Your On-page SEO strategy can make your content more visible and expand your reach. But if you want to maximize your Google ranking to increase organic traffic and help your brand truly explode, you will need to develop a solid Off-page SEO strategy as well. In this comprehensive search engine optimization guide, we will discuss Off-page SEO and how it differs from On-page and technical SEO, plus offer several tips and tools that can help you make the most of this essential method to boost rankings in the search engine results pages (SERPs) and traffic.
If you have not done so already, you might want to check out our Guide to On-page Search Engine Optimization.
You will find several definitions of Off-page SEO that vary in complexity, but it basically refers to SEO practices that have nothing to do with the actual content on your site. In simplest terms, if the practice deals with something on your website, it is On-page SEO. And if it deals with something on another website or platform, it is Off-page SEO.
Off-page SEO has evolved and expanded over time, as it used to be thought of as nothing more than link building. However, nowadays, Off-page search engine optimization encompasses much more, as digital marketers have found ways to broaden their horizons way beyond link building with methods like content marketing, social media marketing, citation building (sending out your business’ info to listing directories to inform the public about your location, services, etc.), brand building, and much more. By using such Off-page SEO tactics, you can help search engines and users increase their understanding of your website and what it has to offer, which can help you boost its relevance, trust, and authority.
If you are not too familiar with the Off-page SEO tactics we just listed, do not worry, as we will dive deeper into them and many more in a minute. But first, let us discuss the difference between Off-page and On-page SEO to see how both can help you achieve your ranking, visibility, and traffic goals.
To ensure your site gets the best search engine rankings possible, you will need to pay attention to both your Off-page and On-page SEO strategies. What is the difference between On-page SEO and Off-page SEO? Let us take a look at that now and some examples from each.
As mentioned above, the primary difference between On-page and Off-page SEO is that the former refers to optimizing items on your website while the latter focuses elsewhere, such as other websites and platforms. Another way you could look at it is to think of On-page SEO as optimizing things you have complete control over (content, HTML source code), while Off-page SEO, while still effective and essential, puts others in control through backlinks, brand mentions on social media, and the like.
There is another difference between On-page and Off-page SEO worth mentioning that can help you see the importance of using both as part of a comprehensive SEO strategy. On-page SEO will help determine what you rank for, while Off-page SEO will help determine how high you rank. Put those two together, and you can get the desired placement and recognition on Google, Bing, and other search engines.
Those are some of the differences between Off-page and On-page SEO. Is one more important than the other? The answer to that is they are equally crucial since On and Off-page SEO work in unison to provide the best rankings possible. In other words, you cannot just focus on an On-page SEO strategy and neglect Off-page SEO altogether, or vice versa. If you do, your rankings will falter.
However, if you had to rank the two strategies in terms of which should grab your attention first, then On-page SEO would win. You should ensure that your site’s pages are optimized before tackling any Off-page SEO tactics since you are entirely in control of On-page SEO.
Since this guide is focused on Off-page SEO, we will go into more detail on such tactics in a bit. But, before we do, here are some On-page SEO factors to help you better understand its counterpart. As you will see, the following factors adhere to the notion that On-page SEO deals with items on your website that you have complete control over. Implement the following On-page SEO practices, and you should be able to rank higher for specific keywords and drive qualified, organic traffic to your site.
Sometimes referred to as the meta title, the title tag is the web page title that you see on search engine results pages (SERPs). Addressing your title tags is a great place to start implementing a solid On-page SEO strategy. Why? Because the title tag is the top ranking factor for a page.
To make the most of your title tags, place your keyword as close to the beginning of the title as possible. Avoid stuffing title tags with keywords, or they will appear spammy and unnatural.
Lastly, do not exceed 55-60 characters, including spaces, to ensure your title tags do not get cut off.
Look right below the title tag on the SERPs, and you will find the meta description. It tells users what they can find on the web page. Although Google stated that the meta description is not part of its ranking algorithm for search, it is essential to On-page SEO for two reasons. First, having a solid, compelling meta description can entice a click and drive traffic to your site. Second, if a keyword that the user has searched explicitly for appears in your meta description, Google will bold it, which can also entice a click.
When creating meta descriptions, include target keywords naturally, without stuffing. To avoid any cutoffs, limit meta descriptions to 160 characters max.
Your site’s URL is an On-page SEO ranking factor, so it should be as search-engine-friendly as possible. It is found in the web browser’s address bar and denotes where your web page is hosted on the site.
When crafting a URL, put your main keyword at the beginning, and do not repeat keywords. Keep it as short as possible, so it is easy to read, remember, and type. Use dashes instead of underscores when separating words in the URL.
The headings are the H1-H6 tags on a web page that provide organizational structure and help the reader skim content with ease to quickly find what they are looking for. Headings stand out in search engines’ eyes and demand more ranking weight than other text on a page.
To ensure optimization, only have a single H1 per page. You can have as many H2-H6 tags as you like to give your page the proper structure. As far as keywords are concerned, your main target keyword should be in the H1, and your secondary keywords should be in the H2 and H3 tags. The rest of your tags will not be as heavily weighted for SEO.
An image’s ALT text serves several purposes. Since it describes an image’s content, it helps blind people with screen readers understand image context. If an image will not load, the ALT text can give the user an idea of what the image should be. Lastly, it helps search engines understand your content as they crawl images.
When creating ALT text, include your target keyword. Make sure you have at least one image per page that includes the primary keyword you are targeting. And be descriptive, but do not exceed 8-10 words in length.
You could employ every solid On-page SEO tactic in the book, but if your page content is lacking, you will not see the search engine rankings you desire.
Your page content is what users come for. It is what they read and what can keep them coming back for more. As such, your page content must be of high quality and provide value since visitor behavior is a ranking signal. Beyond providing value to your visitors, quality page content can increase the likelihood of other sites linking to you.
Page content also plays a massive part in On-page SEO since its keywords make it easier for search engines to understand what your site is about so they can rank you accordingly.
Keeping this in mind, you should include your target keywords within your main page’s content at least 3-4 times per 1,500-word post. Make sure those keywords exist within the first and last 100 words of the page and distribute them naturally throughout the rest of the content. Once your keywords are taken care of, ensure the content addresses user needs. Does it answer all of your target customers’ questions that they may have? If not, update your content, so they do not search for those answers elsewhere. The better you match a user’s search intent, the higher you can rank.
You can increase search engines’ understanding of your content by adding schema markup (aka structured data) to your web pages. Google uses several types of such data to add “rich results” to its SERPs, such as recipe information, star ratings for products, etc. Several WordPress plugins can help you do this with ease.
Have you ever read an article on a website with a link within the text? If you clicked that link to get additional information and it went to another page on that same site, then it was an internal link. Such linking is one of the best ways to boost your On-page SEO and rankings, as it can increase traffic via existing visitors and get them more engaged with your content.
Linking reveals one of the main differences between on and Off-page SEO. You can easily control how you link pages on your site with internal linking. With external linking (Off-page SEO), you will have to build relationships with other webmasters.
You should have internal links on the main content of each page. To rank higher for a target keyword, the anchor text (clickable text in the hyperlink) of the internal link should contain that keyword. However, you should avoid over-optimization by using the same anchor text repeatedly. Use variations of the words instead.
While it is not the most crucial On-page SEO metric, Core Web Vitals has been a ranking factor since 2021. Google introduced this set of signals to measure a website’s user experience via loading speed, how fast a user can interact with a page, and the visual stability of content. To improve your Core Web Vitals and optimize your user experience and On-page SEO efforts, use Google’s Page Speed Insights.
For further information on Core Web Vitals, we recommend reading:
If you have ever visited a site that was slow and took forever to load, you probably did not stay on it very long without seeking another source. This is why page speed is essential to the user experience and On-page SEO, as slow sites often make visitors look elsewhere.
Your page speed refers to how quickly your pages load before users can interact with them. There are several ways to boost your page speed, such as:
To maximize your page speed, use Google’s Page Speed Insights tool.
While some people may surf the web primarily on their desktop computers or laptops, Google and other search engines believe mobile usage is king. As such, web pages are typically indexed and ranked based primarily on the mobile version of their content. If your pages are not mobile-friendly and optimized for smartphone usage, invest time and effort to ensure they are so your On-page SEO strategy is up to snuff.
For more information, check out our guide on the key elements of On-page SEO.
You could also check out our list of the Best SEO Tools for On-page SEO.
Here are some reviews of popular On-page SEO Tools:
You now know the primary differences between On-page and Off-page SEO. Now, let us talk about the difference between Off-page SEO and technical SEO. As its name suggests, technical SEO deals with improving your website’s technical elements or aspects so you can land higher in the SERPs. How does it differ from Off-page SEO? Because many consider technical SEO to be a part of On-page SEO.
You could have the best content in your niche, but if your technical SEO is lacking, you will be your own worst enemy as your site will prevent you from getting eyes on that content.
However, if your technical SEO strategy is on-point, you will have a solid foundation to help your content rank as highly as possible.
A solid technical SEO strategy has many parts. Some of these overlap with the previously mentioned On-page SEO tips.
Google uses SSL certificates as a ranking signal. They offer enhanced security for your site and give visitors some much-needed peace of mind. Some web hosting services include SSL certificates at no extra cost, so keep this in mind if you are looking for a new provider.
As mentioned above, mobile-friendliness is a crucial part of On-page SEO. Since technical SEO is also part of On-page SEO, it comes as no surprise that you should check for mobile-friendliness here as well. Use Google’s Mobile Friendly Test to get a quick yes or no answer.
Here is another aforementioned part of On-page SEO that is also part of a technical SEO checklist. Google’s Page Speed Insights tool will score your speed and give you recommendations to make it faster.
Broken links are bad for SEO and your user experience. If a user encounters a broken link, they may never revisit your site. Use a tool like the Broken Link Checker from WordPress to find broken links. It will scan your site for broken links periodically and send you notifications so you can fix them.
If Google cannot view your page, you will have trouble getting ranked. Crawl errors make it difficult for Google to view your pages, so you need to fix them to minimize any ranking damage. You can spot crawl errors (do this weekly) using the Coverage report in Google Search Console.
Google uses sitemaps to find and index pages. You can create your XML sitemap using a tool like Google XML Sitemaps or Yoast. Once created, the sitemap must be submitted to Google using the Google Search Console. After submitting it, you can optimize your sitemap by using dynamic XML sitemaps (if your site has 50,000-plus URLs), prioritizing high-quality pages, etc.
If you want to make sure you do not overlook any aspect of technical SEO, use a tool to make life easier and do all the dirty work for you. Ahrefs, Semrush, and Moz are examples of software that can help you perform site audits weekly to spot glaring technical SEO issues.
A solid Off-page SEO strategy expands your reach and visibility with the help of outside sources (sites, platforms, etc.) in your industry. As the number of quality links pointing to your site and brand mentions increases, search engines will start to take notice and place you higher in the SERPs.
Here are several Off-page SEO tactics to help you achieve that goal:
Link building involves getting other sites to link to yours. Such links are officially referred to as backlinks in the SEO world, and they are an essential part of any Off-page SEO strategy.
As for why link building is so important, it passes authority from high-quality sources to your site. This helps Google see your content as trustworthy and relevant, which can help you gain higher placement in the SERPS. In simple terms, backlinks are like a vote of confidence for your website.
Backlinks are helpful for any website, but they are particularly excellent at boosting new sites. For example, you could have the best, most thorough piece of content on the Net regarding a specific topic. But if the site it sits on is brand new without much of a following, people could have trouble finding it. With backlinks from trustworthy websites, Google can see that you have great content and label your site as an upcoming authority in your niche, and this can increase your search engine rankings. With those better rankings, more people can find your pages, your traffic will increase, and you can start to snag loyal followers.
In most cases, the more high-quality backlinks you have, the higher your ranking will be. This is why your Off-page SEO strategy should include link-building tactics to attract more backlinks. But more importantly, it should include an emphasis on developing high-quality content that other sites will want to link to. Speaking of quality, it means everything when it comes to backlinks. Earn backlinks from trustworthy websites, and you will get the ranking boost you desire. But if you have a bevy of backlinks from spammy sites that are not relevant to your niche, your rankings probably will not nudge.
Is link building easy? Not necessarily, as you not only need to get those links, but you also need to build up a collection of top-notch content deserving of backlinks. So, if you want to use it to your advantage to create a reputation of authority over your competitors, you will need to start building links as soon as possible. Here are several ways to do that:
We start with the toughest link-building strategy of them all: Creating unique, relevant content. According to Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, the top way to get relevant, high-quality links from authoritative sites is to create superb content that can gain popularity and go viral on its own. Knowing this, you should invest time and resources into producing such content and possibly hire creators if you cannot do it yourself.
Unlike the other link-building techniques in this list, having unbeatable content on your site will garner backlinks that your competitors will have a tough time copying.
This link-building method involves adding links yourself via a press release, guest post, blog comment, etc., so you can craft a reputation as a thought leader or gain referral traffic. It can also spur interaction with customers in your niche, allowing you to expand your brand’s reach. The main benefit of manual link building is that it puts you in control, unlike other tactics that put others – like third-party sites or journalists – in charge of the outcome.
What is the problem with manual link building? Besides the fact that it can take a lot of work, it does not build the highest-quality links. In fact, Google could see such links as manipulative if done the wrong way.
Chances are, you already know at least some of the thought leaders in your niche. And you probably know that getting a backlink from them could give your website a significant authoritative boost. How can you get such a rank-boosting backlink? By contacting the website owner directly and asking for it.
Such outreach is time-consuming, and it may be frustrating at times if you receive no response. But requesting links is a solid backlink tactic that can help you surge up the SERPs. Before asking for backlinks, make sure that the site is credible and relevant to your niche. To increase your chances of getting a positive response, create a well-written email introducing yourself and detailing your request. You could even use an online template to request links, so you do not have to reinvent the wheel.
Read: Link Building Strategies for SEO
Many people think that content marketing is just an On-page SEO practice since it mainly involves developing content and publishing it on your website. While that part of content marketing is certainly On-page SEO, you can also turn it into a traffic-generating, Off-page tactic.
When looked at as a whole, content marketing is both on and Off-page SEO. Why? Because your team can produce content that sits on your site (On-page), and it can create and publish content that sits elsewhere (Off-page).
For instance, you may have created an eye-catching infographic that conveys a ton of information in an easy-to-digest format. And that infographic was so good that a reputable news publication decided to link it. That would classify as content marketing with an Off-page twist. Or, maybe you wrote a guest post that gets published on someone else’s blog. That is content marketing, but it is another Off-page example since it is not going on your website.
All of this points back to the need to create high-quality content that is informative, entertaining, engaging, and shareable. The better your content, the easier it will be to collect traffic in an Off-page manner on autopilot.
As for where you can concentrate your Off-page content marketing efforts, the aforementioned infographics and guest posts are a great place to start. Beyond that, you can also urge your content team to focus on eBooks, whitepapers, research papers, studies, and surveys surrounding your niche.
If this seems like massive work, remember that content marketing can be used with other parts of your Off-page SEO strategy, such as social media, link building, and public relations.
Read: Content Marketing Tips
Constantly creating your own fresh content is a challenge not only for small blog owners but also for prominent publications. What do such publications do when they need a continuous flow of content, but cannot always get it from in-house creators? They turn to outside sources to supplement their original content. Doing so not only saves time and frees up in-house resources for other purposes, but it can also add new voices and viewpoints to their existing library.
Syndicated content is typical amongst sites in networks owned by massive radio or TV groups, and publishers use a similar strategy to keep a steady, sometimes daily stream of content on their sites. If you need an example, look no further than Yahoo!, as it is a huge, well-known platform that often syndicates content from various sources.
Where do you fit into this equation? You can syndicate your content to other publications as part of your Off-page SEO strategy. However, content syndication should be done carefully as it can be a bit tricky.
Google will not always index syndicated content since it duplicates the original. And when you syndicate, Google will always display the most appropriate content version for users according to their search, which may not be your preferred version. Does this mean you should avoid it? No, as content syndication can get more eyes on your work and build your name/brand, even when URLs canonicalize to the original.
When performing this Off-page SEO tactic, be sure that whatever site has your syndicated content includes a link to your original piece. And to keep search engines from indexing their version of the content instead of yours, you can ask sites using your syndicated content to use the noindex meta tag.
Forums and online communities are a bit forgotten or overlooked nowadays as an Off-page SEO avenue. Why? Because forums, online communities, comment sections, etc., used to be hotspots for SEO-related spamming, as people used them for link-building purposes with mixed results.
That spammy reputation has led many to abandon forums and communities for expanding their reach via Off-page SEO tactics, but that does not mean you have to do the same. In fact, there is no better time than now to use these resources to build your brand and stand out even more since there is a solid chance that your competitors will be elsewhere.
Should forums and communities take up most of your Off-page SEO efforts? No, but when you add them to your existing Off-page strategy, you can generate some extra traffic and ensure you have a well-rounded marketing mix if done correctly.
The old-school way of targeting forums to build links is outdated. So instead of using that mindset, focus on generating engagement via conversations with customers in your niche. Doing so can help make a trustworthy name for yourself and establish you as an authority or expert in that niche.
As for where to implement this strategy, two of the most obvious options are Quora and Reddit. Both have tons of traffic and let you answer niche-relevant questions from audiences and potential customers. Beyond those massive platforms, you can also find forums and communities in your niche and chime in with any relevant info or answers you may have to user questions and concerns.
If you want to get the most bang for your link-building buck, guest posting may be your best bet. When asked about the top link-building strategies, SEO experts overwhelmingly picked guest posting as the top choice over alternatives like replicating competitor’s backlinks, business directories and local citations, broken backlinks, social media, forum and blog comments, etc.
What is guest posting? Creating content and submitting it to another website. That website reaps the rewards of offering value and information to its audience. You, meanwhile, as the guest poster, reap several rewards. Not only do you get to put your brand in front of a new, targeted audience to get high-quality traffic, but you also get to establish yourself as an expert on the topic.
A common mistake many make when guest posting is solely focusing on getting the backlink. While that is beneficial to your Off-page SEO efforts, focus on the brand-building opportunity instead, as it will help you try even harder to produce high-quality content for your new audience.
Influencer marketing has evolved over the years, and you can attribute much of that to the ever-increasing popularity of social media. Years ago, influencer marketing was all about writing sponsored posts as bloggers. Now, Tik Tok, Instagram, YouTube, and the like hog all of the attention since that is where everyone’s eyes are.
You can view influencers as shortcuts to generating a lot of traffic and building your brand. They already have their established audiences, some of which are huge. By collaborating with influencers and leveraging their reach, you can get your brand and content in front of new audiences in record time.
Although many users turn to Google to find the information they are looking for, social networks have also become search engines. They may be used differently, but people use social networks to find content every day. Cut deals with influencers to showcase your content, and some of those very same people can find your content.
When using influencer marketing to build links, make sure they are nofollowed since using links in sponsored content violates Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
You could easily call local SEO a field of study in itself, but it has some elements linked to Off-page SEO that are worth mentioning. The first is Google My Business, which is crucial in establishing an online presence for local businesses, both big and small. How is Google My Business considered Off-page SEO? Because it is not on your website.
How important can Google My Business be to your Off-page SEO efforts? Very important since statistics show that 80 percent of users turn to search engines for local information, and nearly half of all Google searches seek local info. Ignore Google My Business as part of your Off-page SEO strategy, and your competitors will appear in local results and not you. Invest a bit of time into optimizing your Google My Business listing, and you can make a name for yourself locally, even if you are new.
Citations are another Local SEO element linked to Off-page SEO. It is an online mention, like a business listing, that usually details your company’s name, address, and phone number. Citations are essential for local businesses looking to land on the map pack or who want to rank for search terms that are targeted geographically.
Consistency is critical with citations, as inconsistency shows a lack of coherency. If your address or phone number differs across the Net, you will provide misleading information to customers and cause other issues. To avoid this, invest time in ensuring that your name, address, phone number, and any other essential info match.
Read: Local SEO Tips and Techniques
SEO and public relations were seen as entirely separate fields of study in the past. Now, they have merged.
Many SEO experts use digital PR as their preferred method for link building since it gives you the power to gain a massive volume of authority links. Use a digital PR campaign to promote a compelling story and linkable assets that accompany it, and a recent study found that you can gain links from as many as 24 unique domains on average.
Beyond link building, public relations also contributes to Off-page SEO signals by increasing brand awareness and searches. It thrusts your brand in front of your target audience and generates a buzz, so they start talking about you. Digital PR builds trust signals by positioning you as a thought leader in your field.
And it also drives referral traffic.
Another essential element of Off-page SEO is reputation management, where you do everything in your power to minimize the negative and amplify the positive. Do you only need reputation management if you have a wide presence or a well-known brand? No, because on the Internet, everyone needs it as words – both good and bad – can spread like wildfire. What can happen if you do not have an Off-page SEO strategy to protect your reputation? The following adverse outcomes:
That is what can happen without any reputation management in place. To make it part of your Off-page SEO strategy, try the following tips to keep your reputation from being tarnished, so your search engine rankings do not take a hit:
Over half of Americans claim to have listened to at least one podcast, and that number is growing by the day. In short, podcasts are super popular. Omit them from your Off-page SEO strategy, and you could miss out on a massive chunk of potential followers.
The exploding popularity of podcasts is just one reason to use them to expand your brand via Off-page SEO. Here are others:
Expand your Off-page SEO efforts by devoting some time to podcasts, and you may find it much easier to build your brand and reach your potential audience than with typical, overcrowded methods.
Why do so many people buy items online versus in-stores? Besides the convenience, they do it because they can read reviews before investing their money. By having that much-needed peace of mind, they can confidently pull the trigger on making the purchase. And even if they buy in person at the store, they will probably look for online reviews first.
Statistics show that nearly 90 percent of shoppers read online reviews before buying. So if you sell services or products, it becomes evident that your reputation built through reviews is essential to seeing success.
Reviews are often overlooked in terms of Off-page SEO. While they can create trust, increase conversions, and generate sales on autopilot, online reviews also offer the SEO benefit of helping Google understand your site. Google uses reviews to get brand signals, so if yours are positive, they can improve your site’s domain authority and your placement in the SERPs.
One recent study found that a whopping 93 percent of people who regularly use the Internet log into social media. As such, you cannot ignore social media as an essential element of your Off-page SEO strategy.
Does this mean that you should focus solely on social shares to boost your placement in the SERPs? No, because while important in spreading the word about your brand and content, social shares are not a direct ranking factor.
Instead of focusing on social shares and your number of followers, look at social media platforms as a type of search engine. Sure, some use social media to interact with others, but many users turn to it to find answers to their questions. Increase your platform presence, and you will be in front of potential customers looking for answers or new brands to follow. In fact, many people will use social media to make first contact with a brand. You can use that to your advantage to engage and interact with them to provide customer service, share your content, drive traffic, increase conversions, and more.
For more tips on social media, we recommend reading the following tutorials:
Here are some social media optimization tools and software to increase your social media presence:
Example of HootSuite Social Media Management Tool
Example of SEMRush SEO Tool Dashboard
It can be intimidating to tackle Off-page SEO tactics on your own if you have little SEO knowledge or experience in general. Does this mean you should hire outsiders to handle your Off-page SEO for you? That is an option, but you could also solicit the help of these Off-page SEO tools that can make your job of building links and more a lot easier. And while they all have Off-page SEO features, these selections also offer On-page features to ensure a well-rounded SEO strategy:
We hope that this Off-page SEO guide helped you get acquainted with another way to boost your rankings besides On-page and technical SEO. To learn more about the topic in further detail and its On-page and technical counterparts, try these courses that offer plenty of information to ensure that you get the search engine placement you desire:
You can read the previous part of this series here: Guide to On-page SEO
Read about the Best SEO Software (Free and Paid).
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