a brand, its products, or its services. Branded mentions can happen through search queries, social media, podcasts, reviews, and other third-party sites.
Importance in off-page SEO: Brand signals are important in off-page search engine optimization because they indicate vital information about an organization, like its reputation, popularity, and authority in its niche and on the web.
🚀 How to optimize
Learn how to optimize for brand signals in off-page SEO below:
- Track online mentions: Get a baseline for your brand’s performance by tracking linked and unlinked mentions like with Google Alerts. As you invest in this off-site optimization, you should see this number rise, which can help demonstrate results to other website stakeholders.
- Create YouTube videos: Establish a YouTube channel for your site and upload useful and original content for your audience. You don’t need blockbuster-production levels, either. Film with your smartphone in a quiet location.
- Publish press releases: Press releases, like for a new product launch, award, or certification, can also grow your brand mentions. Use a press release distribution site, like PR Newswire, to improve your press release’s reach and visibility.
- Partner with other businesses: Collaborate with other brands through giveaways, content research, and more to grow your brand’s online mentions. Partner with companies that overlap with your target audience but not your products or services.
- Create shareable visuals: Videos, infographics, and GIFs can improve your brand’s online visibility. Consider creating multimedia that explains complex concepts, summarizes information, or makes memes industry-specific to earn shares and online credit. For example, a company that sells heavy equipment may create a graphic that has images of all their equipment and prices while an HVAC company may create a video showing the expertise of their engineers and the services they provide.
- Engage in online forums: Becoming an active member of online forums, like Quora or Reddit, can also send positive brand signals. Focus on being helpful vs. selling something when using these forums, or you’ll create a negative brand reaction.
- Host online or offline events: From webinars to conferences, events can build your brand’s reputation. Promote these events through paid advertising, social media, email, and other digital channels to spread the word — and your brand name.
Master off-page SEO basics with SEO.com
Congrats, you’ve learned the basics of off-page SEO! Now, you’re ready to start practicing these off-site optimizations on your website. If you’re looking for more tips and tricks, browse our blog for the latest advice from our award-winning SEO agency! You can also check out our SEO FAQ to get quick answers to common SEO questions!